Monday, May 9, 2011

Jen Allison | Contact Correspondent

Alumni Jen Allison is our second Contact Correspondent and she has been busy going to many different Contact shows.  She was also lucky enough to interview photographer Ryan Szulc about his show 'An East Wind':

The month of May in Toronto means one thing, the Scotiabank Contact Photography Festival. The theme for 2011 is Figure & Ground, focusing on our relationship to the environment.  The theme looks at how photographic images alter perception, inform knowledge, and uncover meaning. With the arrival of spring and thousands of photographs plastered around the city, this month is always an inspiring one.

I have been visiting venues over the past week and hope to visit many more. Some of the venues I have attended so far:

1. ‘An East Wind’ by Ryan Szulc at Sleeping Giant Gallery

2. ‘Dynamic Landscapes’ (Vivane Sassen, Scarlett Hooft Graafland, Olga Chagaoutdinvoa, Dayanita Singh) at MOCCA

3. ‘Vancouver’ by Fred Herzog at MOCCA

4. ‘Men at Work in Cities’ by Robert Longo public installation on the corner of King Street W and John Street.

5. ‘A Sign in the Northwest Passage’ by Kevin Schmidt public installation on the south facade of the Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery.

Sleeping Giant Gallery – 'An East Wind' by Ryan Szulc

An East Wind is a collection of Szulc’s landscape photographs from 2005 to 2010. The landscapes range from Ireland to Death Valley and various locations throughout Canada.  Upon viewing the images there is a sense of something reminiscent, or nostalgic, as though you have been to the very location Szulc was with his camera.  The majority of Szulc’s images have a vast sense of space with one solitary subject the viewer is drawn to. Throughout all the images the Szulc style is consistent; moodiness, mystery, simplicity, solitude and a sense of peacefulness.

Image © Matt Beouf Gibson
I had the privilege to ask Ryan Szulc some questions in regards to ‘An East Wind’ and his perspective on photography.  

Q. What photographers, if any, have you been inspired by or are feel your style in 'An East Wind' most depicts?

A. I'd say the main two inspiration points, in terms of photographers, would be Bill Brandt & Sally Mann

Q. Did you consciously photograph the images in your "blue period",  "sepia period", etc, for those specific styles and/or effects? Or did you realize this afterwards?

A. They all come through afterwards.  I try not to think about anything outside of the immediate moment/feeling while shooting

Q. Were all of your images shot with film? If so, details please. If not, were some digital, some film?

A. I'd say about 75% of the show is shot film.  I've shot this stuff with all forms of films, 35mm, 2 & 1/4 (medium format) and 4x5 film.
The digital ones were shot on my canon.

Q. Can you briefly explain the process used to display your images with resin, and why you chose resin for your final prints?

A. The process quite intricate and time consuming, but totally worth it when it works out.  I decided to go with the resin because of what it does to the darker tones.  It brings a certain luminous quality to the shadows that I think really complements my photos.

Q. Which image, from ‘An East Wind’, are you most drawn to?

A. I really do love all of the images in the show, but I’d have to say I'm most drawn to the images that have a certain amount of mystery and darkness to them.  In my work, often the most successful images are the ones the follow the simple rule of 'less is more'.  The less you stuff you have in the photos the more room there is for the imagination to play.

Image © Matt Beouf Gibson
Q. What's in the works for the next gallery show?

A. I have a large body of personal work from the past 6 years, so I'd like to continue to show this work and see how it grows naturally.  I think eventually there will be a merging of my landscape work with my work containing people/characters. But, like I said, I want to kind of let things develop naturally

Q. What advice would you give to young photographers and/or those just entering the industry?

A. I would say one of the most important things you need to do as a young or new photographer in the industry is make time to develop and nurture your personal work.  I can't stress this enough, it really is the soul of the creative person. Without some kind of personal work to challenge you creatively, I think it's very easy to burn out.

Thanks to Jen Allison for this amazing interview and thanks to Matt Beouf Gibson for letting us use his photos from the opening night of the show.

We would also like to thanks Ryan Szulc for taking two of our students for co-op this year, both students had an amazing time.

Check out Jen Allison's work at her website, she is doing a very cool new series on shoes check out her things portfolio page.

More Contact show reviews are coming soon so stay tuned.

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