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JUDY H. MCPHEE Salt Spring Island, BC “Capturing Form in Black and White”
In this issue: 10 RESOURCES WE LOVE 13 R OSALIE FAVELL FACING THE CAMERA 19 PHOTOGRAPHY AS A GIFT By Ruth Bergen Braun 20 MATT WILLIAMS’ TWO RIVERS 22 KAMELIA PEZESHKI ATTENTION TO DETAIL 24 FRANCIS A. WILLEY’S “BLINDNESS” By Kerry Manders 30 JESSICA DEEKS GIRLS+ ROCK OTTAWA
37 CHRISTINE FITZGERALD A FIERCE AND ORDINARY REALITY By Brandy Ryan 44 KAROLINA KURAS ROMANCE, FLIGHT, & FLUIDITY By Mark Walton 50 ALLY GONZALO BAKLA! By Michelle Joseph 54 READERS GALLERY Submissions by our readers 58 KATE ROY AFFINITY
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BACK TO BASICS THE WORLD IS NOT A BLACK AND WHITE PLACE, BUT SOMEHOW MONOCHROME IMAGES HELP US SEE MORE CLEARLY. Photo by Ryan Parker
I think it is in that extra second the eye needs to fully read what is happening in a black and white photo, that moment of pause, that compels us to take in and interpret details and ideas brought to us by the photographer we might otherwise gloss over in our busy lives.
“Color is descriptive. Black and white is interpretive.” — Elliott Erwitt
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In this special issue — issue #60 and a celebration of 20 YEARS of publishing in print! — we’re featuring contemporary images and stories best told in black and white. I encourage photographers at any level to take a moment with our story “Photography as a Gift” by Ruth Bergen Braun. Contemplation and clarity are so often what draw us to photography. Ruth beautifully articulates how we can all think of the medium as a gift. Monochrome can also unite a visual idea. We love Rosalie Favell’s Facing the Camera work. Her project, over the course of 10 years, and across international geographies, is now an impressive collection of over 500 portraits of Indigenous change-makers. Such a diverse collection of subjects, when presented in a beautifully crafted collection, truly comes together as a visual force.
Greyscale can change the way we connect with music and movement, as in Jessica Deeks’ Girls+ Rock story and Karolina Kuras’ stunning images of dancers. It can even have us take a second look at commonplace subjects, as in Christine Fitzgerald’s work, or open our hearts to new visual poetry, as in the case of Francis A. Willey’s image “Blindness.” I don’t think it’s a misstep to declare “We’re so over it,” with regard to the challenges we have collectively faced in 2020. Our next issue, Spring/Summer 2021, will focus on sharing fun, silly, wacky photography experiments. Let’s do something fun! Shake off 2020! If you’ve got a joyful photography story to share, drop us a line. Follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, and sign up for our e-newsletter to keep up!
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BE NATURAL: THE UNTOLD STORY OF ALICE GUY-BLACHÉ Filmmaker Pamela B. Green honours one of the world’s most talented and brilliant filmmaking pioneers who has been cheated, forgotten, and ignored for nearly a century. This documentary, narrated by Jodie Foster, shares the story and legacy of Alice Guy-Blaché, whose accomplishments of note include her experiments with sync’ed sound, colour-tinting, special effects, and interracial casting.
True cinematic excellence. Every frame in this flick is a stunning composition. Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma (2018) engrosses the viewer in a beautifully crafted, deeply moving narrative following a year in the life of a middle-class family maid in Mexico City in the early 1970s.
This film is one of the most unique, fun, and entertaining black and white films since the talkies were invented. An homage to Old Hollywood, French director Michel Hazanavicius’ The Artist (2011) was nominated for ten Academy Awards and won five, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor. We love a timeless Hollywood fairytale.
Find it on Netflix
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Catch it on www.tvo.org
VERY NICE, VERY NICE Online + FREE Arthur Lipsett’s seven-minute, 1961 avant-garde flick is a critically acclaimed classic that feels just as relevant now as it did when it was made. Very Nice, Very Nice is an animation of still images edited to be wickedly funny. This terrifying examination of modern life is bananas. www.nfb.ca/film/very_nice_very_nice
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BADLANDS By Robert Kroetsch, photographs by George Webber Hardcover, 2015, 360 pages, $40 George Webber’s images transport us to the Prairies in a way that will visually haunt you. In Prairie Gothic, the viewer is confronted by the mysterious particulars of life, death, landscape and faith. Intimate portraits and hard facts of prairie life create a body of work that is inspiring, consoling, and sometimes achingly sad. Badlands is a unique take on the 1975 Kroetsch novel re-imagined. George Webber’s photographs accentuate a story that starts in 1916, when scientist William Dawe leads a paleontological expedition into the badlands of Alberta. Fifty years later, his daughter, Anna, enters these same badlands. In her visit to the expedition site, she exposes not only the absurdity of her father’s work but also the folly of his male ambition and attitudes. rmbooks.com
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You’ve got mail. Contemporary art from a Prairie perspective. Subscribe today and never miss an issue. blackflash.ca BlackFlash Issue 37.1: Em Rooney’s innovative photography curriculum, Bard College at Simon’s Rock and Maria Hupfield, Resistance on All Fronts, 2007-2018, C-print and industrial felt, 124.5 x 94 cm, excerpts from Partial Accounting of Photography by Sheilah ReStack.
LEFT: “Amy Malbeuf, Winnipeg, Manitoba, 2017” RIGHT: “Alex Janvier, Banff, Alberta, 2008”
FACING THE CAMERA Canada’s largest body of work documenting the collective catalyst of Indigenous change-makers
ROSALIE FAVELL CREATES photo-based art that draws inspiration from her family history and Métis (Cree and English) heritage. She uses family albums, popular culture, and other sources to present a complex self-portrait of her experiences as a contemporary Aboriginal woman.
Facing the Camera (2008–2018) was a project Rosalie started when she noticed a gap in historical records of Indigenous arts community members. This project now includes over 500 portraits of Indigenous people, paying homage to the courage, strength, and dedication of these creative professionals. We are excited to share this work and Rosalie’s statement on this incredible project.
