“Hearts and Bones,” a mid-career retrospective of work from nine different photographic projects by award-winning photographer Tom Chambers, is presented at photo-eye Gallery from November 30 through January 5.
“I like to say that instead of taking a photo, I am making a photo,” “says Chambers, whose work is often called magic realism. “A story is usually the beginning of a photo. I get an idea, sometimes when I’m half asleep, and let it course through my brain. The idea is to make images possible but improbable.”
Chambers’s work is photomontage, where images from multiple photos are combined into one photo. “I like putting things together and always have,” he explains. “I put a lot of things together in my 20s when I was a mechanic in the Navy and also built church windows.”
Chambers says his greatest challenge in combining imagery from various photos is in making sure the light intensity and direction are similar in all the photos he’s using.The process of creating a photomontage may take a month or more.
The image “Come What Is,” which is set in Iceland, is a good example of Chambers’s process. The woman in the photo is actually an armless mannequin he photographed in a museum in Iceland. Chambers added his daughter’s hands to the image. The raven sitting on the woman’s head and the stack of rocks in “Come What Is” were photoshopped into the image from other photos taken in Iceland.
“I love the landscape in Iceland,” says Chambers, who has visited the country with his wife on two different occasions in the past four years. “It’s so varied and moody and quite different from other landscapes I’ve photographed.”
Chambers uses images from countries around the world in his work that spans more than a quarter of a century.
Raised in Pennsylvania’s Amish farm country, Chambers earned a bachelor’s degree from The Ringling School of Art in Florida with a major in graphic design and an emphasis in photography.
Since 1998, he’s exhibited photomontage images from eight photographic series nationally and internationally in 21 solo exhibitions. His work is in collections in museums around the world, including the New Mexico Museum of Art.
The photo-eye show complements the publication of Chambers’s book “Hearts and Bones,” which was released in early October by Unicorn Publishing Group.