About Me

"Randy Ehrlich's Abstraction nearly
bowled me over when I saw it on exhibition in Houston."

—Helmut Gernsheim, one of the foremost scholars of the history of photography, and certainly the most notable

Randy Ehrlich was born in Brooklyn, New York way before it was trendy. At the age of eight, he started making Black and White photographs at summer camp in upstate New York. Soon after entering Long Island University, he discovered that he had a unique perspective of the world, a natural eye for composition, and met his Photography Mentor, Arthur Leipzig. Arthur, who was a member of the famous/infamous Photo League and an amazingly talented photographer in his own right, guided Randy and convinced him that he actually had a gift for naturally capturing images, and visually communicating in a unique and artful way. The love of the "magical" darkroom blossomed during his years at college, and Randy became proficient at photography. He spent many waking (and some non-waking) hours working as a photo-lab assistant.

After college, Randy packed up his VW Beetle, his two cats, his camera gear, and headed out west. When he left New York, there were about five photo galleries. Photography was just beginning to be recognized as a fine art. Upon arriving in the sleepy college town of Austin, Texas, he knew that he found a new home. At the time, Garry Winogrand was at the University of Texas Graduate Art Photography Department. Upon reviewing Randy’s work, his advice was “If you are going to teach, go to Graduate School…otherwise, just go out and do it”. Young Randy had no interest in teaching, as he was still learning. Young Randy went out and did it, doing commercial work, his art, and working in a custom black and white lab (at $2.25 per hour). It was a decision that would come back to haunt him years later, while seeking to teach College without a Master’s Degree, despite his extensive photography and teaching experience.

A few years later, he and Andy Sieverman founded Custom Photographic Labs in Austin. It was not only a high-quality custom photo lab with hand-processing, but a place for photographers to hang out, shoot the breeze, and connect with each other. For twenty years he co-owned the lab, and he became a Master black and white printer, often spending twelve to sixteen hours a day in the dark. He also enjoyed training employees at the lab, and when he was offered a teaching position at Austin Community College, he jumped at it. He taught color darkroom courses, in addition to black and white classes, under photography legend Mr.Lynn Jones, and remained there for six years. While he was at ACC, he was offered employment at St Stephens Episcopal School, where a brand new Fine Arts Center was just completed. Creating the space and designing the photography program (including initiating a Digital Imaging class) was rewarding, and after a promotion to full-time there (where he also documented and coordinated all of the private boarding school’s commercial and public relations photography needs), he received “Teacher of the Year” honors. Randy enjoys teaching photography, and like Arthur Leipzig and Lynn Jones, he imparted his experience and wisdom as it applies to each individual’s personal style. His love of all things photographic shines through in his teaching, and he is proud that many of his students have pursued a photography career. During this period he worked three photography-related “day jobs” while continuing to pursue his fine-art career. For years, he held a summer enrichment day camp for teens.

His son, Julian Ehrlich, was born in 1989, and Randy became a single dad several years later. Julian is now a talented, emerging photographer in his own right. His deceased maternal grandfather, Len Kovars, was an internationally acclaimed Commercial Photographer, who photographed for Playboy, Nestles, and other international clients in the 1960s and 1970s. 

After leaving St Stephens, Randy resurrected and designed the Austin’s Dougherty Art Center’s Adult Photography Program, teaching Darkroom classes, as well as their first Digital Imaging Classes. His love for introducing photography to the community kept him there for many years. He had shorter stints at Laguna Gloria Art Museum, St Edward’s University, and the George Washington Carver Museum (teaching eight to eleven year olds), all inhis adopted hometown of Austin.

Randy was active in a blossoming art scene in sleepy Austin, as it was about to become a much larger city. He volunteered extensively, helping found the Austin Visual Arts Association, the Texas Photographic Society, and being a driving force in the early years of the Book of Days competition, exhibit, and book. Custom Photographic Labs was also helpful in the community co-sponsoring art exhibits with Laguna Gloria Museum, TPS, AVAA, and supporting the fledgling Austin Chronicle and Third Coast Magazine. Ehrlich was represented by AIR Gallery for many years, from its days on a sleazy (mostly affordable artists’ lofts and dive bars) East Sixth Street to its more upscale location in Republic Plaza, and beyond.

