Blake's VisionTuesday, December 14, 2010
In 1989 I met a pushy, aggressive American photographer, Robert Blake. But in the end he always meant well. He called me up one day (after I had given him a tour of my home and home darkroom) to tell me, “Alex, the Exposure Gallery on Beatty Street is having a show of nude photography. You have some nice ones on your darkroom wall. You should participate.” I must confess that until that moment I had never ever considered my photographs to be beyond technically okay. I never saw them as art. Even now I loathe the over-the-top “artist’s statement” that often accompanies shows of dubious content.
But I did participate in that show and then went on to participate in every group show that gallery had for something like 10 years.
I am one of those persons who if left to his own devices will procrastinate and do nothing. When I arrived in Vancouver 1n 1975 I vowed I would teach myself to print colour negatives and slides. I postponed for a couple of years until one day Rosemary told me she had signed me up for a colour printing course at Ampro Photo Workshops. I learned to print and that knowledge has served me well in being able to colour correct my digitized (via a scanner) colour negatives and slides.
The Exposure Gallery was like going to school where I was being assigned homework. Some of this homework was not to my liking but I did it nonetheless. The Exposure Gallery helped me hone my skills and give those very skills a depth of diversity. I am a portrait man but I shot landscapes. I am a heterosexual photographer but I participated in gay-themed shows. I am a stickler to sharp and well exposed photographs but I participated in shows where we had to use throw-away or primitive box cameras that had no focusing or exposure setting capabilities.
It had to be a pushy and aggressive American, Robert Blake who would introduce me into the fun world that he called art and which has provided me with so much fun through the years.
What you see here are pictures I took for an Exposure Gallery show in which we had to use a primitive camera. I shot them with a camera called a Bessa which used 120 roll film and took pictures that were 6x8 cm negatives. I used a technique called extended range night photography and snapped my house at f-5.6 for 35 seconds on Kodak Tri-X film.
On my own I would have never done anything like this. But thanks to Robert Blake and the Exposure Gallery I learned a few more techniques to put into my photographic recipe hat.