Interview with Mary Anderson, director, Archer Gallery

Are there still jobs in photography?

Photography is growing, believe it or not, even in the age of everyone-is-a-photographer. There is always room for talent. It’s been fabulous for women recently.

How does one become a fine art photographer?

It’s easier than ever and more fun.  Pick up a camera and start shooting what you love.  Study photographs you love.  Learn to read the back of your camera and learn from your mistakes.  Most of all, photograph what you love.

What goes on at the Maplewood atelier?

The space is set up as a digital printing lab. It’s small but extremely busy. Robert still accepts portrait assignments and there is a space for studio photography plus offices.  Plus we do Archer Gallery shows and openings here.

Does Robert still shoot film?

For some reason we get this question a lot and I suppose that is because we did so much darkroom printing.  The studio transitioned to digital media years ago.  The advantages of digital imaging are so overwhelming today, especially in the art of portraiture and retouching services.

What is the future of the photograph?

You mean the printed photograph?  We’re producing more and more digital images every day as a society.  Trillions.  Through the entirety of the 20th, we created maybe several billion photographs in total. Today, a billion photographs are loaded into Facebook every day. There is still something wonderful, however, about looking at a printed photograph as an object you hang on the wall.  There will always be moments when we have time to gaze, untethered from our devices, at an inspiring image, the way we have done since the beginning of time.

What is the Monadnock project about?

The Monadnock is a historic building in the Chicago Loop, an early skyscraper, possibly the first in Chicago.  The building was made without steel, so the brick walls are incredibly thick, especially at the base. It’s a fascinating creation. The photographs include both images of the building and the people around it.

Are photographs available for purchase from the gallery?

Yes, photographs may be ordered via email or you may visit the studio.  Most of the images on the website are available in several sizes in limited editions.  Send an inquiry email to me the studio at

White Sands Traveler and Rio Delle Eremite are nearly sold out in their editions.  The lake image, Optimal Range, from his California show and his Morocco pictures have been extremely successful.  Robert is a storyteller and began his career as photographer of place.  People often collect appealing photographs of places they know and love when they recognize the story being told.

Do people buy pictures of people?

They do as portraits. Where there is family interest. Otherwise, collectors are careful here. There has to be something extremely compelling about an image with people in it that you don’t know. Which gives purpose to portrait photographers and wide berth to fine artists.