InFocus 2017 opens to the public in one week, on February 7, with the opening reception on Thursday, February 9, followed by portfolio reviews on February 10. In the building anticipation of the show, I am pleased to introduce Jared Tabler in today’s special guest blog post. Jared is the Chief Executive Officer and Creative Director of MCQUEEN Inc., Agency Director and Principal Dealer at McQueen Agency, and Editor-in-Chief of ARTperspective. Like me, Jared believes in photography as an art form and the importance of investing in it just like any other medium. On that note, I am honoured to hand this post over to Jared.
PHOTOGRAPHY. WHY IT IS WORTH THE INVESTMENT.
In a time when nearly everyone has access to a camera, there are few true artistic photographers, yet an abundance of people who take photos. It has become common practice to share any inane image you might capture with your smart phone, apply a couple of filters, and then post it to the social media sharing platform of your choosing; instant gratification in the form of likes from friends, family members, and even strangers. How then do we value an art form that has been reduced to idle activity undertaken by the masses on a daily basis?
Looking back over history, it is easy to conclude that in fact, it has always been this way for photographers pursuing photographic art. The earliest of photographs were experiments, accidental, at best, used to document events, places or things. And that diversity still exists today; photography has many uses from commercial, to editorial, to fine art.
It is that flexibility that has drawn so many to pursue photography in one-way or another. It is through the creation of something new that we begin to understand that a camera is simply a tool, and that possessing one does not make you any more qualified than owning a car makes you a race car driver. A camera is then, a medium, used by an artist to express themselves, and from which to create.
Great photography is no different than a great painting. The artist had a vision for the work, and was able to capture it and share their perspective through their lens, rather than with a brush. It is easy to recognize the greats in a field once they are no longer with us, we can look back at their careers in their entirety and appreciate the skill and dedication it takes to achieve such mastery in ones craft. Ansel Adams (1902-1984), capturing landscapes in breathtaking ways we had not previously experienced before; Diane Arbus (1923-1971) capturing the quirks of the human condition; and Robert Mapplethorpe (1946-1989) pushing the boundaries with his evocative images of the male form, while exploring sexuality. These early photographers paved the way for photographic art, and pushed the conversation about art and self-expression forward.
Today we have great Canadian photographic artists like Jeff Wall (b.1946) who pioneered modern artistic photography in Vancouver’s gritty east side, or Danny Singer (b. 1945) who captures the vast skies of the prairies juxtaposed through small town life. On the emerging side, two Canadian photographers you should be looking to invest in are Curtis Trent who will be featured at the upcoming InFocus Photo exhibit from February 7th – 28th, 2017 at The Front Gallery and Canada’s 2016 Photographer of the Year (PPOC), and Master Photographer of the Year (PPOC), Allan Bailey. While both artists have very different styles, they each represent the skill, precision and mastery of their craft that places them in a league of their own when it comes to photographic art.
Putting aside the debate on why photographic art is different, if we look back through the history of photography we can see what was good versus what was great art. Great art has the ability to transcend the obvious, to challenge us, to make us think. When we surround ourselves with it, our lives become richer, more colourful, and inspired. So when considering acquiring a piece of art, don’t allow yourself to be limited to the tools used to create it. Good art is good art no matter the medium. And good art is always worth investing in.
Chief Executive Officer & Creative Director | MCQUEEN Inc.
Agency Director & Principal Dealer | McQueen Agency
Editor-in-Chief | ARTperspective
As the CEO of MCQUEEN Jared provides executive leadership to it’s many divisions, including CREATIVE, their marketing and communications firm, SEARCH, their professional and executive placement agency, LEARN, their training and development division, as well as the McQueen Agency, an art advisory and talent management group for emerging artists. Jared’s extensive background in human resources, and business strategy allow his clients to translate ideas into realities. His passion also extends to his work in the community as a mentor, leader, and lending his time to philanthropic endeavours, including Board roles in the arts, culture and human services sectors, and as co-founder and Chair of the #NotAChoice campaign to end LGBTQ youth homelessness in partnership with the True Colors Fund in New York City, and Virgin Mobile worldwide.
