Fine art photographer Lori Vrba at work in her Chapel Hill, North Carolina home. Watch for my film on her, coming soon – and in the meantime, explore her incredible photography: http://www.lorivrba.com/
I was walking alongside Lake Ontario this evening with my youngest daughter as the light slowly dimmed and the lake calmed. The slate surface of the water lying almost inert beneath an indifferent grey sky seemed to form a kind of quiet partnership.
I shot this on the Manhattan Bridge over the East River, two days after the U.S. election of 2016. It captures the city’s mood, I think.
Last year in early July my girlfriend and I took a long weekend in the direction of cottage country. Sitting on the balcony of our resort room, I took a plain-vanilla evening picture of the placid lake in front of us and the far reflection of the opposite shore. And then I did nothing with it – until today, when I re-discovered the picture and subjected it to a great deal of exploratory re-working. The image that resulted is both traditional and also, I think, mysterious and even foreboding – the shoreline muddied by distance and blur and shadow, thin lines of birch trunks peeking out of the gloom like leg bones.
Restful, and yet.
Among other aspects of the urban environment I’m also fascinated by traffic flow, and by the attempts made by cities to smooth, maximize, or minimize it. In this photo, I see the basic problem of complexity meeting rigidity.
It’s August as I post this, so “summer ends” is meant only in the most tongue in cheek way. (Though it’s true.) I shot this over a year and a half ago, and I’ve always enjoyed the starkness of ice meeting cold, dark water – it’s probably the 19th-century romantic in me.
There are a lot of subject categories in photography: portrait, street, landscape, and so on. But there are a lot of photographs – at least a lot of mine – that don’t fall into one category or another. I took the photograph above while waiting for a meeting west of Toronto’s downtown core, after noticing an interesting alley at the back of a nearby parking lot. Is it “street”? There are no people in it. “Architecture”? Well, one can make out a couple of walls, so buildings are involved – but I’m not sure it’s about architecture per se. “Urban”? Maybe – if we treat “urban” as a catch-all for any photograph taken within a city. Not much of a category, that.
So much for categories.
Almost every photographer will admit to getting pleasure from opening up a collection of raw shots they haven’t looked at in months, and discovering new beauty with the benefit of fresh eyes – or, indeed, of eyes that have gained in discernment and acuity as the photographer’s own practice has matured. I love this picture of Maude from last November, found this morning and looking as if I had just shot it yesterday.
This is not, actually, a colonnade. But the simplification makes a better title than the more accurate “half-colonnade”, “demi-colonnade”, or “colonette” – this last being a word I thought I had made up just now, but then, upon Googling it, discovered that it’s a real word that actually describes exactly what this photograph shows. So let that be a lesson for us all.
Oh, and this is a night-time view of, again, my favourite transportation hub, Toronto’s Union Station.
In case you haven’t concluded this already, I’ve got a bit of a thing for concrete. I think it’s because it’s the “skin” of a city, and shows traces of everything the city is exposed to: water, dirt, chemicals, soot, bird droppings. In it’s way, it’s as endearing as a person’s own wrinkles.