Gapers Block has ceased publication.

Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Friday, October 7

Gapers Block

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A lifelong resident of Chicago's South Side, photographer Harry Meyer grew up in the Gage Park community and now resides in the Mount Greenwood area. Harry developed his interest in photography as an undergraduate studying geography. Inspired by a trip to the Grand Canyon and numerous fishing trips to Michigan's Upper Peninsula, his early work reflects a deep appreciation for nature.

Harry's art has moved into the realm of digital photography and computer modified images. He often alters his photographs using computer software, rendering a final product with a vintage or nostalgic mood. Vintage posters, post cards and hand-colored photos are influences visible in the final print.

First published in the Chicago Bungalow book, Harry began showing his work at Chicago area art fairs during the summer of 2005. His work adorns the lobbies of several area companies, including Churchview Supportive Living and the law firms of Applegate & Thorne-Tomsen and Karbal, Cohen, Economou, Silk & Dunne. He has an on-going show in Hyde Park at Artisans 21 Gallery, 5225 S. Harper. Visit Harry's website at

Q: How does a "city boy" develop an eye for the transfixing revelations of the country's and nature's moments of solitude? Does it arrive via a subtle fear? Or is there a longing at play in this?

Meyer: I think solitude can be seen in most of my images, city as well as country. It's how I see. I wouldn't say fear or longing are involved at all. These are very comfortable places for me to be. I enjoy and seek out these quiet places, often early in the morning or late in the day. They are more special to me because I have them all to myself. Fishing for trout in the small rivers and streams of Michigan's UP is where I learned the most about solitude. As I travel to my favorite spots the landscape is familiar and beautiful and nature is all around.

Q: What would you consider to be your most accomplished and satisfying photographic alteration to date, and what is it about the final image that has made it stand apart from the others?

Meyer: There is an image of the water tower reflected in a puddle on the sidewalk. It isn't altered at all, but I have to convince people that I didn't do any modification. It's hard for me to select a most accomplished image, because I use very similar Photoshop "filters" on all the images. I have a number of favorites that I like for different reasons. I like City Hall because of the way the ceiling ornamentation really pops out. I like One North LaSalle because of the color and the quietness of the image. Bike at Grey Building was taken in New Orleans the year before the flood. And I like Chicago Board of Trade because it reminds me of sentinel stone sculptures from the Lord of the Rings.

Q: I imagine your work with the manipulation of photographs — of reality — has enhanced your understanding of what it is to be humble. How would you describe your use of humbleness within your creative profession?

Meyer: Photographs have been "manipulated" since they were invented. Dodging and burning and retouching techniques have been used to "enhance" in a final product what our imperfect cameras have tried to capture. So, my digital work can be viewed as the latest version of photo manipulation — not reality. How I try to be humble is to not do too much, most of the time. I usually take away as opposed to add. And, I'm not much for changing colors (except for the sky). Most of the time, I want the finished image to be believable. My goal is to end up with a powerful, striking image. The only way I know to do that begins in the camera with a good composition. I simply try to enhance the graphic quality of the piece, bringing out details of pattern and texture. The other thing I like to do (and this is more bold than humble) is print the images big. I think they really look better in the larger sizes 12x18 and 20x30.

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About the Author(s)

John Hospodka is a life-long Chicagoan, and today lives with his wife in Bridgeport. He does not profess to be an expert in anything; he's just a big fan of the arts and is eager to make more sense of them. Direct comments or suggestions for interviews to

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