On style

Uncategorized, Writing


I joined the Ajax Photography Club and went to a very interesting talk by Michael Willems on “Developing Your Photographic Style”. Quite by accident I decided to join the club when developing your style was a theme this year. Thank goodness!

Over the past few months “style” has been a weight I’ve been carrying around. I understood what it meant, but applying it to my photographic work was a whole other ball game. Pretty sure my earlier posts talked about or at least implied the pressure of trying to define my style. I just didn’t feel like waiting around for it to happen (just shoot long enough, you’ll find it). I’ve been doing all this too long. Secretly of course, I was quite sure I didn’t have one. I like to do too many things, experiment with too many things.

Once you know who you are, you’ll know what your style is, goes the advice.

I think not.

Not for me, anyway. It’s possible to get too close to your work. It’s possible to get lost in that low lying anxiety.

Michael Willems was the first I’ve encountered that actually had specific and actionable suggestions on how to tackle this question of style.

One of the more helpful take aways was the suggestion of going over your past work for those of us that have work to look back on which I do.

What patterns emerge? Certainly when I look at the work I’ve done that I’ve never intended to show anyone, I see a number of patterns.  Structures, empty rooms, skies, flat graphics, people – but specific kinds of shots (of course the rabbit heads!), and the requisite selfies.

With some of my work there has been a certain darkness and isolation that has been there since I started shooting, although much more muted than it was. There is also a kind of unreality of others, some fantasy based, some blown out highlights, over-saturation. When I think about what my obsessions are, there are identifiable ones. But rather than thinking that I just keep going after the new shiny object, (ie. I do too much and I need to just pick something) I suspect I am actually after something.

I have visual stories to tell, but I haven’t told them all, and I haven’t found a way to more accurately tell the ones I’m working on.

The new few shots are an exploration of the Lake Ontario. The lake and lakes in general have been a feature of my life except for when I lived in England. And when I lived there, I remember going to the Thames and feeling unsatisfied, and then taking a trip in December to the Highlands of Scotland (people thought I was mad) to get that water and land fix.  Later I remember asking my husband once why he took the Lakeshore instead of the Gardiner and I was surprised when he said, because you like to look at the water.

Well here are some of my looks.


Photography, The Artist's Journey

So I’ve taken a bit of a side path with my more recent work. I haven’t shown a lot of landscapes here, probably because I just didn’t want to be associated with my late father, landscape painter, Richard Ferrier. Besides I was a city person, concerned with urban things. Truth is I take quite a lot of shots of skies, and often water as I’m around it a lot.

Recently I did a couple of classes on landscapes, and I took the opportunity to work on my long exposures and water. I’ve wanted to get those dream long exposure water shots for ages, and never mastered the logistics of it.  The class had us shoot the sunset, but I was the last one back stumbling my way in the dark.

This is the one I showed to the class. Quite a few went before me. I was impressed with the variety of shots, both with the content and the quality. When mine came up on the screen I felt disappointed. The screen showed a much less vibrant shot than this which I was prepared for, but it wasn’t that. My reaction was: all it looks like is a bunch of rocks! Why did I shoot that? Ha!

But the response of the class was more than I could have hoped for, and maybe they saw what I did originally.

This was shot at f11, 30 seconds with an ISO of 100. The sun had gone down. That’s Toronto way back there in the background. If you look carefully you can see the CN Tower.

Our Modern Stonehenge

Photography, Uncategorized

This is one of my favourite places in Ajax.

Friend bought a tree in spirit of my late husband several years ago. Most springs we come down here to see the tree and have a picnic to celebrate his life. The kids usually want to come up here after.

It’s a commemorative abstract Stonehenge that sites on a small hill on the site of the old water treatment plant. You can come here and look at the lake. Or the stars if you are lucky. Come here Easter weekend and you are likely to find the the big old moon rising over the lake.

In the history of art, light often depicts God or a spiritual aspect. These days we might be more inclined to think of visitors from other worlds.