HUDSON – Photographer David Halliday likes to be in control. Specifically, he likes to control the light shown in his still lives. “I got depressed when I’d find beautiful things in bad light,” he explained. “I’d see an appealing object in my travels, but the illumination was bad – or non-existent, and, to me, I couldn’t capture the image and I’d just shut down.” Now, those days are over. He creates still lives in his home and says, “Light is the most important tool. It starts with that.”
Halliday, himself, started a little differently – as a chef in New York City. But his exposure to photography at his Community Art Center while in High School (Durham, NY) never left him. And in spite of arranging beautiful plates of food, he never lost his interest in images. “I worked as a chef for 12 years,” he says, “but, eventually, in my late 20s, I picked up a camera. That’s when I dove into it and cooking just became a paycheck.”
“I would call myself a formal photographer,” Halliday says. “I do landscapes and still lives in a classic style – and portraiture, too. When I quit being a chef, I moved to New Orleans and opened up a gallery. I would see someone with interesting features, grab them off the street and photograph them. I loved doing that. In any given year, I’d end up with more than 50 “spur of the moment” portrait negatives.”
During this period, Halliday worked almost exclusively in black & white. But at some point he discovered some old negatives that he’d taken in color. His printer developed them and made contact sheets on high quality rag/cotton paper. “I was blown away by the result,” he says. “It was the technology that I needed and had missed when working in black & white. Color became interesting again. ”
Halliday says he shot in black & white for so many years that he automatically sees things in grey values. “For me a tomato has always been grey,” he explains. Now Halliday often uses both black & white and color film – just to cover his bases. “When I’m photographing, it’s a lot of technical stuff. But when the pictures are developed, you can see something completely different.”
The artist, whose work is included in the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston and the New Orleans Museum of Art, is displaying his photography as part of a new promotion at Henry, 348 Warren St., Hudson, NY through the end of February. Called “Art Among the Goods,” Halliday is the first artist to be featured. For more information, call Henry at 518.828.2354.
PHOTO CAPTION: Wardrobe – 2008, from photographer David Halliday