Camera Craftsman

Cedric Chatterley photographs the ordinary, makes cameras
April 1, 2010
Creative focus: Mark digging for ginseng roots in the hills behind Olive Branch, Illinois, spring 1986.

Creative focus: Mark digging for ginseng roots in the hills behind Olive Branch, Illinois, spring 1986. Cedric Chatterley

An exhibition occupying the two galleries at the Center for Documentary Studies highlights the work of documentary photographer Cedric Chatterley, reflecting his personal touch and craftsmanship.

The main exhibition, "Olive Branch," is a collection of photographs, notes, and ephemera that documents Chatterley's twenty-five-year involvement in the life of his subject and friend Mark Fisher. Chatterley was a graduate student in photography, hanging out with his camera in Cairo, Illinois, when he was approached by Fisher, then a young man, who invited him to photograph "everything in my house that's broken." From that point on, intimate photographs serve as a record of the changes and struggles in Fisher's life.

Based in South Dakota, Chatterley prefers working with classic cameras, wet darkrooms, and traditional gelatin silver prints. In recent years, he began building his own cameras out of a variety of found objects: an accordion, a small engine block, and a piece of a nightstand, to name a few. These cameras, along with more traditional ones that Chatterley has built, make up "Reciprocity," the second exhibition.

The works will be on display through May 21. Chatterley's photographs of Delta blues musician David "Honeyboy" Edwards are also on view in the Special Collection Gallery in Perkins Library through March 28.