Photographic Fine Art by Jon W. Balke

About the Photographic Artist - Jon W. Balke

A serious art photographer

Photography is often naively believed to reproduce visual actuality. In fact, the images our eyes discern and the images the camera delivers are not identical. This is especially true in the grayscale tones of traditional black and white photography. Capturing a picture and reproducing it are transformative acts.

Jon W. Balke

Primarily a self-taught photographer, Jon Balke has been photographing the environment for more than forty-five years. He creates his environmental images with a large format view camera and develops the prints in his darkroom using the traditional gelatin silver process. Balke’s limited edition fine art black and white prints capture the natural world with unique lighting, spatial perspectives, and line-form relationships. Balke studied darkroom techniques with Ansel Adams and John Sexton and photographic composition with Willard Clay.

Balke taught the history of photography for the Chicago Area Photographic School and black and white photographic theory for the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, Illinois. In addition to his environmental prints and teaching, he provided photographic content for some fifteen different books on country antiques, collectibles, and sports memorabilia authored by Carol and Don Raycraft. Balke’s prints also appear annually in the Chicago Society of Artists Prints and Drawings Calendar, a society publication since 1937.

Balke’s limited edition prints have been presented in every major city in North America via the juried exhibitions of the Photographic Society of America. In addition to gallery shows, Balke’s work has also been shown at numerous public libraries, government buildings, businesses, and banks in the greater Chicago area. Moreover, Balke is a contributing artist to numerous non-profit benefit auctions and to the Healing Arts Program at Edward Hospital in Naperville, Illinois.

Jon Balke in action

Recently, he received first place awards in black and white photography in juried shows at the Anderson Arts Center, Kenosha, Wisconsin, and the Bloomingdale Park District Museum Gallery in Bloomingdale, Illinois. Balke currently has prints at Lockport Street Gallery in Plainfield, Illinois, Richard Ainsworth Art Gallery in Joliet, Illinois, and at Gallery 7 Fine Art Photography also in Joliet, Illinois, where Balke is one of nine co-operative owners of the gallery.

Jon serves as Treasurer in the Photographic Arts Society of Joliet, Illinois, and as President of the Chicago Society of Artists, Inc., the oldest continuing association of artists in the United States.

A retired public school administrator by profession, Jon W. Balke now devotes his time to capturing distinctive black and white images employing traditional photography processes. Balke graduated from North Central College, Naperville, Illinois, with an undergraduate degree in biology in 1969. Jon earned advanced degrees in Administration and Supervision from Roosevelt University and Illinois State University, respectively. In 2003, he retired from education as the Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction in Plainfield Community Consolidated School District 202 where the Jon W. Balke Student Art Gallery was established at the Administration Center in Plainfield, Illinois, in his honor.