Artist's Statement

See what drives DC-based art photographer J Riley Stewart to make his romantic landscapes and luminous nature fine art photographs.

Artistic Intent

Picture of J. Riley Stewart photographing in the Austrian Alps in 1980

I've been making images and exhibition quality prints for nearly 50 years, most consistently being drawn to the radiance of the luminism style of imagery, and especially as romantic and pure nature landscapes.

Luminism art is best recalled by the Hudson Valley School of painting and the classic photography of such as Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, and Alfred Steiglitz.  Art by these masters consistently revealed the elegant balance of radiant light and mysterious shadows on their subjects. It is this elegant balance that I attempt to recreate in my photographs.

Why classic photography? And why old-fashioned film cameras?

There’s a deliberate reason why I  choose to make a photograph:  I want to remember the moment–or more specifically the story that strikes me during the moment. The ‘remembering’ is a huge part of why I’m a photographer in the first place. Why are we on this earth if not to remember our experiences, our stories; to learn something from them, and to pass them on?”

––No other artistic medium stimulates the remembering part of our brains quite like classic photography.––

Thirty years managing medical research taught me to always question, to explore, to experiment, and to resolve the world around me.  I love to learn new things; so I'm always on the search for more, for the different. Photography satisfies both of my passions developed during my medical research days: to question, and then to resolve.

Photographs stop time in a way no other medium can, giving us an opportunity to explore and discover what our eyes and brains want to dismiss in mere fractions of a second. It's impossible to resolve anything after mere milliseconds of observation: but the photograph makes it possible, and I find that power to be very stimulating.

I don't mind being called a “traditional” photographer. I capture my scenes using ‘old fashioned’ larger format film cameras because that’s the best way I know to tell the visual stories as I see them. Using big film cameras gives me the ability to create large prints that retain elegant radiance, textures, and depth that other methods can’t. And big prints reveals details mostly overlooked in small photographs of the same scene.

In face, the larger the print, the more I love making them. My love for large-scale prints guides everything I do as a photographic artist, and my greatest reward is making something people choose to love and live with in their living or dining rooms, over a mantel, above a headboard, along an expansive hallway, or in large open spaces such as club rooms and hospitality centers.