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I had slightly mixed emotions about some of Trent Parke’s work so I wanted to look at other artists who are known for their use of light and shadow.

Ray K. Metzker (September 10, 1931 – October 9, 2014) was a major American photographer known for both his work in cityscape and landscape photography and for his large “multiples”, assemblages of printed strips and single frames.

He described the power of light in an image in a very similar way to Trent explaining that it can “transform the ordinary into a visual delight”. He repeatedly pushed an idea or a technique to the extreme, discovering its limits and its potential.

Many of his street photographs exhibit what Henri Cartier-Bresson refers to as the “Decisive Moment” — that moment in which all the subjects and details in a scene come together just perfectly in your viewfinder.

I find that there is something more appealing and intriguing about Ray’s images despite the similarities in their work and the darkness of some of his images, which surprised me as I usually like much lighter and airier images.

I feel that possibly Trent is trying to show the sometimes gritty truth about life whereas Ray’s work seems to be more about the beauty of the everyday caused by the way the light falls in a moment of time on the subject.

Ray’s work was earlier than that of Trent. Trent’s work, as shown in my previous post on famous photographers, were all taken between 1998 and 2004, these though, to me they appear timeless although they were taken during the 1950s and 1960s. Perhaps Ray Metzker may have had an influence on the work of Trent Parke?

Here’s a short biography on Metzker by the New York City-based Laurence Miller Gallery:

Ray K. Metzker has quietly been making extraordinary photographs for the better part of six decades. Today, he is recognized as one of the great masters of American photography, a virtuoso who has pursued his chosen medium passionately for fifty years. 

Metzker was born in 1931 in Milwaukee and attended the Institute of Design, Chicago–a renowned school that had a few years earlier been dubbed the New Bauhaus– from 1956 to 1959. He was thus an heir to the avant-garde photography that had developed in Europe in the 1920’s. Early in his career, his work was marked by unusual intensity. Composites, multiple-exposure, superimposition of negatives, juxtapositions of two images, solarization and other formal means were part and parcel of his vocabulary.  He was committed to discovering the potential of black and white photography during the shooting and the printing, and has shown consummate skill in each stage of the photographic process. Ray Metzker’s unique and continually evolving mastery of light, shadow and line transform the ordinary in the realm of pure visual delight.

Major American museums began showing an interest in Metzker’s work in the 1960’s. Cementing his reputation as a master photographer, the museum of Modern Art in New York gave him his first one-man show in 1967. Retrospectives were organized in 1978 by the International Center of Photography in New York, and in 1984 by the Museum of fine Arts in Houston. The Houston exhibit was subsequently shown at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the High Museum of Art, Atlanta, the International Museum of Photography, Rochester, and the National Museum of American Art, Washington, DC.”

Head on over to the Laurence Miller Gallery website (the link can be found below) to see many more of Metzker’s photographs, you will not be disappointed.


All the above images and quotes were taken from the following websites:


 – Laurence Miller Gallery

– Wikipedia

– Jackson Fine Art