ABOUT THE ARTIST
Ben Ham is a self taught photographer. Highly influenced by the work of Ansel Adams, he still photographs using that methodology today. His training consists of Adam's three books, The Camera, The Negative and The Print. Although he has been photographing since his teenage years, he never dreamed he would do anything other than enjoy the craft.
He was born in Georgia and grew up in a southern small town idyllic way. His early life was on the shore of lake Lanier. His family relocated to South Carolina when he was ten years of age and he has lived there since.
“I was a child of the great outdoors,” he says, “spending my time exploring the woods, lakes and mountains, the marshes and coasts of the Carolinas. It was really magical and deeply shaped me in ways that still resonate today. Obviously, I love to travel and explore. It’s a passion that has driven me since my early teens when my father loaded us into a motor home and took us to see the great national parks of the west . The Lowcountry has been my home for most of my life, but I also have a great love affair with the Rockies and spend as much time there as I can. The smell of pluff mud, at low tide, touches something deep in my soul. It’s home, comforting me, connecting me with that child that still lives inside. The Rockies are like a mistress that seduces me with beauty and excitement that I can’t resist. Truth be told, many places seduce me now.”
Around 2005, with the continuing encouragement of friends to sell his work, Ben stuck his toe in the fine art market waters and quickly found there was a great interest in his work. Millions of dollars of his art have since been sold worldwide to private, corporate and government collectors across the US, as well as Canada, the UK, France, Germany, South America, South Africa, Australia and Dubai. Here are a few of the highlights:
HGTV purchased one of Ben’s large size pieces for their Green Home Giveaway and featured it prominently in the broadcast
Silver Oak Winery of Napa Valley purchased six large pieces of Ben’s art for the offices and conference rooms of its new winery
The US Government choose five of Ben’s pieces for the new Center for the Families of the Fallen located at Dover Air Force Base. Pieces for the Base Commander’s office were chosen as well. Two years later, an additional facility was built and eight more pieces were purchased for it. Ben was very honored to have his work as part of these facilities created for the families of those that have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country
The Michael Mondavi Family invited and hosted Ben for a one man show at their vineyard in Napa Valley, CA
A one-of-a-kind of Ben’s was sold in Colorado for $40,000
Ben currently owns several large format cameras, most are 8 x 10s referring to the size of the negative, 8 x 10 inches. A large format camera has movements, tilting or swinging the front, or rear, standard to alter the plane of focus, allowing for the great detail in Ben's images. The camera folds down into a box. He carries his gear in a couple of ways depending on how he is working. Photographing from a boat and the gear goes into several waterproof Pelican cases, when he is hiking, it is in a pack on his back, when flying it goes in a custom made spinner case he carries on. He uses a Gitzo carbon fiber tripod with a RRS ball head. The gear weighs around 48 pounds.
His lens kit consists of a 150mmXL Schneider, 240mm Fujinon A, 300mm Nikkor, 400mm Fujinon C. He computes his exposures using the zone system, metering with a Pentax Spot meter.
"I spend a tremendous amount of my creative time scouting," Ben says. "I often return to a scene at a later time for just the right light or conditions. It can sometimes take many trips to get mood I am looking for. I approach my subject much like a painter, finding an interesting point of view, then refining it by slight movements to see how spacial relationships line up. I only setup the camera when this is done. I slip under the dark cloth to focus. It requires the use of a loop. There is lots of room for error. It is a slow and contemplative method. The usual time for this is around 20 minutes. I normally expose between two and four sheets of film for each composition. Common exposure times can run a second or two, up to eighteen minutes. This method requires me to work on a single composition per outing. It is the only way to work for me."