Photographer Lawrence Berman can sell you a piece of Asian
history before it enters the past.
Three years from now, hundreds of
miles of China's Yangtze River region will go under water, flooded by a
multi-billion-dollar dam project. To capture images of the area, Berman
and his wife took a five-day cruise down the Yangtze in October 1988.
"It's really a sense of history," said Berman, 51, of Russellton PA.
Side trips took the couple into the Lesser Gorges, part of a much larger
region that includes farmlands and cities.
The Yangtze photos dominate Berman's booth at the Central Pennsylvania
Festival of the Arts, but he's also offering a selection of still-life
photographs featuring hand-painted props.
"We take ordinary objects and paint them," Berman
said. "Then we paint the backgrounds. It gives us a way of controlling
colors so they look unusual. "Watering cans, gardening tools and a
pitchfork are among Berman's still-life subjects. The images can
become so abstract, he said, that they don't appear photographic.
"People look at them and think they're computer-generated, but they're
not," Berman said. "It's just straight photography."
Berman, a career artist who has appeared at the CPFA intermittently for
20 years, said his photography skill comes naturally.
"It's something inside of me that I didn't know existed until I picked
up a camera," he said. "I started selling my pictures almost right from
After his childhood in New York City, an education at Queens College
and completion of a psychology degree in the mid-1970's, Berman turned to
freelance photography as a livelihood.
Earlier in the decade, he started by photographing
rock concerts, then
switched to sports coverage as an employee of the NBA.
But by 1976, Berman began to see a more lucrative way to use his
lenses: fine art.
"I discovered art shows where I could go out and make more money on a
weekend than I did during the week," he said. A year and a half later, I
quit my full time job and did the art shows."
Today, thanks to the patronage of other artists he's met on the art
show circuit, Berman operates a side business on the Internet. Through his
own web site, www.BermanGraphics.com, he builds other sites for
artists, especially photographers.
Being self-employed is no simple task, but it can be a principled one,
"It's never been a dream-come-true," he said. It's always been hard
work. But it's hard work for myself and not someone else."
Berman's per item prices at CPFA range from $20 to $225. Profits aren't
his sole concern, though.
"The joy you get from a self-employed art career is much greater than
the joy you get from working for someone else," Berman said. "Here you
take your work with you wherever you go, it's part of your life."