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TOP ROW, IMAGES FROM LEFT: “Peshawn Bread, Santa Fe, New Mexico, 2012” “Léuli Eshraghi, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 2016” “Alex Nahwegahabow, Ottawa, Ontario, 2014” “Patrick Ross, Winnipeg, Manitoba, 2011”
“Historically Indigenous people have had a problematic relationship with photography and they have quite rightly viewed the medium with suspicion. Nonetheless, I have received enormous support for this project from my fellow Indigenous artists. The impetus for the series derived from a residency at the Banff Centre in 2008 where I met a number of Indigenous artists who I had previously known only through their work. I realized that a visual document had not been made of individuals who make up the Indigenous arts community (including First Nations, Métis, Inuit, Native American Indian, and Aboriginal peoples). It was my desire to photograph them, and connect with even more people. This sent me down the long journey that resulted in the series Facing the Camera. When I started making these portraits I used a 4×5 format view camera, however, I quickly changed to a 6×7 range finder camera, and later to a digital camera. The concept of black and white photographs with a black border references the signature style of American photographer Richard Avedon. Across the project’s life 14 photo ED
span, the black border is a consistent element. This convention traditionally indicates that photographers used the entire image within the camera and did not crop the negative. As I moved to digital, all bets were off. I no longer needed to carry a white backdrop to shoot, and I did a lot of post-production on the computer, which included cutting out backgrounds and creating the black film rebate border. I started by photographing local artists and artists who were visiting Ottawa. I titled each image with the individual’s name, the location, and the year that I photographed them. On the one hand, the series reflects my travels and says more about where and when I met these people than details about them. On the other, travels to different cities for art events or residencies allowed me to meet people and photograph them, and in doing so have as much representation of the Indigenous community as possible, as people at these events came from all over the world. After my residency at the Banff Centre I realized the Santa Fe Suite of this project during a residency in 2012 at the Santa Fe
BOTTOM ROW, FROM LEFT: “Stan Williams, Toronto, Ontario, 2016” “Shan Goshorn, Santa Fe, New Mexico, 2012” photo ED 15
BOTTOM ROW, FROM LEFT: “Tom Mehau, Hilo, Hawaii, 2017” “Julie Tipene O’Toole, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 2016” 16 photo ED
TOP ROW FROM LEFT: “Richard Ray Whitman, Santa Fe, New Mexico, 2012” “Rita Letendre, Toronto, Ontario, 2012” “Susan Aglukark, Winnipeg, Manitoba, 2017” “Rondee Graham, Santa Fe, New Mexico, 2012”
Art Institute. I continued this work in Australia in 2016 through an exchange facilitated by the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) iAIR and the University of Lethbridge. I was able to meet and photograph some members of the Australian Indigenous arts community.
convention to acknowledge the agency of the individual in bringing together and expressing, in a conscious and unconscious way, the numerous cultural and personal factors that compose one’s sense of self. This applies to those who stand before my camera as well as to my sense of self — as I am the one taking the picture.”
In 2016 I took 38 portraits at the Ontario College of Art and Design University (OCAD U) during my participation in the Nigig Artist-in-Residence program.
Many of these portraits are now in the collections of museums and art galleries. The complete series is in the collection of the Indigenous Art Centre in Ottawa. Michelle LaVallee, the Director of the centre says, “Favell’s Facing the Camera series is a monumental portrait and art historical archive; it’s Canada’s largest body of work documenting the collective catalyst of Indigenous changemakers. Celebrating Indigenous waves of influence, it presents artists, curators, writers, academics, and community advocates, recognizing the diversity and significance of contemporary Indigenous art and cultural production.”
In 2017 I travelled to my hometown of Winnipeg where I photographed 100 Indigenous artists that were gathered to receive the Hnatyshyn Foundation REVEAL Indigenous Art Awards to honour and award 150 Indigenous Canadian artists working in all artistic disciplines. In these images — and in all of my work — I see the photograph as a performance space, where identity is constantly worked and reworked, represented and perhaps even hidden. I use the portrait
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PHOTOGRAPHY AS A GIFT BY RUTH BERGEN BRAUN PHOTOGRAPH BY RYAN JAMES HERMANSON
LANGUAGE SHAPES OUR WORLD, our craft, and our experience. Photographers often describe their process by using surprisingly predatory and aggressive terms. We shoot. We go on shoots. We take shots. We hunt for subjects. We review our images to see what we captured.
Contemplative photography, particularly as described by Howard Zehr in The Little Book of Contemplative Photography, uses different language. The author approaches photography as a collaborative experience. An image is received and we, the photographers, are the beneficiaries. A contemplative photographer invites and receives. Relationships may be similar. My relationship with Ryan was not pursued but given. Ryan has Down Syndrome. I had supported people with disabilities before and was open to doing so again. Then we met and, through a series of conversations, I became his photography coach/mentor. Our relationship is a gift. To some, Ryan has a disability. To me, he has different abilities. He approaches life with his eyes wide open. He sees details that I miss. Our time together takes us to different places to explore various genres of photography. Portraits, street photography, landscapes, cityscapes, buildings, action, events, and more. We experiment with settings and perspectives. Our focus is not to capture but to enjoy our experience together and invite images to materialize, as gifts. In her book Braiding Sweetgrass, Robin Wall Kimmerer explores the concept of the gift economy. The essence of a gift is reciprocity. A gift gives back, gives forward. A gift creates a set of relationships. As Ryan and I share the images given to us, we create relationships with those who view them. Now, after a few months, others are giving us gifts: ideas of who and where to photograph. Ryan doesn’t read and thus did not initially understand
the impact of this image until it was interpreted for him later. Our exploration that day was simply street photography in downtown Calgary. What is this particular image’s gift? Could this image be a gift to those in power in our city in that it illuminates what mere words cannot? What changes in us when we see our photographs not as something we have created out of our sheer skill and brilliance but as a random act of kindness from the world, from our space, to us? What changes in us when we approach our craft and our lives with open hands that receive rather than capture? What changes when we allow those with different abilities to give us their gifts? While there are no definitive answers, I’m contented to keep posing these questions to more photographers and photography appreciators as my own way of paying it forward. photo ED 19
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I. There are deaths of me all over. Loping south down an abandoned dirt road, full of canine swagger. Engineered by the faded, golden dust of the place, built out of countless whirlwinds, every one of them spinning, howling at the black and mad thunderclouds rolling across an endless blanket of constellations, swallowing every star, spitting out their lightning bones. A whole body howling, electric as the storm come to try and wash it out. Swimming through the muddy bloodstreams of flatland rivers, barreling forward, bursting past living fossils and channel cats, as elms dip their branches, cave into the water, disintegrate. Swimming through the wreckage alongside great dragons, scales purple as a black eye, and white as sun-bleached teeth, tongues shining yellow like the full sturgeon moon. As I swim through the two rivers of dream and memory, these are some of the scenes that blossom endlessly upon their banks. They are heavy with love and fear, desire and sorrow, and I overflow with gratitude for the spirits that inhabit them. Yours, in broken time, Matt Williams Excerpts from the soon-to-be-published book called Two Rivers by by Matt Williams.
