Out of sight…

PhotoTalk 2020/21

A few of us were out on a documentary project, and I noticed Darrell eyeing up a particular shot, I suspected but wasn’t sure what he was looking for. On asking a bit later, his description pretty much met a photo I knew well, and one that I thought most people knew, well, most local people. He didn’t know the one I was referring to; which brings me to today’s PhotoTalk image.

Before turning his attention to Video, John Greene was well known in photography circles, and in society at large who needed photography services.

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This image of his has remained with me for several reasons:

It had the typical John Greene processing in terms of colour and tonality

It captured a scene that was well-known but not often photographed (or publicised through photography)

The composition made it uncomfortable and memorable – and for this I would like to elaborate in comments)

I saw it in more than one local calendar and in printed news media

Paintings like the DaVinci’s Mona Lisa, Van Goth’s Starry Night, Photos like McCurry’s Afghan Girl remain with us because they keep popping up, they are talked about, they remain in reproduction in some form (these days, print and online), they are discussed and they are written about.

For local photographers’ work to achieve this level of recognition, should certain images be identified and promoted? Do any local works stand out? Let’s Talk!!

#PhotoTalk


Original comments and discussion can be seen on the Guyana Photographers’ Facebook post.


Through the eyes of a Foreigner

PhotoTalk 2020/16

  I came across Jean Ross’ images of Guyana recently, and the selection she had on her website had me thinking about a few things.

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  When I first began an interest in Photography, it was usually the case that when photographers came to our country, the images that they got were of a different calibre to those taken by locals; due to different factors, including training, access to better cameras, and also they saw things differently.

  That has changed a lot since then, and I think that with the talent available locally, that gap has narrowed and may even be non-existent to some extent.

  In looking at Jean’s selections, I do see that seeing Guyana from the perspective of an outsider has had a distinct influence on the images, but I dare say that images such as these have been produced in recent years by locals.  I had found the Guyana images on her website.

  What are your thoughts?  Whose work so you think may resemble some of Jean’s own?  Can we as photographers compete on par on the world stage?

Let’s Talk!


Original post can be seen on the original post Guyana Photographs’ Facebook Group and along with comments and discussion.


Darrell Carpenay

PhotoTalk 2020/12

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Bringing it closer to home today: I wasn’t intending to tackle one of Darrell’s pieces until much later down, but I came across this one in one of his Instagram accounts and thought it would be good to share it now.

It was lumped in with his Street Photographs, but to me this leans more toward Seascapes (personal opinion only) and its one of those images that immediately strikes me as a stand-out image. For those of you who are not familiar with some of Darrell Carpenay’s works, he tended toward more Nature and Landscape images, in recent years he has also made great strides in Street Photography here.

Now back to the image, firstly it uses very subtle tones and contrast, eking out subtle yet important details in the sky and in the waters, the there is the dark slash of the Jetty (groin, pier) across the width of the image, it angles up towards the left where stands two fishermen, and then there is the pièce de résistance for me, the marked undulation of the waves against the jetty. For me, this combines his love of landscapes and street photography into a simple, yet powerful image.

The image can be seen on instagram:

https://www.instagram.com/p/B0mhLGrHx-c/

Also you can follow his Street Photography on Instagram:

https://www.instagram.com/visualdarrell/

and his Nature and Landscape Photography at

https://www.instagram.com/darrellcarpenay/


Originally posted to the Guyana Photographers’ Facebook Group on the 23rd April, 2020. The original comments and discussion can be seen on that post.


Bobby Fernandes

PhotoTalk 2020/08

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I started off this series of chats with photos from two local photographers (Kester Clarke and Kwesi Isles), because I think that it is important to recognise and highlight our local talent, while also learning from the established and legendary photographers from around the globe. Today I want to share an image by one of our own local legends, Mr. Robert J. Fernandes, better known as Bobby Fernandes.

Although not my favourite image from him, I think that this image exemplifies some of the things that has always made Uncle Bobby’s images meaningful to me. This one is called “Rainy Season at Cipo”.