1) The Tetons and the Snake River – Ansel Adams
2) The Weird and Wonderful Identical Twins – Diane Arbus
3) Arnold – Robert Mapplethorpe
4) A Sudden Gust of Wind – Jeff Wall
5) Saco Storm Sky – Danny Singer
6) Wolfgang & Viola – Curtis Trent
7) Stray – Allan Bailey
To continue with guest blog posts by InFocus 2017 photographers, I am pleased to introduce Al Dixon. Al has been with InFocus since the beginning and his landscape images reveal he is a man of patience and skill. As InFocus is quickly approaching, I love peering into the creative practices of these photographers. It is inspiring to say the least. I’m sure you will feel the same after reading Al’s words. On that note, away we go!
A picture is worth a thousand words. Yes, that’s oh so ‘tre cliche’, yet it’s a mantra that many photographers and other visual creatives live by. We strive to create images that resonate with our audience by capturing their imagination, evoking emotions & feelings, or spurring conversations. Along with a level of technical mastery & a certain visual appeal, these are the hallmarks of an exceptional image. We each have our own reasons as to why we embark on these creative journeys. For me it starts as a stress reliever. After that, the mixture of art & technology provides outlets for both my Inner Artist & Inner Nerd. Surprisingly, when we start to forget these reasons we seem to be able to produce an image reminding us of them just in time.
It wasn’t until after first posting “Sunset at Abraham” online and receiving feedback that I saw the image in a totally different manner. Having shot the image with an exposure of 4 minutes, the chaos and raw power of the location had been greatly mellowed and refined. Many that know the area commented that they had never seen Windy Point so calm and tranquil. Thinking back on the evening I created the image, I could recall sitting on the rocks with little doubt in my mind as to how the location had received its name. While strong winds attempted to toss photographer and gear into the lake, powerful gusts buffeted the tripod threatening the dreaded camera shake. Waves were crashing on the rocks below, creating spray that clambered to find purchase upon my filters and lens. What I didn’t realize at the time was that while I was aware of all this chaos, confusion, and distractions; not once did any of it interfere with the mission I was on. The image my Inner Artist intended to capture was clear in his mind, my Inner Nerd contently performed filter exposure calculations in his head, and I sat on that cold wet rock completely and totally at peace.
All it takes now is but a moments glance at that image to remind me of the simple joy the art of photography has brought into my life. While the stress of the daily grind may seem over bearing at times, immersing myself in creating images can make all of that go away. It rekindles the memories of ‘borrowing’ my parent’s camera as a child, countless hours in the darkroom throughout high school, and countless photo excursions with my daughter. These simple joys had been fading over the past few years; but thanks to a cold, wet, windy evening they are here to stay.
Where Al hangs his hat online:
I love sharing the work of other talented artists, writers, musicians and, of course, photographers. Today is a special guest post by one of the 2017 InFocus Photo photographers. I am pleased to introduce Steve Ricketts! I first got to know Steve and his photography last year when he submitted and showed his photography at our 2016 InFocus Photo Exhibit and Award. Steve is not only a great photographer, but a truly kind human. On that note, I pass this post over to Steve!
I first became interested in photography about five years ago as a retirement project and as a homage to my Dad, and I found that I enjoyed it immensely. I find myself drawn to photography because of its ability to tell a story without the use of words. One can write at length about a topic but a single image can be much more powerful.
I’m mostly self-taught; i.e. I have no formal training in photography or in art; in fact, I’m not exactly artistic. If anything, I’m the opposite; I’m a scientist by education and work, and I take a very scientific and logical approach to photography. I have learned a great deal by reading books by photographers, by traveling with other photographers and seeing what they do, and by taking photos. Lots of photos.
I mostly do landscape photography but I also enjoy experimenting with weather (storms, noctilucent clouds), portraiture, urban photography, and the blur created by intentional camera movement. I am constantly looking for images that capture a special moment.
I use Adobe Lightroom for almost all my image processing, and Nik’s Silver Efex Pro for black-and white conversion. I try to minimize the amount of editing that I do; while today’s software allows for powerful manipulation to create a wonderful image, I prefer to challenge myself to be in the right place and at the right time to capture the image that I have in mind.
