View from the street: Photos by Randall Hartman

By Alisha Siebers, Executive Director, Vicksburg Cultural Arts Center

A retired pastor, Dr. Randall Hartman, is showing 21 of his photographs in an exhibition “Seeing Near & Far in Black & White”, at the Prairie Ronde Gallery through July 1. The title of the exhibition is based on the arrangement of his photos: A photograph of the Prairie Ronde gallery door starts the exhibit and the rest of the pieces are arranged by their geographical distance from the gallery, moving almost 3,000 miles to Alaska and then back again to Vicksburg.

Randy began his in-depth experimenting with photography six years ago. When he was living in New Jersey near the ocean, he heard a snowy owl. He searched for it and took a photo with his phone. When he got home, he tried to enlarge the small photo, but it distorted into pixels. He decided “that does it!” and he bought a professional camera.

Over those six years, his interests have evolved from landscapes like sunsets, to animals like birds in flight, to his current fascination with street photography. In this exhibition, he chose to show only black and white photographs. In the gallery you can see a photo of an older Guatemalan woman. It is packed with details like clothing patterns and pyramids of fruits. When he showed the original photo in color, people only commented on its vibrancy. However, when he switched it to black and white, people started to notice the woman’s expression and the wrinkles on her face. Like the old masters, he prefers black and white because people notice the structure and details of the prints. Black and white invites people to look harder and to try to decipher a story.

Dr. Hartman is thrilled for this opportunity to show his work. He says that every photographer has thousands of photographs on their hard drive that never see the light of day. He explains, “Seeing a print hanging on the wall—there’s no greater joy in the world of photography.” As he started spending more time taking photos, Dr. Hartman said that he felt that God was happy and the line “when I press the shutter, I feel the smile of God” came into his mind. He explains that he believes that God might be happy that someone is celebrating what He has created and that “someone is paying attention to the beauty we find ourselves in.”

Randall Hartman’s photographs will be on display at the Prairie Ronde Gallery at 101 E. Prairie Street, Vicksburg only until July 1. But you can also see his work on his website:

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