About Me - Fax Ayres

About Me

I will confess - like many photographers,  it was a book of Ansel Adams’ photography that first sparked my interest in photography, along with a book of photos by Edward Weston. I was 13 years old, and after noticing my interest in those books, my mother offered to let me borrow her old Nikkormat.

I kept that camera through high school, college, and six years in Alaska where I took it everywhere I went, including in the airplane when I flew for Skagway Air Service. That Nikkormat was a rugged, dependable friend for a long time, and it was hard to put it down when digital technology began emerging in the photographic world. I keep it on a shelf where I can see it every day, but now I shoot with a Nikon D750 and a Fujifilm X-T20.

Until recently, most of my photographic efforts were focused on outdoor landscapes, in a vain attempt to achieve some semblance of the sensibilities I felt in the work of the great black and white landscape photographers I admired. Those efforts were not successful, almost always leaving my unsatisfied and worse - convinced I had no sense for what I was really looking for or any ability to consistently and intentionally create images that spoke to me in the same way my favorite painters’ and photographers’ work does.

With a desire to explore new techniques and break out of my photographic “box”, I attended a couple of workshops taught by Harold Ross, a pioneer in the light painting techniques I now use almost exclusively in my own work. The workshops were an epiphany for me and have inspired a completely different vision for my photography.

The toolset of light painting techniques allows me to explore the most mundane, ordinary, unexpected objects and see if I can assemble and use them to communicate something well beyond themselves. I find it endlessly entertaining to assemble unlikely combinations of things and see if I can make them speak to me. There is a fascinating challenge in seeing what can be done with new types of items, trying to look at ordinary things and see what expressive possibilities they may have.

My images tend towards the dark or the humorous, or both. I love infusing an image with humor by combining things that have nothing to do with each other, make no sense together, and seeing if I can get them to tell an unlikely story. A successful image will gently suggest to the viewer a story, a feeling, or a question, pulling the viewer in.

As I explore and tweak the lighting and processing techniques I learned from Harold, I find there are almost limitless avenues or themes to explore with my camera. Machine parts, toys, eggs - there remains abundant opportunity to experiment with different materials and push the boundaries of my own photographic vision.

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I grew up and went to elementary school in Connecticut, moved to Evanston, IL to attend Northwestern University, and earned an MBA from the Darden Graduate School of Business in Charlottesville, VA. I live in Charlottesville full time with my wife and three children.

In my professional life, I have been a commercial pilot, financial analyst for a mutual fund company, CFO of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, and started several small businesses in Charlottesville since moving here with my wife Andrea in 2000. I live here now with my wife and three children. I fly airplanes part time for several local business people and families, and devote the bulk of my time to photography.

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