Randy's first ten years as a photographic artist was spent making beautiful Black and White enlargements of work that he refers to as "ironic juxtapositions in a photo-documentary style". Yes, Randy went to Woodstock (and worried his mother to no end...he forgot his cell phone to check in), and although he didn't document the festival, shortly after he started his first "series". It was on music festivals, and would go on for years. Three images from Willie Nelson's Fourth of July Picnic and Austin's Eeyore's Birthday Party are included in the Austin History Center's Permanent Collection. Additional black and white series include environmental portraits and a series of formal nudes that explore the subtle highlight tones of black and white prints, which have been referred to as pencil-drawing like images on a silver gelatin medium.

His entrance into the world of color photography began with a fascination of Polaroid SX-70. He purchased a “professional”, black

Polaroid SLR from Precision Camera in Austin, and under a program sponsored by Polaroid, was able to send back prints that were not to his liking for any reason. For every ten prints that he shipped back, he received a free pack of new SX-70 film. Spending so much time in the darkroom as a custom lab technician, he jumped at the opportunity to watch his images appear in front of his eyes, in broad daylight. Ehrlich matted and framed these prints, and exhibited them as one-of-a-kind “jewel-like” works of art. The work was primarily abstractions, as his black and white vision had been heading in that direction. His college degree was in psychology, and he saw these images as being like a Rorschach Test. He’d listen to viewers conversations at his art openings, and would often say that the impressions that the viewer takes away from his art, says as much about them, as it does about his pieces. He refused to title the works, stating that he didn’t want to influence the viewer with preconceived notions. The irony, he would say, is that most people saw exactly what he saw in them. He continued with this presentation style for a couple of years, and then decided that large prints would have more impact and much more detail to explore. Returning to conventional film (64 ISO Kodachrome) would keep the images sharp, as well.

The work that he is most well-known for is a series of abstract expressionist color photographs that are named the “PainterlyAbstraction” Series. That name was coined by his long-time art dealer/rep Chuck Cooper for a solo exhibition at AIR Gallery in Austin. For Randy’s description of this body of work, you can go to the “artist’s statement” on this website.There are approximately 200 images in this series that have been ruthlessly edited down from many, many more. Ehrlich believes that editing is a skill and an extremely critical element in the final presentation of one’s work. Additionally, he professes that objectivity in viewing your own images is crucial. In fact, it was a collaboration with Chuck Cooper and a Houston Art Gallery during Houston Fotofest, that led to Helmut Gernsheim discovering Randy's work, and purchasing many pieces for his Gernsheim Contemporary Collection year after year. Mr Gernsheim was a big fan and promoter of the large abstract series. He gave Ehrlich his first exposure to the international art scene, and became a mentor to Ehrlich.  The advice that he offered and the perspective that only a man of his stature could impart was invaluable.  Professor Gernsheim saw Ehrlich's work as timeless and unique, and advised Randy to keep doing what feels right. He stated to him that trends come and go, so never worry about that aspect of his art.

Randy also has an ongoing "Motion" series that is a portrayal of formal figures (originally modern dancers) in motion, suggesting other timeless scenes, and interpreted through 35mm still color and black and white photography. The concept involves capturing the exact instant that stillness becomes movement.

Although, an early adaptor to digital imaging and Photoshop, Randy believes that the moments prior to, and the instant that you press the shutter are the most creative. “That’s the difference between Photography, and Graphic Arts” he said. He believes that controlling the image in the camera is where the magic is, and will use software primarily for contrast and brightness control. He prints everything full frame, not cropping his image, and when he takes the photo, he can envision what the final print will look like at the final enlarged size, as well as the characteristics of the medium that it is presented. He has been creating both commercial and serious artwork with his Digital SLR in recent years, but has yet to do a final edit and present his digital work as fine art. You can find him on Instagram, but that only includes cellphone photos, taken purely for fun (at least, for now).

In 2011 family matters took him to South Florida, where he has been living ever since. The new environment and the different natural light has stimulated his visual senses, and, in turn, his creativity. It took a while to discover, but he is most impressed with, and excited about, the thriving international art scene, from Art Basil Miami Beach to the quality museums and galleries up and down the coast.