What follows are my own views, I can’t speak for anyone else; I grew up seeing his works on calendars, whether it was nature or architecture I was always fascinated, I think I learned more about local buildings, and about our country from seeing his photos on calendars than I did from the papers, mainly because I would ask questions of my parents or grand-parents about the images I was seeing. His images of anywhere outside of Georgetown were captivating to me, and he became known for these, I believe mainly because he had something most others didn’t, and that was access to these places, but I remember my parents and grand-parents saying to me that Bobby had “the eye”. He saw things and captured them on film in a way other people here didn’t.

As I myself got to know Uncle Bobby in later years, as I myself was beginning to learn about photography, I was surprised to learn that when I spoke about shutter speeds and aperture, ISO and bracketing, and all the other camera techniques I was learning about, he’d be amused in a way, because to him those were “camera tricks” and not very important to the final image, he was all about what he was seeing, yes, he’d use the camera and its settings, but the visual impact was more important; and there it was, it dawned on me that my parents and grand-parents were right, he had “the eye”.

I remember one conversation with some other photographers one Friday evening where we were discussing his work, and the lack of technical excellence in Bobby’s work came up, and at the end the general consensus was that Bobby wasn’t a gear-head like some of us are these days, he was a photographer, and the results speak for themselves.

He lived in the Orinduik area for many years, and his images of vistas, water-falls and life there will always remain with me, as will his other works of wildlife, natural patterns, and much more. If you can get your hands on his last book “99 Best” you would not be disappointed.

Michael C. Lam


Our eighth post in the PhotoTalk series, this was posted to the Guyana Photographers’ Facebook Group on the 7th April, 2020. The original comments and discussion can be seen on that post.


Today is Tomorrow’s Yesterday

As Guyana heads into inevitable elections and a possible and uncertain future where Oil may play a large role (larger than necessary), some photographers, including Nikhil Ramkarran, Dwayne Hackett and Darrell Carpenay, have been saying both privately and publicly that Georgetown (and the coastal areas) will undergo certain changes; they see it as a time to capture life as we see it before that change is in our past.


“Photographers deal in things which are continually vanishing and when they have vanished there is no contrivance on earth which can make them come back again.” – Henri Cartier-Bresson

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Continue reading

…when Men and Mountains reach

An adventure that started off as a disaster ended with natures astonishing beauty. Every adventure has its share of ups and downs but for Marceano and his brothers it captured something that he considers to be some of the most specular images of his career thus far.


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Day One of his adventure was a very rainy one with continuous rains into day two however, the skies cleared up in the wee hours of the dawn of dust (1:30 am), so they still ventured out to see what the new day would bring. Continue reading

Kaieteur National Park

– An Experience In Photographs


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I’ve found that the images photographers create are more a reflection of their character and mood. Once we hone our skills, what we create is more about who we are and what we feel at that moment than the technology in our hands. Our art becomes a projection of ourselves. Continue reading

Image and Identity

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The Moray House Trust recently started a series of events targeted at small groups of individuals with common interests. They call it The Third Place, a space to nurture conversation, community and an exchange of ideas. The format includes a short talk by someone knowledgeable in a particular field, followed by a chance to discuss it further over dinner. Dinner is made using local produce, prepared specially for the evening.

On Tuesday March 6th, 2018, I was one of the dinner guests (don’t let the term “guest” fool you, you do pay for dinner) at one titled “Image and Identity”, where the guest of honour and speaker was my good friend Nikhil Ramkarran, a lawyer by profession but an artist at heart. In total, there were 9 dinner guests in attendance, and our backgrounds and professions were considerably diverse.

Continue reading

GVACE 2017 – Making the cut

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If the judging goes as per normal (and by normal, I mean, what generally happens in competitions of this sort), here’s a few thoughts on what to expect.