Over the past year, I have found myself drawn to doing black & white photography as I like how it draws the viewer’s attention to the contrast and texture in landscapes. I often use a telephoto lens and zoom in on a small area to capture lines and curves; it’s very much a desire for minimalism.
While the Alberta Rockies are home to a lot of spectacular scenery, there is a lot of beauty in the Alberta prairies too, and I find myself increasingly drawn to shooting the landscape in and around my home in Sherwood Park, especially in Strathcona, Minburn and Lamont Counties. That is, rather than take the viewer on a journey to see the grandeur of the Rockies, I prefer to take them on a journey around my backyard to enjoy the subtlety of the Prairies.
You can see more of Steve’s work on the InFocus Photo Exhibit & Award site by clicking here. Also, check-out the InFocus Photo People’s Choice Award by clicking here.
Other places to find Steve:
Alexis Marie: I have loved sharing the stories and inspirations of some truly interesting individuals during the InFocus 2016 show. Are you excited? Even through InFocus 2016 is already underway, it is not too early to begin preparing for InFocus 2017! In the fall, we will release the call for submissions and we would love to see your work. For now, I’m pleased to introduce one of our current and talented photographers, Emogene.
I’m very pleased to participate in the InFocus Photography Exhibition 2016. Special thanks go to Alexis Marie Chute for creating and curating this wonderful event.
In 2008, I switched from film to digital and haven’t looked back. Having the technology to shoot as many images as I want has not changed my process. I continue to work in manual mode and take about the same number of photos I would have taken with film. Volume does not necessarily ensure the result you are looking for and personally, I’d rather spend my time focusing on one image rather than waste it by having to review and delete unwanted images.
When I’m shooting, I don’t make a plan because I prefer to wander. I feel like I’m in a world of my own . . . no rules, no distractions, no pressure. That way I don’t have any preconceived expectations and often find new material without much difficulty. I’ve also learned that by not looking, I can see so much more.
Currently, I’m working on two overlapping self-studies “Concealment” and “Inside Exteriors”. Concealment in the sense of keeping both sides of the fence separated with the choice of being either inside or outside but not both at the same time. “Inside Exteriors” is a series of images I’ve taken of building interiors through transparent exterior walls. Ironically, one of my Concealment photographs was selected for “Interiors”, a group exhibition in New York in April 2016.
Architecture is of great interest to me. It doesn’t matter if the building is modern, has suffered from decay, is local or international, I’ll find a way to be there. Whether it be geometric patterns, lines, reflections or a combination of these, my intention is to create something entirely new by deliberately combining existing elements in an unexpected way. The images below are from my “Inside Exteriors” series. Both images were taken in the vicinity of the Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium in Edmonton.
Alexis Marie: I have loved sharing the stories and inspirations of some truly interesting individuals during the InFocus 2016 show. Are you excited? Even through InFocus 2016 is already underway, it is not too early to begin preparing for InFocus 2017! In the fall, we will release the call for submissions and we would love to see your work. For now, I’m pleased to introduce one of our current and talented photographers, Brady Simpson.
In August of 2015 I attended the Arteles Creative Centre in Hämeenkyrö, Finland. Navigating through Europe is very easy and relatively cheap, so I decided to visit Estonia while I was in Europe, amongst a smattering of other places. The round trip train ticket to Stockholm and back was 24 euros, and the ferry across the Gulf of Finland was 50. Within a few hours you’re in an entirely different country and culture…bliss.
Estonia is still recovering from the hangover that was the Soviet era and still maintains many pieces of soviet architecture. Tallinn has a walled centre called Old Town that stems back to the 13th century with its walls largely still in tact. This is why it is a world heritage site but it provides an amazing experience. You have a beautiful walled city, cobblestone winding streets, and stunning architecture surrounded by these peppered remnants of the Soviet Union. One of these remnants is the Patarei Prison or it’s English translation, the Battery, and for 2 euros, you can wander the remains of a complex that began construction in 1828 under Tzar Nicholas I. It is a glimpse into hell.
