Local Moreno Valley photographer, Alan Sponholz, profiled

By Patrick Brien| Riverside Arts Council

PUBLISHED: April 18, 2019 at 2:00 pm| UPDATED: April 18, 2019 at 2:00 pmAlan Sponholz’s love of photography began at the age 7 when his mother gave him a little plastic camera.

“The film clipped on the back,” he said. “I would wander around my yard and take pictures of just about anything.”

His subjects included their dog and cat, as well as various plants. This being before age of digital photography, the young Sponholz would have to wait for the film to be developed at the local drug store.

Sponholz’s interest continued, but his family could not afford to buy him a 35-millimeter camera, which he needed to advance his passion. When he was in middle school, he made some friends who were taking a photography class. By offering to help them with their projects, Sponholz learned about composition and how to process film in a darkroom.

The longtime Moreno Valley resident continued to learn through such studying such artistic influences as Sally Mann, Lindsay Adler and Ansel Adams. He took workshops and taught himself how to capture the sort of images he was seeking. When he joined the military, he finally purchased his own 35-millimeter camera.

It was not until 12 years ago that he decided to build a career out of his photography, though.

“I got back into it heavily and built a darkroom in my garage,” he said.

Sponholz created a successful commercial photography business. He shoots weddings, fashion shows and portraits in addition to pursuing his own conceptual interests.

“I don’t like to take photos of what everybody likes,” Sponholz said. “I like to look at different directions. I crawl through the bushes and find different angles and insights. I try not to take cliché photos.”

Thinking back to when he was running around with that first plastic camera as a child, Sponholz said he never thought at the time about that being how he would see the world.

“I didn’t get that lesson until a few years ago when I did a session with a 3-year-old for her parents,” he said. “She did not like to have her picture taken so I had her parents take her to the park and I handed her a little point-and-shoot digital camera to take her mind off of me. The images she took really made me think and realize to not stop seeing the world through a child’s eye. There is still magic in the world.”

Although Sponholz shoots digitally, he said that he will never give up film because of its look and feel. He believes that it is also a valuable tool for learning the art of photography. The experience he gained through working with film carries over to his digital efforts.

In working with clients, Sponholz said listening is a key factor. He believes that developing a relationship and spirit of collaboration is vital.

Sponholz’s artistic work can currently be seen as part of the Artscape exhibit in the Riverside County Administration Center in downtown Riverside.

For more information on Sponholz, visit www.aspophotography.com.

Patrick Brien is executive director of the Riverside Arts Council.

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