Scanning the Past, Creating the Future: Professional Artists Join Crowley Imaging

Photograph entitled, "Put Your Name On It" from Alison Bur's Transient Series. Image courtesy of the artist.
Photograph entitled, “Put Your Name On It” from Alison Bur’s Transient Series. Image courtesy of the artist.

At Crowley Imaging, a large portion of time is spent each day digitizing and preserving the works of well-known writers, painters and historians of the past. This has the benefit of introducing our imaging specialists to artists, authors and contributions they might not have come across otherwise. This month, our cultural education includes the work of two talented photographers – who also happen to be Crowley Imaging employees. Alison Bur (AB) and Brady Wilks (BW) are currently part of a five-person team working to digitize an estimated eleven million images from 35mm slides and negatives for a major media publishing group. They’ve given me some insight on how they came to join The Crowley Company and what it’s like to preserve other’s work while creating their own.

Q: When did your interest in photography begin? 

AB: I started young, around 10 years old. My parents bought me a cheap 90’s point and shoot camera for Christmas and I would photograph nature mostly. I really got into art in high school and eventually got my B.F.A. in Fine Arts from Saginaw Valley State University in Saginaw, MI.

BW: My initial interest in photography came as a supplement to my painting and being involved in the underground music scene in southern California in the early to mid 90’s. I started making photographs of things I liked, as reference, and I also documented the culture. This quickly led to getting paid to photograph shows and other client work.

Alison posing in front of a photo at her Area 31 exhibition opening in Frederick, MD.
Fine art photographer and artist, Alison Bur, at her Area 31 exhibition opening in Frederick, MD.

Q: What influences your work?

AB: Growing up in Michigan, nature has been a big inspiration for me. Vulnerability is also something that I like to explore with the camera. Photography is my way of working to understand different things, including myself.

BW: As for personal interest and influence, nature started taking a big role. Going out into nature was a real escape for me and I learned a lot about myself there. Another big influence on my work is the idea of creatures, spirits and other living things in the woods (much like in Japanese cultures around Shinto or everything having a spirit or an energy). I like to imagine these things exist while I am out shooting.

Q: How did you discover The Crowley Company? 

AB: Through a job search website. The graphic arts part of it drew me to apply for the position.

BW: The Crowley Company was mentioned to me by the wonderful Alison Bur. We had hired her at Frederick Community College [as an adjunct Fine Arts professor] and she fit right in and engaged with the students. We became fast friends. She mentioned her other work with The Crowley Company and I inquired.

(Note: Brady is also an adjunct professor and acting program director of photography at Frederick Community College.)

Q: What has been your takeaway from using the DT IQ3 100MP camera? 

AB: Scanning on the DT system has been a real experience. They are ridiculously sharp. To see the highest quality images and equipment possible is very cool.

BW: The DT cameras and associated equipment, in general, are fantastic.

Q: Has your work at Crowley influenced your photography at all? 

AB: Everything you see and experience has an influence on your work. I’m sure seeing the magazine collection images day after day will affect my work at some point. In terms of inspiration or ideas, the photographs we are digitizing have given me a lot of ideas for product shoots.

Brady Wilks in full photo-processing garb. Image courtesy of Brady Wilks.
Artist, photographer and printmaker, Brady Wilks, in full photo-processing garb. Image courtesy of Brady Wilks.

BW: I’ve been influenced by setting up the production and workflow efficiencies practices for film capture. I’ve taken some of the methods that I have developed for our team [at Crowley] to my studio in regards to how I approach digitization of my film, plate and other alternative analog works.

Q: What have you learned since working at Crowley?

AB: I had never heard of microfilm or microfiche before coming here. I remember the microfilm machines from the library in the 90’s, but never really knew the process of making or digitizing it. I wish at some point I could work on the Mekel (microfilm scanners) so I could watch the film scan; it goes so fast and is honestly really interesting to watch. I’m really thankful for the opportunity to work at Crowley. My students ask, ‘What job can you get as a photographer?’ and I say ‘My job!’ Crowley wants and values our graphic arts knowledge.

"Natural Philosophy" 5x7" Ferrotype on Coated Aluminum Wet Plate Collodion Workshop Study by Brady Wilks. Image courtesy of the artist.
“Natural Philosophy”
5×7″ Ferrotype on Coated Aluminum
Wet Plate Collodion Workshop Study by Brady Wilks. Image courtesy of the artist.

BW: I have learned quite a bit about the variations in standards and guidelines that multiple clients request. Another thing I have learned is that wearing multiple hats and working in multiple specialties is great for me and I am confident that I can contribute to many departments and projects. I am happy to be part of the team.

Learn More About Our Artists

Alison’s collection of silver gelatin prints titled “Separation” was on exhibition at Area 31 in Frederick, MD. View her website here. 

Brady’s book, Alternative Photographic Processes: Crafting Handmade Images is available online. View his website here. 

Interested in photo, negatives and slide digitization?

For more information on the graphic arts scanning and document scanning services offered by Crowley Imaging, please visit our website or call (240) 215-0224. General inquiries can be emailed to [email protected]. Stay connected and follow The Crowley Company on FacebookTwitterGoogle+LinkedInPinterest and Youtube.


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