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Carl Pfirman

Member of the Month June 2023

Featured image for post Carl Pfirman

Artist Statement

I love black and white photography.  For a couple of years, I shot raw files and converted them to black-and-white photos.  I tried to emulate the style of the great street photographers of the 1960s and 70s.  Then about a year ago, I started to question my artistic intentions and my approach to photography.  Why was I making everything black and white when I live in Los Angeles, a place filled with color?  Why was I trying to make Los Angeles look like New York City circa 1965?  I’ve always wanted to live in NYC, so perhaps I was trying to live out my fantasy life through black-and-white photos.

I made these ten color photos in the past year.  I’m exploring the emotional and expressive possibilities of color.  I love the blast of confetti exploding in the night at a party in Chinatown.  I love the lurid orangey red of the pizza stand and the way it perhaps makes my photo of the couple kissing even more intrusive. There is something inherently voyeuristic about street photography that makes me a bit uncomfortable, and I hope some of my photos make viewers uneasy too.  Lately, I’ve been incorporating flash into my street photography.  I like the sharpness of flash photography and the way the flash can separate subjects from backgrounds.

I work as a film and TV editor where I’m constantly addressing producer notes, director notes, network notes, etc.  One of the things that I love about photography is that I have the freedom to explore and improvise. The Greek philosopher Heraclitus wrote that the only constant in life is change.  Life is transitory, fleeting, and precious.  For me, every photograph is like a relic, a permanent record of a moment in time that no longer exists.



I work as a film and TV editor in Los Angeles on feature documentaries as well as fiction and nonfiction television shows.  My editorial work has been shown in films at Sundance, Toronto, Telluride, Tribeca, and Cannes. 

I studied English literature at Grinnell College, and I received an MFA in film directing and production from UCLA.  My UCLA graduate-thesis film The Confession won a Student Academy Award.  My screenplay Sugar Land was a Quarterfinalist for the Nicholls Fellowship in Screenwriting from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.  My advertising work as a copywriter has been honored with a CLIO award and a GOLD PENCIL from the New York One Show.

I began taking pictures as a teenager.  I went to a Pittsburgh Pirates game and photographed the backs of people’s heads who were sitting in front of me and blocking my view.  My sister told me that I was weird.  I took photography classes at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design.  I studied with Julia Dean at LACP, as well as Thomas Alleman and Sam Abell.  I’m a member of the LACP street collective.  

I am working towards making a photo book.