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Kendall Reeves

“My art is my refresh button that keeps my creative juices flowing.”

Kendall Reeves received a camera when he was four years old. Eighth-grade science introduced him to film processing. Since then, the Indiana Artisan has only had to look through the viewfinder to know his future would be commercial photography and that photographic art is in his soul.

“I really enjoyed watching the image appear before my eyes in the darkroom tray,” Kendall said. “From eighth grade on, I knew I would have a career as a commercial photographer. I never even thought about doing anything else. My dad, on the other hand, didn’t understand how anyone could make a living taking pictures and questioned teachers, counselors, professors, and anyone else he thought might change my mind.”

Kendall sidesteps the new and shiny, letting his work focus instead on Americana and things that are dilapidated or deteriorating. Subjects include ghost towns, abandoned buildings and old trucks and cars rusting in woods and fields.

A lifelong Hoosier, Kendall grew up going to tractor shows and enjoying Sunday drives with his parents. “I saw many types of my subjects when they were in working order, and now I capture them after they have seen better days,” he said. “I am much younger than my siblings, and my parents are the age of my friends’ grandparents. I learned to appreciate things that most people my age don’t even know what they are or what they did.”

His 30-plus years as a commercial photographer have taught him skills he uses to create art. “I know photography and lighting and am able to reproduce effects over and over. I haven’t just happened onto something that looks good without knowing how I got there,” Kendall said. “I pretty much know what the image will look like before I release the shutter, and my hands are on every step of my work. I process, print, mount, and frame everything I do to control quality.

“I like that every day is different and that I can create art with the same tools that I use in my career. My art is my refresh button that keeps my creative juices flowing.”

Kendall shoots five to nine exposures of each scene in any subject to capture shadows, mid-tones and highlights, and then he blends the images to hold detail in every part of the image. “This is something your brain and eyes do automatically but cameras don’t,” he said. “My images are rich in color, sharpness and depth. I then print them on the highest quality materials for presentation.”

His technique, body of work and presentation are each unique in the landscape of art photography. “Many traditional photographers simply mat and frame their work behind glass,” he said. “I don’t use traditional mats, and I use laminate rather than glass to protect my work. Glass creates a double reflection and often causes a slight green cast to a photograph. I have made images of lots of industrial products and adapted them to art. It’s interesting that most people who see my work say they have never seen anything like it before.”

Even with his success, Kendall sometimes finds it hard to call himself an artist due to his long history in commercial and advertising photography. “Photography has been my career for more than 30 years and is interwoven into who I am. Being designated an Indiana Artisan will let me get to know and interact with other artists, and that will cause me to think of myself as an artist more frequently.”