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:
Happy Boxing Day! Since we are still in the season of giving and generosity, why not treat yourself to an amazing photographic learning and networking experience? That is where the InFocus Photo portfolio reviews come in! This brand new initiative by the InFocus Photo team is truly an amazing opportunity. Here is more info:
Students. Enthusiasts. Amateurs. Professionals. ALL PHOTOGRAPHERS WELCOME to the InFocus Photo Portfolio Reviews!
We have a rock star line-up of reviewers ready to bestow their wealth of knowledge and experience to all portfolio review participants. Online registration will begin soon. For now, if you would like to reserve your spot, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Portfolio Review Date:
Friday, February 10, 2017
Bring printed photographs, a bound portfolio or images on your laptop or tablet. The reviewers will look at your work, give feedback on how to make it better or how to promote yourself – or anything else you may be wondering about with your photography.
One registration will give you ten (10) minutes with each of our four talented and generous photographers in a speed-dating style review.
THERE ARE ONLY 16 SPOTS AVAILABLE.
Here is a little bit about the reviewers:
REVIEWER – Akemi Matsubuchi
Akemi Matsubuchi was born in Montreal, Quebec, and lived in several countries before settling in St. Albert, Alberta. Her love of photography harkens back to the age of 10 when Akemi’s father put a camera in her hands and encouraged her to take a second look at the world. Akemi attended Ryerson University in Toronto and received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Still Photography. Since graduating, she has pursued commercial photography, worked in the book publishing industry, and currently instructs at Northern Alberta Institute of Technology where she loves being surrounded by creative minds.
Akemi loves to travel and has always had a special affinity for nature. Backcountry hiking is a much-loved break from the sounds of the city and is ideal for her infrared photography. Travelling feeds her desire to experience new cultures and inspires her to take the second look and record the world as her father advocated. That desire to share has been the driving force of her photography and approach to teaching. She believes a visual history of humankind is extremely important and would like people to become emotionally connected in how she interprets the world.
REVIEWER – Curtis Trent
Binding together his tremendously diverse portfolio is a distinct use of composition, light and narrative. Inspired by the never-ending sky of his prairie roots, Curtis doesn’t allow for boundaries. He was recognized early on as a multi-disciplined photographer gliding easily between editorial, lifestyle, portrait and advertising. By not compartmentalizing his work, Curtis has found that elusive balance between commercial photography and fine art. In fact, he welcomes both to overlap: undoubtedly a contributor to his telltale style.
Since moving back west from Toronto over 12 years ago, he continues to stretch his experience and skill while enjoying the big sky. His images have been published widely and are represented at Bugera Matheson Gallery/Art Perspective. Curtis was recently recognized in the One Eyeland Photography Awards, taking home Silver and Bronze. He was nominated in the 2015 National Magazine Awards, in the Cover Photography category. Curtis teaches at Grant MacEwan University.
REVIEWER – Larry Louie
“It takes vision to be a good photographer, to imagine how the world around you will look in a photograph. But it takes another kind of vision to see how you can use what skills and experience you have to help other people. “ (Mark Bentley talking about Dr. Larry Louie, Black and White Photography, UK, March 2012).
International award winning documentary photographer Larry Louie leads a dual career. In his optometry clinic, he is Dr. Larry Louie, working to enhance the vision of people from all walks of life in the urban core of a North American city. On his travels, he is a humanitarian documentary photographer, exploring the lives of remote indigenous people, and documenting social issues around the world. As an optometrist, Larry adjusts people’s visual perception. As a photographer, he seeks to adjust people’s view of the world. Either way, he is interested in things that exist outside the regular field of vision.
Over the last couple of years, Dr. Louie has used his photography as a platform to high light the work of different charities around the world, along with other social issues and challenges people are encountering in a world facing rapid urbanization and globalization. He wants to engage people in inspiring stories of perseverance and strength, not only of those who have found themselves caught in such a plight, but also amazing individuals and organizations that are lending a helping hand. He hopes his photographs will be able to tell the stories and make a difference, and to reveal light that is found in the darkest of places.