Randy Ehrlich

Photographic Artist

Born: Brooklyn, New York  

Long Island University, New York, B.A., cum laude

Hometown: Austin, Texas

Group Art Exhibitions

1990s – Present 

Group Inaugural Exhibit, Gay Fay Kelly Art, Austin, Texas

'A Tribute to Influence' Firehouse Art Gallery, Garden City, New York


The Dream Show, Laughing at the Sun Gallery, Austin, Texas

Women & Their Work Member's Exhibition, juried by Annette Carlozzi, Women & Their Work Gallery, Austin,


Governor’s Exhibition, Texas Photographic Society's Annual Exhibit, juried by Roy Flukinger, San Antonio,


Extreme Exposure, Laughing at the Sun Gallery, Austin, Texas

Contemporary Photography from the Gernsheim Collection, Ikona Photo Gallery, New York-Venice Joint

    Collection, Venice, Italy

Celebration of Texas Artists 2, (featured artist), Sable V Art Gallery, Wimberley, Texas 


Contemporary Photography from the Gernsheim Collection, Roemer-Museum, Hildersheim,Germany (eight


Celebration of Texas Artists 1, Sable V Art Gallery, Wimberley, Texas

Group Exhibit, Amdur Gallery, Austin, Texas

Austin Visual Arts Association Fifteenth Year Anniversary Exhibition, (invitational), AVAA West First Street

    Gallery, Austin, Texas

From Art to Commerce and Back, The Texas Museum of Natural History's Gallery of Contemporary Art,

     Austin, Texas

Twentieth Juried Photography Exhibit, in conjunction with FotoFest '92, Roy Flukinger, juror, Deutser Gallery,

     Houston, Texas


Baby, It's Cold Outside - Cold Weather, Hot Art, Photography and Works on Paper, Juried Exhibit, Franklin

     Plaza, Austin, Texas

Texas Photographic Society Annual Statewide Exhibition, juror Van Deren Coke, Lynn Herrmann Gallery,

     Austin, Texas

Seven Artists-Still Living, Still Working, Amdur Gallery, Austin, Texas

Yet Another Chain Reaction, Franklin Plaza exhibition space, Austin, Texas

Group Exhibit, Amdur Gallery, Austin, Texas, (featured artist)


1970s & 1980s

Pescamania VIII, Matrix Gallery, Austin, Texas

Exhibit B, Austin Visual Arts Association, One Congress Plaza (3rd Place Artists Award) Austin Annual 1988,

    Statewide juried & invitational exhibit, Mexicarte Gallery, Austin, Texas

Exhibit A, Austin Visual Arts Association, Dougherty Cultural Arts Center, Austin, Texas 

Light and Surface, in celebration of FotoFest '88 (two-person show), Robinson Gallery, Houston, Texas

Photographs by Austin Photographers, sponsored by The Black Photographers' Collaborative and The

    Black Arts  Alliance, Dougherty Cultural Arts Center, Austin, Texas 

Austin Visual Arts Association Ten Year Anniversary Exhibition, (invitational), Trammel Crow Building,

    Austin, Texas

Austin Annual 1987, statewide juried and invitational exhibit, Arts Warehouse, Austin, Texas 

Texas Photographic Society's Annual Statewide Juried Exhibition, (Third Place), juried by Helmut Gernsheim  

    (statewide traveling exhibit), First City Center Gallery, Austin, Texas 

Fourth Annual Black and White Exhibit, AIR Gallery, Austin, Texas

Texas Photographic Society Members Competition, juried by Paul Capronigro, Amdur Gallery, Austin, Texas

Art in Public Places Project, City Hall, Municipal Building, Austin, Texas

Austin Annual 1986, mixed media exhibition sponsored by Mexicarte, Arts Warehouse, Austin,Texas 

Photography Annual '86, invitational exhibition, Arts Warehouse, Austin, Texas

Abstraction (Part One), mixed media exhibition, AIR Gallery, Austin, Texas

Texas Annual 1985, Texas Fine Arts Association juried exhibition, Laguna Gloria Art Museum, Austin, Texas

