By Jenna Goff
Atlanta-based artist Steve Steinman views the world in an unusual way. His photographs encourage others to do the same.
“I want people to look at my photographs and say, ‘Did you see that?!’” he said.
His exhibit at Dunwoody’s Spruill Gallery, held in conjunction with Atlanta Celebrates Photography, is based entirely on that theme. The work aims to provide a commentary on the abnormal in everyday life. The exhibit will remain open until Oct. 25.
“Steinman’s subject matter is both quirky fun and thoughtfully provoking,” said Jennifer Price, the gallery director at Spruill. “The works in this exhibit include photographs of street performers, food trucks, public art projects and intriguing architectural elements.”
These subjects come from all over the country and even around the world. “For 33 years, I was the dean of the School of Design with American InterContinental University,” Steinman said. “The job required me to do a lot of traveling, and everywhere I went, I made sure I had a day to explore and really get to know a place.”
Many of the photographs that will be exhibited at the Spruill Gallery are things he witnessed on his travels. “Each photograph has a story behind it,” said Steinman.
His audience will see street performers in Tijuana, architectural details in Seattle, stills of everyday life in London and wall art from Atlanta. The photographs challenge viewers to perceive these scenes in a different, surreal light.
“Most people with an untrained eye look at art and at life and don’t quite understand what they’re seeing,” Steinman said. “They don’t know how to see. I want people who look at my photography to ask questions and learn.”
He will answer some questions at an “artist talk” on Sept. 27 at 1 p.m. The event is an opportunity for Steinman to share his inspirations and discuss his artistic process. But in the meantime, he hopes his photographs alone will open people’s minds.
His editing procedure reflects the way he wants people to view the world. “Many of his images have been digitally manipulated in a way that leaves the final product with a painterly quality,” said Price.
Steinman uses a technique called High Dynamic Range Photography (HDR). This process involves taking multiple photographs with slightly different shutter speeds and combining them into one. The end result is a photograph with a greater range of exposure and detail, he said. He also does a considerable amount of digital editing.
“I try to give the illusion where images become like stage-fronts,” said Steinman. “Traditional photography is pretty much seeing a moment, capturing it and that’s it. I’m trying to take it to a whole new level and introduce different viewpoints.”
He seeks some of his inspiration from vintage postcards, and he manipulates his photographs to mimic their quality.
“I am enamored by the look of old postcards and graphics,” he said. “The surreal and flat feeling of them is not something that you see today. I incorporate that to give a statement.”
Steinman’s technique also encourages his audience to view scenes from everyday life as works of art. He wants his viewers to step back and become a part of the different and unique events, people and places surrounding them.
“Our society is always glued to their phones – they’re not looking at what’s around them,” he said. “I aim to show the abstractions that people miss.”
Did you see that?!
Stories of Urban Oddities
What: An exhibit featuring the photography of Steve Steinman
Where: The Spruill Gallery, 4681 Ashford Dunwoody Road, Dunwoody, 30338
When: Aug. 22-Oct. 25
How much: Free