Photography is Ralph Nelson’s way of saying, “Look: you may not have noticed, but look again and see what I saw.” His hope is that the viewer will see beauty, or at least something unexpected and interesting.
Born in Americus, GA and raised on his maternal grandfather's dairy farm, veteran motion picture still photographer Ralph Nelson (b.1946-) has spent most of his forty plus year career as one of the film industry’s most respected photographers.
An avid photographer since receiving his first Brownie Hawkeye over fifty years ago, Nelson attended the Art Center School (now Art Center College of Design), beginning his career as a photojournalist with a professional assignment for Playboy. He then went on to become the first staff photographer for the American Broadcasting Company (ABC).
Nelson assisted Ernst Haas on several magazine assignments and always cites him as having been the single most important influence on his work.
“I had the great fortune of meeting him on a film in 1965 and then later working as his assistant. His work is direct. It is uncomplicated, It is simply an elegant way of composing and seeing things."
During his time in the motion picture industry, he documented film production and created images for some of Hollywood’s most loved and iconic films including “Top Gun”, “Star Wars”, “As Good As It Gets”, “Basic Instinct”, “Back to the Future”, and “The Blind Side”. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0625125/. In an interview with Anthony Friedkin, he shares some insights on his years working in motion pictures. http://www.samys.com/g/nelson_friedkin2010/2652.html.
Asked about his motivation, Nelson refers to the Einstein quote “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is.” In his opinion, the beauty of that miracle can be seen in everything, from the obvious beauty of flowers, to the unexpected abstract patterns in the most unlikely places. Sometimes it takes a second look to see it, but it’s there.
When not working on films, Nelson spends much of his free time taking photos for himself of disparate subjects and experimenting with varied techniques and equipment. In December 2012, he published his first collection of personal works in a coffee table book titled BOTANICA iPhone Photos. http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-9882649-0-8.
He is the first photographer to be awarded both the 2005 Publicists Guild Award for Excellence in Still Photography and the 2009 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Society of Camera Operators ( http://vimeo.com/41790181 ). Nelson was also a founding member of the Society of Motion Picture Still Photographers - SMPSP, serving twice as President, and is now an Honorary Member.