Featured Customer Image: by Chris Castagnola

Just before Valentines Day, Carolyn walked into the gallery with a photo she had sneakily acquired from her boyfriend's phone. This photo was taken this past July 4th weekend by Chris Castagnola on his family's property near the California/Oregon border.

Chris Castagnola, Gooselake, July 4th, 2017

The image is sweet. Chris was out on the property in his old truck and his dog Stetson, who was waiting patiently in the truck bed. He pulled his hunting rifles out and leaned them up against the truck, and shot a quick picture of the scene with his iPhone 6s. The composition is solid; Stetson is adorable; it's a cool sort of "self portrait" as it is nicely expressive without being in-your-face. For those (and other) reasons it's a great photograph, but the thing that is particularly striking to me are the colors—the unusual hue of the truck against the enormous blue sky. Something about the colors also makes the image feel classical: the photo could have been taken in 2017 but also 1957, particularly as the model of truck feels old school. The timelessness of it adds to it's appeal.

The background to the image is even sweeter: Chris surprised Carolyn with a Valentine's gift when they were in 7th grade. "An abalone necklace he made, and a stuffed animal, a golden retriever, that looks identical to the "real" Stetson! The relationship didn't work out back in 7th grade, but when we reconnected this past year it seemed fitting to honor it somehow."

The photographer and his model, Stetson, with his framed print (photo by Carolyn Fluehr)

The photographer and his model, Stetson, with his framed print (photo by Carolyn Fluehr)

Carolyn said she knew Chris loved the photo and thought a great framed print of it would be the perfect gift. While neither of them live in San Francisco she was able to stop in on a trip here visiting family, get it framed and leave, all in half an hour. One of the ways I think about images is by seeing whether they are strong in black & white: looking at an image monochromatically tells you whether it has a good composition, whether it's an interesting photo on its own.

Then I like to consider what color adds, is it just pretty, or is it really stronger for using color? Amateurs tend to oversaturate colors in color photos, which feels good at first, but can easily be over the top and tiresome in the long run. This image works in black-and-white but is better in color, naturally strong colors that aren't oversaturated; this was one of reasons we chose to display it in the Neomodern gallery. Check it out all through March.