Artist Bio

Steven Nestler-First Photograph, Circa 1949

First Photograph, Circa 1949

Steven Nestler, 2002 Portrait by Hester Esquinazi

Steven, 2002 by Hester Esquinazi

About the Photographer:

Steven Nestler is known for his beautifully crafted prints of uniquely intimate and personal landscapes. He has been a photographer and teacher for over 40 years, and has recently relocated to Virginia, having retired from the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale.

His work has been acquired by numerous permanent collections, including:

The Museum of Modern Art, New York The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
 The Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University  The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
 The Art Institute of Chicago  Stanford University Art Museum
 The Art Museum of Vassar College  The Hyde Collection, Glens Falls, New York

Additionally, his work has been collected by numerous prominent artists including:

Ansel Adams Paul Caponigro
Stephen Gersh Davis Pratt
Fred Picker Siegfried Halus
1974 Portrait of Steven Nestler

The Young Artist, 1974 by Roger Dollarhide

Personal Statement:

Photography truly is a way of life and a way of seeing the world; a kind of spiritual meditation for those who are fully engaged in it. I feel so blessed to see the world stop its ceaseless activity for a moment, and form itself into a perfect little rectangle for me, revealing just enough of its secrets, just long enough to allow me to catch a glimpse.

What makes this experience even more wonderful and unique, is that I am fortunate enough to come away from it with a photograph, a record of that moment I can share with others.

I have been fortunate for the past twenty years, to share my images with my wife and partner, Cindy.
The depth of her feeling and perception are the feedback that every photographer should have, to inspire their work.

Hartford Courant photo of Steven Nestler and Fred Picker, 1975

With Fred Picker, 1975 (Hartford Courant photograph)

Comments by Others:
“His photographic works sing in tonalities that generate a far more reflective and considerate response, a sensuous encounter with the dark, brooding waters and vegetative life of the Everglades.
As you spend time with this work, you may see things that are not traditionally encountered. His images are imbued with a scent, a breeze, a whiff of secrets he is revealing.
These moments are not simply records of an instant or an event, but require a viewer’s willingness to immerse him or herself in a more intimate relationship with these evocative images.”

Siegfried Halus, internationally known photographer, photo historian, and critic
“Steven Nestler’s perfect rectangles capture a unique moment in time that he shares with us. The artistic and spiritual emotions that come to life from the extraordinary gradations of the silver shadows of his negatives, and the intimacy of detail and grandeur of nature they document, reveal his vision and quest for the inner life of his subjects.

His meticulous approach to his traditional photographic and printmaking techniques are hallmarks of his distinctive style, deep-rooted in tradition.”

Arnold H. Drapkin, Picture Editor TIME magazine (retired)

“In our digital age, it is refreshing to find photographs such as those by Steven Nestler, photographs that carry on the vision of Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, and others. Creating such photographs takes commitment, time, and love. The challenge for Steven has been to search, find, and capture the spiritual beauty deeply embedded in nature. His photographs reflect this.”

-Richard Zakia, Professor Emeritus, Rochester Institute of Technology

Steven Nestler in the darkroom, 2009

In the Darkroom, 2009

Tech Talk:

Realizing that many visitors to this site are photographers, themselves, and realizing how much photographers enjoy “talking shop,” here are the answers to some of the questions I’m most frequently asked:

My Gear
For many years, my preference has been to photograph with wooden view cameras. Recently, I have acquired a 4X5 Ebony, a beautifully made camera .
I have several lenses, but use the 200 mm most frequently; probably because I tend to favor small and personal vignettes, rather than grand landscapes. It’s not that I don’t enjoy the visual gifts I am sometimes given in the form of large scenes; it’s just that I especially delight in the small things that serve as metaphors for my internal processes.

I often use filters to enhance tonal separation, but try to avoid overdoing it. The subtle gradations of a silver print are exciting to me; my intention is only to facilitate clarity. I strive to see the world as clearly and honestly as I can, and to present my images in the same manner.

Most of my exposures are made with Ilford FP4 film, which I rate at ISO 60, and HP5, which I rate at 200, to enhance the shadow detail. I have taught the Zone System for many years, and use it for all images.

I develop my film in a Jobo processor, using Pyro developer, which gives wonderful highlight gradation, as well as amazing sharpness.

For printing, I am fortunate to have one of the finest enlargers in the world, a Durst L1300, which makes printmaking an absolute delight. The paper I tend to favor at this point is Ilford Multigrade fiber base, which I tone in selenium. Processing chemistry of choice is Sprint Systems.

No Digital?
The benefits of digital processes are undeniable. I use Lightroom and Photoshop to ready my images for the website, and enjoy the benefits of programs like Dreamweaver to construct the pages.

It’s just that Photography, as I enjoy it, involves a way of seeing and a way of being, that calls for concentration and simplification. Continually purchasing and learning new technology may be fun and exciting in their own right, but, at least for now, it just isn’t what I enjoy most about photography.

It is now almost inconceivable to be a commercial photographer without digital equipment, and inroads are now being made into the world of fine art photography. While I haven’t seen much yet that I find exciting, I expect to see a new aesthetic arise from all the work being done with digital images. I am content for now to be a renovator, rather than an innovator. I am fine with working in the tradition of great photographers who have gone before me, and I don’t feel confined by the limitations of my chosen medium. For me, the difficulties of such considerations as finding the right viewpoint, rather than constructing it in the computer, are what make the process so satisfying.

All photographs are, by their nature, a rendition, and not a literal truth; yet the traditionally made photograph feels to me to be closer to truth than I can feel with the digital process. I enjoy using my computer; but it doesn’t compare with the thrill of seeing a beautiful handcrafted silver print appearing magically in the darkroom. In the meantime, I greatly appreciate the opportunity to purchase used traditional equipment at great prices, as more photographers switch to digital equipment.

I try to enjoy what I can from each of the technologies; traditional and digital.

Steven by Ken gantz, 2010

Steven Nestler, 2010 by Ken Gantz

Favorite Quotes:

“There is nothing as mysterious as a fact clearly described.”
-Gary Winogrand

“Photography is savoring life at 1/100 of a second.”
-Marc Riboud

“Tradition is not the worship of ashes, but the preservation of fire.”
-G. K. Chesterton

“Too much modern art has as its goal merely to be interesting.
Whatever happened to profound and beautiful?”
-Paul Strand

“Art is not about the expression of talent or the making of
pretty things.
It is about the preservation and containment of the soul.
It is about arresting life and making it available for contemplation.
Art captures the eternal in the every day, and it is the eternal that feeds the soul.”
-Thomas Moore

“One of the most important pieces of equipment, for the photographer who really wants to improve, is a great big wastepaper basket.”
-Ansel Adams

“I invent nothing, I rediscover.”
– Auguste Rodin

“The heart and mind are the true lens of the camera.”
-Yousuf Karsh

“Skill without imagination is craftsmanship and gives us many useful objects such as wickerwork picnic baskets. Imagination without skill gives us modern art. “
-Tom Stoppard

“To the ignorant man, a tree is merely a tree, a river merely a river, and a mountain merely a mountain.

When he has studied, and learned more of the world, a tree is no longer merely a tree, a river no longer merely a river, and a mountain no longer merely a mountain.

And when he has studied further, and truly found enlightenment,a tree is once more a tree, a river once more a river, and a mountain is once more a mountain.”
-Zen Saying