Newsletter #183: August, 2020
© Chris Harris. All rights reserved.
Freedom of Expression
To have freedom of expression in any artistic medium is a blessing. When I pick up my camera and head out into the world, I recognize that freedom, and I feel artistically liberated.
I haven’t always felt this way, but recently, I have discovered a multitude of new ways to use the tools of my chosen craft. There are no longer any restrictions or limitations on how I should, or should not, use my camera and selected lenses. This new freedom of artistic expression is thought-provoking, motivating, and inspirationally challenging.
In this Newsletter, I’d like to share some thoughts and imagery to help explain why photography has become an ever-increasing pleasure in my life.
Celebrating the 16th year of writing this photographic Newsletter.
Expressing the Familiar
Image of our property and home
Rita and I have lived here over 15 years, yet I have rarely photographed our property. I have allowed familiarity to dull my quest for visual adventure. The photographically unexplored wilderness of the Cariboo and Chilcotin has always had a greater pull.
This year, however, is different. A greater understanding of photography as an expressive art form, along with COVID-19 travel restrictions, has encouraged and enabled me to see beyond the familiar. Rita’s wild flower garden with an aspen forest on one side and a fir forest on the other, took on a new meaning.
The small aspen forest and tiny fir forest that never appealed to me
With camera swinging, I went on the offensive.
I made this portrayal of Rita’s wild garden by using the ‘dots & dashes’ approach of impressionist painters
Tree tops and the miraculous beauty of the universe above
The sheer natural beauty of colour as displayed by the wildness of Rita’s garden
As I stood looking at this aspen tree trunk, I realized that the tree could see two viewscapes that I could not see; the unseen that lies directly behind the tree, and the unseen behind myself. In order to share with you the colourful range of hues and tones which this aspen tree is privileged to observe, I show them to you reflecting back in the tree trunk itself. It’s as if the tree wanted to show me everything it could see and that I couldn’t.
I then moved into the fir forest and looked out in every direction. The colours and tones which these trees observe around them are shown to you as a backdrop to the forest.
Depending on the perspective from which these trees look out into the world, the colours and tones change. For both the trees and myself, the possibilities for observation and expression are infinite.
For years I have studied the paintings of the Group of Seven, and of particular note to me, were how Tom Thomson and Emily Carr rendered trees and skies; the intricacy of form and boldness of colour. This past month, in my continual search to find a new visual language to express these elements, I came closer to an expression that resonated with me.
Reaching for the Sky. In this case I eliminated the vivid colours of the sky in order to strengthen the power of the forest.
With this small sampling of imagery, I hope to convey a sense of how exciting photography has become, even when expressing the most familiar, outside my front door!
Expression of Twilight
A few evenings ago, I was headed to my office when I glimpsed my camera sitting on the table by the door. I picked it up and went for a short walk around the property, and then out to the road where there is a small lake.
I had no tripod and little light, but I did have the freedom to express. That night I discovered a world of possibilities, and I made expressions unlike any others I had ever made before.
Emotions swirl when you travel through a forest at night
Looking upwards through the forest canopy, I found an entrance to the heavens
Expression of a severe lightning storm
Upon leaving the forest, and seeing a more open landscape, I experienced a sort of ‘freeing up’.
Within that hour of visual enjoyment, I discovered a world I had never seen before.
COVID-friendly ‘Freedom of Expression’ Workshop
This spring I facilitated four of these 2-day workshops with a maximum of 6 participants. This allowed ample room for distancing, and from both a teaching and learning perspective, the workshops were overwhelmingly successful.
“Your 2-day workshop presentation was well beyond my expectations. Going in, I had no idea just what a profound effect your workshop would have on my outlook on photography. You threw the door wide open and gave us an understanding of the endless possibilities that lie within our grasp…….the way you critiqued our images was an encouraging and informative experience. Attending your workshop was a privilege”.
– S.J. – Bridge Lake Photo Group- 2020
There is one fall workshop on September 5-6; and 2 spots have now become available. Workshop details can be seen on my website.
If you enjoy art, and the possibility of interpreting familiar realities as never-before-seen expressions, using ‘in-camera-techniques’, we invite you to join us.
Please contact us immediately by phone or email.
My Website Portfolios: Categories of Expression
I was recently reviewing my website and realized that my Portfolio Page was static and out of touch. I have completely revamped it so that it better reflects the work that I have both done, and am presently doing.
Rather than static portfolios of ‘best’ work, I now prefer dynamic pages which are ‘works in progress’. New images I am excited about may appear monthly, while other are removed. You will share my dynamic creative process of evaluating and re-evaluating my imagery, month by month. In this way, my most meaningful images will stand the test of time naturally and transparently.
I have also re-categorized my portfolios to depict the photographic styles I am presently using; Representational, Expressionist, and Abstract. The category descriptions are on each portfolio page.
I am already finding this new approach stimulating and exciting; I hope you do as well. I invite you to journey through these portfolios as you might an art gallery. Visit frequently; I’ll be re-hanging these exhibits regularly. Enjoy!
See you next month!