Robert K. Byers' interest in fine art photography
started in 1961 with studies with Ansel Adams, Wynn Bullock and
Brett Weston. He was a Trustee of the Friends of Photography for
nineteen years. During his tenure that organization reached a membership
high of 17,000. In addition, he was Treasurer of that organization
for eighteen years and served for a time as Vice President. He has taught at
numerous workshops throughout the United States, including many
for the Friends of Photography organization. He primarily uses large
format cameras and has traveled extensively, photographing in the
United States, Canada, Mexico and throughout Europe and Japan. He
and Brett Weston were on many trips together including Europe, Hawaii,
throughout all of the western United States, and on many of the
back roads of Canada and Alaska.
His work has been shown in numerous individual and group exhibitions throughout the United States, Europe and Japan. His images are in public and university museums as well as corporate and private collections both here and abroad. He is represented by a number of galleries in the United States and Japan.
Mr. Byers was born in 1918 in Idaho where he spent his childhood. He graduated from the university of California Berkeley with a degree in economics in 1940. During the next seven years he received an L.L.B. from Harvard Law School, an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School and served as Captain in the United States Army during World War II. Thereafter, for many years, he practiced law in California's Santa Clara and Monterey Counties and is now retired from a Carmel law firm and devotes most all of his time pursuing photography as a fine art form. He is a consultant to Sata Corporation of Tokyo, Japan, Oriental Paper Distributing Company of Santa Ana, CA, and Photo Gallery International, Tokyo, the largest photo gallery in Japan.
Here are his comments about his photography:
"In working with the camera I want to do something more than make a "record photograph". I want to arouse a reaction in the observer of the photograph similar to that felt by me, which prompted the exposure. Without this reaction I fail. I want the composition, or arrangement of the parts or elements, to have a special quality or character. If after choosing the subject, I can organize the elements in a pleasing and harmonious way, combining them with tonal range and proper darkroom techniques, I succeed. I don't want it to be a mechanical process, but rather a method of reproduction as a creative art. Because I can't place my objects like a painter, I attempt to modify that limitation by camera placement, lens focal length, exposure, camera format and most importantly the light. Above all, I want my prints to reflect a combination of choice of subject, composition, tonal range and technique both in the darkroom and in the field. Each time I photograph or work in the darkroom I want to improve the elements of that combination."
"Because of my long association with photographers who if labeled would probably be called the "West Coast School", I would have a similar tag. My photography is generally landscapes, nature, abstracts, some architecture and a few portraits."
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Dear Mr. Byers, I recently printed with Oriental paper for the first time. The package was unopened but somewhat dated. I had very poor results with the drying of the prints. In a blotter book, they stuck to the waxed paper inserts and took the impression of the wrinkled wax paper. In an electric dryer the surface took the impression of the canvas. The emulsion had an almost sticky quality while drying. I am wondering if it was due to the age of the paper, over-washing or just the nature of this paper. How do you recommend the Oriental paper be dryed for best results? Thanks, Bill
Hello Mr. Byers, This question might be a bit unusual. When looking at the various portrait shots of the experts in the Freestyle catalog, I can't help noticing the tonality and the sharp detail and old-world look that jumps off the page in the portrait they've printed of you. Would you tell me please, how was this image captured? Film/lighting/processing/lens etc. I can't quite put my finger on why it strikes me as such a fantastic portrait, but it just does. Compliments to the photographer. I've been shooting E6 almost exclusively for many years and am about to start dabbling in b&w. Your answer about the technical aspects of the photo would be appreciated. Thanks very much, Lynn
I have been printing B&W for a while now after many years of color printing. I have been using multigrade FB papers for 16x20 salon quality prints. Can I get the same quality of prints using RC papers, such as Ilford Warmtone RC verses Ilford Warmtone FB? Can I get the same good tones? Will the RC papers tone like FB papers? Sharp T.
I'm fairly new to film photography. I shoot primarily 4x5 and some 8x10. I've recently become introduced to the work of Brett Weston. I'm in love with the tonal pallette and image sharpness that he achieved... needless to say his artistic ability was obviously very special. My question to you if you wouldn't mind... what materials available today would be apt to lend themselves to the tonal pallette and sharpness achieved by Mr. Weston. Are the same films/developers/papers available today? If not are there any close seconds? Your help is greatly appreciated. Sincerely, Bob
What is your opinion of the odor free stop bath and fixer? I am just now getting back into black and white. I am setting up a darkroom in my house. What is your favorite paper developer? Thank you in advance, Lyndall