Lecturer Hopes Camera Captures Beauty's Fleeting Moments
JSOM Faculty Member's Photography Has Brought Accolades and a Place in an Area Exhibition
Feb. 21, 2013
This image of a girl and a flock of birds outside Notre Dame cathedral in Paris won lecturer John Fowler a prize in a juried photography contest. (Click image to enlarge.)
A Chinese water taxi handcrafted from weathered wood and bamboo sits anchored by the bank of a tree-lined canal. Engaging shapes and colors reflect playfully on the water’s dark surface in the narrow channel in this photograph taken in the sleepy, ancient Chinese water town of Zhujiajaio, just outside Shanghai.
Discovering a beautiful image such as this — then capturing just the right angle at just the right time with just the right lighting — are the challenges that drive senior lecturer John Fowler’s love of photography.
John Fowler is a senior lecturer and a director of corporate education at the Naveen Jindal School of Management.
“I got up at 4:30 a.m. in a strange land, took an hourlong cab ride and arrived at this city of canals just before sunrise. I started walking down this canal of sewage water looking for photos and came across this boat. The light and shadows were just right for a nice reflection on the water. Walking around this town, crisscrossing the canals was truly an adventure, which is one of the things I love about photography,” said Fowler, who is director of corporate education in the Executive Education area of the Naveen Jindal School of Management.
Fowler’s water taxi photo, which placed first in two local photography contests, is one of more than 30 images on exhibition at a gallery located just a few miles from the UT Dallas campus. A “Two-Man Photography Exhibition” features the works of Fowler and another local photographer, Robert Sherman. The Artists’ Showplace gallery, located at the border of Dallas and southwest Richardson, has been showcasing the photographers’ color landscapes, nature and urban photographs from Dallas and France this month.
Water Taxi was taken in the ancient Chinese water town of Zhujiajaio, just outside Shanghai. (Click image to enlarge.)
John Fowler shot this image of a cafe in Paris. (Click to enlarge.)
Sherman, vice president of Monitroinics International Inc., has a background in engineering and business, while Fowler – who has an EMBA from UT Dallas – has spent the last 30-some years in the business world, most recently for the Jindal School, developing custom programs for corporations and managing programs for corporate clients.
“Creative people are used to working with a blank sheet of paper and creating value. This translates well to business because you have the same ability to create value and be innovative,” Fowler said.
Although his passion was art and photography when he graduated from Manhattanville College with a bachelor of fine arts degree, he settled in business because, “I had to eat,” he said. “The original plan was to be like Edward Hopper: Work for 12 years, save up money, and then work on photography.”
It took longer than 12 years, Fowler says, but he doesn’t regret the decision to follow a business path and eventually teach. Besides, teaching at UT Dallas eventually led to international teaching, which not only provided the funds for expensive camera equipment, but also led him to such exotic international locations as China and France, where his lens turned ordinary situations into compelling experiences.
Stunning images of a Paris café, a jubilant child covered in birds outside Notre Dame and a street scene in the French Alps have all earned Fowler awards in juried competitions.
“These are photos that allow the viewer to share the moment when I took the photo,” Fowler said. “They can walk down the street or sit at the sidewalk table at the Paris café.”
His interest in photography began when he was living as a college exchange student with a French family that owned a camera shop. The shop’s owner gave him his first camera, and he became fascinated by what he could create. He returned to college in Harrison, N.Y., and switched his major from history to art. He studied various aspects of art including printmaking, drawing and painting, but never stopped taking photos.
His inspiration, he says, is looking at the work of great photographers and improving his skills by trying to match theirs.
Fowler began listening to photography podcasts, watching famous photographers on YouTube, enrolling in workshops and working with other photographers in the Dallas Camera Club.
Fowler recently has turned his creative skills to serving as an advocate for conservation and social causes. A few months ago, he went on several trips to photograph a group of Dallas homeless people “because I wanted to write a photo essay about people whose lives have been interrupted by a chronic illness or circumstances. I now have two homeless people with disposable cameras helping me. It gives them a purpose and makes me feel grateful,” he said.
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