Photographer Ian Ruther’s Video Silver & Light came up in my Facebook feed a few weeks ago and I was deeply amazed by what I saw. Silver & Light showed up at a time when I was lost in thought about the value of digital photography. In truth nearly every frame I have shot professionally has been shot with a digital camera and saved to a hard drive as a collection of ones and zeros, not a strip of negatives or a slide slipped into a sleeve, into a binder and onto a shelf. I still have a loupe and a collection of cameras which will shoot film if I can find the time to make that happen. Recently I loaded a nearly new, yet ten year old Nikon F100 with a roll of Tri-X with the intention of shooting some portraits. I will get around to this but it seems like one of those things on the get around to it list like hanging a head board, fixing the drawer in the kitchen and shampooing the engine bay of the car I drive. I would like to shoot film, I would like to do it with some regularity before I loose the option, I would like to shoot 36 frames each one deliberate and considered knowing each frame shot to test light or composition is one less that will count in the take.
Silver & Light is a reminder that there was once something magical about photography and the way chemistry, metal, glass and light conspired together to capture the reflected light of our world. Ruther is not a throwback, but rather a Historian practicing Alchemy to preserve a medium and reframe how we see photography. I often wonder if modern photography has become too much about the technology and too little about the methodology, that it has become too easy, too cheap. I just listened to a BBC Podcast in which UK Photojournalist Nick Danziger suggested that limiting digital devices, iPhones, iPads, Mobile Phones to one photograph a day could make the world a more interesting and captivating place. I think Ian Ruther’s work is a perfect embodiment of Danziger’s idea.
Watch the video:
It has been a busy week. Last weekend I spent Saturday afternoon with Sam and Alex followed by an early morning in Stanely Park shooting a running event and the week fell away from me from that point on; I know it was a little over a week ago that these images were made, but it feels like a month. A week later I am coming off another busy weekend having shot and edited images of a press conference for The University of British Columbia Midwifery Program with my photos turning up on UBC & BC Government websites and a cycling event in Coquitlam which raised nearly $100,000 for the local Hospital Foundation. These past two weekends were book ends to a week filled with much thought and conversation about photography, personal projects and reasonable rates to charge new clients. This personal work, these pictures of Sam & Alex and the others before them, is a way for me to investigate and explore the relationship between subject and photographer and how I want to approach portraiture in the future. It is a definitely a process to learn when to direct and when to observe and I have always been stronger at observation than direction. It was great to see my friends warm to having a camera present, from an initial unease, to something more relaxed and comfortable.
I am on the lookout for subjects in the Vancouver area, let me know if you’d like to be part of my personal project.
In looking at Portraiture, I want the image to read like a movie trailer, or the descriptive blurb on the back of a novel. My best ambition for any portrait I make is the suggestion of a story, something to make the viewer believe that there is something going on beyond the colour, composition or technical exercise of making a photograph; it is the reveal that there is more to the subject than just what the eye sees. I have shot dozens and dozens portraits for newspaper clients, and more often than not, those images were illustrations of written stories. I have been approaching these images with greater deliberation. Locarno Beach may be a cliche place to take a picture, but when asked for a place that had meaning for her, it was Jennifer’s first thought. I believe the places that have meaning for us are an important part of our story and their inclusion in the process contributes to the reveal.
If you are in Vancouver, or in the area, I’d love to hear your story and make your portrait.
I am returning to some Personal Work that had a false start a few years ago. Until I can decided the on the project’s specific goals or parameters the working title remains The Portrait Project, ok, so not that original or creative, but I’ve always felt that portraiture has been my weak point and something that I need to develop. Yesterday I connected with an old friend, classmate and neighbour, Saskia, and we shot several frames in the back garden of her mother’s house while we spoke about the complexities of photography, returning ‘home’ to Vancouver and the finer points of preparing Sushi. My ambition with this long term work is to both develop my skills, but also to create a volume of stories.
Between 2003-2007 I had the chance to travel through Europe a number of times for work; I liked to imagine that it was my “Backpack Through Europe” experience, but not really. I was there for work, and my nights in 4 & 5 Star hotels way out numbered my nights spent in hostels, and it didn’t hurt that I had an expense account to draw from. I spent nearly a week in Hamburg in September of ’04 and loved almost every minute of it. It was my first time in Germany and I was sold! On one of my few days off, a world cup Triathlon event took over Lake Alster, in the very center of Hamburg and I hung around to make some images.