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George Freeman

American, Born 1947

PO Box 189717
Sacramento CA 95818-9717


George Freeman is a rarity, a talented artist and a talented writer. He works with a Stereo Realist camera in black and white, makes stereocards with luminous prints, and on the back further illuminates the moment with his thoughts, both factual and fanciful. For example, on the back of the image below, called "The New Mono Lake, South Tufa Lagoon, July 1997" he explains that "ecologists won a water fight" with the city of Los Angeles, and as a result the water level of Mono Lake is steadily rising. In a documentary slice in time he tells us that in 1997 the lake is reclaiming the towering mineral tufas exposed when LA stole its water. The beneficiaries are brine shrimp, birds, and canoeists, and he concludes by telling us "So, go to Mono Lake now, while there is still time, after the lake has risen the full seventeen feet mandated by the court, there may be few tufa left to marvel at, either up or down."

Mono Lake

Another favorite of mine, is called "Ten Pickets." A head-on shot of a peeling picket fence with trees and bushes overlapping, it is a lovely 2D image, but it is truly striking as a stereo image. It proves the point that the best stereo images are also fine 2D images. On the back he tells the story of how the yard beyond the fence was the domain of a "willowy sapling of a girl" who the neighbors called "The Isadora of 24th Street!" It ends "But the unicorns are still there. Right where the girl left them, over by the faint ring of dirt worn in the grass. If you should somehow once again be pure of heart, and should get down and peer between the gaps in the pickets, and see through the shrubbery, you might see them, or at least a leg, or a horn. The unicorns are there. Just ask the right child."

So I asked Freeman, and this is what he wrote:

George wasn't born with a camera in his hands. Until the summer of '67 (he was 20), he'd never clicked a shutter. But then he clicked some 720 times on a car trip from Sacramento to New York City, to Expo, and back home, by way of Saskatchewan.

Of course what got him into photography wasn't the shutter sound, but all that ruined film. Having followed the exposure instructions included in each box of Kodachrome, he spent the next year in and out of a darkroom learning the relationships between film speed, light and f/stops.

Five years and a couple of exposure meters later, George had three years under his belt as a photographer on a semi-daily student newspaper, two years as a still photographer in the Army, and a BA degree in Journalism and History. Then he got a job. A real job, as a federal clerk.

Now, 25 years later [in 1999], George finds himself a writer of serious non-fiction for the San Francisco office of the US Securities and Exchange Commission. And, in the interim, not only did he pick up academic training in accounting, but he also studied two-dimensional materials and design at an art school for five years, as well as the Zone System and West Coast Photography at photographic workshops given over the years by Morley Baer, Ted Orland, Oliver Gagliani, and John Sexton. "I allowed myself to become a minor government official," he says, "because I couldn't afford to support my photographic interests otherwise."

A dabbler in black & white formats, George recently found stereo photography where he currently is producing Holmes-type stereo cards. "I don't know where stereo will lead," he says, "but it definitely is a medium where photography, writing, design, and desktop publishing can be legitimately united."

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