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gene pembroke


Photography was never a lifelong dream of mine or anything like that. When I was little I wanted to be some sort of rock-n-roll astronaut stuntman who wrote spy novels and amazing cookbooks, and who of course dabbled in archaeology and the paranormal. I still want to be that, or maybe a ninja. I also knew early that I wanted to explore the world. Maybe it was my parents’ subscription to National Geographic that did it, along with James Bond movies and adventure books. I don’t know. As far as photography is concerned though, I didn’t get “into” it until I was 16 and started messing around with an Olympus OM-1. This was my first proper camera, and I can trace my love of taking pictures back to the experiments I conducted with this little wonder. Nowadays i shoot with beat-up Nikons from the F Series: the F3, F100, and F6.
I moved to California at 16 and attended Palomar College in San Marcos, concentrating on anthropology and then later cinema and photography. I took lots of courses mainly just to have access to the darkroom, where I would spend entire days immersed in some project or another. I volunteered weekly at the Museum of Photographic Arts in San Diego and worked as a photographer for the school newspaper, The Telescope.
After four years I headed back to Philly and somehow got the weird job of principal photographer for the Spirit of Philadelphia, a dinner cruise ship on the Delaware River. My duties were somewhat similar to those of Ted McGinley’s character “Ace” Covington from The Love Boat, although I swear I wasn’t that lame. Not the most artistic of assignments, but I did get to earn a living with a camera. My official job title was “Funtographer” believe it or not. A short trip to Thailand in 1995 reminded me how much I wanted to travel. I decided to take off for a while. Since then I have spent about seven years on the road exploring and photographing Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia, the Americas, and Antarctica. During these trips and over the last few years I have had several different jobs, including the following: apple-picker, janitor, welder, cook, courier, hotel review writer, mover, stagehand, meatpacker, desk clerk, movie extra, picture framer, guinea pig, blogger, videographer, and bassist-guitarist-vocalist in two bands: The Sinners and The Hot Buttered Elves. Currently I am trying to make a living with my photography, regularly exhibiting at art fairs and galleries around the US, where I have been honored with dozens of pretty little ribbons over the past ten years.  I also hope to put together a book someday. In the meantime I will continue to travel and recent adventures have included a wonderful trip to Central Asia and walking 600 miles in France and Spain .  I would like to say that photography is not the sole purpose of my wanderings. It’s just a wonderful side effect of the drug that is exploration. I travel to learn everything about a place: its people, its history, its booze, etc., and while I’m on the road I take photographs to document these new environments. I like to share these experiences and images with others in order to better understand what I have learned, or maybe to realize what I have missed altogether. If there is any recurring theme in my photos I would say that it would probably be religion. I am drawn to temples, churches, mosques, holy festivals, and ancient sites that for sometimes mysterious reasons are considered sacred, and to natural settings so beautiful and wondrous that they too seem sanctified. I try to capture some of this mystery in my images. Maybe that’s the challenge.
I would also like to stress my involvement in every step of the process. I shoot all of my images on 35mm  slide or print film. I supervise the printing and mount, mat, and frame everything myself. This is crucial to creating an image that retains the power and mystery that made me capture it in the first place. I try to communicate this power through my photos. At the very least I would like my photography to inspire people to do some travelling of their own. And if I can be successful at it, maybe I can work on that whole rock-n-roll astronaut stuntman ninja thing. That would be cool.

Artist Statement/Focus

I hit the road for five months of every year, yielding to an addiction that has held me in its fist for 17 years now. My beat-up Nikon always comes along for the ride. I describe my photography as a wonderful side effect of the drug that travel seems to be. I shoot all manner of subjects, but usually find myself gravitating towards those of a spiritual nature. I seek out feasts, festivals, and sacred celebrations, but also happen upon hushed scenes of faith and creed while walking city streets, country roads, and mountain paths. Very often the glimpses of ritual caught on these casual rambles are more illuminating than any performed in a pageant or parade. When I return home I try to find the images that communicate the "wow" and wonder of that world without translating it completely. A little bit of mystery goes a long way in my book. I do not alter or enhance my images. What I saw is what you get. My hope is that I am somehow able to convey the magic of a moment in a faraway place, and maybe inspire others to do a little wandering of their own. I am based in Philadelphia, PA, and after many years and dozens of odd jobs throughout the world I am currently making a living with my photographs, participating in arts festivals and exhibitions around the US and continuing to travel as much as possible.

E-mail geniephoto@yahoo.com
Phone 267.453.9311
Web Links Website
Location 8038 walker st
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Entry Added Bygene pembroke | Entry #1399

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