Matt Williams is an emerging artist, born and raised on the Canadian Prairies in Winnipeg, beside the Assiniboine River. His writing and photography has been published in National Geographic, VICE, The FADER, The Globe and Mail, The A.V. Club, NOW Magazine, and numerous other outlets. He now calls Halifax home. mattgwilliams.com IG:@koy.ote
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Kamelia Pezeshki Recalibrating our attention to detail and time
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BORN IN Iran in 1963, Kamelia was educated at the University of Utah and, after many moves, she now calls the City of Toronto home. The frenetic chaos of living in Canada’s largest city is conspicuously absent from her work, which focuses instead on an introspective painterly sensibility. With quiet persistence, her portraits and still life images employ a visual rhetoric that encourages focus on finding beauty in detail, on reflecting on the idea of time, and on contemplating moments too easily forgotten. LEFT PAGE: Self-portrait series, “no. 44,” 2019. TOP ROW, FROM LEFT: In the garden series, “Azaleas.” Self-portrait series, “no. 7,” 2019. Self-portrait series, “no. 34,” 2019. MIDDLE ROW, FROM LEFT: Platinum prints drying in the darkroom. Self-portrait series, “no. 40,” 2019. Scattered series, “Lilies.” BOTTOM: Self-portrait series, “no. 48,” 2020.
“I reflect on feeling torn, between cultures, lands, past/present, and a bewildering future.”
“My self-portraits are inspired by a floral dress I acquired a decade ago. This dress is a representation for my love of flowers and gardens. As if the beauty and simplicity of wearing a flowery patterned dress would reflect my feelings about my diaspora, yet, for me, it allows a focus to shift from complexity into clarity. I photograph myself as a metaphor for anonymity. My eyes and mouth as emblems of what can be uttered, silenced, or witnessed. By posing for my own camera, this act is also reflective of a fragmented self, confident and positive about the future, with past experiences of cultural influence, discrimination, and fight in hindsight.”
kamelia-pezeshki.com IG: @kameliapezeshkiphotographer
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FRANCIS A. WILLEYâ€™S
BLINDNESS THE SURPRISING STORY OF A SINGLE FRAME OF FILM
BY KERRY MANDERS
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THE YEAR WAS 2006. Dismayed by the ways in which the world was “blind to compassion and love,” artist Francis A. Willey wanted to make a portrait of someone who couldn’t see. Is this temporary blindness a choice — willful, liberating, and somehow necessary? Or is it imposed, enforced, or inflicted by external forces? Francis knew he needed to collaborate with someone who could hold and convey this complex set of questions. At the time, Myspace was the largest social media networking site in the world, and DeviantArt was a popular online community for artists and art lovers. In this virtual space, Francis met the “incredible, genderfluid artist with a beautiful soul” who became the subject of “Blindness.” Francis was an early adopter and avid user of digital platforms, although he’s widely known for his commitment to traditional, analog photography (his Instagram handle, @neopictorialist, announces those commitments). But talk to Francis for any length of time and you’ll see that the both/and nature of his ideas and methods are complementary rather than incongruous. From the moment he developed his film from the shoot, Francis saw that he had something special in that frame. He describes it as that feeling photographers dream about, that “rush of pleasure, excitement, adrenaline” that happens when the final image exceeds the original vision they had for it. Francis scanned his film and shared the image (accompanied by his original piano score) online. The rest, as they say, is history. “Blindness,” Francis reflects, “blew up in ways that were overwhelming and exciting.” The image was widely shared, commented on, and questioned: What message was Francis trying to convey? Who was the intriguing, androgynous subject? 26 photo ED
Francis refused to offer black and white answers to questions that live in shades of grey, hoping “to leave some essential mystery intact.” Francis wanted — still wants — “Blindness” to be engaged with and interpreted in various ways. The old adage applies: Be careful what you wish for. Francis was offered his first international exhibition in Berlin during Fashion Week 2007. He exhibited 17 pieces, “Blindness” among them, at A-B Projekt Galerie, a sort of art-gallery-cum-fashion-showroomcum-dance-party meant to attract couture houses and famous figures. Francis’ show, Vision of the Ghost, attracted a lot of attention, becoming fashionable in its own right. Designer Alexander McQueen became a fan. And so it began. After Francis returned home to Calgary, Alberta, a woman ventured into that Berlin gallery, claiming to represent “one Francis A. Willey’s interests abroad.” She left with every single piece from Vision of the Ghost, save “Blindness.” She was never seen again. (Francis had loaned “Blindness” to a new colleague in Berlin; later, when Francis inquired about it, that person claimed not to have it.) The Berlin exhibition is now scattered all over Europe. Currently, Francis knows the locations of nine of the original seventeen pieces. An art collector–dealer bought eight pieces from a Craigslist ad, subsequently reselling four. Francis connected with the person who purchased those four, but the conversation ended abruptly when Francis informed him that the pieces he owns were stolen. Berlin was a hint, a harbinger, of the story to come. On a 2012 excursion to New York City, friends contacted Francis to congratulate him on “making it” in that epicentre of art and culture. “Blindness” appeared on a magazine cover and was on exhibition in Brooklyn.
