Gallery Raymond's Annual 7 x 7 Fine Art Photography Exhibition and Sale 2019
The games have begun.
Raymond Vos has opened his annual Gallery Raymond 7 x 7 show, as of January 25, in which seven photographers each hang (approximately) seven photographs.
This tradition goes back at least several years.
In the autumn, on my ongoing "gallery tour", getting to know the business side of art (photographic and general), I struck off one day towards Kingston's Gallery Raymond, "G-R" (and also visited, down the street, the remarkable Cornerstone Canadian Gifts and Crafts, itself well worth a visit). G-R doesn't usually display photography. However, Sylvain was front-of-house at G-R that day, and I explained why I was there, and he suggested that I apply for this upcoming annual photography show, the deadline looming, and (obviously), I did.
It can only warm an artist's heart to hear these words back from Ray: "I just took a look at your photos and am suitably impressed and would like to invite you to be part of the show ...".
Good. Really good.
In the fullness of time, Ray and I had a look at fourteen digital photographs, from which we would together select seven. At one point, I backed away, saying I thought he might prefer a little space for a moment, a silence in which to ponder.
He said, "Hmm," with a downward inflection. I realized that nothing life-and-death was going to ensue, but it sounded ... concerning. "Hmm," a couple of more times. Ah. It's like that, I thought.
Shortly, he turned around in his chair, beaming, and said, "I've made my choices! I usually choose quite quickly, and only rarely feel the need to reconsider later."
"Oh, great!" I replied. "I thought that perhaps by your 'hmms' that you weren't finding anything you liked."
"No," he said, "quite the contrary. I was just having trouble rejecting any of them."
That done, I had to get back to my studio, and set about re-editing the seven prints, customizing them for printing at the size-range on which we had decided (12x18 inches or so, for most). That took about a day.
Printing. Many self-reliant photographers do their own printing. One of my advisors, a very talented, experienced photographer, says something like, "You're just going to end up printing your own, Charles. You, being you, will need that level of control. So get over it and buy yourself a printer and start!"
So, me being me, I did not.
This is not the time. The day may come.
The places where photographers get their work printed vary widely. I met one the other day who has them done in another country. Someone I know goes to Costco. I've seen beautiful work done by a local copy shop ("two-hundred year archival process", they say - I'm going to check that out and get back to you). But: two things.
Thing 1: I noted some spectacular prints at G-R, and found out who the printer was: Ginny Fobert. Her results are outstanding. She is however a bit more pricey than average (although reputedly half the price of many fine-art printers), and also was simply an unknown to me. So, I asked her to do some of my seven. They turned out stunningly well. This is fine art, and a high-quality photograph deserves excellent printing.
Check out by the way Fobert's highly-attractive and surprisingly-themed Fine Art Photography exhibition and sale, on currently but briefly in Ottawa, Inside Out Upside Down.
Thing 2: Camera Kingston, like many photography stores, does printing, and I have had fabulous prints done there, off and on, for thirty-odd years. Recently I feel like a regular. (Business is booming!) The prices are competitive, the service great and (most importantly) the prints are gorgeous.
They have online ordering which, in my case, virtually never applies to the kind of work I do, and it ends up being an email order. I often leave the files in a private online location to which I give them exclusive access.
I cannot compare Thing 1 and Thing 2 (apologies to Dr. Suess), let alone other Things, as well as I would like, because I have not done back-to-back comparisons with the same photograph. Comparing different photographs is too ... different.
All of that said, I cannot disparage any of the printing choices made by the photographers at this show, and they are all over the map, and they all work.
I can say this: prints in general look incredible. If you have a photograph whose look you simply love on your monitor, then have it (expertly) printed. You'll be amazed. Most of us would be happier by printing more.
Next came matting and framing, and I have met people recently who do their own, some who go to a craft store, and some who go to a framing shop. I have a wonderful relationship in Brockville with the invaluable resource of Hang Ups Creative Picture Framing (which also runs a gallery, where you can see some of my other work), and am aware that the O'Connor Gallery in Gananoque does framing, but ...
... I was having some of the prints made in Kingston, just down the road from ... Gallery Raymond. G-R also has a framing service. It just made sense. (Apologies to everyone else!) The gallery did superb work!
Along the way, Ray did marketing, and we were all free and encouraged to do our own as well.
It isn't often that my name gets to the head of the line simply for alphabetical reasons. (But I'll take it!)
These things all take time. After weeks of preparation, Ray and staff spent about four hours doing the actual hanging, staying a bit past closing, and then raced down the road for a group dinner with all seven photographers.
A photographer's gotta' eat.
Some of us had met before, some not, and I knew nobody (except Ray). That however didn't last long. Despite me being thrown into this ethereal level of photographic experience, skill and artistry, they were all very grounded, friendly people.
