A Photographer at work: Views from the other side of the fence

by admin on October 14, 2009

I got this email from Daryl Spencer and I thought it was interesting enough to post to the blog. Remember that some of the people on the other side of the fence are passionate about their work and do care. TEASER: Guess how many pics he had to look at to get down to 28 for show?

Two weeks from today the first showing of my photography will open!

I'm very excited about this and I hope that you can either come to the "opening" or stop by sometime between Oct 25th and November 22nd to see it. If you don't want to read the rest of this email but are wondering where to go to see the show, scroll to the bottom of the email and I've put the address and phone number in bold for your convenience.

If you're wondering what this is all about, let me explain. Wait - there isn't enough time. Let me sum up:

For a while now I've been thinking it would be great to have an opportunity to show my photography work beyond the handful of friends and family who visit my website from time to time. As you may know, I've been producing fine art landscape photography for several years. Some of you have prints of my work in your house (maybe the downstairs basement or the garage or stuffed in a corner with other stuff that you're afraid would hurt someone's feelings if they found it at the garage sale you had in the summer). But anyway, some of you do have some of my work somewhere.

Anyway, as I said, I have been thinking for a while that it would be great to show my work to a broader audience.

An opportunity came up through the View Gallery who showcases a different artist each month. The View Gallery is part of the FraserView Church in Richmond, so if you're looking for it and find a church where you think the gallery should be, you've found the right place (or maybe you found another nearby church - but go in anyway, the people are probably very nice even if they don't have an art gallery at the facility).

So, over the past few months I've been putting together a show. For those of you who (like me a few months ago) don't know what it means to "put together a show", I'll outline the highlights below. It was certainly a fantastic learning experience and a lot of work.

The first step was to get the photographs together that I wanted to show. I went out to the gallery to check out the space and figure out how many prints I wanted to have (I decided on 28). Then I started looking through my photographs. As you may know, I have a lot of photographs. In fact, doing a quick scan of my computer at the moment I have over 85,000 images. Of course the fast majority of them are pure crap. But even filtering to the ones that I've bothered to do something with in PhotoShop I have over 2,500 to look at. Wow, that's a lot of photos. Hopefully there are a few good ones in there. How hard could it be to find 28?

Well, harder than I'd expected. You'll notice in my photographs that I have a lot of diversity. I have brightly colored wildlife, studio portraits, abstracts, black and while landscapes, color landscapes, travel photos, and other stuff that probably few of you have even seen (saving that for another show sometime). For this show I really wanted to focus on black and white and on what I call the "essential landscape".

Essential Landscape? What is that?
I like to divide landscapes into two groups. The "grand landscape" are the shots of the lake with the stream and the trees and the clouds and the birds and the canoe with the trout jumping behind it while the sun sets and a deer grazes in the distance. These are the shots you'll see in calendars, postcards and the like. Very pretty stuff, really. Nothing to complain about there, but not what I'm doing for this show.

The "essential landscape" is not about showing where you are. It isn't about including the stream and the lake and the trout and the trees and the clouds and the birds and the canoe - it is about narrowing the focus down to one or two elements and making a graphic composition. Telling a smaller story. Capturing the essence of something.

Now before I put in a link to some of my essential landscapes, I know some of you will look at a few of the images and say "wait a minute, that one in the bottom row of the first page looks to me like a "grand landscape". Well yeah - maybe it does. But I put up the website so I get to be the judge of what fits my critera. There isn't a clear line between the two so don't get hung up on it.

Ok, now that we have that out of the way, you can view some of my essential landscape work at www.essential-landscape.com if you're interested.

But back, for a moment, to my exciting account of the process of putting together a show:

Once I decided that I wanted to show b&w essential landscape prints, the task got a bit easier. I have lots of these, but not 2,500. The challenge, I found, was assembling a set that I felt had cohesiveness as a group. I printed out a whole bunch of 4x6 prints and put them on the table and arranged, re-arranged, grouped and discarded and then printed a few more until I had a set that I though would work together in the space that is available in the gallery.

Then I had to get to work on making my very best quality prints of each of the images, selecting (and buying) frames, deciding on how I wanted them matted, buying the mats, getting them cut, learning about the proper way to hang artwork in a matted frame (I'd been doing it wrong all this time - how embarrassing! - but who knew that painter's masking tape wasn't the right stuff to use?) and assembling all the prints into the frames.

The final step, just before the show opens, will be to hang them up in the gallery space and hope none of the frames broke during the drive over. If you get there and see only 27 or 26 photos, don't ask me why. Assume something went wrong and I don't want to talk about it.

So, I hope you'll come out and see the show sometime. The gallery doesn't have formal open and closed hours. If you want to go there, give a quick phone call to the church at 604-270-4211 and ask if someone will be there whenever it is that you plan to go. If someone is there, they'll let you in, turn on the lights for you and leave you to browse to your heart's content. When you're done, please turn out the lights. The church is at 11295 Mellis Drive in Richmond. It is near Cambie and No 5 Road, but I suggest looking at a map before you go as the streets are designed such that it is only easy to find once you're within 100ft of it.

If you want to come to the opening of the show, it will be on Saturday Oct 25th. There is a church service from 10am-11:30am and they're introduce me at the service and then at 11:30 there will be mingling and "meet the artist" time in the gallery.

So, I hope to see you there!

All of the art I've put together for the show will be on sale. Very reasonable prices - $100 for the ones in the 18x24" frames and $75 for the ones in the 14x18" frames.


In case some of you guys were wondering, yes that's the same Daryl who was Renaissance PM at Creo.

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