Photographer of the Week - Orville Robertson

untitled 1992
untitled 1994 

untitled 2010  

The pictures are from a series called "Empty Chairs" and there will be more during this week with Orville Robertson.

My interest in photography was spurred by my love for classic mechanical rangefinders.  The precise sounds of gears and cams and the shutter firing were wonderful. I was especially delighted when I realized that I knew how to take good photographs. I love to walk, so bringing my camera along to photograph some of the interesting things I saw was my first real break away from taking family shots during the holidays. My first real camera that I bought was an Alpa Si2000. Back then in the late 70s Swiss-made Alpas were my dream cameras. They were beautiful, made of precision metal, and quirky; simply perfect for me. They were also terribly expensive.

untitled 1986
When I read that a Japanese company had bought Alpa and had manufactured a cheap knockoff, I was initially appalled by their nerve. Still, it did say “Alpa”, so who but photo buffs would know. I blew two weeks salary on what turned out to be a very good camera with mediocre lenses. I loaded it with Kodak color negative film and walked everywhere during my lunch hour, after work, and on the weekends and taught myself how to shoot. 

My initial photographic influences were other street photographers such as Andre Kertesz, Henri Cartier-Bresson, and Helen Levitt. Eventually I realized that my parents Owen and Victoria were far more influential on what I saw, how I perceived it, and my ultimate decisions on how to get it on to film in a way that made sense. I grew up and remain middle class and hope never to forget their appreciation of life’s gifts, whether they were photographic honors and awards or the capture of light and objects on to film. I love being a photographer!

Text and photos © Orville Robertson