“Classic St. Louis Photographs”
By Richard Sprengeler
On Display January 10th – March 3rd
My first photographs of St. Louis were taken in 1979 during my photography courses at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale. I had just returned from a two-year tour of Europe with the Navy Jazz Band, where I began photographing the monumental architecture of Europe. While struggling to declare a major between music and photography, I viewed two exhibits at the St. Louis Art Museum: “Ansel Adams and the West”, and “Joel Meyerowitz: St. Louis and the Arch.” They both had a profound effect on me and my life’s work was instantly decided. Adam’s photographs instilled in me a love for the black and white medium and the importance of craftsmanship in all steps of the photographic process. Meyerowitz’s photographs revealed to me the legitimacy of architecture as a subject matter for fine art photography.
The early years after graduation found me working as a commercial photographer by day and pursuing personal work after hours and on weekends. My preferred methodology, then and now, has been the large format camera, and 4×5 and 8×10 inch film. As the years passed, I photographed a wide variety of subjects: landscapes, abstractions, old cars and buildings, and street and travel photography. However, I never stopped photographing St. Louis. It was the photographic equivalent of a life-long friend who you didn’t always see but never lost touch with. Gradually, a large body of work accumulated on just St. Louis
By 2016, I realized that the days of analog photography were quickly coming to an end. Manufacturers were ceasing the production of many films and papers, and the remainder were becoming more expensive and hard to find. It was time to bring this forty-year project to fruition. My color photographs have been exhibited in galleries and published in The Story of the Gateway Arch and St. Louis: For the Record. This is the first exhibition of my black and white St. Louis photographs. I choose to entitle the work “Classic St. Louis”, because the choice of black and white film and large format cameras hearken back to an earlier era that fast is coming to a close.