By Shawnees Peacock
Mt. San Jacinto College Student
In a world where everyone seems to be a budding photographer with the simple click of a button on their smartphones, it might appear to some that the art of photography is sadly dwindling.
However, one glance at local photographer Ted E. Davis’ pieces illustrates how the fusion of modern day technology and art is advancing the field and pushing each photographer’s creativity to new heights. This is why Davis has been honored as the Arts Council Menifee Artist of the Month for September.
Davis has been a photographer for the last 50 years while also juggling his professional career. He completed two tours in Vietnam and worked for the Coast Guard for 25 years, retiring with the title of Chief Warrant Officer. He also worked as a Contractor for the U.S. Government for over 20 years.
Since retiring in July 2010, he has dedicated himself to a new job title: Full-Time Photographer.
"I don’t perceive myself as a professional. Some people call me a professional, but I call myself an avid enthusiast," says Davis. "I don’t care if I sell it; I care if I take [the picture] or not."
Davis picked up his first camera, an all-mechanical Olympus OM-1 MD that he still owns, in the early 1970’s. He still favors Olympus cameras, but has models that are much more sophisticated now.
He took many courses about black and white photography around that time to learn about the craft he had such an interest in. After enjoying some success as a black and white photographer for many years, Davis decided to make the transition into digital photography in 2008 in order to quench his thirst for continually learning new skills.
"I’m addicted to the sound of the shutter," says Davis. He also says his wife Sheila is supportive and very understanding.
This addiction to taking pictures is an ingrained characteristic of his. His camera has become an extension of himself that allows him to see the world from a fresh point of view. His camera has practically integrated itself into his identity.
"I think in pictures. I even take my camera with me if go get a loaf of bread," says Davis when asked about how he captures those rare moments illustrated in his photographs.
One can immediately see his love for the process of taking a photograph within the context of the subjects he favors. His artwork showcases his unique perception of the world through the discerning power of the lens.
"My pictures represent me," says Davis.
Davis’s description of himself as being "a jack of all trades and master of none" is represented in his photos. He likes to photograph a wide spectrum of subjects.
His photographs tend to deal with illustrating an altered form of beauty by shooting objects or natural landscapes that are often overlooked by many. For example, he may take a photo of an exotic-looking plant that appears to be from a distant country, but is actually located on the side of the freeway in Menifee. Or he may choose to photograph the soiled shoes of a pedestrian for the mysterious stories they tell.
Davis was introduced to infused metal photography by fellow Arts Council Menifee photographers Doug Hartwick (of Mom & Pop's Framing Shop) and Bodhi Smith.
"I like this technique since it’s durable," says Davis. "It’s like each photo is achieved forever."
Along with other photographers, he uses that presentation when it seems a good fit.
Through the power of irony and an eye that can see what is special in those fleeting moments, Davis is able to produce thought-provoking photographs that cause the viewer to question their perception of the world around them.
"Photography is changing so fast," says Davis. His artwork and journey as a photographer are a testament to how dedicated artists can learn to adapt to the ever-changing landscape.
You can see some of his fine work at the Arts Council Menifee Gallery, which is a large collection of paintings and photographs by Menifee-area artists. Enjoy the exhibit for free any weekday at the Kay Ceniceros Center, Newport and Evans Roads in Menifee.
For more info about Arts Council Menifee, visit artscouncilmenifee.org.