Waterlines: John C. Alfano

Terminal 3

Dec 15, 2016 - Mar 16, 2017

“Waterlines are telltale lines, especially for sailors; for one can say, with a knowing smile, that these lines are where hopes and dreams meet water.”

—John Alfano, 2016

Waterlines: John Alfano

John Alfano first fell in love with photography in Yosemite National Park, where he lived in the early 1980s. He taught himself how to photograph, met Ansel Adams, and built a makeshift darkroom in an unused utility closet. He has since been committed to using the camera to explore, to question, and to notice. His photographic projects aim to translate the wordless feeling of deep connection to the natural world into images that communicate that same sense to the viewer.

“Some lines we notice, most we don’t; but whether they are lines we can see or lines we create in our minds, they blend together to provide the compass for maneuvering through each day. They divide reality into ‘this’ and ‘that’ and perhaps more importantly, connect what matters. By accepting some lines that act as limitations and moving beyond others, we can embrace lines that empower, enable, and allow us to see, sometimes for the first time.”

For this project at the Monterey marina, Alfano decided to embrace a number of physical limitations and create a new set of lines. By focusing on the actual waterline he was able to create simple abstractions and play with the nature of both the light and the water to reveal, conceal, reflect, and distort; and capture images that blur the distinctions between the lines. 

John Alfano studied philosophy and biology at Boston College in the late 1970s. He helped pioneer digital photography at Apple and was a part of that company’s earliest desktop publishing team. Alfano has sailed the San Francisco Bay, Monterey Bay, New Zealand, and the Caribbean. He has been published in Black & White and LensWork, among others; exhibited at Keeble and Shuchat Gallery, and has photographs in many private collections. He lives in Los Altos, California.

©2016 by the San Francisco Airport Commission. All rights reserved.