There is a unique dichotomy in the medium of photography that has continually fascinated me: While it records supposed reality, it can simultaneously create surrealism and abstraction.
My goal as a photographer is to push beyond the documentation or faithful recording of an object or a place. I acquiesce to what is in front of me, allowing the elements to serve in the creation of a new reality, one that stems from an intimate connection or energy between the subject and myself. When I confront a subject, it presents itself to me. I watch and listen. A meditative experience occurs, even if it is only for a moment. When I see something that catches my eye, I feel that I am being made aware of that energy. At these moments, the world is opening itself up, saying, “Yes, over here, be a part of this.”
Through my work, I invite the viewer to experience the result of these “invitations” and come away with a renewed sense of awareness, wonder and possibility.
— Terence Falk
Since the late 1970s, several forces have vied for Terence Falk’s creative time. While steadfastly pursuing his own voice as a fine art photographic artist, the increasing demands upon him as a master black & white printer, commercial photographer, and teacher have been necessities that encroached upon his creative time and energy.
Anyone who has roamed the New York galleries has seen his exquisite prints from other master’s negatives and not known he was the printer. He first spent years working with Philippe Halsman, printing many of his memorable portraits for exhibitions and limited editions, including his 101 Life magazine covers and his incredible collaborations with Salvador Dali. After Halsman’s death, the roster of distinguished clients for whom Falk printed grew to include Horst, Bruce Davidson, Duane Michals, Mary Ellen Mark, Eva Rubinstein Harry Benson, Inge Morath, and Eva Rubinstein. “For me, I feel that I excelled as a printer because I am a black and white photographer, not simply a lab technician. I bring an ability to understand what the photographer wants in their prints and how to achieve it by utilizing an intimate knowledge of the materials. I can adapt that skill and vision to accurately create their prints,” he says. He also worked with Richard Avedon, printing for his magnum opus book and exhibition, The American West. Remembering his time with Avedon, Falk recalls, “He always knew exactly what he wanted in his prints and he made those decisions faster than anyone with whom I have worked. This may seem overwhelming, but for a printer this clarity is wonderful.”
Falk then spent many years working with New York-based commercial photographer Rodney Smith as his collaborator and master printer for many commercial shoots. Falk assisted Smith through every phase of their production for clients such as BMW, Chubb, the New York Times Magazine, Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman, New York City Ballet, and Estée Lauder.
1980 marks the beginning of Terence Falk’s work as a teacher. He spent terms teaching at the Creative Arts Workshops in New Haven, Connecticut, as well as the Santa Fe Photographic Workshops in New Mexico and the Maine Photographic Workshop.
In 1986 he was awarded his first Artist Residency Fellowship, at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts in Sweet Briar, Virginia, and the resulting images were exhibited at the John Slade Ely House in New Haven, Connecticut. In 1996 he won the Weir Farm Visiting Artist Grant and spent the year capturing images on the farm of this famous American Impressionist, which is now a National Historic Park. An exhibition of those works was held at the Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art in Ridgefield, Connecticut. That same year he was selected by curators of the Fitchburg Museum of Art in Massachusetts as one of the few photographers cited as among the twenty-five top contemporary artists in New England for their annual “New Talent” exhibition.
In 2001 Falk went on a sabbatical in a tiny village of lobstermen along the rugged Maine coast to pursue his personal photography. While living in Maine he was chosen as one of only several photographers to exhibit in the 2003 Biennial Exhibition of the Portland Museum of Art in Maine. The attention drawn to his work resulted in a solo exhibition, “Borrowed Light: The Photographs of Terence Falk,” in 2004 at the Center for Maine Contemporary Art in Rockport. That year he returned to teaching and was coaxed to return from Maine to New York, where he taught advanced photography at the International Center of Photography. He also became a member of the faculty at The Fashion Institute of Technology in New York where his photographs were exhibited in 2009, showcased by a 12-foot mural of his work at the entrance the institution’s Art Museum. Additionally, he started teaching at Paier College of Art, in New Haven, Connecticut.
“As a teacher, my goal has remained two-fold,” says Falk, “To inspire and guide students as they discover a medium about which they may have brought pre-conceived ideas; and, both push them and support them in order that they discover their vision as photographers and their capabilities as artists.”
A quote by the Abstract Expressionist painter Franz Kline has always inspired Falk as it applies to both artists and teachers: “You paint the way you have to in order to give, that’s life itself, and someone will look at it and say it is the process of knowing, but it has nothing to do with knowing, it has to do with giving.”
— Peter Hastings Falk