A short biography

A Short Biography
May 25, 1998


   I remember to this day how I approached my father and  asked 
him if I could buy a 12 dollar, plastic Kodak  Brownie Box Camera.   
I had to ask his permission to buy any articles with my allowance
money.   I was so happy when he approved!   And that was the start
of a long love affair with photography.

   Started photographing my brothers and sisters,....my friends
in the neighborhood and occasionally a trip to some workplace 
or garden to photograph any eye catching view.  

   Joined the camera club of my high school.   We all  photographed
student activities.   I even had some of my photographs published
in the school's year book.   Photography fascinated me very much.
The idea that I could "catch" a view that I was observing in the view 
finder of a camera and then later see the finished picture, was such 
a profound experience.  Something of a time machine that could 
visually carry me back to a special moment,..especially a beautiful 
moment.   In the spirit of the true artist,..I was able to catch 
the moment forever.   

    I was 16 when I purchased my first camera and one year later 
I purchased a "real" camera.   It was a Yashica.   A  Japanese 
copy of the famous German Rolleiflex twin lens camera.    What 
pure delight to look through the view finder, searching for a 
beautiful moment to catch.  Better than going fishing.   

   No hook was needed to catch an image,..just a nimble finger 
and a hair triggered intuition to follow the feelings  that were 
passing in view.  All I had to do was wait for the "right moment".   
The moment that would best sum up the feelings of that present  
moment in life.  The feelings of a person,....the beautiful 
arrangement of some flowers delicately hanging on,....the design 
of a bridge,...the outline of a tree in silhouette during a
beautiful sunset,...the reflection of dancing diamonds on the 
shoreline of a beach,...the grace of a bird in flight,...the 
joys,..the tears,..the expressions of tender love a  child  
expresses for the mother or father,..the compassion of a mother 
soothing a crying child.   There was so much that could be 
"caught on film",...to be preserved forever.   

    Photography  will always be the best method for an artist to 
record in detail,...the story of life,...with instant flicks of a 
finger,...rather than the traditional artistic method of the past,  
where an individual spent weeks,  perhaps months,  constructing 
with oil paint, lead pencil or water colors,  an accurate record 
of the reality taking place in front of the beholder.   

    Photography records and captures life,..at the speed of light, 
allowing you to paint with light the fleeting moment,...gone in 
reality,..but captured for posterity.
    I studied photography at Santa Monica City College, California 
in 1961-63.    I started that very same semester to exhibit a few 
photographs in the school library and then tried other localities.  
Photo shops, schools,  coffee houses, libraries, a hospital, an 
airplane factory, restaurants,...just about any free wall space was 
good enough for my pictures.   
     In this fashion my photographs became quite popular among the 
young in the Bay Area of Los Angeles during the years 1962-67.   
I exhibited at UCLA, San Diego College, Los Angeles Photo Center, 
The Unicorn Theater (La Jolla), The Insomniac Coffee House (Hermosa 
Beach),  The Ashgrove  (Hollywood), and the Los Angeles City Hall.   
I  saturated the area with my pictures.   

    Once when I traveled to New York with some of my friends to pick 
up a prize that I won In Rochester, New York,..I was able to get a 
feel of  New York.  It wasn't a "love at first sight" situation.   
New York was another world which made me feel uncomfortable.   The 
fast talking hectic way of life did not suit my temperament.   It 
was simply too slick for my existentialist way of life.  But I 
realized that I had to expand, to spread my work physically,
I had to change my "campaign grounds",.....I was already famous 
in Southern California and would no longer be  news  for any media 
coverage of my exhibitions.  
     The L.A. Times covered my City Hall exhibition in 1964, and 
I understood that I would no longer be  news  for another 5 or 10 
years.   So I had to make a big change,...to avoid stagnation.   
Since I wrote off N.Y. City as my next  campaign ground ,..I 
thought the typical thing to do, would be to travel  to Europe, 
to do as most artists do,...who are thinking  big .  Paris was the 
place to be.   The West Bank was the scene to do.   But it turned 
out to be Sweden by pure coincidence.   And there I've been living 
as a  permanent tourist  for the past 30 years now.   

     When I moved to Sweden, the first nine months I spent in 
Stockholm,.....moving from acquaintance to acquaintance.  I had 
to   hit the road , had to move 12 times!  It was rough during this 
time.   I managed somehow,  with the passage  of time,  to put  
together a collection of my photographs to start  exhibiting again.
    I was doing an average of one exhibition a month,...for a run 
of more than 3 years and then when I was awarded the city's Cultural 
Award, I received the  distinction of being a  recognized artist .   
The wording for the prize read..... For helping to  advance photography 
as an art .   
      Only once have  I been  invited  to hold an exhibition, and 
that was in California, back in 1965.     Most of the time I had 
to go  out hunting  exhibition space for my pictures.   And 
certain places  that were free of
charge,...like libraries,...are now no longer free of  charge.   
     I quickly lost interest in exhibiting.  I just couldn't afford 
to exhibit the way  I used to.   After all the years of exhibiting,...
doing more than 85 one-man-shows,   I  now felt I was  stamping the 
ground,..getting nowhere fast.     It wasn't until I purchased a 
computer that I found a new way  to share, to show my work to the 
general public.    Internet is a  new beginning.  Now I   have a 
 gallery  of my own,..open  24 hours a day,..every
day of the week!   And here's  where you've found me  today.

Carl D. Toothman
Halmstad, Sweden
July 21, 1998