The Art of the Story

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Halifax Trip 2003

Peggy’s Cove, Nova Scotia

Photography is about storytelling – told without the inconvenience of words.

A few years ago, I purchased an inexpensive digital camera to document a family trip.  I confess that I gave the camera very little thought; in fact, I left the instructions at home, deciding to take the “point and click” approach.  I would never consider embracing the title of photographer.  That designation was left to those who carried tripods and huge cameras with impressively long lenses.  While I admired the tenacity and dedication of shutterbugs hauling heavy photography gear, I considered the apparatus an impediment to any adventure that I planned to undertake.

Halifax Trip 2003

Sailing on the Mar II

And then something happened along the way.  I heard the story.  Despite my haphazard approach to taking photography, with every shot I captured a moment in time that would never be repeated. And therein lies the mystery; for photos allow us a second look, a recollection of an emotional response, a reminder that we have lived on this earth.

Photos bring the narrative of the moment, insulated from the noise of the present.  With a simple click, we stop time.

“These people live again in print as intensely as when their images were captured on old dry plates of sixty years ago… I am walking in their alleys, standing in their rooms and sheds and workshops, looking in and out of their windows. Any they in turn seem to be aware of me.”

Ansel Adams

Tell the Story – Change the World!

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“If I could tell the story in words, I wouldn’t need to lug around a camera.”  Lewis Hine

For most of us, photography is a hobby that entertains and gives us a beautiful memory to share with friends and family. There are others who use photography to change their world. Lewis Hine (1874 – 1940), an American sociologist and photographer, used his camera for social reform. His heart-rending photographs of children working in deplorable conditions helped change the labour laws in the United States. Now that is a beautiful memory to share!

Things will happen!

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 “If you are out there shooting, things will happen for you. If you’re not out there, you’ll only hear about it.”

Jay Maisel 

If anyone knew how to make things happen it was Jay Maisel.  His photography career began in 1954 and gained  momentum simply because he was “out there.”  His remarkably diverse portfolio incorporates famous people like Marilyn Monroe and Miles Davis, magazine covers including the legendary swimsuit covers for Sports Illustrated, jazz albums and annual reports.  His signature talent was his ability to capture the light, colour and action found in daily life.

Joy Maisel amassed numerous awards over the years, but he is loved for generously sharing his knowledge via lecture series.  He is inspiring a new generation to make things happen.

Floating Homes, Granville Island, Vancouver

The First 10,000

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“Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.” Henri Cartier-Bresson

With our digital cameras, we have no problem reaching the 10,000 mark.  I wonder what our next 10,000 will turn out like?  Henri Cartier-Bresson, a French photographer was an early adopter of the 35mm format.  Considered to be the father of modern photojournalism, he is known for his remarkable candid shots and his contribution to the development of the “street photography.”

 

If a Thing is Good…

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 “The key to artistic photography is to work out your own thoughts, by yourselves. Imitation leads to certain disaster. New ideas are always antagonized. Do not mind that. If a thing is good it will survive.”

Gertrude Käsebier

Gertrude Käsebier, born in 1852, lived through American Civil War, the abolition of slavery, the women’s suffrage movement, WWI and the beginnings of the Great Depression. She had a unique way of looking at the world.  Her photos create stories that resonate within our hearts and minds. She accepted her responsibilities of a wife and mother even as she fearlessly pursued her artistic calling.  Many of Gertrude’s photographs highlighted the deep, even sacred bond between a mother and child.

Gertrude Käsebier used her talents to mentor and encourage other women to launch a career in photography – a new art form for a new century.

I earnestly advise women of artistic tastes to train for the unworked field of modern photography. It seems to be especially adapted to them, and the few who have entered it are meeting with gratifying and profitable success.”

Gertrude Käsebier

Tomorrow will be a better day!

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“Which of the photographs is my favorite? The one I’m going to take tomorrow.” –Imogen Cunningham

 

I would have loved to meet Imogen Cunningham.  Born April 12, 1883, she bought her first camera in 1901, at the age of eighteen. She was inspired by an encounter with the work of Gertrude Käsebier.  Imogen Cunningham continued taking photographs until shortly before her death at ninety-three. She is known for her botanical photography, nudes and industrial landscapes.  Now that is what I call versatile!