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August 04, 2010

The Art of the Photograph

Purses or dogs?

I was in Victoria today interviewing Quinton Gordon and Diana Millar of Luz Gallery for an upcoming article for Victoria's Boulevard magazine. It's so great to talk to someone who has so much experience as a photographer and who has a vision about what they're trying to achieve.

They have a lovely new space full of light as a result of the big windows and in a funky old building on the corner of Oak Bay Avenue and Fell Street about 10 minutes, if that, from downtown.

We had a good conversation about what the last year has been like for them birthing this new venture, what they look for in portfolios and about the difference between a focus on process and a focus on content as well as how they've made it so that community - at least the photographic community not just in Victoria but in Portland and Vancouver and other places is finding them making everyone's lives richer who need a place to talk about visual art.

Quinton talked about how happy he is to hear people coming in to discuss the art and the projects that created the work, not the process. He emphasized how important it is to start with the why behind the photograph and then the process. Too many people have it backwards he said.

It made me think of my experience at the market. One of the questions I always get at the market when I'm selling my photos is "What kind of camera do you use?" As if the camera had anything to do with the image. My eyes just glaze over when someone asks me that.  It's the least important aspect of photography.

 It might just be a way for them to make conversation and I understand that but honestly, I have a low end Nikon D40 digital camera. It's not the camera that sees and then decides what to take or make a photograph of and it's not the camera that makes further decisions about what photos might actually be appealing to people in the context of the Saturday market. When it comes to the market it's all about taking photographs "of" something. The most basic form of capturing an image.

Then there's the people  who want to challenge you about the fact that you altered the photo as if it's now tainted or something?Where does that come from in an age of digital manipulation? I mean, even in the past when photographers were burning and dodging in the darkroom process, they manipulated their photographs. Do you like the end result or not? Does it really matter how the creator of the photo reached the end point of an image that either speaks to you or not?  As with all art, it's subjective. It's the same as in life. What you perceive is much more about you than the actual physical thing or person in front of you. It's about what emotions or memories it evokes for you and the experiences you've had that colour your interpretation of it in the first place. It's why we don't all love the same piece of art or the same photo or the same anything.

It was the kind of conversation that I have too rarely and I forget how much I enjoy talking about that stuff - the stuff of creativity - until I happen up against it in a moment.

It was a good day.

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