John Gregor is Coldsnap Photography, providing nature, travel and fine art education located in Two Harbors. John is guest judging for Minnesota Exposure March 16th-23rd with some of the best prizes yet, including a spot in one of his workshops. He graciously took the time to answer some questions for the group.
1) Where did you grow up?
I was born in Rochester Minnesota and lived there until I was 12, then
my family and I moved to Southern California (LA area) we lived there a
little less than 2 years. After that short experience we moved back to
Minnesota and I graduated High School from Wayzata High School in the
western suburbs of Minneapolis. Shortly after High School I lived in
Maine for about 9 months and then in New Jersey for a little over a
year. I finally settled back in Minnesota where I have lived most of my
life. 12+ years ago I moved to the North Shore near Two Harbors. (I am
still growing up so I have to give you my entire experience.)
2) What led you to photography?
I discovered photography when I was about the age of 20. I was a
listless youth without much direction in my life other than an avid
interest in history. I loved reading history–I could sit down and read
a history textbook straight though.When I picked up my first camera and
started to make photographs I felt like I had discovered the perfect
tool for a historian.
3) What role does photography play in your life?
Photography has given my life direction. It has allowed me to explore
the world around me and beyond the horizons. Photography has lead me
down many paths in my life–it has been the motivating impetus for most
of the positive changes and developments that have shaped and formed the
person that I am. It is a way for me to continue to reach out and
connect with people I have not yet met. After Danielle, Erin, Megan, and
the rest of my family, it is the top priority in my life.
“There is a time when humankind can touch the enduring truths that
underlie our fleeting lives. That time is at the moment of artistic
Charles C Mann from his book “1491” paraphrasing 15th Century _AZTEC_
Poet Philosopher; Ayocuan Cuetzpaltzin
4 )What type of photography is your specialty?
I have made my living engaged in the following genres of photography:
portraiture, wedding, sports, architecture, nature, landscape, macro,
floral, gardens, and travel. I don’t know that I have a specialty other
than an intense interest in exploring the world and people around me. I
don’t do well in a studio.
5) What do you do to continue to grow as a photographer?
6) Among your works, which one is your favorite? Why?
“Four Guys In A Boxcar.” It is my most enduring image. I made this image
in 1976 and it has hung on the wall of my abodes ever since, I never
tire of looking at it.
7) Whose work has influenced you the most?
I have studied the classic photographers; Anzel Adams, Edward Weston,
Robert Frank, Henry Cartier Bresson, ect… but the photographers who
have influenced me the most are the men and women whom I have worked
with. They include; Will Agar–my first photography teacher at North
Hennepin Community College, he became a good friend and strongly
influenced me over the years. Jim Henkel–Professor of photography at
the University of Minnesota, not so much because of his work (which is
very good but very different than mine) but rather through the strength
of his character. Frank Golhke–I worked for Frank as an assistant and
his methods of working and attention to detail taught me much. Finally
many of the men and women who have been my students have passed as much
to me as I have to them. Jane DeGross and Christian Dalbec are two names
that come to mind right away, both of these photographers started as
students of mine but now I think the tables have turned…
8) What is the one thing you wish you knew when you started taking
The importance of compound interest.
9) What gear do you shoot with?
Currently I shoot a Canon 5d Mark III. I have a selection of lenses
mostly Canon L glass. Put your money in the glass–I have lenses that
have been on 8 different camera bodies going all the way back to film
days. Make sure you have a good tripod too.
10) What projects are you currently working on?
I am currently exhibiting a body of work that I call “The Eternal Lake”
it is recent photography of Lake Superior. As this exhibit moves to
different gallery venues I continue to update it and tweak the contents.
In addition I have just begun another series of work that deals with
culture and the regard or lack of regard one culture has when it
supplants or takes over another culture. This work will be a collection
of landscape photographs made in Minnesota–stay tuned for more details
as the project develops.
I am also attaching a small collection of photos from the series “The Eternal Lake”