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About US

Fancy meeting you here:

Brian Gilwee and James Woodward

BRIAN GILWEE

I am a professional photographer who considers himself a fundamentalist of “f-stop, shutter speed, and focus.”  I am a native Californian, whose career includes owning/operating a photo lab for several years, teaching photography to high school students for twenty years, and free-lance work. I have won awards in juried exhibitions and contests; one of my favorite international prizes was being able to select a campaign-style button maker while I was a teacher and flooded the student body with a button that said “Take Photo.”   

Up until 2014, I was a film/darkroom photographer, and while my studio still has a darkroom, I now prefer digital. Darkrooms are a featured thread in my life.  One of my earliest memories is as a 6 year-old helper to my Dad in his home darkroom. As an 19-year old enlisted U.S.Marine, a chance conversation with an officer resulted in me care taking the 10x10 darkroom with the Third Engineer Battalion during part of my second tour in Viet Nam.  Once back home with the benefit of the G.I. Bill, I enrolled at a local community college and found Criminology the only major that did not require prerequisite classes to use the darkroom. After two years, I transferred to San Diego State University where I was able to study photography with a well equipped  darkroom and earned an B.A. degree in Industrial Arts with an emphasis in Photography.  

I also met Jim Woodward while we were in the photography program there.  

I consider Jim one of the best creative photographers working and count him among my closest friends.  

My creativity and preference for black & white images has been influenced by iconic photographers such as Minor White, Ansel Adams, Henri-Cartier Bresson, Walker Evans, Margaret Bouke White, Dorothea Lange to name a few.  The book The Artists Way helped codify my experiences in life and my imagery improved because of it.   My exposure to death at a young age gave me an appreciation of how fleeting our reality is and an interest in capturing images of “singular moments” that reflect my feelings of what’s beautiful, humorous, and interesting. Whether it is in the form of architectural shapes, nature’s forms, or people going about their lives. If asked about my photography, I can sum it up as “it’s all personal.”  

Brian Gilwee

JAMES WOODWARD

It would probably make a great story that I grew up with a camera in my hands.  Nope!  My interests were math and sciences.    

Fast forward to my college days.  The first couple of years at San Diego State University, I was a computer science/math major.  During my junior year, I was a contract worker for civil servants as a programmer.  One day my boss asked if someone wanted to do some darkroom printing.  I raised my hand and so began my journey into the wild world of photography.  My passion quickly developed and I became addicted.  I changed my major to Industrial Arts - Photography and Graphic Arts.  This is when Brian & I met as we furthered our photographic evolutions.  And we've been bouncing ideas off each other ever since!  

Frustrated with 35mm, I bought my first medium format camera, a Mamiya RB67.  That opened up a whole new world!  I was shooting all the time.  A common day for me was spending 8 hours, printing in the color lab.

A couple of years, after graduation,  I opened my first studio. Advertising/Commercial/Editorial jobs were my primary projects.  My main cameras were 4x5 and medium format, but I even shot with 8x10 (that was a beast!) and, of course, 35mm (for slides).  I began the 105 hour work week!  Pretty much nothing but photography.  I was having a blast!!  

Around 1990, the digital age started to grow. My transition began in 1993.  In the "film days", one of my specialties was multiple exposures using in-camera masking techniques to achieve unique images. Now, with Photoshop, I had even more control!  There was a  bit of frustration, learning new tools, but to the question "Are we having fun yet?"  YES I AM!!  No longer was there the question, "are you an image taker or an image maker?"  I can do BOTH!

Now, after 40+ years, I've decided to work more on creative personal projects.   I do hope you enjoy my images as much as I have when creating them. 

 James Woodward

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