Larry’s award winning photographs have appeared in the Asian Photography Magazine, Digital Camera Magazine, British Journal of Photography, B&W Magazine, National Geographic and National Geographic Traveler Magazine. His work have also been exhibited around the world; from the Royal Geographical Society of London, UK to the Circle of Fine Art in Madrid, Spain, to the Center of Photography in Charleston, South Carolina to the Pendulum Gallery in Vancouver, Canada to the Royal Alberta Museum in Edmonton, Canada.
REVIEWER – Alexis Marie Chute
Alexis Marie Chute is a professional artist, author, photographer and filmmaker. She has her Bachelor of Fine Art from the University of Alberta and her Masters of Fine from Lesley University in Cambridge, MA. She has received over 30 noteworthy distinctions for her visual and literary work, such as The John Poole Award for promotion of the Arts (2015), and being named an “Emerging Canadian Photographer” by Photo Life Magazine (2012), and a “Top 40 Under 40” by Avenue Magazine (2013). She is the curator and founder of InFocus Photo Exhibit and Award. She is also a reviewer for PhotoEd Magazine’s photography platform.
Alexis Marie’s debut memoir, Expecting Sunshine will be released April 2017 by She Writes Press, accompanied by the documentary film on the same topic. Alexis Marie is a highly regarded public speaker and she has presented on art, writing, bereavement and the healing capacities of creativity around the world. She is widely published in anthologies, newspapers and magazines and her artworks has been exhibited across North America. She is represented by the AR&S Gallery at the Art Gallery of Alberta.
Email email@example.com to save your spot!
The InFocus Photo Exhibit & Award call for submissions deadline is Sunday, October 30 at midnight. As the curator of InFocus, this is one of my favorite times of year. It’s like Christmas. Throughout the fall, submissions flow in for InFocus and when the deadline passes, I get the honour of viewing and experiencing so much amazing photography. It truly is a great gift.
I want to give a little insight into what makes up a successful submission. Everyone does things a little differently, but here are a few helpful tips:
- I look for photographers that have something to say. When you are thinking about what images you will be submitting, ask yourself: What would the first reaction be from someone who has never seen this photograph before? What am I communicating through my aesthetic and technical choices?
- Your vision as a photographer must come through in your photographs. “Art talk” never sways me if the work itself is not strong. Your artist statement and descriptions play second fiddle to the photographs. The work must be able to stand alone.
- That said, I read all artist statements and will especially be turning a keen eye to the answers to the theme “The Future” this year. I do appreciate thoughtful responses. If your words provoke deep reflection, this is a good thing.
- If you worry your photography is too weird/ordinary/conceptual/abstract/etc. – please DON’T FRET : ) You don’t have to fit a mold. I am looking to experience your unique perspective on the world. That is going to be totally different from the next photographer – and that’s OKAY.
- Submitting three or more images from totally different styles or subjects is fine – if those are your strongest images. If you don’t have a cohesive group of related photographs, only enter your best work.
- On the other hand, as the curator, I get a much better sense of your vision if you enter three (or more) photographs that relate. It is often in these instances where I may choose one or two or even three of the images you have entered. These would be displayed together.
- If you have more than one body of work you want considered, I would recommend entering twice, for example. The first three images in submission 1 will be from your first body of work. The second three images in submission 2 will be from your second body of work. This way I can get the best sense of each grouping. Out of the two entered, only one group of images may be chosen, but this is more likely to result in a successful entry than trying to fit both bodies of work within one submission of three images.
- It is very important that you know the size of your photograph and the finished framed dimensions as well. I look at the sizing when selecting the images. Knowing the dimensions of the gallery, I make sure I choose the right amount of work so the show does not feel too squishy or too sparse. This is why I would really appreciate you considering these dimensions carefully before entering.
- I do not have a preference for large pieces over small, or vice versa. When people ask me about the size to print their photos, I always advise that you must first look to the work itself. Does it demand a grand scale? Or would it present better smaller, drawing viewers to step closer? There is not right or wrong answer.
If you have other questions, I would love to answer them for you!
Just a few days ago I had a great phone call with a student photographer from Ontario. She had lots of relevant questions (many I have answered above) and she is very eager to enter. Her love of photography shone through during our conversation. That is what I am looking for: people who love this creative medium and are exploring it – and the world around them – in their own special ways.
With just a few days till the deadline, pop me an email if you have something you’d like to run by me firstname.lastname@example.org I look forward to hearing from you!
Alexis Marie Chute, InFocus Curator