Newsletter #197: February, 2022
© Chris Harris. All rights reserved.
Celebrating my 17th year writing this Photographic Newsletter!
The stunning beauty of winter!
Creative Vision – what do I mean?
Photography offers new ways of seeing, even the possibility of seeing beyond what we actually see.
During my book publishing days, aiming for the generation of visual identity for the Cariboo Chilcotin, I created images of single subjects, made with single exposures, at single moments in time.
More recently, when using camera movement with the multiple exposure function, a single image will incorporate several subjects in different locations made with several exposures over many moments of time.
With new possibilities, our vision grows. With creative vision, our creative output changes, and new realities become imaginable.
In this Photographic Newsletter, I touch on this theme of developing our creative vision. I begin by describing the evolution of a style of image-making that began as a way of simplifying an overly complex subject. I call it Multiple Perspective Photography.
Multiple Perspective Photography
Suggestion: check these images out on the largest screen possible – many require investigative attention to detail.
Reading about Art Movements in history, in various media, has had a profound influence on my image-making over the past four-to-five years.
The insults and abuses that were hurled at so many courageous artists, who ventured into the little understood and unknown worlds of original expression, provided me with a fearlessness to follow my own path.
Venturing into the unknown potential of how to use my camera, and how I perceive the world around me, is taking me on a very exciting, stimulating, and rewarding journey.
It all began on a visit to the painting studio of my sister, Jane O’Malley, and her husband, Tony. The above photograph looks down a long corridor from Jane’s painting space to Tony’s. It is surrounded with objects, which are all inspirational to each of them in different ways. My question was; how can I possibly photograph their creative world in a single photograph?
It was then that I visualized, experimented, and eventually discovered a new approach of expression that I had never used, or ever seen, before.
My vision was to take viewers on a walk through the studio to investigate the various objects in a new context. Instead of many images from single perspectives, I envisioned a single image from several perspectives.
My first attempts resulted in two-dimensional chaos. This evolved to the creation of a central aisle; which generated a perception of three-dimensional space for the viewer to enter.
This technique involves disassembling elements of realism and reassembling them in a new way. There is an element of ‘collage’ in this style of photography. It’s a style that was incorporated by cubist painters who wished to change ‘form’ from that which was familiar to that which was unfamiliar.
Three years later when walking along Saint Laurent Boulevard in Montreal, I was faced with the similar dilemma of too many visual inputs (cars, bikes, scooters, murals, store fronts, signs, and people, etc.) to capture in a single image. As a rural person, I felt overloaded with visual stimuli.
Recalling what I had discovered in Jane and Tony’s studio, I again embraced the concept of making a single photograph of many elements from multiple perspectives rather than a multitude of images from a single perspective.
While photographing within Montreal’s urban environment, my Multiple Perspective image-making continued to evolve.
In the above image, my vision was to re-imagine the Old City by incorporating two of its main architectural elements in a way that they could be seen and appreciated in a single viewing. Once again, I disassembled real elements, and reassembled them in a new and cohesive way.
My challenge in making the above image was to create a point of entry (cobble street with pedestrian and dog) from which to enter the image and view the two iconic buildings; the Marché Bonsecours and the Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours Chapel. In real-world, these two buildings are not near each other and cannot be photographed together.
I continued to bring different architectural elements together to create new worlds for visual exploration and investigation. A client of mine refers to these images as ‘mentally active’, for they demand attention, exploration, and thought. If good composition is designed to attract and maintain the attention of viewers, that is my aim.
My Multiple Perspective style of image capture continues to take on new meaning.
In photography, perspective refers to making images from different locations and/or using different focal lengths. Both aspects of perspective are used in the above image.
While walking along a riverside promenade, my attention was focused on the people walking in front of me, and the flowered gardens to my right. The river, which was on my left, held no interest.
By photographing the people and gardens from different perspectives, I re-imagined and then re-created their reality. From a personal point of view, I eliminated any connection with the river, while placing their entire interest in walking through the colourful gardens.
Several districts of Montreal are known for their outside staircases and have become architecturally famous.
In this imaginary place, I visualize neighbours descending their staircases to share morning coffee and conversation in their communal garden. It’s a gathering I would love to participate in!
Finding an audience:
Finding an audience for our art is not only rewarding; it’s important. Without a destination, most artists, including photographers, would quit.
What’s so wonderful and amazing about sharing our photographic art, is that it is so responsive. When I share a photograph, and a viewer responds positively, connecting to my experience and feelings toward my subject, a wonderful thing happens. There is an exchange of energy; moving, for both of us.
I am fortunate in having a Gallery to exhibit my work. Recently, my Multiple Perspective work is finding an audience. I’d like to share one experience which I found most gratifying and inspiring.
A gentleman, who is also a composer of classical music, wanted a print in his music room that would inspire his creativity. He visited the Gallery and after a two-hour conversation about the arts of composing original music and making original imagery, he left with a fairly large selection of imagery to view and ponder at home. After two months of considerable thought, he returned, and we shared another two hours, discussing creativity. He seemed drawn to my Multiple Perspective images which he termed ‘mentally active’. Once again, he left with new thoughts and a greatly reduced number of images.
One month later, he returned again. After a much shorter chat, he told me he couldn’t make up his mind between two images. Because both happened to hang in the Gallery, and he lived relatively close by, I offered to bring them both to his home. After his wife and I hung one print, he looked at it, sat down, and played his cello. After the second print was hung and perused, resulting in a different piece of music being played, he stood up and instinctively made his choice. It was the Multiple Perspective image which he found to be most ‘mentally active’ and inspirational of the two.
The entire three-month experience was a rich and gratifying exchange; all brought about by the responsiveness of art. It reminded me of the quote by my late brother-in-law, Tony O’Malley, a painter reputed to be one of the greatest Irish painters of the twentieth century, and great inspiration of mine in my work;
“Never be swayed by anything but your own work and vision”
Two months ago, I revisited my sister Jane in Ireland. When I went to her studio where I had made my first Multiple Perspective photograph several years prior, I couldn’t resist making a few new versions, including the above ‘selfie’!
What I enjoy most about Multiple Perspective Photography is tying together disparate elements, often separated by space, into a single cohesive representation of place. It’s a place where realism vanishes, yet where realism is expressed. I find the creative process challenging, exciting and gratifying.
A Three Image Walk Down the Road with My Dog
My dog Duggan loves the winter, so we often take strolls up and down the road or snowshoe up into the forest. One such outing resulted in these three, quite different, winter expressions.
Bella Coola, Gabriola Island, and Vieux Montréal
Informative, Inspirational, Challenging & Creative
Three openings are still available for the Gabriola workshop; May 15-21, 2022
In my last Newsletter, #196, Dennis Ducklow and I released the dates for three 6-day workshops in three different world-class locations; Gabriola Island, Bella Coola, and Old Montreal. Bella Coola and Old Montreal filled up immediately, so if you are interested in one of those destinations, we suggest you add your name to the waiting list.
These workshops emphasize ‘seeing’ and ‘meaningful expression’. We encourage all styles of photographic expression – like these!
Photographer in a re-imagined world
We invite you to join us on a journey into unseen worlds of expressive art. A workshop on Gabriola Island will inspire you to take your photography to a place you didn’t know existed.
All of us at Chris Harris Photography thank you for your subscriber support!
See you in April!