In her photography, Bowers brings a deep appreciation of the outdoors absorbed through many hours spent wandering farms and forests in central Pennsylvania with her parents and siblings. She uses vintage cameras to produce her art such as Pentax, Mamiya and Yashica. From the wet chemistry darkroom, there is great beauty to be found in black and white photography.
The photographs of Joan Bowers are contemporary examples of Pictorialism, an approach which emphasizes the beauty of the subject matter, rich and subtle tonality, soft focus, strong composition, and attention to process. The Pictorialism movement began in the late 19th century in opposition to Industrial Age demands for sharply-focused and impersonal pictures. It demonstrated that a photograph could be much more than just a scientific record of reality. Pictorialism established photography as a respected form of art and raised the role of the photographer from technician to craftsman. Through the use of silver gelatin prints, Bowers demonstrates many of the historical processes that emerged in the early nineteenth century and how they continue to evolve with new technology.
“My wanderings provided an escape from the environmental damage wreaked by the coal mining industry and a respite amidst the beauty to be found beyond these ravages." - Joan Bowers