Influences evident in the photography of Fred Runkel are his training in veterinary medicine (DVM, 1975), his graduate work in neuroscience, and concern with biodiversity conservation.
Underlying much of his work is a desire to merge intuitive visual art-making with a sensibility conditioned by science to better understand humankind's evolving relationships with the rest of nature.
In the early nineties he created a small non-profit organization that for 12 years worked to advance captive reproduction in the clouded leopard (Neofelis nebulosa), an endangered species. In creating educational materials Fred saw the need to refine his visual communication skills. He enrolled in art classes at Eastern Washington University and found that traditional darkroom work was required. The fascination of darkroom printing first encountered as a child in his father's darkroom quickly returned. Fred remains active in making silver gelatin prints in the darkroom.
Digital workflow has a place in Fred's work, but he is especially fond of the darkroom experience. He finds it to be a special place that for him draws out the spirit of experimentation. The slower movement from image capture to crafting the final image encourages reflection. He finds the tactile, hands-on crafting of the image on paper to be highly satisfying. Experiencing the negative image as the source of the positive image provides sensory pleasure and a unique cognitive stimulation. Of additional special interest to Fred is the use of the elements gold, sulfur, iron and selenium, to create subtly varying colors.
Fred has studied with numerous highly accomplished photographers in the ensuing years, including Bruce Barnbaum, Linda Conner, Kurt Fishback, Mark Griffith, Tim Rudman, David Vestal, and Al Weber.
His work is on permanent display at the Spokane International Airport, the Spokane Community Building and Planned Parenthood, Pullman, Washington. His work is included in the photography textbook Focus on Photography (Joyner and Monaghan) . He won the 2005 Chase Gallery All Media Media Show. His most recent exhibit was "Light, Shadow, and Liminality," with Jessie Lyle, at Shift Studio, Seattle, September 2010. He was a Photo Lucida finalist in 2011. He resides in a small rural community in the mountains of eastern Washington