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best of 2015
Timothy Fuss
Rochester, NY

Timothy Fuss shares his deep passion for music and photography in "Quartets," a series in which a group of four of the same musical instruments are portrayed together in a minimalist composition that hints just enough at the subjects to identify them. Made with studio lighting and no digital compositing, the images are Fuss's way of honoring melody, harmony and rhythm.

© Timothy Fuss

© Timothy Fuss

“I tend to see things and compose with a sense of rhythm and balance,” Fuss says. “Just like making music, making images offers the occasional instance of really getting `into the zone' where everything is just working without conscious thought and I get swept up in it.”

ASMP: How long have you been in business, and what are your photographic specialties?

Timothy Fuss: I've been in business for nine years now specializing in product photography, with an emphasis on fine craft and jewelry. I also enjoy opportunities to photograph musicians in performance.

ASMP: You are also a performing musician. How does your love for music inform your photography?

TF: I think that I tend to see things and compose with a sense of rhythm and balance. That seems to apply whether I'm considering a single image for a client or a series of personal images. Just like making music, making images offers the occasional instance of really getting "into the zone" where everything is just working without conscious thought and I get swept up in it. In those moments, it's not a job!

ASMP: For your black-and-white still-life series of string instruments, what was your process for lighting and photographing them? What details did you choose to focus on and why?

TF: To be honest, the very first image that started the series was a mistake. I was after something else entirely and grossly underexposed a test shot while setting up my lights. Immediately, I knew I was on to something much better. The white edges of the guitars resolved into a very simple, elegant composition. It was almost entirely abstract with just enough information to identify the subject. With four guitars in that first shot, the notion of "Quartets" emerged quickly and, since I collect musical instruments, I had plenty of subject matter. Sometimes the final arrangement happens quickly and other times, I leave everything set up and mull it over for a while. I have to consider lighting different materials and from angles that will illuminate the characteristic shapes of the instruments. I'm looking forward to extending the series with examples from a friend's collection. That will allow me time to figure out the finale: four grand pianos!

ASMP: You have been collecting cameras for 24 years. What are a few of your all-time favorite cameras?

TF: I've had so many favorites! Being located in Rochester, New York, I get to see a lot of classic equipment and find some things that just don't turn up in other parts of the country. I think one particular favorite would be a Kodak prototype from about 1940 of a medium-format rangefinder camera that never made it to market. I find the hand-made parts particularly interesting. Another favorite is a strange melding of a Graflex and a Kodak Ektra. I suspect it is a test rig made to take photos with production lenses before working samples of the Ektra camera body were available. Finally, I've just recently acquired my first wet-plate camera with a set of four brass "Bon Ton" lenses for making multiple images on a single plate.

ASMP: Besides your cameras, what do you consider your most valuable tool or piece of equipment?

TF: I'd say it's my tripod. It's a big old Manfrotto with a huge geared head that handles my view camera with ease.

Aside from equipment, I value the support of my wife, Rebecca. She recognized the opportunity when I was laid off from Eastman Kodak ten years ago and urged me to take advantage of the chance at a second career that would mean more to me than going back to work for someone else.

ASMP: Are there any particular photographers or other artists whose work inspires you?

TF: All of them! Ansel Adams, Paul Strand, Alfred Steiglitz, Yousuf Karsh, and John Sexton were my early influences, but now with the Internet, there's a whole world of creative minds out there to explore. One current favorite is Wendy Sacks and her series "Immersed in Living Water."

ASMP: Have you won any other awards for your work?

TF: No individual awards, but I've been accepted to some juried exhibitions like Memorial Art Gallery's Rochester-Finger Lakes Exhibition, and Image City Photography Gallery's Portfolio Showcase and Black & White Invitational.

ASMP: What do you consider the most valuable aspect of your ASMP membership, and what is the most important relationship you've formed?

TF: I value the connections I've made with other professional photographers! Both in-person and online, there's a wealth of experience and great people who are willing to share their perspective on the business.

I greatly value the group of friends who attend the monthly breakfast meetings. We have some helpful discussions and share feedback on each other's work.