THERE ARE OVER 800,000 EXAMPLES OF UNLICENSED USES OF “BLINDNESS.”
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IS THIS KIND OF TEMPORARY BLINDNESS A CHOICE — WILLFUL, LIBERATING, NECESSARY? OR IS IT IMPOSED, ENFORCED, OR INFLICTED BY ANOTHER?
But it wasn’t Francis’ “Blindness.” Iranian artists ICY and SOT, having found Francis’ “Blindness” either online or on a poster advertising the Berlin show, had made a graffiti stencil of it and claimed it as their own. (They have subsequently removed it from their website, but not before giving interviews about it and showing their stencil on CNN.) Versions of this story recurred at an alarming rate. People repeatedly contacted Francis to share sightings of his work in other contexts “by” other artists. Introduced to the reverse image search engine TinEye, Francis says he became a veritable “Internet sleuth, collecting all the different iterations of ‘Blindness’ that [he] could find.” He’s become a curator of the thefts, with three galleries on his website — Appropriations, Homages, Memes — showcasing examples from his collection of copies. He is planning a future show and/ or book entitled Stealing Blindness. No one ever contacted Francis to ask permission to use his image; in many cases, he would simply have granted it. No one paid him a licensing fee. And no organization or artist ever credited him as the original artist. While Francis says, “It would be wonderful to make money from ‘Blindness,’ especially so that I could surprise the person who sat for the photo with a whole handful of cash,” he’s not bitter, angry, or litigious. His attitude is more bemused incredulity. “Blindness” has been lifted as is or manipulated (cropped, colourized, contorted) and used for sundry purposes the world over: book covers, album art, movie posters, graffiti art, advertising, and fundraising campaigns. It has been used in virtually every realm: art, commerce, sex, religion, education, medicine, and tourism. KODAKOne, an image rights management 28 photo ED
platform with which Francis now works, has detected roughly 800,000 examples of unlicensed uses of “Blindness.” In most cases, Francis doesn’t object to how his image is used, although he says, “ethically, morally, I wish they’d have asked my permission, and I wish they’d at least cite me—properly credit me as the artist.” When I ask Francis if there are any copies of “Blindness” that he loathes, he’s quick to respond, “Yes, the blatantly, grossly misogynist ones. Those I could live without.” Happily for Francis, “Blindness” is more often used to promote something positive. He explains, “All I’ve ever wanted to do with my art is to help people. If ‘Blindness’ has helped in some way — helped raise money for blind children, increased the profile of an international diabetes association, inspired someone to sign up for a Women’s Studies class — that makes me happy.” Ultimately, he wants “Blindness” to be a positive force in the world. When asked what he thinks makes “Blindness” so popular, so desirable that people want to make it their own, Francis muses, “I think people respond to the combination of strength and fragility embodied here.” This robust vulnerability, admirable and immensely difficult to capture on film, leads Francis to share another memory, another turn in the story of “Blindness.” In 2011, a devastating house fire claimed almost everything Francis owned. The one item he salvaged from the ashes, unscathed? His single 35mm film negative of “Blindness.” franciswilley.com IG: @neopictorialist
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Since I was a kid I’ve known that I needed to have a career in something creative and visual. Growing up, I wanted to be a cartoonist or animator, then a graphic designer, but when I discovered photography, I knew I had found the right fit. I first picked up a camera when I was about 15 when my family got my dad a pointand-shoot digital camera for his birthday. I ended up playing around with it and got completely hooked. It sort of became “my” camera from then on. Throughout high school, I would push the limits of that little camera until I was able to take photography classes in grades 11 and 12. Learning to use film cameras, the darkroom, DSLRs, and strobes, and having an encouraging teacher who was a skilled photographer himself, really helped my creative development. In my final weeks of high school, I decided I wanted to start making money from the new DSLR I had just purchased for my upcoming education in the photography program at Algonquin College. I emailed the two local community newspapers to see if they would be interested in hiring a photographer and, to my surprise, one of them actually responded. Somehow with my limited high school portfolio, and thanks to the young journalist who took a chance on bringing me in for a meeting with the editors, I ended up getting regular freelance work with them for the next three to four years. I shot more than 800 events during that time. The volume and range of assignments, and the freedom to experiment, was so important for my development as a photographer starting out. I learned by doing. Figuring out how to get the best images from every kind of location and lighting condition, getting out of my comfort zone, approaching strangers, honing my technical skills while on the job, understanding how to shoot each event strategically and provide context-driven imagery… these are all things that helped to prepare me for my career.
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While I was freelancing, I began my studies at the Algonquin College photography program. There’s a lot of debate about whether a formal education in photography is necessary. For me, the teachers, equipment, studios, camaraderie, and support among students were resources I relished. By trying all kinds of photography, I quickly realized the things I don’t particularly like to shoot, which helped me narrow my longterm focus to portraiture. After Algonquin, I began assisting, which was also an important experience. I learned a lot about how successful portrait photographers operate in Ottawa, from technical shooting decisions to working with subjects and clients. After about a year, I made the decision to go out on my own. I certainly didn’t have instant success but, with a lot of persistence, I began to get regular clients, and my career snowballed from there. Today, I am a full-time commercial and editorial portrait photographer. I have so much gratitude for the amazing opportunities that have come my way. I photographed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in his office for Maclean’s and conducted shoots for clients such as the Washington Post, Telegraph Magazine, and the Supreme Court of Canada. In the fall of 2016, I was scanning Facebook and discovered the Ottawa Rock Camp For Girls+ (now known as Girls+ Rock Ottawa). Scrolling through their photos and videos from past camps, I was really excited by what they were doing and thought it would be cool to do a black and white portrait series of these teen rock stars. It turned out that I knew a few people involved in the organization. I immediately got in touch to propose my idea, offering to do the work for free and to share the images with the organization for its use as well. I got an immediate and enthusiastic yes, and off we went.
