John Sexton

John Sexton

Member, Freestyle Advisory Board of Photographic Professionals


As a well known protègè of Ansel Adams to whom he was later to become a consultant to, John Sexton is a well know photographer, master print maker and influential workshop instructor. His now-familiar black and white images of the natural environment have been described as "luminously quiet". Many of his photographs can be found in permanent collections, exhibitions around the world. His photographs have also been featured in numerous publications including Time, Life, Photo Techniques, Darkroom Photography, View Camera, Popular Photography, Zoom and Outdoor Photographer. Mr. Sexton's three award-winning books including Places of Power, Quiet Light and Listen to the Trees. Mr. Sexton teaches numerous photography workshops on printing techniques and mastery of the Zone System (Mr. Sexton now plans to pass out Freestyle Photographic Supplies catalogs at his workshops!), and he has presented lectures for, among others, George Eastman House, Center for Creative Photography at the University of Arizona, Boston University, The Friends of Photography, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Museum of Photographic Arts in San Diego, and the Seattle Art Museum. Currently a consultant to Eastman Kodak Company and other photographic manufacturers, he also continues to serve as Photographic Special Projects Consultant too the Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust. John Sexton was born in 1953, and resides in Carmel Valley, California.

Ask The Experts

First of all, thank you so much for your kind words about my photography. I appreciate it. I am also pleased to learn about your excitement, studying black and white photography in school. I started my photographic education in High School, and went on to major in photography in college. Some of my fondest memories are of the excitement that I discovered in the darkroom during my beginning photography courses. I was fortunate to have excellent instructors, and learned a great deal from them. The magic of seeing a print emerge in the darkroom was my first inspiration in photography. As I mentioned above, the information and inspiration provided by my photographic instructors fueled my desire to learn more and more about photography. During a college photography class field trip I first saw original photographs by Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, and Wynn Bullock. Seeing those original prints truly changed my photographic life - and it is safe to say my life in general. I hope that you will continue to pursue your love of photography, and try to visit as many exhibitions of original photographic prints as possible. It sounds from your description as if you may not be too far from the George Eastman House in Rochester, New York. I would strongly recommend visiting there to see their fantastic collections. There's no substitute for seeing an original photographic print. Wishing you the very best with your photography, John Sexton

Dear Mehgan, Thanks so much for your excellent question about photography. Im sorry it has taken me so long to reply to the question you sent through Freestyle, but I have been traveling and teaching workshops. Im glad to hear that you love photography. I have been in love with the medium for nearly forty years, and continue to be excited by the process of making photographs with my camera and printing them in the darkroom. Its difficult to advise you in great detail since we have never met. I would share this advice about photography and other pursuits in your life. Follow your dreams and pursue those things are important in your life. If photography is something that is truly exciting for you, try to learn all you can from various sources. Hopefully you will have an instructor at your school or a friend who can help answer your questions. I majored in photography in college and have done photography all of my adult life. I can tell you that it is just as exciting today as it was when I was beginning, and it is also just as frustrating when one makes mistakes and photographs do not turn out as you hoped. If by chance you would like to be on my mailing list and/or on my email newsletter list, please let me know your postal mailing information. I have included a link to my most recent email newsletter, which may be of interest to you, for your consideration. Best of luck with your photography,

Dear Phil, Im not sure what type of enlarger you are using, but if it is a condenser or dichroic light source (both of which generate heat) I wonder if the problem might be due to the fact the negative is popping during the exposure -- creating a double image, which would make the print look unsharp. I always use a glass carrier for any negatives larger than 35mm (a format I seldom ever print) when printing with my Omega LPL variable contrast dichroic head. This is the only way I can ensure edge to edge sharpness. Its a real pain in terms of dust, but if youre looking for sharpness a glass carrier is the way to go. You may already be using a glass carrier, and if so please disregard this information. If youre not, I would suggest you give it a try. Im sure it will help improve the sharpness of your images and, once focused in a properly working enlarger, the focus should not shift until you remove the negative carrier from the enlarger. Best of luck with your photography,