Shawn Dougherty | About


Beginning with the recording of light, I endeavour to create beautiful pieces of paper.  Paper which can convey emotion, impart meaning, and even tell a story.  The ostensible simplicity of monochrome serves to further strip that beauty to it’s essence, tonal and linear relationships, while adding a sense of abstraction to something we intuitively see as true.   It's a magical process with which I quickly fell in love.  


While I try to remain open I tend to create three types of pictures;  Abstractions, created through working closely with objects or eliminating contextual elements.  Intimate landscapes, where I focus on visual relationships and mood while drawing little distinction between man and nature. Finally, and less visually specific, are what I refer to as Little Things.  Photographs made by striving to capture the seemingly ordinary and ephemeral beauty we encounter each day, if we’re open to it.



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.  After several years of learning, experimenting, and working commercially Shawn prioritized his personal work and ceased all other photography in 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 and, more recently, digital equipment.  "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 lighter and significantly faster to operate."

Shawn is committed to the hand made print and views each step in 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 or Photoshop.  I find a certain satisfaction in creating the final piece from start to finish, exposure to framed photograph.”