The 2019 Girls+ series combined silhouette portraits with images of the same participant performing at the end-of-camp showcase at the National Arts Centre. The concept was a nod to the personal growth each participant went through during their time at the camp. It’s quite emotional watching them perform on the final night after watching them evolve over the course of the program.
The camp is held annually over a single weekend. Since I didn’t want to get in the way of camp activities, I made sure to shoot all the participants portraits on the same day. This meant I had only a few minutes for each shot. The kids had so much confidence and energy, it was contagious for everyone involved! I released that first series on March 8, 2016, for International Women’s Day on my website and social media. I have since continued this project for every Girls+ Rock Ottawa camp. I have now photographed four Girls+ camps, and a Women+ camp. Shooting with a positive, enthusiastic, all-women crew helps to create a fun, safe space. It has been an incredibly fulfilling project, both personally and professionally, and I’m forever grateful to Girls+ Rock Ottawa and all the participants for this collaboration. It’s hard to explain where my vision to create black and white images came from but, when I discovered the camp, I immediately saw that original series in its entirety. I knew exactly what I wanted it to look like. I think part of me was naturally drawn to black and white because I never really get to do that in my professional career, and I wanted to shake things up creatively by doing a portrait project that felt right in that style, and this one did.
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When the camp organizers and I decided it would be a great continual project, I wanted to keep the black and white theme for some overall consistency for the longer-term series, but I still wanted to change the style and direction of each shoot to push myself to try new techniques that I felt would suit the project. I’ve experimented with long exposures, double exposures, close up portraits, and various lighting techniques, with attention to body language and expression as the common thread. I would advise emerging photographers to follow their natural interests. Don’t be afraid to explore whatever you’re curious about, whether that is a photographic style, a niche subject matter, or anything really. Try not to get caught up in the competitiveness of the industry, and just think about what’s truly important to you and what you’re excited about. In my experience, community support and connections with a wide range of people have been essential. If you’re starting out, don’t be afraid to reach out, even if it’s just a simple email introduction. I’d also encourage my fellow established photographers to be welcoming of these connections with emerging photographers. We’re all better for it. jessicadeeks.com IG: @jessicadeeks
ABOVE: The 2017 Girls+ series used long exposures while the participants listened to their favourite songs on wireless headphones, dancing while I photographed. We also had the music playing through a speaker so myself and my assistants could groove along too, making it a fun group experience. RIGHT: The vision for my 2016 Girls+ camp session was a series of black and white portraits portraying the participants’ confidence.
I THINK PART OF ME WAS NATURALLY DRAWN TO BLACK AND WHITE BECAUSE I NEVER REALLY GET TO DO THAT IN MY PROFESSIONAL CAREER, AND I WANTED TO SHAKE THINGS UP CREATIVELY BY DOING A PORTRAIT PROJECT THAT FELT RIGHT IN THAT STYLE, AND THIS ONE DID.
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Remember this? With most experiencing the second wave of COVID-19, being social seems just this long ago. The Photographic Historical Society of Canada reminds everyone to distance as well as wear a mask; once the coronavirus is beaten, weâ€™ll be back to hosting shows and fairs. Want easy event updates? Contact us for a subscription to our free newsletter at www.phsc.ca.
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CHRISTINE FITZGERALD A FIERCE AND ORDINARY REALITY BY BRANDY RYAN
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“The figures are at the same time creatures of imagined possibility and creatures of fierce and ordinary reality; the dimensions tangle and require response.” – Donna Haraway, When Species Meet
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PREVIOUS PAGE: From the Threatened series. LEFT: From the TRAFFICKED series, “Saiga Antelope Horns.” RIGHT: From the TRAFFICKED series, “Bear Gallbladder with Bosc Pears.”
hat do we think about trafficked animal specimens, threatened birds and reptiles, and captive parrots? According to photographer Christine Fitzgerald, we barely think of them at all. Her deeply methodical photography practice thus invites us into a world of tangled dimensions — and encourages us to respond. Christine Fitzgerald uses now-antiquated photographic processes, such as wet plate collodion, to achieve a printed tonal range that surpasses contemporary printing methods. The techniques in her laborious process date back to the nineteenth century, when photography was just being introduced to the world. This is precisely the draw for her. “I wanted to go back to the origins of photography, the basics,” Christine explains. After retiring from a career as a health care executive, she enrolled in the School of Photographic Arts: Ottawa. “In the first month, I saw a book of Sally Mann’s work and fell in love with one of the images. I did some research on how she did it, and that’s how I got into historical processes.” Sally Mann’s Southern Landscape series transformed Christine’s view of photography entirely.
