A Wild & Crazy Guy...

by Dan Smith
copyright 2001 Dan Smith, Photographer, all rights reserved

Richard Prehn is one wild & crazy guy. He does seminars for the Marshalls handcoloring folks. One of his images is on the cover of The Official Marshall'sHandcoloring Guide & Gallery. He has done seminars in Moscow, Russia and was given a gift of an entire photo show by the Moscow Camera Club. He has done seminars in Canada and a number of locations across the USA.

His philosophy is "have a good time & try anything you think might work". Try eigher of the links below to see some of what he does.



He slathers oils on prints, solders together integrated circuit boards, computer screens and welds titanium, stainless steel & scrap metals to make backdrops for his wierd creations. He creates metal sculptures that sell on their own. He has a table made from a mirror out of the Hubbell Space Telescope he uses as a prop in some of his photos.

In short, he is talented & has a good time with his photography.

His studio, Warehouse 51 in Salt Lake City, Utah, is in a metal recycling yard. He moves in 'props' using a forklift. He welds everything from titanium to stainless steel, at times painting the pieces with liquid light & exposing B&W prints directly on the metal. At other times he dry mounts images on stainless steel.

"If I think it might work I will try it", says Richard, soot covering his face around the welders goggles he has just removed. "I hand color using oils, pastels and pencils or anything I think will stick to a print. I have even painted liquid light onto the torso of nude models, printed on them & painted developer & fix to get an image that moved & then washed away. It is a ton of fun."

We had Richard here in Brigham City to give a workshop to our group of photographers. Talk about a good time. No hard & fast rules & a joke a minute as people commented they had never had such a good time before. Hand coloring with pencils & oils and getting ideas & encouragement to experiment with later. And, courtesy of Marshalls who sponsors many of his workshops, some freebies were given away.

Richard has a background doing news work and is a certified welder able to work in most metals. He just finished a second calendar for Utah Metal Works, http://www.umw.com/artwork.htm at which you can see some of the images. All out of the junk pile, forklifted over & shot in Warehouse 51. For those who complain they don't have a first class studio to work in, Warehouse 51 is a corrugated tin building with cement floors & high ceilings. Nothing fancy & no frills, just creativity & space to bring in props & models. No excuses... just photos!

You talk with Richard & the topic of images & imagination gets him going. He paces back & forth letting ideas & information flow, tumbling out like a waterfall of creativity that can't stop. He can take a pile of junk, lint from the vacuum or a spare tire & come up with images to work with. Ideas & enthusiasm are what he does best, but he puts them on film and starts the color process from there. Where many finish, he begins.

Bergger warmtone paper is his choice these days, a paper he says is well suited for his handcolor works. "Looks good & holds the pencils & paints" he says. After seeing some of the images he has done with it I wonder about trying hand coloring myself. Trouble is, as good as his come out mine look like color on a B&W print, not nearly as good as his look to me, so I will leave it to him for now.

A big fan of Man Ray, Dali and Picasso, he lets his imagination float as he composes through the lens. Not stopping with the image on film he uses it as a launching pad for his creations. Anything from super glue & copper shavings to printed circuits & magnets adorn the images, becoming part of the finished work. "Freshness, creativity with no boundaries are what I am after", he says. Then he puts the goggles back on & starts working with the 4x8 foot sheet of titanium metal in front of him to get ready another backdrop for the models coming into the studio this afternoon.