Monday, July 29, 2013

The Photography of Jeff Brosbe

by Joe Nalven

San Diego is blessed to have many practicing artists. 

A good number of San Diego artists exhibit in Balboa Park at Gallery 21 in Spanish Village and at the San Diego ArtInstitute on the Prado across from the San Diego Museum of Art’s Sculpture Garden.

Retrospectives provide insight into an artist’s interests, development and variety within a broad body of work.

Jeff Brosbe is presenting his retrospective, Eclectic Eyes, at Gallery 21 from August 14 to 26, 2013.

What:   Eclectic Eyes, a 20 year retrospective of the fine art photography of Jeffrey R. Brosbe

Where:            Gallery 21, Spanish Village in Balboa Park

When:             August 14 – 26, 2013 open daily from 10 am to 4 pm

Contact:          619-282-0577 (to call for an appointment)

Artist Reception:   Friday, August 16, 2013 from 5 – 7 pm

Joe Nalven:  I am looking forward to your upcoming exhibit. How would summarize your photographic interests?

Jeff Brosbe:  The body of work I will show will be eclectic and reflect the themes I focus on.  I am still compulsively drawn to images that are social commentary or street photography.  As the light hits me and the lines fix my attention, I also capture abstracts and even the occasional portrait or flower. I still love to travel and do the majority of my photography while traveling. 

Jeff Brosbe / Long Tunnel – No Light

This image, captured during Comic Con 2010, instantly became one of my favorite street photography images.  After
talking with the subject to ascertain if it was OK for me to take some pictures, I began to focus on the man alone which presents a classical triangle composition.  The contrast of geometric shapes: triangle, square, and the circle of his hat led me to the larger picture and the social irony within.

JN:  Nearly everyone takes photographs. If there is any object that has become part of global culture, it is the camera. But fine art photography is more than just the camera and its technology.  What has been your experience with the camera and getting involved with photography?

Jeff Brosbe:   A camera has been a part of my life since my pre-teen years.  At first my interest was exclusively with family and friends, vacations and special events.  Later, I became attracted to compositional elements by the last years of high school.  Around that time I discovered some of the masters of the art such as Edward Steichen, Paul Strand, Ansel Adams, and especially Robert Doisneau.  His influence has been significant in my development.  And it would be criminal not to mention Life magazine. 

Jeff Brosbe / Bangkok – April 2010

This Bangkok image illustrates my accomplishments as an avid world traveler as well as demonstrating my continual battle with titles.  I have seen all three embalmed Communist leaders: Vladimir Lenin, Mao Zedong, and Ho Chi Minh.  I have been tear gassed in three countries: the USA, the Philippines, and Malaysia. More and more I resort to place and date rather than an interpretive title.

More and more I was taking pictures because of the shape and light that attracted me as much as the subject matter.  As this progressed in my adult years more and more people wanted copies of my work and urged me to show my images.  Two decades ago I admitted that since I could not live without photography, I should test the waters and began to submit my work to competitions, public art associations and galleries.  I began to receive recognition and praise.  My first solo show was sponsored by the city of Carlsbad, California  in 1997.

JN:  I am struck by your using travel as a way to generate your photography.
JB:  I have what some of my family referred to as a gypsy spirit.  I have always loved to travel and experience new and different places.  This combined by the influence of Life magazine’s photo essays and the work of Robert Doisneau has given much of my work a photojournalistic bent. 

JN:  One can sense various thematic ways of organizing your work.

JB:  Most of my early serious work was travel related.  Even today I have a penchant for street photography.  But today I feel that the major influence on my work is more about the composition, the light and lines, than the subject matter.  In the early years this influence can be seen in floral and landscape work; and, today it is most prominent in my abstract work.  I still am most productive when traveling, but my eyes are always open for an image wherever and whenever I come upon it.

Jeff Brosbe / Lotus #3

The oldest image presented here  is part of a four image sequence, created in China in 1993, which is illustrative of the Buddhist cycle of life.  This image represents youth, with the reminder of the life cycle represented by the seed pod of an expired bloom.

JN:  Those in photography for the long haul have had to confront digital capture,  processing and printing. What has been your experience with digital technology?

JB:   It was not an easy or eager transition.  Not at all.  And, even now, my compositional approach has not been altered by the possible wizardry of digital manipulation.  My images are still composed in the camera and with the subject matter as it is at that moment.  The technology of the full frame camera I use now has made the quality of my final image as sharp as if it were captured on film; and I have learned how to prepare a digital file for the printer.  Since I tend to favor larger prints, I have always worked with a professional printer who, in the printing aspect of creating an image, is an artist in his own right.  Today, I work with Jim Respess.

Jeff Brosbe / Dandelion

More and more of the flora images I capture are presented in black and white.  I feel it allows the viewer to fully appreciate the physical composition without the distraction of color.  This one was taken  laying on a frosty turf in a valley in Kyrgyzstan about 20 minutes before dawn.  This image also demonstrates my attraction to the imperfect.

JN:  Despite what one might feel about being unique as an artist, artists are embedded in relationships that may influence their art or how they participate in art institutions.  In what way have you intersected with other artists in San Diego?

JB:  I am a strong believer in associating with other photographers on an artistic level.   Not only does one learn but also the feedback and comradeship is invaluable.  Locally I suggest two great opportunities:  SDAI's ArtGym and NCPS (the North County Photographic Society).  Both hold regular photo shoots as well as other activities and present excellent opportunities to meet and network with other photographers.

Jeff Brosbe / Mela, Sonepur, India

This image of late afternoon light took two days to capture.  It was taken during the Mela and Animal Fair in Sonepur, India.  Hundreds of thousands attend this annual event and many of them camp out with their families during the three days of devotional activities.  While photographing this camping area, I noticed this location.  But the first day did not produce an image that celebrated the light properly.  The image was created on the second day.



  1. I enjoyed the wisdom in Joes's questions and writing, Jeff's stories as his work progressed, and the wide range of beauty. Thanks!

  2. Very nicely done . . . a wonderful article.

  3. Hey Jeffrey,

    Your work is beautiful as always. Is there a reason your website is down for so long?

    Hope all is well,
    Roark and Mike

  4. Jeff captures the spirit of the subject with his photography. Can't wait to see this next show.