Friday, March 2, 2018

Still Life

Still life, Parkdale, 1998

A FEW MONTHS BEFORE WE HAD TO MOVE OUT OF MY PARKDALE STUDIO, my then-girlfriend (now wife) and I set up my strobe lights to do a series of still lifes. My reasoning - or excuse - was that I wanted to try to get work shooting for the food and lifestyle magazines that seemed to be beating the trends and thriving in an otherwise struggling publishing market. (Food and lifestyle still manages to hold on to this day, for reasons I've never understood.)

I'd been collecting handmade papers and other bits and pieces for a while, finding the best stuff in the markets and herbal medicine stores in Chinatown. With Kay acting as my prop stylist, pulling things from her own wardrobe and the stamp collection she'd begun as a kid, we worked for a couple of days shooting the sort of tabletop work that I would have loved to have been assigned.

Still life, Parkdale, 1998

I obviously had a thing for dried fish. I loved the look of them on their own, but it was Kay's idea to have them pouring out of her old pearl-covered clutch purse, and to add the '30s vintage Canadian royal family stamps (that's Lilibet and Margaret and their dad, for fans of The Crown) that makes those shots look like some sort of strange letter. The shot with my grandfather's old hammer and the cloves just suggested itself as we were standing around looking for one more setup.

I had more fun doing this work than almost anything I can remember shooting in the studio. I would have happily spent the rest of my career doing weird still lifes for cooking magazines, but the fact that these twenty year old photos remain an isolated creative moment in my career is evidence how that didn't ever happen. One day, perhaps, when my knees have gone and my mobility is shot, I'll find a space to do work like this until my eyes give out.

Still life, Parkdale, 1998

No comments:

Post a Comment