Click to preview Steve Perille: Unfiltered (Deluxe, Hard cvr) photo book

August 16, 2010 – January 30, 2011
The Light Factory’s Middleton McMillan Gallery


Steve Perille, a native of Wisconsin, was introduced to photography as a young boy by his uncle, Jim Mescal, who was a photographer for The Chicago Sun-Times.

Perille attended the Milwaukee Institute of Technology and later was a staff photographer for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. He became a staff photographer for The Charlotte Observer in 1972. One short year later, Perille and two other photographers were featured in the first exhibition at The Light Factory in its first home, a second floor gallery of an old house on Torrence Street.

Perille went on to receive the prestigious Southern Photographer of the Year award in 1975. Perille left the Observer to pursue other interests in 1983, but still lives in the Charlotte area.


Steve Perille’s photographs are deceptively simple. They are of real people doing real things, and of real places that are seemingly unremarkable. Through his photographs we are drawn to the beauty of the ordinary moment. We walk right by what he chooses to photograph; we filter out the ordinary and pay no attention. His vision of the world is unfiltered; he sees everyday non-events as special.

His images of children are statements about childhood that anyone can understand. His images of men at work remind us of an uncle or someone we once worked for. The young lovers images are universally understood. Steve captures fleeting gestures and expressions as light, form, and content come together to create timeless images of life itself.

Steve is also unfiltered socially, tending to say or do whatever comes naturally. This “out there” personality can at times be very entertaining, at times socially awkward, and occasionally dangerous, but never dull or predictable. This free spirit - with its willingness to engage life head on, unfiltered, and his ability to find intriguing images in the commonplace - has produced a remarkable body of work.

- Byron Baldwin, Guest Curator


About the Author

The Light Factory
TLGHTFACTORY 345 N. College Street, Charlotte NC 28202
THE LIGHT FACTORY, dedicated to exhibition and education, is one of only four museums in the U.S. that promotes the power of image through photography and film. The Light Factory hosts photography exhibitions and film screenings, as well as community outreach and classes that range from basic photography to advanced Photoshop, screenwriting, filmmaking and more. For more than 30 years, The Light Factory has served the diverse community of Charlotte, giving both local and emerging artists a place to learn, while exhibiting internationally-renowned photographers and filmmakers. The Light Factory promotes media literacy and self-expression using the most powerful mediums of our time. Become part of The Light Factory and harness the power of image.

Publish Date  August 10, 2010

Dimensions  Standard Landscape  80 pgs Standard Paper

Category  Arts & Photography

Tags  , , , , , , ,

Comments (1)


jbambach says

Steve and I met in 1972. He'd been chosen to judge the work for the monthly meeting of the Charlotte Camera Club and I was responsible for getting photo entries to the judges. He gave each shot due deliberation, with running commentary, before breaking out some of his own stuff at my request.

He pulled out a few Kodak paper boxes (250-sheet, 8 x 10, "F" surface, if I recall) that were packed with unmounted prints of images he'd created since his fairly recent arrival at the Observer. Among other traits, he was prolific.

North Carolina scenery had piqued his interest -- the red dirt, the abandoned farm buildings and equipment, our kudzu sculpture, things a fresh eye would take in about our state. He also had many shots of our people, reeking of texture and nicotine, beauty and strength and frailty, children at play and women in the '70's hair we see as alien now but was not uncommon then... common people and moments that would've passed unnoticed to so many of us.

Rather than cropping everything to the subject, Steve would leave more of the context than most news photogs of the time. He used his printing technique to make sure there was no doubt about a center of interest while leaving intact much of the world within which his subjects existed, without the isolation that conventional wisdom on cropping could produce.

Each photo was masterfully crafted as both a composition and a photographic print. Each was printed with a very wide, white border setting it off from whatever would be in its background as you held it in your hands. He talked about the virtues of the small print, the viewing dynamic that pulled you to the subject instead of pushing you back, as he felt large prints sometimes do.

Steve was involved in the early days of the Light Factory, then the Charlotte Photographer's Cooperative. The first showing of that group was in the lobby of what was then The Little Theater of Charlotte, prior to the development of the Torrence Street gallery. Members and invitees came with their photos, including the masterful prints of architectural photographer, Gordon Schenk, the lovely fine-art visions of educator, Martha Strawn, and the work of so many of the local news photogs of the time. The show was nearly hung when Steve came in with five shots of a rodeo, the largest of which was about 3" x 5" and the smallest about the size of a large postage stamp. They were each mounted on foam-core and he'd arranged them as you might for a page layout. It was a story.

I was a good audience for Steve at the time -- I'm still drawn to eccentrics. I was trying to learn all I could about fine print tonalities, about Cartier-Bresson's "decisive moment" in journalistic photography, about fully composing a shot in the camera rather than cropping it to composition. I was also drawn to the very-wide-angle view of things that put you in the midst of the action -- close up and involving -- much as when you looked at one of Steve's photos in your hand. Steve took a lot of his photos with a tiny, jewel-like 21mm Super Angulon lens on his Leica M4 and knew how to either use or minimize the distortions it could produce.

It's only been in the past few years that I've realized how much influence he had on my development as a photographer and observer.

posted at 10:36am Aug 30 PST


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