Burke resident Christopher Falck grew up with parents who enjoyed collecting art. They exposed him to books about magic and art where he discovered the world created by artist M.C. Escher and the beauty captured by photographer Ansel Adams. His father enjoyed cameras and let Falck play with his 35mm Chinon as a child. It was easy for Falck to imagine a career in the arts.
Though Falck pursued a career in another field, he began to do some soul searching around the birth of his first child and the approaching retirement of his father. Falck’s father had decided to buy a large format camera. While holding his newborn and thinking about how he could enrich his children’s lives with art, Falck decided to buy his own large format camera.
FINDING TIME to shoot photographs, around his day job and family commitment, was challenging but Falck managed to take numerous pictures over two years. He focused on landscape and architecture in a traditional style, and took photos of downtown Washington, D.C. and other places while on family outings.
Once he started scanning in the negatives, Falck was blown away by the resolution of large format. He got excited about the idea of selling his art and researched the business. “The ‘take away’ in every book was always ‘do something unique,’ ” notes Falck. “Everyone is unique, so putting yourself into your art is more important than mastering what’s been done before.”
So, while expecting his second child, Falck thought about how he could take all the influences from his life, merge them together and put his identity on paper. He started to experiment, fusing the photographs he took with other art forms. He had to break enough rules to innovate, so where most photographers would think a print was too abused to keep or sell, he would consider that his starting point.
Soon, Falck began to show friends and family what he called a “sculpted photograph” and they loved it in a way he knew was genuine. “When people see my art and ask me what it is, I usually tell them it’s a sculpture disguised as a photograph,” explains Falck. “The magic part is how I play with perception. From a distance the work appears to be a framed photograph, but up close the depth becomes surreal, like 3D without the glasses.”
Adds Falck: “I imagine it like a scene in Harry Potter where the pictures of people on the wall are unexpectedly interactive. The art also becomes subject to the basic principles of origami, where the entire surface becomes a game of give and take. The photograph starts flat and, as I reshape it with mountain and valley style bends into three-dimensions, I’ve got to think about what that does to the rest of the image, while focusing on what really brings it to life.”
AFTER RESEARCHING art and finding nothing else like his work, Falck took the plunge and decided he would start selling his art. “I wanted people to have an experience like the one you have discovering magic as a kid, where you have a sense of wonder all of the sudden from seeing something inexplicable,” he notes.
Today, at arts festivals like last weekend’s 19th Annual Bethesda Row Arts Festival (http://www.bethesdarowarts.org), Falck receives the reward he has always desired - to create a shared experience unlike any other and to inspire others. “People often get drawn in as they walk up to a piece, thinking there is something unusual going on,” explains Falck. “Then they pull their friends or family in to take a look, so they can have the same experience of watching someone see my work for the first time.”
Forever grateful for his parent's inspiration and support, Falck looks forward to passing that love of art on to his children and others. Until then, he aims to make as much art as he can. More information about Falck is available at http://sculptedphotography.com.