The noted American contemporary photographer Thomas R. Schiff uses a panoramic camera to create dynamic and startlingly original images of well-known buildings and familiar places: “I always like to go to places people are familiar with and show the perspective from a panoramic camera,” he recently stated.
The camera distorts everything in the picture – straight lines become curved and it throws off your perspective. It challenges your relationship to what is familiar or thought to be understood.
The artist’s passion for photography began in grade school in Cincinnati, Ohio, when he began taking photographs with a Kodak Brownie camera. By the time he studied photography at Ohio University he was using a 35mm camera, but Schiff eventually grew tired of the small format of traditional cameras and in 1994 he purchased a Hulcherama 360-degree panoramic camera that allowed him to create highly detailed photographs of building exteriors and interiors on a monumental scale. The artist also began using a custom-made tripod that allows him to elevate the camera up to 20 feet in the air, thus avoiding the many obstructions that one finds at ground level, such as fire plugs, parked cars, and stop signs, as well as a wide angle lens, which allows him to capture more of the image above and below the horizon line. The resulting full-color panoramic photographs of special spaces, places and structures in Ohio were published in 2003 in Panoramic Ohio, a bicentennial tribute to his home state.
In 2004 Schiff began taking panoramic photographs of Virginia, which like Ohio features exceptional historic buildings and beautiful natural environments. This exhibition presents 40 photographs that Schiff made in the Commonwealth of Virginia between 2004 and 2013, all of which were included in the artist’s 2015 publication Virginia 360°: Photographs by Thomas Schiff. Combining Schiff’s passion for photography and his love of architecture, the works on display in this exhibition provide a fresh, new perspective for these notable Virginia landmarks, thus encouraging the viewer to reevaluate their perceptions of the world.