Landscapes, Familiar Places, AIR Gallery, Austin, Texas

Nude, Naked and Unclothed, AIR Gallery, Austin, Texas

Pescamania IV, Matrix Gallery, Austin, Texas

Black and White and Colors 2, Matrix Gallery (color) and AIR Gallery (black and white), Austin,Texas

Black and White and Colors 1, Matrix Gallery (color) and AIR Gallery (black & white), Austin, Texas 

Austin Seen: A Juried Photographic Exhibit, (from the permanent photography collection), Austin History

    Center, Austin, Texas

From the Imagination, AIR Gallery, Austin, Texas

A Treasury of Austin Artists, Texas State Treasury, Austin, Texas

Shoot-out Exhibit, Designer's Space, Austin, Texas

Selected Portfolios, Austin Contemporary Visual Arts Association (juried), Dougherty Cultural ArtsCenter,

     Austin, Texas

Treasure in the Air, Austin Contemporary Visual Arts Association (juried), Dougherty Arts Center, Austin, 


Live and in Color from Austin, Texas, Photowork Gallery, Austin, Texas

A Gallimaufry, Concord Gallery, Austin, Texas

Austin Photographic Co-op Group Exhibit, Gallery 104, Austin, Texas

Here and Now, Austin Contemporary Visual Arts Association (juried), Dougherty Arts Center, Austin, Texas

Group Exhibit, Bois D'Arc Gallery, Austin, Texas

Book of Days Juried Exhibit, Trinity House Gallery, Austin, Texas

Book of Days Juried Exhibit, Laguna Gloria Art Museum Downtown, Austin, Texas

Book of Days Juried Exhibit, Aperture Gallery, Austin, Texas

Book of Days Juried Exhibit, Armadillo World Headquarters Gallery, Austin, Texas

First Annual Long Island Photographic Competition and Exhibition, (Third Place), Greenvale, NewYork

Selected Public & Corporate Art Collections

(Multiple Pieces Purchased)

Gernsheim Contemporary Collection, Castagnola, Switzerland, Helmut Gernsheim, Curator 

Humanities Research Center Photography Collection, University of Texas, 

    Austin,Texas, Roy Flukinger, Curator 

Austin History Center Photography Collection, Austin, Texas 

Fulbright and Jaworski Corporate Collection 

Radisson Hotel Corporate Collection 

Steak-and-Ale Corporate Collection 

Arnold, White & Durkee Corporate Collection 


Private Visions, Austin Visual Arts Association Statewide Group Photographic

     Exhibit, Moody Hall Atrium Gallery, Austin, Texas, Curator 

Group Photographic Exhibition of Gallery Photographers, AIR Gallery, Austin,

     Texas, Curator 

Book of Days, Texas Statewide Photographic Competition Exhibits, Juror and


Group Art Exhibits, Bois D'Arc Gallery, Austin, Texas sponsored by Austin

      Contemporary Visual Arts Association, Juror and Co-curator of a series of 12 exhibits 

Juror, Editor, and Publisher of Book of Days, group photographic books for five years 

Taught college-level photo editing classes and portfolio workshops

Selected Publications 

Austin American-Statesman (dailynewspaper), article ranking Austin's top visual-artsphotographers:

    "In Focus“ One of several fine-arts photographers destined to outlast the moment 

      is Randy Ehrlich, who displays strong color sense in everyday abstractions" 

Contemporanea International Art Magazine, "Profile: Helmut Gernsheim" 

Contemporary Photography from the Gernsheim Collection, Roemer-Museum, Hildersheim, Germany

Reunion and Spartan Magazine Photography Editor and principal photography (quarterly) 

Focus Magazine, Photography Editor and principal photography (quarterly) 

Numerous commercial publications, print material, and album-related work 


Non-Profit Art Organizations

Founding Member of Austin Visual Arts Association (formerly ACVAA) 

Founding Member of Texas Photographic Society (originally Austin Photographic


Principal contributor to Book of Days group photographic books for five editions (under the auspices of 

   Laguna Gloria Art Museum and Texas Fine Arts Association)  

First male exhibitor at Women and their Work Gallery, Austin, Texas