Since the re-invigoration of the Visual Arts competition after too long a hiatus, a few categories were added, including Photography; because of the relative ease of access to photographic capture devices, it was no surprise that the number of entries was large as compared to other traditional Visual Art categories like painting, drawing and sculpture.

In 2012, 52 entries were recorded and in 2014, 86 entries were recorded (as far as I can ascertain from media records available).

To begin with, all qualifying entries are viewed collectively and a pre-judging session is expected to take place, weeding out what may be obvious non-contenders, those that just don’t impress the judges in any way.  After that, the remaining images, most times, between 75-95% of the original entries are then scrutinised and judged individually by each judge in the panel.  It has been known for the process to proceed with the field narrowing in groups, until a Finalist shortlist is reached, from this shortlist, the final winners of the Gold, Silver and Bronze medals are selected.

For me, there are three basic stages of making the cut…  To make it past the pre-judging phase usually means your work is good enough to reach the Exhibition phase, this in itself is an accomplishment, you get to be on Exhibition with your peers as well as being able to put into your list of accomplishments, being part of an Exhibition at the National Art Gallery, Castellani House.  The second stage of making the cut is to be Shortlisted, here you are considered a finalist; the last cut is, of course, being the recipient of one of those medals (and the accompanying cash prize).

Below, you can see a display of the shortlisted and medal winning photos from 2012 and 2014.

Shortlisters

Don’t try to find a pattern, there isn’t really one.  The judges change, and the dynamics change from event to event, the one commonality that I can easily point out in these images is their strong compositions.

In 2014 I had mentioned a few times that it was likely that the top three would be different, and it happened, I think it is a distinct possibility that we can see another set of names up there in the top three again this time around.

Choose your images wisely, forget what you “think” the judges may want to see, find one (or three) that you are passionate about, and use it.


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Michael C. Lam works in Graphic layout for a living, one of his images gained the Bronze medal in the 2012 GVACE, he was shortlisted for the 2014 GVACE, was an exhibiting artist in the Un | Fixed Homeland curated exhibition at Aljira, New Jersey in 2016, and an exhibiting artist at the 2016 VISIONS Curated Exhibition. Some of his work can be seen on his site The Michael Lam Collection


GVACE 2017 – Presentation

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Let’s talk about the final look of your piece(s).

After printing and signing your photograph, it has to be prepared for presentation.  Its important to remember that this is a Visual Arts Competition AND Exhibition, your photograph is being entered as an art piece, and the presentation of the piece is important, not only for the judging by the official judges, but by those viewing it at exhibition, for those of us who may be lucky enough to make it to exhibition.

As photographers, we probably have more options than most other aspects of the Visual Arts in terms of our final presentation; the basic thing is that whatever you submit must be ready to hang on a wall, there should be nothing left for the curator to do.

Whether you want it matted and framed behind glass, or framed without the matte, or even without the glass; or if you want it mounted on foam board, frameless with a mounting hook at the back; or sandwiched between two sheets of glass with polished studs in the corners; or mounted on a piece of plywood; it is an artistic decision in itself.

Whatever you decide, it should complement the photo and not detract from it; or you can choose one to be so innocuous that no one notices it.

For example, it is unlikely that a black and white portrait would look good in a red frame, so don’t do it; a fancy frame may work with an abstract image, but may or may not look garish on a landscape; and you probably wouldn’t want a four inch thick frame around a very small photo… these are not rules, you have to decide what may work best. Look around, see what frames or mounting options may appeal to your piece, ask opinions.

When all is said and done, you are presenting a finished piece to be judged and displayed, make it worthy of your name.

Let’s make this GVACE one to remember.


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Michael C. Lam works in Graphic layout for a living, one of his images gained the Bronze medal in the 2012 GVACE, he was shortlisted for the 2014 GVACE, was an exhibiting artist in the Un | Fixed Homeland curated exhibition at Aljira, New Jersey in 2016, and an exhibiting artist at the 2016 VISIONS Curated Exhibition. Some of his work can be seen on his site The Michael Lam Collection