Ken Foto (a.k.a. Kenneth David Geiger) - Artist, Photographer, Folk Musician, and Traveler
Born in 1959 in NYC into an Army family, till he was twenty he never lived anywhere longer than three years. When Ken was 1 ½ years old it was discovered that he was far-sighted and needed glasses. Turns out he was just short of blind; Ken thinks that this is one of the influences that led him toward photography. Also the family travels, sitting in the back of the family station wagon driving across county, the rear window was like a camera frame. Ken went to High School overseas, 9th/10th grade in Tehran, Iran and 11th/12th grade in the Panama Canal Zone.
Ken Foto started photographing in 1973 just before moving to Tehran. He learned to process black and white in 1976 and studied photography at the University of Louisiana Monroe and The Ohio State University. Ken was lucky to studied with many fine professors, photographers and grad students, giving him a strong base of photo-history, technique and aesthetics. Teachers included Richard Eugene Hayes (@ULM), James Friedman, Ardine Nelson, Jonathan Green, and Alan Sekula (@OSU).
Around 1986 he started using the name “Ken Foto”, there is another photographer named “Ken Geiger”, who had won a Pulitzer Prize. Using the name “Ken Foto” also helped him keep his art and music life separate from his military life.
In 1988, He joined the US Navy (never having learned how to make a living in photography). He no longer had access to a darkroom, so he started shooting color negatives a lot more and making enlargements with color Xerox. He did this for most of the 90's. Ken spent twenty years in the Navy, retiring in 2008.
In '98, He traded a photograph for his first computer, which came with Photoshop. He got a negative scanner and a photo-quality printer, thus begun his entrance into the digital side of photography. In 2004, he got his first digital SLR camera.
“I love making images, walking around, visiting different places, traveling. For me, it is about seeing.”
Ken first lived in the Mojave Desert 94-97 in Twentynine Palms, while there he started to photograph the desert, including Joshua Tree National Park and completed a series on Wonder Valley Shacks. He settled in the Coachella Valley in 2009 after traveling the U.S. for a year, he has been photographing the desert since, from the Whitewater Preserve to the Salton Sea.
Shapes, forms, line, color, contrast, movement, are all elements of his art. And of course the subject; he shoots a variety of subjects, especially decay and entropy, but he also shoots landscapes, still life, flowers, animals, portraits, band and parties. He has photographed his children extensively.
Mr. Foto has exhibited his work since 1978, mostly in small galleries, coffee houses, occasionally better venues. He has won a few prizes, awards, cash, and sometimes sells prints. He will do commercial jobs now and then. Mr. Foto had a thirty years retrospective in 2010, entitled “People, Place and Things” at the Marks Art Center at the College of the Desert.
Currently Ken Foto lives and works in Indio, California.
© Joshua Tree Art Gallery