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About Me

TERRY HANKINS

  I first got into photography during high school because friends told me it was the easiest class to cut. Of course, it was the one class I attended faithfully, and photography quickly became my passion. I’ve never looked back.Many elements must come together to create a successful photograph, but for me, light is everything. I’m continually amazed by its subtle nuances and many ethereal qualities. I’ve spent many an hour studying light at play in nature, watching the way the sun’s rays dance off the wet leaves after a rainstorm, or skim across the rolling hills at sunset…  and whether in the studio using strobes or on location with natural light, I try to find the most intriguing ways possible to illuminate my subjects, and am proud that this has become my hallmark.

  At first glance, much of my work may appear dark and bleak. However, I believe my work is actually full of hope and optimism. I look for beauty where others only see despair. There is a strength of spirit in subjects that have weathered hard times. They may not have necessarily triumphed in the traditional sense of the word, but they have persevered and adapted, and that is a triumph in and of itself. I like to think you can feel those tales of struggle and victory in my photographs.

  When I create a photograph, I try to get the viewer emotionally involved by telling the story of my subject. Of course, actual details are unknown, and so I can only offer a murky glimpse into their world to pique the curiosity of the viewer. I try to do this through my lighting, and frequent use of texture. Texture denotes another era, and represents the grittiness of hardscrabble lives gone by. It also adds to the mystery, partially obscuring what can be seen - and therefore known - by the viewer. But it also opens up possibilities and raises questions. It's as if you're trying to recall a hazy dream, but can only remember vague bits and pieces.

  You may walk away from my photos with more questions than answers, but I think the intrigue is vital to their success.  In the end, I believe what emerges are hints and whispers of lives past, that conjure up the essence of their being, their struggles, their spirit, and their souls, which everyone can relate to. And then the story becomes that of the viewer.

Interview with the local newspaper

Tell me a little about how you got started in art (when, why, etc).

  T. J. Hankins

Tell me a little about how you got started in art (when, why, etc).

  As a child, I was always artistically inclined but got started in photography during high school because friends told me it was the easiest class to cut. It turned out to be the one class I attended faithfully, and I haven’t looked back.

What kind of art do you create? (medium, etc)

  Photography

What inspires you?

  I look for beauty and grace where others see despair. There is a strength of spirit in my subjects, human or otherwise, that have weathered hard times. They may not have necessarily triumphed in the traditional sense of the word, but they have adapted and endured, a victory in and of itself. I try to capture bits and pieces of their stories, but leave just a little bit of mystery for the viewer to ponder and figure out for themselves.

Tell me a little about your journey to actually creating art as more than a hobby.

  I spent over 25 years in the Bay Area doing commercial photography. During that time, I owned two studios and was the photo editor for a lifestyle magazine and newspaper.

  While I enjoy all aspects of photography and take pride in all my work,commercial photography never quite scratched my creative itch. Now that I’vemoved to Redding and am semi-retired, I have the luxury of experimenting with a more personal, artistic approach.

How did you learn or develop your craft?

  I took photography classes in college and then went to photography school in Sacramento where I got a good grounding in the basics. The real learning came when I assisted a commercial photographer in the North Bay Area for a year or so. Of course, that was back in the film days when photography was much different than it is now.

  About the time digital photography was coming of age, I bluffed my way through an interview at the local paper and became their photographer. I went right out and bought a digital camera and a few books and spent the weekend learning everything I could about my new Canon and the digital world. By Monday morning I knew just enough to stumble through the first few days and fake it. From then on it was on-the-job training, books, seminars, etc.

When you are working on a piece, are you trying to express something specific?

  I think I probably am, but I’m usually not consciously aware of it. A little while ago I looked back at a large body of my work and it became very obvious to me what I was trying to say at the time. One of the things I like about photography (and the arts in general) is it gives you a way to express yourself nonverbally, and allows your viewers to interpret your work in a way that has meaning for them.

How is your style different from other styles? OR How would you describe your style?

  My style is rather varied. Lately, I’ve been creating a more “grunge” look by adding some texture to my photographs, creating mood and a sort of “painterly” feel.

Are you a full-time artist? If not, how do you find time to do your art?

  I’m semi-retired now.

Where can people view your art?

  You can find me at www.tjhankinsphotography.com.

What have you found surprising or unexpected about your artistic journey?

  The emotions that my photos can evoke in some viewers. It’s a powerful feeling when you bring them to tears, or when they tell you “This really speaks to me!”

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This Website Supports Augmented Reality to Live Preview Art

This means you can use the camera on your phone or tablet and superimpose any piece of art onto a wall inside of your home or business.

To use this feature, Just look for the "Live Preview AR" button when viewing any piece of art on this website!

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