Doug Fidoten

Doug Fidoten was born in Binghamton, NY in 1954. Having spent many of his formative years in Pittsburgh, PA and punk-era NYC, he became fascinated with the infrastructure of the 20th century and has spent a lifetime documenting it. He picked up his first camera in second grade on a field trip to the Statue of Liberty, where his first photograph was taken inside the statue of the spiral staircase that went to the crown. Doug’s lifelong passion for photography began at an early age and propelled him to create his own major at Oberlin College, where he graduated with a BA in Physiology, Perception and the Visual Arts.

While still in college Doug apprenticed with world-renowned photographer, George Tice, best known for documenting the surreal urban landscapes of New Jersey, including its water towers and White Castles. Through his work with Tice, Doug learned both the craft and the discipline that help shape the images he makes today. Another primary influence was Walker Evans, the great photographer of the WPA period, whose portrait of Doug is in the permanent collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Additional influences include the American Precisionists, in particular photographer and painter Charles Sheeler. In his first monograph, Ghosts of the Machine Age, Doug establishes a direct connection to that movement, making the case for Neo-Precisionism.

Doug first came to Madison Avenue, as a professional photographer, working for a division of Ogilvy & Mather. Besides the usual tabletop shots of frozen foods and American Express Cards, his work was first seen in the then nascent SOHO gallery scene. For two decades, Doug was responsible for leading the marketing and advertising for many of the products that have shaped the world of photography and filmmaking through his work with Canon. He produced a documentary on photographers, cinematographers and their tools, namely lenses, “Bending the Light,” which has won numerous awards at film festivals, since its premiere at the Traverse City Film Festival.

Doug lives and works in Ancram, NY and Manhattan.

Photo of Doug Fidoten

Industrial Photography

As a photographer I am drawn to creating images of the infrastructure that propelled the industrial revolution of the 20th century. Within this world I document the machinery, the factory spaces, the bridges and railroads that connected all of this together as a living organism. I never approach my subjects as relics or dinosaurs of the past. What I see is the nobility of what these machines, these factories, the railroads, the bridges and tunnels have come to mean both aesthetically and as symbols of the commerce they made possible.

There was a uniquely American art movement that flourished when many of these machines and factories first came into being. Precisionism. Charles Sheeler, both a photographer and painter, was one of the creative luminaries behind this aesthetic. He saw beauty in factories and in machines as an outcome of their functionality, not their inherent design. And that is the same beauty that I seek. I set up every photograph as if I were taking a portrait of a person of great importance and stature. Because that is what I see when I stand in awe of what the hand of man made possible. Now I inhabit a world that I have come to define as Neo-Precisionism.

Hudson Valley Landscapes

Fevered Dreams of Thomas Cole

My wife, Beth, and I purchased a log cabin in the Hudson Valley some years ago. At the time, I didn’t know too much about this area. As time went on, I not only discovered the extraordinary landscapes that set this area apart, but also became familiar with the Hudson River School of painters. The Hudson River School had its start in the early 1800s. Thomas Cole, a leading and founding artist of this movement, found much of his inspiration in the Hudson Valley landscapes very near our cabin. His work captured the grandeur and wild beauty of the Catskill mountains, waterfalls, rivers, streams and clouds. As he painted, Cole was troubled by the encroachment of agriculture, loss of forests and building of railroads quickly taking over this region. Yet his art continued to show an idyllic, dream-like landscape with just hints of the human “progress” that was allowing all of this to slip away. While I have also seen what industry and the loss of natural resources has done to this region, short hikes are all that is required to find oneself immersed in the beauty and the vistas that inspired Thomas Cole and his followers. These photographs reflect the influence that the Hudson River painters and this landscape have exerted on me as a photographer and the magic that is still here in the clouds, the mountains, and the sun-lit skies.