Dennis Greaney

'My work is born from nature'


All of Dennis’s photography starts with his love the natural world and the sciences. All of his work starts with a nature photograph, often ending somewhere else over time. Many of this photos are available ‘as taken’, meaning they are available exactly as he and his camera captured the subject in time and space. Some are simply adjusted for exposure and composition (the old crop, dodge and burn of the pre-digital world). Some are digitally blown apart into abstracts that make one ponder the power of imagination, software and bourbon.

Dennis Greaney has been infatuated with the natural world since a small child. Growing up, his fondest young memories include years of exploring small pond near his home and the perceived wilderness of the suburban and semi-rural setting of Southwestern Illinois.

Anyone who knows Dennis understands his non pretentious nature, which causes self inflicted hesitation in declaring any of his work as art.

A self proclaimed hater of the term ‘fine art photography’ he has countered with the term ‘crap on a bagel’.

After a successfully navigating the demands of grade school (High Mount School, Go Trojans!) and High school (What the hell is a Maroon?) Dennis attended Belleville Area College, prior to completion of his BS degree focusing in Aquatic Ecology at the University of Illinois (Bring back the Chief!). Following his B.S., Dennis pursued graduate studies at Illinois State, studying environmental toxicology under Dr. Jack Ward. Unfortunately the tragic and unpredicted passing of Dr. Ward nudged Dennis into the real world of environmental remediation contracting, where after 33 years he still resides.

Throughout this time, and for over 45 years, Dennis has been captivated by photography as both a hobby and an art form. Unable to fully engage in photography due to his career, the advent of digital photography, and the creative freedoms it allows, created a rebirth of his passion for the art.

Dennis finds the term ‘Fine Art Photography’ as ridiculously pretentious and he would love to see it go away. The term simply defines a photograph that a person hangs in their personal space because they like it. It captures a visual image that captivates your thoughts, imagination or provides a visual escape. It’s no more ‘fine art’ than a Cheryl Tiegs poster was to a teenage boy in 1977. The only thing ‘Fine Art Photographer’ conveys that is of any worth, is clarifying that ‘Fine Art Photographers’ don’t do weddings.

‘Crap on a Bagel, is Dennis’s chosen term to represent the opposite to the term ‘Fine Art Photography’. Dennis sees all art as being highly personal, with none of us have the same taste. What you like is based your perceptions and your tastes. So now we have created two buckets for you to place any ‘art’ into.   If the art engages you and motivates thoughts and emotion, and you would hang it on your wall, it’s ‘Art’. If it doesn’t resonate, it’s ‘Crap on a Bagel’. In Dennis’s world, any ‘art’ that entails a nude, a scantily clad young girl leaning over a classic car, or an artistic rendition of a Campbell soup can (he knows it wasn’t a photo, but still…), is Crap on a Bagel. Give him a landscape that makes you want to get out of the house, a blue eyed spider hanging on its web, or a wildflower, and you have Fine Art! To each their own.

Dennis is surrounded by his wife Marilyn, daughters Allison and Samantha, and stepson Grayson. Each is a source of inspiration. He’s a dog person.

The point is simple. Art, and what you want to hang on your wall, is a hugely personal decision. What Dennis sees as art, may be your ‘Crap on a Bagel’. What you hang on your wall he may see as ‘Crap on a Bagel’. No harm. No foul. And that’s the way it should be!