Christine’s choice of medium and the richness of the wet collodion process make each image seem like it has come from the nineteenth century. Blurring the line between trompe l’oeil and still life, Christine’s TR AFFICKED series takes time for viewers to really take in what they see. Christine was able to get unprecedented access to the facilities of the Canadian Wildlife Enforcement branch to photograph what it confiscates: illegal animal specimens and parts. In “Bear Gallbladder with Bosc Pears,” the desiccated gallbladder is almost indistinguishable from the pears — until you take the time to really look. “People don’t quite know what it is. They think it’s just a traditional still life of the pears,” Fitzgerald notes wryly. “When they realize that it’s a bear gallbladder, I have their attention.” Attention is key to the spirit of Christine’s work. She carefully crafts arrangements, light, and texture to blur boundaries between the ordinary and the exotic, the quotidian and the taboo. Numerous photographers document our complex relationships with the environs we inhabit and the animals with which we co-habitat; often, we see these cold, hard realities presented as stark documentary or photojournalistic
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evidence commanding our attention. Christine’s fine art approach is more subtle and more emotional. The plumpness of the pears contrasts the withered gallbladder in a complex tangle of exotic animal object and everyday fruit. The ripe pears lean toward the withered gallbladder, as if in sympathy for its plight. Her goal is to make us feel something, to respond somehow. “Saiga Antelope Horns,” on the other hand, has the energy of a lively domestic scene: a table with a set of candlesticks, a wine glass, and a bottle of wine. Inviting and arresting, this image draws us close to stop us in our tracks. Those are not wax candles, but the ringed horns of the male saiga antelope, now devastatingly close to extinction because of human hunting and trafficking. So often these illegal objects are trophies, status symbols. But there are those among us as casual about these trafficked parts as we are about the candles we place on our tables. It is our pleasure and our consumption that drives such violence and desire for possession. We rarely encounter it as it so often appears: hidden in plain sight. The tension between subjects and objects builds in Christine’s Threatened series, where animal specimens are chosen by her child subjects. These specimens function both as prop and proper co-subject, a common duality in our engagement with the animal world. The pairing of the symbolic future (children) with the threatened past (specimens of whole or part animals) evokes a meeting of species at the brink in the threatened present. Rather than cutely or coyly posing with a token animal object, the children gaze directly, seriously — even confrontationally — at the camera and their viewers. That gaze encourages us to reconsider the notion of species as its Latin root, specere: to look at, to observe, to behold. “Setophaga petechia” asks us, stoically, to behold how we impact the future of the American yellow warbler, here figured as eggs in a nest. As the young subject gently holds this nest in her hands, I wonder, at what point do the curious, protective hands of children become the indifferent, mercurial hands of adults? At what point, and why, do we regard the animals around us as other, as disposable? And how might a photographer inspire us to hold them in higher regard, to see them in relation with us? “Testudines,” also from the Threatened series, gives us a way in — or, rather, a way up, outside conventional representation. Given how frequently we look down on the turtle species and its hard, protective shell, Christine’s image encourages us to see it from a new angle. We look from below, where the turtle’s soft, unprotected belly gives us a fuller sense of the creature’s vulnerability, despite its shell. “When you look at it
AT WHAT POINT DO THE CURIOUS, PROTECTIVE HANDS OF CHILDREN BECOME THE INDIFFERENT, MERCURIAL HANDS OF ADULTS? LEFT: From the Threatened series, “Leuconotopicus borealis.” RIGHT: From the Threatened series, “Testudines.” photo ED 41
THESE PHOTOGRAPHS ARE AT ONCE ORDINARY AND FIERCE, REALITY AND POSSIBILITY.
from the [underside],” Christine notes, “it’s almost as if it has its hands up, saying ‘Stop, stop. Stop doing this to me.’” With 61% of all turtle species extinct or threatened, this is less a plea than an imperative. But we’re not just reckless with the trophies of wild animals. We’re also wildly irresponsible with the animals we “own” as companions. Christine’s CAPTIVE series takes us into the world of endangered parrots purchased as pets and then abandoned — often numerous times. “People buy these birds because they’re beautiful and they can mimic human speech, so they’re entertaining. But at the end of the day, they’re wild. It’s in their DNA. People buy them and then they can’t take care of them,” Christine says. Parrots also often outlive their owners (their life expectancy can surpass 60 years). Many are left, abandoned, or given up. “They call it ‘serial relinquishing,’” Christine observes. “They get owner after owner after owner, and they become very distressed.” To create these stunning, intimate parrot portraits, Christine worked with a handler to photograph the birds in a rehab and education centre outside Ottawa. Parrots are unfriendly to strangers, so Christine spent hours with the birds, building trust so they would come out on the perch she had created for them. Although the birds were photographed digitally, Christine used three different historical processes to print the images: gum bichromate, wet collodion, and platinumpalladium. Each print is created through a laborious process of trial and error, which takes several days and multiple steps. Christine believes that, without the parrots’ vibrant colours to distract us, we see into their being. The rich tones of her historical processes also lend the parrots crucial gravitas. Parrots are so often depicted as merely amusing and flamboyant, but through Christine’s lens they are subjects in their own right: striking, dignified, and innately wild. It’s tempting to read TR AFFICKED, Threatened, and CAPTIVE as a linear and political trajectory from objectification to subjectivity. We encounter the dead and trafficked objects as still life, the specimen as prop and co-subject in human portraiture, and the rescued parrots as fully realized subjects of their own portraits. But the complex dimensions of these three series hold us even as we behold them, species to species, and the concerns they raise are iterative and imperative. Christine’s images are at once ordinary and fierce, reality and possibility. christinefitzgeraldphotography.com
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From the CAPTIVE series, “Cacatua alba,” PlatinumPalladium print.
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ROMANCE, FLIGHT, FLUIDITY BY MARK WALTON
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Sixty years ago, the canon of photographic images of dancers consisted mainly of posed practitioners, held static by the constraints of the medium in a most unnatural state. And while these photos are beautiful in their own right, as evidenced by Baron de Meyer’s photos of Nijinsky and Steichen’s shots of Isadora Duncan at the turn of the last century, dance is about movement. It is the freedom to momentarily loose oneself from the bonds of earth to express the most artistic interpretations of romance, flight, and fluidity. Karolina Kuras had an early start as a dancer, a self-described “bun-head,” in her native Poland. She is also an exceptionally talented photographer and has combined these seemingly disparate sensibilities as the primary photographer for the National Ballet of Canada. Karolina grew up in what she describes as “essentially a hippy, Buddhist commune in the mountains of communist Poland.” Many in the community were
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artists, her mother a painter, and her father a classical musician. Both dabbled in photography. She started taking ballet for the love of it and found it helped her overcome her shyness. At age 5, the family moved to Guelph, Ontario. In high school, her teacher encouraged her to try photography. Karolina began working with a local portraitist as a darkroom technician. When that photographer moved her studio to Hamilton, Karolina acquired most of her mentor’s Guelph clients. By her late teens, she was already running a serious business. Her passion for ballet led to Karolina photographing friends still involved with dance in her spare time. These personal projects soon became her primary focus; today all of her photography is dance focused. Both her love of dance and growing up in a heavily arts-infused space strongly influenced Karolina’s aesthetic. She prefers “storybook”
ABOVE: Tanya Howard RIGHT PAGE: Guillaume Côté. Courtesy of the National Ballet of Canada. PREVIOUS PAGES, LEFT PAGE: Evan McKie RIGHT PAGE: Jenna Savella
IT IS THE FREEDOM TO MOMENTARILY LOOSE ONESELF FROM THE BONDS OF EARTH TO EXPRESS THE MOST ARTISTIC INTERPRETATIONS OF ROMANCE, FLIGHT, AND FLUIDITY.
