Griffin/DSI Gallery • Belmont, MA • June 2011
Michael Manheim has a dry wit and loves to capture poignant moments which reflect it. My focus was to provide a retrospective of his evolving eye as a reflexive photographer. I selected iconic images that included his first portrait taken as a youngster with his first camera. His sister posed coyly confident in a babydoll dress next to the gleaming fender of the family car. I especially appreciate the sequence reaching to include a sultry image of a meticulously-coiffed women in a crisp white shirt exhaling smoke from a lit cigarette.
Lessons in violin, saxophone, tap dancing, and oil painting fed Michael Philip Manheim's youthful creativity, but it was a chance encounter with a camera that began a lifelong pursuit of the craft of photography.
Manheim says that as a "nearsighted 13 year old" he became inseparable from the tools of photography and began making a name for himself in local photo contests. When his images began being published, he says, he realized he "saw things others did not."
He participated in his high school's photography program, but "family expectation" led him to the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. He made an attempt to run the family retail business, but was driven to pursue his love, photography, and attended photography classes at Kent State.
Moving his young family to New England in 1969 marked the beginning of his professional photography career. His clients ranged from ad agencies to corporations to design firms. He shot for 40 international stock agencies and developed a photojournalistic approach to his work.
Manheim began with black and white photography and "rode the challenging landscape through the color explosion of the 70s," to return to a concentration on black and white for his personal work.
By 1984, his fulltime pursuit was stock, travel, and fine art photography. His desire to explore themes of change and transformation led him to devise unique techniques and pursue a variety of subjects.
In retrospect, Manheim says his strength is his "ability to be reactive, reflexively." He adds that his skill and training "meld swiftly with his desire to capture the delight of his eye, seeking to reflect humor, passion, reverence, and irreverence" and he "becomes the conduit to celebrate the moment."
Manheim's work has been exhibited in Germany, Greece, Italy, and Hawaii.