Max Cooper, Photography

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I am humbled by our mountains, and I want you to be humbled too. The peaks we summit in North Carolina are half a billion years old, and as long as anyone can remember we’ve been trying to capture them in paintings, photographs, stories and song. I’ve been trying for twenty years as an artist and a news photographer. Not long ago I realized I’d been missing the point all along.

As a side project to fill the slow seasons in my wedding photography business, I began photographing our waterfalls using the ancient technology of a pinhole camera. The tech is so ancient, in fact, that it predates photography itself; pinhole optics were discovered a thousand years before anyone invented photo-sensitive media. The images they render are unique in the modern world: Never quite sharp, but with an infinite depth of focus, and so dimly projected inside the camera that they require exposures of minutes or hours. 

The process is eccentric, but it’s the results that matter: I employ a hybrid analog-digital process, mixing the film and darkroom knowledge from my early days as an exhibiting artist with the precision and consistency of the digital post-processing workflow I use in my business. The goal? Well, when I started, it was to sell prints. But it has become so much more. 

We try to capture these mountains, but you cannot capture with humility. What we capture, we consider inferior. Like a fish in a net, we consider it ours. But the mountains are not ours. In the long minutes I’ve spent with the shutter open on some thundering waterfall, I’ve begun to realize that we are theirs. 

I am a fine art, wedding and portrait photographer. I live with my family along Sandhill Road. My portraiture and fine art work, including heirloom-quality fine art prints, can be viewed on my web site.


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