The basement of this prison is where I took the photo featured in the InFocus exhibition. Of the same name as the series, Confinement encapsulates the entire experience of wandering this prison. The KGB favoured basement rooms such as this for their high moisture content, it’s a choking heavy air, a type of psychological torture. The low ceilings are heavily populated with arches to maintain the massive girth of itself and windows do little more than indicate if it’s day or night.
Patarei Prison is right on the shoreline of Estonia’s capital city Tallinn but you’d never know it by walking the halls. The higher floors offer higher ceilings and a little more light, but there is one thing that is common throughout these buildings, they are incredibly silent, no birds, no waves crashing, just silence. After leaving the prison I had a very heavy feeling, an almost need to enjoy my freedom after being within those walls. I grabbed some deli meat from a nearby store, along with some bread and cheese, and made my lunch in a scenic park back in Tallinn’s Old Town to cleanse my pallet with beautiful scenery. Incarceration is an incredibly complicated topic and I know leniency isn’t the public’s favourite dish when it comes to prisoners. But taking a look at Patarei Prison made me ask how we expect people to get better when we put them in places like this? Is it because we don’t want to help, we just want the problem hidden? Whatever the case may be, I hope places like the Battery will remain relics of the past.
Google Plus: https://plus.google.com/+BradysimpsonArt
Alexis Marie: I have loved sharing the stories and inspirations of some truly interesting individuals during the InFocus 2016 show. Are you excited? Even through InFocus 2016 is already underway, it is not too early to begin preparing for InFocus 2017! In the fall, we will release the call for submissions and we would love to see your work. For now, I’m pleased to introduce one of our current and talented photographers, Hedy Bach.
As an imagemaker I study how things look and sound. I work daily with my camera and words to compose beautiful “thought things” as one way to form ideas to inspire reflection and rumination, perhaps start a conversation.
My photographs are almost all allegories about my understandings of human desire for settlement…of spaces and places in which people and things fit together. I try to negotiate my subjectivities of looking and composing my “thought things” with Scruton’s ideas of why beauty matters…to see the remedy of beauty as an instrument of peace.
On 12/6/15 I received a happy email from Alexis Marie Chute for this InFocus 2016 exhibition. I am humbled that my image entitled ‘Mason’ was chosen to be part of this years exhibit.
Sometimes BUT not always I see sounds first…when I saw this Mason jar at the Fort Edmonton…the words from Connor Zwetsch’s song “Candy Bars” came into my mind’s eye…
whisky and coke in our mason jars
to the year’s sweeter than candy bars
we crumble like the leaves
In the room I imagined a “thought thing” for my blog post, which started conversations…here is one.
“Hi Hedy, I like the question mark that seems to follow that [Mason] image of yours for me. I felt like someone was just there. And yet it seemed deserted and it made me wonder what they were doing, and what did they do there, and was the water clean in an old jar or was it dirty water and why? Also I thought of Mason as in Stonemason, Mason bee, and of course mason jar. One definition I saw online was “to build from or strengthen with stone” and for me that was an interesting image next to the centerpiece of something made of glass. Anyway I enjoyed thinking about your photograph and all the different thoughts I had in doing so.”
it’s too quiet in here
and i’m beginning to freeze
i’ve got icicles hanging
from my knees
under fifteen feet of pure white snow (Nick Cave, 2001)
“Look carefully at the little girls you are teaching, Hedy, many will go missing or be murdered.”
These Elder’s staggering words have lingered for 10 years and continue to haunt me.
When I think of our missing and murdered Aboriginal women if not now, when? My image is part of The REdress Photography project lead by Mufty Mathewson.
In celebration of St. Albert Photography Club’s 25th anniversary in 2017, my image ‘U” was selected for their submission to the ‘Art Gallery of St Albert’ art show.
Hedy Bach is an award winning visual researcher, writer, and imagemaker. Hedy’s first book A Visual Narrative Concerning Curriculum, Girls, Photography Etc. was published in 1998 and explores the evaded curriculum in the lived experiences of high school girls through photography and story. Currently, she is working on a narrative nonfiction entitled Emeline which is a graphic novel being created by cutting up and reorganizing illustrations from cultural artifacts, photography, and literature.