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ballets, including Romeo and Juliet, Sleeping Beauty, and, her favourite, Giselle. Edward Weston, Jock Sturges, and Irving Penn are three photographers she cites as having left a mark on her signature style. These ballet productions and visual artists can all (arguably) be described as romantic. As seen in Karolina’s work, these photographers have a way of capturing images that render their subjects timeless and somewhat mysterious. “Growing up there were always cameras around,” Karolina says. “My parents developed their own black and white photos in the darkroom.… I grew up with black and white.” Karolina says that while she has seen many photos of cousins and extended family in the eighties that showed their “cool and colorful” clothing, photos of her immediate family look as if they were taken in the fifties: “I think black and white is just a little bit more dreamy and soulful. There’s something about it that is other-earthly. Colours are almost too real, where [black and white] feels a little more abstract. Nostalgic.” After a moment’s reflection she states, “I feel like my soul is black and white.” Indeed, her first love in photography was for black and white film images. She has a collection of older 35mm and medium format cameras, but her prized possession is her Linhof Technika, a gift from her husband. “Everything that comes out of ‘him’ is magic,” Karolina says. She likens the discipline of large format capture to the discipline required for ballet. “It’s a very mindful process.” Like most photographers, she uses digital capture for her professional workflow, not only because of the cost differential, but because digital is much more adept at capturing the nuances in the movement of ballet. Her current lineup of tools includes a Canon 5D Mark IV and a Fujifilm X-T3, although she has her sights set on a Canon EOS R5 mirrorless camera. 48 photo 48 photo ED ED
Her photographic process relies heavily on the muscle memory developed by years of dance. She knows exactly where to be at a precise moment to capture a dancer in perfect form and position. They seem less anchored to the floor than gliding through the frame, capturing the inherent romanticism of the story being told by the movement. Her dance experience also allows her a knowing and easy rapport with her subjects, who permit her to capture them in unguarded moments that other photographers would not be welcome to. Karolina keeps her setup as simple as possible, preferring natural light in studios with large windows, or single lights with softboxes to emulate that feeling. “I’m always experimenting with my approach to light,” she offers. She uses prime lenses almost exclusively for studio shoots and relies uncharacteristically on 85mm glass. “An 85mm lens tends to elongate your subjects a bit, and dancers want to be as long and lean as possible,” she says. COVID-19 is a concern for all photographers. “On the list of essential jobs, mine is close to the bottom (with professional ballet companies),” Karolina says. “There are 85 other people to pay before they pay me.” Yet, ever the optimist, she adds, “There is a lot of new opportunity to create new content now.” Video is becoming a new focus for her, with new multimedia projects moving forward during the pandemic. Karolina’s work may prove to be a lifeline in a time where professional performing arts struggle to stay relevant. While waiting for dancers to alight once more on the stage, her images keep reminding us of the beauty of ballet and our souls alive in the promise of its return.
archivehouse.com IG: karolinakuras
RIGHT: Isabella Walsh
HER PHOTOGRAPHIC PROCESS RELIES HEAVILY ON THE MUSCLE MEMORY DEVELOPED BY YEARS OF DANCE. SHE KNOWS EXACTLY WHERE TO BE AT A PRECISE MOMENT TO CAPTURE A DANCER IN PERFECT FORM AND POSITION.
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ALLY GONZALO FINDING PRIDE IN FRONT OF AND BEHIND THE LENS
BY MICHELLE JOSEPH
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YOU MIGHT THINK that a degree in history and political science would lead to a career in politics or teaching, but for Ally Gonzalo, it led to a career in photography.
While he was a student at the University of the Philippines, Ally attended a field trip with some of his friends. They lent him a camera to capture pictures for the day, and Ally took full advantage and snapped images of everything they saw. At the end of the day, his friends noticed that he had a unique flare for taking pictures and asked if heâ€™d like to be a part of a photography group that they were organizing. He accepted. When he graduated from the university, he asked his grandmother for a camera as a graduation gift. She obliged, and he continued with his new favourite hobby.
In June 2016, Ally and his family left the Philippines and immigrated to Winnipeg, Manitoba. Since he was starting from scratch in a new place, he felt he needed to figure out what he wanted to do. He could have sought work in radio or social media, as he had some previous experience in both fields, but he chose to pursue photography, as it made him happy and was an outlet for his creativity. Without hesitation, he enrolled at the PrairieView School of Photography. For a self-directed assignment, Ally chose to challenge himself and take portraits of people. At the time, he was comfortable shooting street photography and landscapes, but he felt intimidated by taking pictures of people. He chose to take portraits so that he could confront his anxiety head on. He initially had a goal of photographing five people but ended up doubling his number of subjects, and graduating at the top of his class. photo ED 51
“KEEP TAKING PICTURES, TRY DIFFERENT THINGS AND, MOST IMPORTANTLY, TAKE PRIDE IN KNOWING THAT YOU ARE DIFFERENT.” 52 photo ED
Like most people in a new place, Ally felt a little isolated and wanted to make friends and fit in. He thought that one way to meet new people was to join a photography group. Most of the photographers he encountered were white, cisgender, heterosexual men. He felt out of place, as he was the only brown, queer man and immigrant. After several failed attempts at trying to “fit in,” he decided to distinguish himself from everyone else and photograph people who he didn’t see represented in media. In 2019, he connected with a video producer from the CBC who was putting together a Filipino Heritage Month video and spoke to Ally about his Filipino background. Fascinated by their conversation, the producer suggested Ally submit a proposal to the CBC Creator Network. Not thinking too
much about it, Ally sent in a pitch and to his surprise, the project was green lit. CBC Manitoba and CBC Arts shared his story and behind-the-scenes videos featuring Ally working on his series of portraits of gay, trans, non-binary, and bisexual Filipino Winnipeggers. His project was called Bakla! “Bakla” (Tagalog) is a term that means people who possess characteristics that are both male and female: an identity that Ally fully embraces. Although the term is meant to be derogatory, Ally has claimed it with pride. The term includes people who identify as trans, non-binary, or bisexual, and who generally don’t subscribe to hetero-normative and genderbinary worldviews. While most Bakla are attracted to men, collectively referring to them as “gay” would be inaccurate as some self-identify as women. Similar to indigenous Two-
Spirited people, Bakla are considered to be capable of seeing the world through both female and male eyes. Ally feels that part of his role as a photographer is to educate people about his community. He looks to use his skills behind the camera to uplift members of the queer community in front of his lens. We’re excited to follow this story as Ally has now secured support from the Winnipeg Arts Council to continue this project. He will be moving at at a slower and steadier pace due to the global pandemic disruption, but we’re confident he will find a way to share more work and stories from his incredible and unique perspective. allygonzalo.com IG: @jhapes
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THE GALLERY SUBMISSIONS BY OUR READERS
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BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE... Check out the WINTER 2021 DIGITAL EXTRA ISSUE to see more B&W images by more Canadian photographers.
