Hans Damkoehler, self-portrait 2018.

Hans Damkoehler, self-portrait 2018.

The Journey STARTED

...when my mother and grandfather gave me a camera and a lens in the hot summer of 1983. 

I was heading east to the New England coast as part of a three week biology and sailing trip with a dozen or so of my friends from high school. Most of the resulting slides were blurry and worthless. But, some weren't. Some images spoke to me on a deeper level - the portrait of a friend caught in their moment,  the splash of sun on the waves. It was the first time I can remember feeling connected with the "photographer" inside of me. I was captivated by the ability to isolate and freeze an ineffable moment, allowing me to come back to it over and over again.  It's taken years to put together, but I cherish the experience as a lifelong gift my grandfather and mother gave to me.

It has been quite a journey in the thirty (almost forty!) years since, sadly with far less photography taking up my life than I would have hoped for.  But I never stopped observing, framing, composing, if only in my mind's eye, and through other artistic outlets.  Fortunately, my father and mother had given me a passion for theater, and that love for story and iconic imagery led me to film & video, which introduced me to the micro-beauty of editing, which brought me full circle to photography ... and here we are.

Artist Statement

In Mem Fox's beautiful children's book the eponymous character, a little boy by the name of "Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge" asks those around him this pivotal question: "What's a memory?"  It's a great question, and it would be a travesty to simply print the beautiful, simple, and heart-rending answers he finds - you should read the book - but answering that question through my photography is ultimately what drives me to make a photograph, live with it, edit it, and - perhaps - release it for others to experience as well.

My ultimate intent is to create images that endure.  Simply put, and rather selfishly, these are images that last to me.  Generally speaking, they are images that I have lived with for a long while, or that speak to me so greatly that I "just know" that their story will take a long time to unfold, but I have to share.  They are images that speak over and over again, perhaps in the most subtle of ways.  

For me, "Images that Endure" are found at the ephemeral crossroads of Story and Beauty - Story told by my inner muse, and Beauty defined by the intrinsic qualities of the subject itself, not by any definition you could find in popular culture.  Just as Mem Fox's little boy sought memories, I seek those elements that create living memories - whether that be found in the flick of a smile in a contemporary portrait, or the flash of the rising sun in an early morning landscape, or the fire of inspiration behind a fantastical composite - these are the beautiful, story-filled moments that I want to forever etch in time.

It's my hope that each image I release stays true to riding that razor-thin edge of Story and Beauty, and that the result is an image that stays with you, makes you think, and asks you to reflect upon your own story.  My body of work is (much) less about genre and more about the through-line of what speaks to me at those crossroads, in that moment, the place where I connect to my inner story and find an image that endures enough to crystalize the memory into something worth re-membering.  

If you are reading this, perhaps these images speak to you too, and for that I thank you for taking the time to share with me in my journey.