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Also, there's a book.

I'm also profiled in Inspired Eye magazine, issue 43. Nice pictures and lengthy interview.

About Me

I've been photographing since I was 8, and seriously for the last 32 years (with a break from 2003-2013). Exhibited at OK Harris, Edward Hooper House, Cathedral Arts Gallery, Cooper Gallery, Blackwater Books, etc.

Ansel Adams is what got me interested in photos; Lee Friedlander taught me the landscape is wherever you are.

I photograph primarily man-made or man-altered landscapes. Working at night, under artificial lights, completes the picture.

This the Secret Landscape. These are the things everyone passes by, and nobody notices.l.

Someone called these pictures "kitschy," which they surely are. In part, this comes from the subjects themselves. I would also note that venomous plants and animals often have bright, lurid colors.

I live in Ridgewood (where I grew up), and am doing the photo equivalent of "writing what you know." I think this quotation from Shelby Lee Downard says it best:

"Never allow anyone the luxury of assuming that because the dead and deadening scenery of the American city-of-dreadful-night is so utterly devoid of mystery, so thoroughly flat-footed, sterile and infantile, so burdened with the illusory gloss of "baseball-hot dogs-apple-pie-and-Chevrolet" that it is somehow outside the psycho-sexual domain.

The eternal pagan psychodrama is escalated under these "modern" conditions precisely because sorcery is not what 20th century man can accept as real"

January 2017 - Written for a show at the Unitarian Society of Ridgewood

A Strange Familiar Mirror: The Suburbs At Night

In these photos there is, I hope, a sense of wonder, seasoned with sentimentality. A commentator on Flickr called them “kitschy” and compared them to Thomas Kinkade. They are not wrong. The suburbs began when trolleys, and later railroads, extended their lines out of the city, and came into their own during the postwar superhighway era, were conceived as man-made Edens.

At a time when urban areas were covered with a gritty film of coal dust, and summers meant fleeing to the Catskills or the Jersey shore to avoid polio, a Cape Cod house in a development gave you your own little slice of green grass. A space for a garden and bedrooms for each family member. The sprawling new supermarkets were cheaper and had more selections than urban corner store. Instead of paying rent, you built equity, and your interest was tax-deductible. Returning GI's like my dad qualified for special mortgages. When he and mom saw the model homes on Ridgewood's Hampshire road, they couldn't believe how much house they could afford. It was, as the Kinks sang, a “Shangri – La.”

But there is something else. The places we bring our dreams also hold our nightmares. Anywhere humans live absorbs their energies, and those are not always positive. There is something about night, with it's heightened colors, strong contrasts, and enveloping darkness, which brings out our unconscious. It is that dualism, the striving for paradise, and the unintended consequences of that desire, which I have sought to document. I hope you enjoy it.

Written by one of my followers, 5/10/2017:

"I have this fascinating friend who lives in Hawthorne, NJ, Steve Fretz, who I think is a rather extraordinary photographer. I say extraordinary in a fashion, as it were, in the direction (the better directions) where I see the new APERTURE’s interests evolving. I believe Steve's work is in the direction of Todd Hido, and Eggleston (Steve and his wife know and actually spent a drunken weekend with Eggleston in Memphis a while back). But for me he goes beyond Hido and maybe even Eggleston. He prowls the nights of Hawthorne, Paterson, Rutherford and the houses and backyards of William Carlos Williams’s patients’ progeny (I wish Robert Coles had known about Steve before he partnered with Thomas Roma on what I thought was a rather disappointing collaboration in their book about Williams’s HOUSE CALLS). In a sense Steve may be a kind of WCW with a camera. Empathetic long exposures in banal places from which colors and forms emerge one could not have imagined were there without a camera. This through Steve's magic of turning New Jersey landscapes into Hans Hoffmann paintings."

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  • Homer's Plans by Mars Mann

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Steve Fretz
December 2006
Ridgewood, NJ
Hawthorne, NJ, United States
I am:
Male and Single