Shawn Dougherty was raised in western Pennsylvania surrounded by much of what you see in his photographs. Born in 1978, he started making pictures at the age of nineteen. Previously unsatisfied with the quality of his prints, he began using a large format view camera and contact printing his negatives during the spring of 2004.
Working in the tradition of straight photography he strives to make each print a unique visual experience, both for himself and the viewer. "I use my emotions, intuition and the objects I photograph as tools in the creative process. In many ways they are not unlike the camera, lens or film. When things are working they converge to create something new and beautiful, the photographic print itself. Any illustration or representation is secondary to that end."
Shawn's contemplative approach to composition has been a natural fit with the deliberate and thoughtful practice of using a view camera. "The ground glass has a way of distilling the chaos of the three dimensional world into a more manageable series of visual relationships. I've found my best work isn't preconceived but discovered under the dark cloth."
This intuitive yet methodical way of seeing has evolved beyond his use of the view camera and inspired work using medium format equipment as well. "While I love composing on the big four by five inch ground glass, wandering with the smaller cameras can be quite freeing. I use them in much the same way as the view camera but they are smaller and significantly faster to operate."
Shawn is committed to the hand made print and views each step of the photographic process as an integral part of the creative experience. "I believe printing requires just as much creativity as working in the field. The photograph begins with the composition but is really brought to life with choices made in the darkroom. I also find a certain satisfaction in making something by hand."