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August 21, 1987 - Image 60

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1987-08-21

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FRIDAY, AUG. 21, 1987 .

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Shot in the Park

Continued from Preceding Page

ler decided to "nurture the
excitement that I'd felt." He
moved quickly from flipping
through photography
magazines to reading a book
on basic photographic techni-
ques, to investing in a simple
35mm camera. He recalls
that "the camera came with
a deal from a Farmington
camera store that included a
roll of film, free processing
and a critique of the finished
pictures." Encouraged by the
enthusiasm of the shop's ex-
pert, Nagler's next step was
to join a camera club. Three
years later he was the group's
president, and less than six
years after those botched-up
Hawaiian shots, Nagler was
chosen president of the
Camera Club Council of
Southeastern Michigan.
By this time Nagler had
already explored several
career enterprises, not having
found the right niche for
himself. A native of Ann Ar-
bor and a 1961 graduate of
the University of Michigan
with an engineering degree,
he knew, even as a student,
that he "didn't like engineer-
ing. It had started to bore me.
So I stayed in school and got
an M.A. in business in 1962."
Nagler's first job after col-
lege was in the product plan-
ning office for Ford Motor Co.
"We planned concepts for the
cars of the future. It was top-
secret and very exciting."
Nagler stayed with Ford for
seven years. "I liked it a lot,
but I didn't like the rat-race,
the long hours, and the at-
mosphere of the big company.
I probably have my former
boss to thank for what I am
today. When I told him that I
occasionally wanted to be
home for dinner, he said that
`here the company comes first
and the family comes second.'
I decided that evening that I
was going to have to quit."
In 1970, right before that
fateful photographic trip to
Hawaii, Nagler opened up
two Midas Muffler franchises.
"If I were going to work so
hard, I figured it might as
well be for myself. Now I had
my own business, and there
were certain advantages to
that. But the work bored me.
I'd gone from the excitement
of cars of the future to sitting
in a muffler shop watching
guys hang mufflers on cars of
the past."
By the late-'70s, Nagler
says he was "really getting
involved" with what was
becoming more than a hobby.
"After two years of knocking
on Tom Halsted's door, he
finally accepted my work."
Nagler feels that the Halsted
Gallery in Birmingham is the
photo gallery in the Midwest,
and he is pleased that more

than a dozen of his
photographs are currently on
display there. Six other
galleries, from New York to
California, also carry his
work. Nagler photographs are
included in the collections of
the Detroit Institute of Arts,
the Center for Creative
Photography, Nikon Interna-
tional and the Brooklyn
Museum.

Nagler says that his only
actual photographic training
came under the American
master Ansel Adams at
"more of an inspirational
than a formal workshop" for
a few weeks in 1979. "He was
such a down-to-earth guy,"
Nagler recalls. "When I
returned to California, I could
just go over to his house and
drop in and visit. I like to
remember the funny side of
Ansel Adams. (Adams died
three years ago at the age of
83.) On his last trip to
Detroit, Nagler accompanied
the photographic giant to the
Renaissance Center. "We
went into a bookstore, and
Ansel got this elfish look in
his eyes. He went over to the
photography books, found one
of his, took out a pen, signed
his name, and put it back on
the shelf. That was typical of
Ansel."
Half the fun of photography
is doing your own dark-room
work," Nagler says. "One side
of photography is what you
experience out there shooting,
but there's a whole other
world in the dark." By 1973
Nagler had equipped his
home in Oak Park with a
small, basement dark-room.
Today, with larger and more
sophisticated facilities, he
does his own developing, prin-
ting, finishing, matte-cutting
and framing.
Among the photography
classes that he currently
teaches, Nagler instructs
students on dark-room techni-
ques at his Farmington Hills
home. His teaching career
dates back eight years to
some first photo classes at the
Farmington Community
Center. "I'd never taught
anything before, but I really
love my photo classes." Nagler
also teaches at the Birm-
ingham Community House,
the cultural arts department
for the city of Southfield, and
most recently at Cranbrook.
Nagler had already learned
that lack of formal training
should not discourage one
from tackling new ventures.
"I'd never written before, but
I decided the Observer-
needed a
Eccentric
photography column, and I
told the editor I'd like to write
it. I was given a 13-week trial.
That was 7 1/2 years ago, and
I've been doing it ever since.

"One good thing about own-
ing muffler shops was that it
allowed me the time and flex-
ibility to do my teaching,
writing, exhibiting and spend
an afternoon out shooting
some pictures?" Nagler ad-
mits. "It wasn't until 1983
that I looked in the mirror
and decided that Midas
wasn't really me. For years I
guess I'd known that, despite
the risk and the lack of a
steady paycheck, what I real-
ly wanted to do was
photography. Too many peo-
ple are stuck in jobs that they
don't like. I didn't want to get
to be an old man and come
back to this mirror with
regrets?'

Full-time photography for
Nagler meant more shooting,
more exhibiting, more
teaching and writing, and
commercial work too — pro-
ducts and properties. He says
he hardly ever regards what
he does as work because
"what I do gives me such a
good feeling."
One of the perks of the posi-
tion is the luxury of extensive
travel. Through the camera's
eye Nagler has toured the
globe from Hawaii to Califor-
nia to Alaska to Baffin Island
in the Canadian Arctic. There
in 1980, Nagler, two other
photographers and a writer
forded rough rivers and duck-
ed rock slides in order to get
the right images. "You don't
have any Holiday Inns to run
to up there?' A picture he shot
in Italy won the Detroit News
Grand Prize for Photography
in 1979 — the award: a three-
week trip to Spain. Primari-
ly a landscape photographer
up till now, Nagler has
become increasingly in-
terested in still-lifes and "peo-
ple pictures." The June issue
of Detroit Monthly features
his portraits of "The Cowboys
of Michigan." This summer
Nagler and his wife, Mickey,
made a four-week, 4,000-mile
swing through what his pic-
tures will show as "The Back
Roads of Europe."
Nagler's private work is
nearly entirely in black and
white, which he views as
"more challenging than col-
or." He explains that "when
you look through the
viewfinder what you see is in
color, and you have to 'pre-
visualize' black and white.
You look at the color values,
and you have to decide what
tones of grey will emerge
through exposure, developing
and printing." When one
looks at a color photo, the first
thing one notices is the color,
he adds. "But with black-and-
white, nothing is secondary to
the image, with its textures,
tonalities and depth. And
when done properly, you have

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