3. A`RNO THE ARTIST
4. ELSIE NISONEN
5. TANYA MURCHIE
Shared territories of the Sts’ailes, Cheam, and Seabird Island (Agassiz, BC)
IG: @elsienisonen @DarkroomRedLight
IG: @tanyamurchiephotography tanyamurchiephotography.com
IG: @capturedlooks @justtyty
2.TARA NEWHOOK St. John’s, NL IG: @taranewhook
6. BELINDA MULLER Halifax, NS IG: @belindamullerfineart
A`rno the Artist Afzal Huda Aiden James Angel Pan Angela Zheng Ashley Hird Ashley M. Boutin Ava Margueritte Belinda Muller Bob St-Cyr Bradley Joseph Brenda Lakeman Brian Lavery Brian Whitestone Caleb Butler Christian Lee Christina Shivcharan David Van Poppel Dylan Greenhough E. Ross Bradley Elsie Nisonen Gun Roze Hannah Tkatch Henry VanderSpek Ivan Rupes Jeff Soriano John Faragher Jordan Murray Joseph Boltrukiewicz Judy H. McPhee Junyan Luo Katie Roulier Kevin E. Proulx Kristi Nickerson Kyle Umbach Laurie Minor Loretta Stephens Maddison Ouchi Marie-Louise Moutafchieva Mathew Shawn Turner Megan Forsyth Melinda Stanley Melissa Richard Mirna Chacín Olivia Galati Oscar Bustos Rainer Oktovianus Ramona Munteanu Ruby Cayago Sandra St. Clair Slade Sara Grawbarger-Kuefler Sean Fetaz Simal Gormus SJ KIM Sonia Blayde Taimoor Khan Tanya Murchie Tara Newhook Tash Damjanovic Twinkle Banerjee Tylor Key-Carr Tyresha Bailey-Davis Victoria Doudoumis Wes Makowski +MORE!
Check it out online JANUARY 1, at
BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE...
SUBMISSIONS BY OUR READERS
Check out the WINTER 2021 DIGITAL EXTRA ISSUE to see more B&W images by more Canadian photographers.
JANUARY 1, 2021 at
1. AFZAL HUDA Toronto, ON From the series Love Wins: Palestinian Perseverance Behind Walls. IG: @the.afzal.huda theunapologetictraveler.co
2. ASHLEY HIRD
3. CHRISTIAN LEE
“A physical representation of what depression feels like.”
“When I shoot B&W it comes from a place of adventure and a desire for the image to be stripped to a minimum.”
IG: @stillsnthrills 56 photo ED
IG: @christian.cole.lee christiancolelee.com
Turn your love of photography into a career. Become a professional photographer in just two years in Seneca’s Photography program. You’ll learn strong lighting and entrepreneurial skills to develop your own unique talent and style. Let our team of working professionals teach you the real-world skills needed to succeed in the industry. CONTACT US Program Co-ordinator firstname.lastname@example.org 416.491.5050 ext. 33572
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Daniel Castro Graduate, Independent Digital Photography
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KATE ROY AFFINITY I AM REALLY only at the beginning of discovering who I am. After years of trauma, mental and physical abuse, and hiding within myself, I have now come to a point in my life that it is necessary to face the truths of my experiences and finally heal. I’m excited to face this world. I am at a beautiful point of strength and voice and can feel myself shifting spiritually, emotionally, and physically for the better. I look at art and research as one and the same, and I see my creative practice as the same as a field scientist: exploring and investigating, aiming to understand what it is I am observing.
Affinity is a project that was originally developed to help slow down my photography process and connect with my subjects, and possibly myself, on a deeper level. Using an 8x10 view camera, I spent an hour or more speaking to my subjects and delving into some of the most difficult moments in their personal lives. When I felt they had truly opened up, I would snap the shutter with the aim of capturing a part of what I believed to be who they really are. Shooting with paper negatives gave me the opportunity to bring my subjects into the darkroom with me after taking their portraits to experience the process of my practice. It was exciting to experience the magic of the chemistry, as it would reveal an image, whilst developing a bond between subject and artist.
TOP: “Ylvie.” LEFT: “AJ.” RIGHT: “Henri.”
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Kate Roy is an emerging Ottawa-based visual artist who primarily works with historical film processes and experiments with cyanotypes, chemistry, various film formats, painting, sculpture, and woodwork. kateroyphoto.com
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This is a REPLICA of our PRINT edition. The Beautiful B&W edition features: Rosalie Favell - Facing the Camera Photography as a Gift By Rut...
Published on Nov 30, 2020
This is a REPLICA of our PRINT edition. The Beautiful B&W edition features: Rosalie Favell - Facing the Camera Photography as a Gift By Rut...