by Herbert Ascherman, Jr.
Herbert Ascherman is a portrait, landscape and street photographer known for his elegant Platinum and Silver gelatin prints. Herb has lectured worldwide, written extensively on photography, is an amateur photo historian and an avid collector of photography books and Daguerreotypes of people with dogs.
After 34 years of operation, Herbert Asherman closed his Cleveland (Ohio, USA) portrait and social affairs studio in April of 2009. Although still active as a portrait, landscape and street photographer, he now devotes his time and resources to the pursuit of his own photographic interests.
If modern gadgets have made everyone a photographer, they have also accentuated the artistry of Cleveland’s Herbert Ascherman Jr. A black-and-white portraiture specialist whose career has spanned four decades, Ascherman favors platinum printing, the 140-year-old process by which a negative of the image is placed on platinum-coated paper and exposed to ultraviolet light. You don’t find that at the Walgreen's photo lab, and talents like Ascherman are equally rare. HerbertAsherman work exclusively with an 8 x 10 Deardorff Camera, utilize black and white sheet film, and print in Platinum, a handmade process patented in 1873.
Projects I have undertaken in the past several years include:
250 - 8 x 10 platinumlandscapesfrom my annual visits to the Forest at Fontainebleau, France
The Forest of Fontainebleau (or Forêt de Bière, the “forest of heather”) lies an easily accessible sixty kilometers southeast of Paris. Widely promoted by the leading painter of the Barbizon school, Parisian artist Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot in the mid-nineteenth century, the Forest of Fontainebleau famously attracted and inspired artists and photographers alike.
Used both as a retreat and source of inspiration, Fontainebleau appeared as the subject of innumerable 19th century paintings and photographs which displayed the elegance and simplicity of the Forest. Artists sought to emphasize the importance of Nature, rather than subjugate her to the background of an animated scene.
The Forest at Fontainebleau, village of Barbizon (for which the French school of painting was
named) and the areas surrounding the forest became a mecca for an estimated 700 painters and photographers throughout the mid-19th century. The popularity of the forest was directly due to the entrepreneurial efforts of Claude François Denecourt who ‘discovered’ the forest in 1832. Denecourt subsequently dedicated the remaining years of his life to its preservation and promotion.
350 portraits of villagers and their retail stores in the town of Kodaly, Kerala (southern) India and Hasselblad landscapes throughout the country
750 platinum portraits of Northern Plains American Indians.
As a photographer, writer and photo historian, I have long admired the heritage of Native Americans and their place in the photographic history our country. After thirty-five years as a professional portraitist, I have finally reached that previously unattainable point in my life where I am able to reprioritize my career and artistic objectives. Stepping back from the day to day business of commercial photography, I am now in a position to undertake many of those wonderful projects that I have planned for years, notably a portrait portfolio of Native Americans.
As a student of photographic history, I have long admired the work of Edward Sheriff Curtis. Despite the fact that his images were at times culturally inaccurate, he devoted his life to the documentation of the Native American Indian, and in so doing, created a unique and remarkable visual archive.
Working with a large format view camera and sheet film, and printing in the magnificent 19th century handmade process of Platinum, I have produced portraits which are simultaneously classic and contemporary. This small sampling attempts to recreate the feel of Curtis’ imagery as well as showcase a more modern vision. My subjects are the traditional as well as current faces of the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Tribes from the Fort Berthold Reservation in North Dakota.
With the help of local photographer and tribal member Anisa Nin, I spent several weeks at Fort Berthold in May of 2010 photographing tribal elders, descendants of tribal members who were photographed by Curtis, and descendants of many of the famous Indian chieftains.
In addition to building a personal collection of Native American portraits drawn from the Three Affiliated Tribes, I will produce a master series of Platinum prints which will be donated to the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington. These images will help update their collection of over 325,000 photographs.
The series will also be donated to the Three Tribes Museum in New Town, North Dakota, currently directed by Marilyn Hudson and Calvin Grinnell who were central to the creation of this collection. Karen Paetz – Sitting Crow of the Tribal Office of Tourism was also extremely helpful, as was Nancy Walter, Executive Director of the Taube Museum in Minot, North Dakota.
From the Portfolio Cleveland, Ohio, USA
Cuba: Portraits in Platinum