Pete Zaluzec Artist Review


Not all photography is fine art, most often it used to document historical events, important meetings, snapshots of children, pets and family trips. Although important, these documents of time passed lacks the principals and intention that differentiate photography to Fine Art Photography. Most photography artists are artists in other mediums as well, so the difference between a photo and a work of art can depend on who is behind the camera. Art is for the sake of art, so the intention behind a image’s creation will play a roll in its relevance in the art world. Photographic societies began to form around the mid 19th century in London and Paris where they acknowledged photography as legitimate art form. Since then Fine Art Photography has continued to be pushed by new directions and rejects the restrictions as to what art should be.


Moon Over Half Dome, 1960 Ansel Adams Raitman Art Gallery
Moon Over Half Dome, 1960
Ansel Adams


Fine Art Photography ranges in subject matter from landscapes, portraiture, to abstract imagery. The artist will pay close attention to principals of art and design to create compositions that are aesthetically pleasing and true works of art. When the intent is to have their photograph in a gallery or collected in someone’s home, a Fine Art Photographer must create and capture something unique and awe inspiring that stands out as a work of art. Today Fine Art Photographers alter and manipulate their photographs physically and digitally to show their artistic touch. Fine Art Photography is a unique way to capture the world’s existence in a single moment of time, soon to be forever lost. This precious idea pushes artists to show the world as they see and feel it with joy, tragedy, wonder, and limitless possibilities.


Artist Pete Zaluzec began photographing animals in the wild for inspiration to sculpt his bronze animals. He soon fell in love with the adventure of the search, patience, and the serendipity of being in the right spot at the right time when photographing wildlife. Not content to produce photographs without artistic intention, Pete sought new ways to print and display the animals he photographs. Though tireless experimentation Pete discovered gampi paper, and though further experimentation he developed an artistic style that is immediately identifiable as his own. His life like photographs confound viewers to ask “how” while trying to decide it is real fur, paint, or something entirely new.

Candy Cigarette, 1989 Sally Mann Raitman Art Gallery
Candy Cigarette, 1989
Sally Mann
Brunos Poker Face Pete Zaluzec for sale Raitman Art Galleries


Principals of Art:

Space: Space is demonstrated to create dimension in the composition. Pete balances the negative surrounding space with the positive space of the animal in his compositions. Pete thoughtfully composes his images to be well balance and harmonious in what he edits out and what he includes. In Bruno’s Poker Face you can see how the positive space of the bear sits starkly against the negative surround space that Pete has left blank. This creates a clear distinction of subject matter and heightens the bears importance in the composition to beyond what it would be if a surrounding landscape had been included.

Color: Pete works in organic colors that reflect the natural world he photographs. Staying in the organic color scheme heightens the reality of the animals and their textured surfaces.

Shape: Shape is considered by Pete when composing his photographs both in nature and in the studio. Pete waits for interactive poses and shapes that draw the viewers eye and connects them with the animal. The shapes they create are balanced in the composition by removing extraneous landscapes and details that would take away from the shapes of the natural form.

Form: Circle is to shape as sphere is to form. The fur feels real in Pete’s work, so much the viewer often wonders if it is real fur. Pete layers two identical prints on top of each other. Due to the translucent quality of the paper, dimension and values are heightened when the images are overlapped and exactly aligned. The shadows and highlights that are caught in the photograph in addition to the qualities that layering the gampi paper heightens develops form and life into the animal subjects.

Value: Value relates to the tint/shade of a hue (color). Every color can be tinted by adding white or shaded by adding black. The purpose of considering value in a work of art is to help create both dimension and a mood. Deep changes in value make Pete’s photographs more dramatic and visually captivating. Note the dark and light contrasting values on Bruno’s Poker Face and how they make him feel three dimensional and real.

Texture: To create physical texture, Pete sculpts the gampi paper on the matte board surface to lift from the surface towards the viewer. This created texture allows Pete to push forward certain portions of the composition. A visual texture is also present in the fur of Pete’s animal subjects that feel so real the viewer would like to reach out and feel the soft coat.

Line: Line use is not a prominent feature in Petes Fine Art Photography, as it is rarely a naturally occurring aspect of wildlife. The addition of extraneous line work would separate the animal subject from their natural environments in distracting ways that would alter the purpose of the piece. Instead general lines created from the shapes of the composition do define spaces. Note in Bruno’s Poker Face the line that surrounds the bears form and how it’s crisp definition heightens the bears importance in the composition.

Principals of Design-

Balance: A strong dominate feature is balanced with faded or empty negative space. In Bruno’s Poker Face the clear emphasis of the bear’s form is balanced by the faded log he rests against and the empty space behind.

Unity: The unity of a piece is what creates a sense of completeness. The surface texture of the gampi’s sculpted surface unifies the composition as it is present in every portion of the piece.

Variety: Variety is what adds interest into a work of art. The variety of empty negative space against the highly detailed animals creates a visual variety that is interesting for the eye.

Emphasis: Emphasis is what the artist uses to create a focal point. Focal points can vary viewer to viewer, but a truly successful composition will have one clear focal point that the eye is continually drawn to over and over again. The clear focal point in Pete’s work is the animals. Their richly textured fur, expressive eyes, and action filled poses captivate the viewer. They stand alone in importance in his compositions.

Movement: Movement implies motion is a snapshot of time. Pete’s animals are filled with movement as he captures them in dynamic poses. A coyote leaping mid air, a flight ready to be taken by a perched owl, or a bear staring right at you. These animals exude life and seem ready to move fright out of the frame.

Pattern: Think of pattern as the visual skeleton that organizes the parts of a composition. This underlying structure uses consistent and regular repetition. You can have both natural and man made pattern. Organic patterns can be found in naturally appearing elements, such as the claws in Bruno’s Poker Face.

Perspective: Perspective is what’s creates a three dimensional work of art vs a two dimensional work of art. A fading background creates depth and space in the composition. You can see this in Bruno’s Poker Face in the faded trunk Bruno rests upon. This subtle perspective fade draws the bear closer as the focal point.


Tireless experimentation of hundreds of types of papers lead Pete Zaluzec to discovering Gampi paper. The soft yet strong surface of Gampi paper comes from the Gampi plant and has been used for thousands of years in Asia. Unlike the crops to make rice paper, gampi is a hard to cultivate plant so bark is harvested from trees in the wild. The added difficulty for harvest and production make Gampi a rare and expensive paper.

The process that Pete uses to transpose his photographs onto the Gampi paper is somewhat of a mystery as the innovation came from Pete and held close as his own process. To achieve the depth and reality, Pete layers two identical prints on top of one another. After he takes the time to painstakingly align every line of fur or feather, the papers are sealed together. This strong paper surface is then sculpted and molded by Pete to create dimension within the two dimensional picture plane. The artwork is mounted on a matter board with small nails then placed in its frame that is also handmade by Pete.