‘I wanted to be the Ansel Adams of color’

Jim Brockman lives in Fairfield. CONTRIBUTED
Jim Brockman lives in Fairfield. CONTRIBUTED

Jim Brockman of Fairfield to open photo exhibit.

A modern-day Ansel Adams in the Tri-State is not only photographing his own innovative images but also is passing his knowledge on to generations of students, including his own son, son-in-law and grandson.

“I said many years ago that I wanted to be the Ansel Adams of color. He shot a lot of black and white. I think, possibly, I have surpassed him. And, I wish he was alive today, he would love the digital cameras, because you can do so much with them,” said photographer Jim Brockman.

Brockman, 80, a longtime Fairfield resident, will present a photo exhibition of his work, “Working Inside the Box,” at Miami’s Voice of America’s Learning Center in West Chester from April 2-May 17. The exhibition will open with a free, public reception on Sunday, April 2 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Brockman, a Russell Springs, Kentucky native, will also celebrate his 81st birthday on April 3. We spent time with Mr. Brockman at his home studio to find out more about his breathtaking work and his motivation for teaching students.

“From the time I was 12 or 13 years old, I knew I wanted to be an artist of some kind, so I started painting. I would have really been a good artist that way, but once I bought a camera, it sold me right there,” Brockman said.

I would be going down south, I’d see an old barn, and I thought, I need to shoot a picture of that so I can paint it later, he said.

Brockman still owns his first camera, which was a used, Agfa Karat 36 that he bought in 1960. Today, his camera of choice is Canon’s EOS 5DS DSLR, a 50-megapixal, digital camera.

“I got serious about photography in 1974. When my wife and I were dating, we were on our way to the Smoky Mountains. I was driving a Cadillac and my transmission went out on the bridge. I had it towed in, and I went to Jack’s Camera downtown, and I bought a Hasselblad camera. I gave five hundred dollars for one that was 15 years old,” Brockman said.

Brockman, now a seasoned photographer, has a collection of over 50,000 of his “favorite” images that he has catalogued and preserved. He continues to add to the growing number. His digital images are captured within the camera, in the moment, without computer enhancements or post-production editing. He enjoys taking photos of City of Cincinnati landmarks, at local parks and Spring Grove Cemetery.

There are about 38 different images in the exhibition. In addition to his own work as a photographer, Brockman has been teaching photography to groups and individuals for over 35 years. He started teaching photography in 1981. His work has been previously exhibited at venues throughout Greater Cincinnati, including Vionklet Winery and the Fairfield Community Arts Center.

“Teaching is what has made me so good. For 33 years, I was teaching five nights a week, every week, right here. I had to stay ahead of all the students,” he said.

Early on, Brockman worked at General Electric for 37 years as an instrumentation mechanic, and during that time, he spent 18 years as a professional wedding and portrait photographer as well as serving as a photographer for Lockland City Schools. He has been retired from General Electric for 25 years.

Contact this contributing writer at gmwriteon@aol.com.

How to go

What: "Working Inside the Box," an exhibition of photography by Jim Brockman

Where: Miami University Voice of America Learning Center, 7847 VOA Park Drive, West Chester

When: Opening reception will be held from 2-4 p.m. Sunday, April 2. "Working Inside the Box" will be on display at the Voice of America Learning Center from April 2-May 17. The exhibition may be viewed from 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Fridays.

Cost: Free

More info: Call (513) 895-8862 or email VOALC@MiamiOH.edu.

In Other News