DANO Pendygrasse

odds and ends from an unusual life

Showtime at last.

Well folks, today is the day. I'm just finishing up the final details for the opening party tonight and getting ready for the good times. Thanks so much to the folks at Monster Energy who are supporting this exhibit and Holly at the Blake Jorgenson Gallery who has been burning the candle on both ends and still made time to hang all the photos with me yesterday. All I can say is, I wish I had more space. I would love to show about three times as many photos as I'm finally able to, but that's the deal.

We're going to try to help my friend Murray Siple raise some money for spinal cord research tonight so please bring at least a twoonie to throw in the jar or go here if you can't make it. I know that we're really close to being able to treat injuries like Mur's and every little bit helps. That way, when you see him walking through the village in a few years you can take a tiny little bit of pride that you helped make that happen. This isn't a question of "if" anymore, just a question of "when" and the sooner it happens the sooner the life of Mur and thousands of others will improve.

Ok, I have to go sign a bunch of prints. Check out some more of the coverage here, here, and even here.


The things I don't know.

I might as well admit right here and now that I don't know squat about photographers. I mean, other photographers. Well, that's not entirely true, I've learned a lot in the last couple years, but for the longest time I didn't know any important photographers beyond Ansel Adams. And that was just fine with me. I lived in a bubble and I liked it. When my shooting started evolving from pure "action sports" into something a little more advanced, I wanted keep the process as untainted as possible. I was really afraid of being overwhelmed by an influence and becoming derivative as a result.

In the last few years I have seen young action sports photographers take unique ideas and recreate them, and pass them off as their own. I think it's totally reprehensible, but the shots are getting published, so I guess I have a higher standard for originality. There is a lack of shame about it to, as if the copyist is entitled to the concept simply because they've seen it with their own eyes. The entitled generation has an entirely different value set and it's interesting to see how they interact with the establishment. I'm sure that at some point I'll see the bigger picture, but right now I just see selfish kids who only know how to take.

One day about a year and half ago, I was showing my friend Tim Zimmerman a bunch of my older non-action sports shots as I scanned them and put them online. He said something like "whoa, Jay Maisel influence eh?" I said: "Who?"

This is exactly what I was trying to avoid, and it didn't work at all. Without ever having seen the man's work I was being compared to him, and I was pissed off. Well in a very short time I completely changed my tune. I stopped being afraid of influences and started to embrace them. Of course, I'm not interested in recreating anyone's photo, but I've gained a lot by looking at peoples' process. In fact that is what led me to finally take a workshop last spring after avoiding them for 15 years. And of course, I learned a ton. Maybe not just from Heisler, but also from some of the other people involved. Just watching other people work changes how we work. We see solutions to problems we've been having. We learn little tricks. Questions that we have are answered and inevitably we have that moment of "Ah Haaaaaa!"

During the Heisler workshop I met Jay in the flesh, his unmistakable marble mouthed commentary sharing the little bits and pieces that make up who he is. It was a brief encounter and he wouldn't be able to pick me out of a lineup, but it completed the transition out of my bubble.

Yesterday Jay shared a little bit more at Scott Kelby's excellent blog and it's worth a few minutes. In the end, I don't want to take Jay Maisel's pictures, I just want to make pictures like Jay Maisel does. The way he works suits my style perfectly. However, I fear that he is last of a breed and we're less likely to see his kind of work much from my generation. (Although I'm sure a few of the entitled kids are walking around his neighbourhood looking for his shots and trying to identically recreate them to call them their own.) I understand that there probably isn't much chance that this body of my work will ever have a showing at the VAG, but that's not the point. I am compelled to shoot like this and have to keep doing it.

Here are a couple links to things about the show this weekend. See you there:

The Pique