I initially met Ralph Corriveau (core-e-voe) when I was a newbie to the 614 social mixers and so was he. He walked into the Short North Tavern that Sunday afternoon looking sorta lost and I was feeling the same way so I introduced myself. We talked about what we did and how we came to find out about the mixer. From there, we became Facebook friends and I’ve been watching things virtually explode for him with his photography.
His business is aptly named Ralph Corriveau Photography (sometimes also called Cornfed Photography depending on his mood!) Originally from Columbus, he has lived in other locales but always seems to find his way back to his hometown roots.
He has a very diverse background as far as work goes (jewelry repair, concrete finisher, book binder, dump truck driver, bouncer, banjoist, magazine photographer/writer and for the last 20 years has worked as a mechanic for a pharmaceutical company) but the two constants in his life have been photography and motorcycles. Riding, racing and repairing motorcycles is what actually led him to photography. Before it was really popular to do so, he was documenting anything motorcycle related: racing, the lifestyle, the custom bikes, whatever.
Although he hasn’t had any formal art training since third grade, it’s obvious that he has an innate talent for what he considers to be documentary photography. he enjoys shooting whatever is ‘already there’ but with the right light to make it more interesting. He has been photographing in this way for over 30 years, 20 of those he has been the official photographer for the Columbus Polo Club…a job he never imagined having!
Ralph’s inspiration usually comes in the form of travel because being on the road seems to bring out the best in him as he forget s the daily grind and can focus more on his surroundings. Many of his pictures are from his motorcycle adventures. A great example of this is his Dino picture. I’ll let him explain:
There are times when I do visualize an image that I want to make, but most of my work relies on a certain quality of light. Sometimes I have to wait years before I get the subject I want and the light I want, to coincide. The Dino picture, which won People’s Choice at the High Road Gallery recently, is a good example of that. I have been passing this metal dinosaur,
sitting in a field in South Dakota, for 10 years. Since I don’t live in South Dakota, I would only get to see it once or twice a year, and the light was never quite what I wanted. Last summer, I rode 400 miles out of my way on the way home from Bonneville, just hoping for some decent light, and was rewarded with that shot. Although the light was right, I had to hold onto my tripod in 40 mph winds to get that one!
When asked about his process, he states that “My process is; there is no process, and sometimes that is a problem.” He feels that he needs some type of process but, honestly, I think he already has one and doesn’t know it! Even though he says he stinks at time management (or any type of management for that matter!), he excels at light management. The majority of his images weren’t planned in advance, but more a result of a split second decision. All the years of experience stored in
his head, has allowed him to recognize a potentially good shot when he sees it; sees the light to create what is in his mind’s eye. A few of his friends set up and control every aspect of their shoots, so that nothing is real or spontaneous but more of a fabrication of an image. This may create great photos but he states ‘that would just be too much for me to deal with.” He admires these folks for their imagination and creativity but he prefers to shoot images that exist in the best possible light for a final image that doesn’t look manipulated. As he says: “I’ve had several people recently tell me that my work has a sense of honesty to it, that it feels real. To me, that is the greatest compliment.”
When asked about apps such as Photoshop or other photo manipulation techniques, he gets rather frustrated. If asked how he got a shot he tries to explain the camera settings, the light, the composition, the use of filters, etc., most people are disappointed and ask, “How can I do that in Photoshop?” For him post processing is something he tries to keep to a minimum in his own work. Despite seeing lots of dazzling effects from this, he thinks many photographers get caught up in the processing and need to use restraint because all the processing in the world is not going to save a shot that didn’t have potential to begin with. In his words: If you want your work to look like photography, my advice would be: learn the basics, try to get the best shot possible with your camera and use your editing software sparingly. If you’re trying to make your work look like another medium, then by all means, process to your heart’s content.
Believe it or not, Ralph has been on a 16 year hiatus and has just starting showing his work again recently. In the 4 juried exhibitions he entered since this summer, he’s received a 1st, a 2nd, an honorable mention, and a people’s choice award and last month,was given an award for photographic excellence, from the Alpine Polo School. His work has also appeared in numerous magazines over the years, including Easyriders, Super Cycle, Cycle World, and Polo. Several of his works are on display at 2 Wheels + Motor Fine Art Exhibit at the AMA museum as well as at the PVG Artisans Gallery in Chillicothe as part of the Artist as Author show.
Meeting folks through the 614, 740 groups and Art Party has opened his eyes to all of the opportunities available as he sees that the Columbus art scene is exploding. He is happily riding it’s coattails and getting lots of encouragement from many other 614 artists, namely Ric Stewart, Walter Herrmann, and Jenn Brewster. Gratitude for getting to hang with other artists also comes through in talking to him…just being with other creative folks inspires him even when they’re not talking about their creative works. Helps him begin to think about what he could create next.
Something tells me that Ralph is going to be showing more of his work and walking away with more awards for the true to life photography that is his specialty! I’m anxious to see where the road takes him!
Contact info for readers:
http://www.cornfedphotos.com/ or ralph corriveau on Facebook