Ray at one point suggested that we each say a few words about our photography. "Oh boy," I thought to myself, "when have I ever been able to restrict myself to 'a few words'?" But that went well, and was a great way to have us talking about what we were there for: photography. There are of course many commonalities and some differences. Most started photography as children, but some not until mid-adulthood. Everybody sells but some have other careers. Some have speciality photography businesses, like "construction-photography" (Wash, yes for hire!), and "paint-ball photography" (Wamboldt, yes for hire!), not that they don't do other types as well. Check their websites (below). Retirement is a factor for many (like me) in devoting more time to photography.
As I listened to what mattered to us in photography, I thought about the conceptual triangle, just one of many possible frameworks to help us understand why we do this, the three corners being i) subject, ii) beauty, and iii) meaning. Some of us lean more towards one corner of the triangle than others.
The three corners are by no means mutually exclusive.
All three corners were preferred by somebody.
Personal view: it's at the confluences where the magic happens.
Ray then suggested that we go around the table again, this time to speak about our cameras and lenses. Well, you don't have to prompt photographers twice to talk about their cameras and lenses! Again, I felt a tiny surge of panic, knowing that my oft-heard sermon was going to come pouring out, and that there was nothing I could do to stop it.
The sermon is like the minister who talked for two hours about "sin". When someone sick at home asked what he had said about it, the spouse said, "He was against it."
My sermon is about the image. Everything is in service to the image. End-of-sermon.
Good equipment matters immensely, and you need to know how to use it as an extension of yourself, but it doesn't matter if it's Canon, Nikon (the two big ones, in general photographic professional circles), Pentax, or Olympus (or one of many others, but those were the ones represented there that day).
In some circles, that is viewed as heresy (of the highest order). But the others were very gracious about my hopeless idealism. As I wrote on Facebook, "there was very little brawling".
No blood in evidence.
And then I did talk (briefly?), about my camera system. Everyone talked about theirs.
We also got a little mini-sermon from one photographer, in response to my question to the group about why, given that we all consider ourselves artists, we don't paint, or sculpt. It was very cool, but that's all I'm going to say about it here. Sorry to tease. Ask me sometime in person.
We strode the few blocks from the restaurant to Gallery Raymond, arriving a few minutes prior to the 8:00 p.m. opening, to find a few eager souls waiting outside in a deep, January cold. Bless their photography-loving hearts.
I remind people that G-R has two rooms (and another room around the corner, with a separate entrance), and we were in the back. So you get to see Ray's amazing display of for-sale art in the front room, on your way in. I'm sure that all seven of us would agree that if you never got to the back, you would still find the visit worthwhile. And while there will be no pressure, you won't find it easy to leave without a new piece of art tucked under your arm.
A Busy Bee by Jordan Hicks
But do go to the back.
It was the first any of us had seen the entire exhibit hanging. I hadn't even seen my own work, matted, framed and hanging.
And I gasped.
Just from the doorway it was apparent that something extraordinary was under way. It was a wow! moment.
When you get there, by the way, don't linger in the doorway for too long, because mine are at the far end, and I want you to get back there and see them too.
-from the doorway into the back room at Gallery Raymond
Many but not all of the photographic artists had chosen a theme. Mary Ann's all had converging lines, although of very different scenes, and very creatively printed and presented. Lindy had an animal in virtually every photograph. Jennifer did wilting sunflowers - imaginative new perspectives on a floral theme. Paul had several things, many of them local scenes, including one of the Kingston City Hall, which may be the most over-photographed building in the area (he says!), but which no one has seen before as Paul sees it. Kate finds very attractive ways of looking at ordinary things: barns, old vehicles, dandelions.
The following are all shown with permission.
Jennifer L. Shoniker
There was me, and I am very pleased with how my seven photographs look, printed and framed. I have no theme that I recognize. Previews of my seven photographs are, as of this writing, in an eponymously-named album on Flickr.
-one of mine
-happy just to be there!
And of course there is Raymond Vos, owner of Gallery Raymond, and curator of this exhibition. He made all of his photographs in Kenya, and the all of proceeds from this work go to a charitable organization he has founded, called The Kenya Initiative. Check that link, and be prepared to be moved.
(C) Raymond Vos
And, Ray's photos, mostly of people, deserve a good, long look. Gaze into them and you'll find more and more layers of meaning. They are vibrantly impactful, definitely make a statement, and you'll find yourself turning back to them when you thought you had looked long enough. Check out more photographs here.
-Ray in his gallery with one of his own photographs behind him
So, not only do we all want you to go there, to admire our work (or critique it), and to buy some ... but you can support a tangible, worthwhile cause while you're at it.
That is Gallery Raymond's 2019 7 x 7 Photography Exhibition and Sale. It's all hanging until February 28, but do not leave it until the last minute.