Urban Spotlight: Robert McIntyre

Urban

October 1-30 2017 | Opening Reception October 12 from 6-9pm

Urban features the work of Stephanie Kretzschmer, Guy Lafontaine, Robert McIntyre, Joachim Oepkes, David Edwards and Alan Dunlop. This exhibition focuses on the evolution of cities and humankind’s relationship to space.

Robert McIntyre

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What inspires you?

I get inspiration from looking at great photography. Just as any type of music can be great, so too with all styles of photography. Looking at gallery shows, magazines, books and the web can be inspiring. Anything from the early history of photography until today there is no shortage of images that challenge or impress. My influences are those photographers who bring their own particular vision and style to produce remarkable photographs. I also get inspired when reading the story behind the camera. A good read is “Witness in Our Time: working lives of documentary photographers” by Ken Light. It describes how Dorothea Lange was able to gain the trust of migrant workers in the 1930’s, or how Sebastiao Salgado works when on a project. These photographers drive, determination and insight are truly inspiring Some images are so powerful they become something else, they seem to transcend the medium. That is why photography is so powerful. It is the closest we have to a time machine that records and preserves the present for the future to see. Photography has become so pervasive and intertwined in our lives that it is hard to imagine a world without it. What is also worth noting is that having seen millions of images over sixty plus years I am still amazed when seeing a unique or moving photograph. The medium continues to adapt and evolve. And that is inspiring!

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How do you set up a shot?

Setting up a shot is basically a two-fold exercise involving the physical and the mental. Just as Ansel Adams compared the act of printing to a conductor and a symphony, so do photographers orchestrate the planning and execution of an image. Before we even begin to set-up a shot we ask ourselves many questions : What “Look” am I after, what should the camera position be, where and of what type should the lighting be, what background would be best? etc. etc. Only then do we begin to physically build the set. Of course as with any process there are decisions to be made along the way. In the studio we have complete control. We have the freedom to adjust lighting, composition and background. However, even with the best of plans the possibility of the unexpected arises. Problem solving or troubleshooting is one of the many talents that a good photographer needs. Outside the studio we are at the mercy of the elements or restricted by the location. Depending on the situation we can bring some studio equipment, or as in many cases limited to just a camera and a portable flash. Often time is a factor that governs our decisions. As in the studio composition and lighting are vital. And timing is critical. The newspaper photographer Arthur “Weegee” Fellig summed up his craft in the phrase “f8 and be there”! To photo-journalists and street photographers moments are just that, temporary and fleeting. Of course there are challenges both in and out of the studio. But with practice and good attitude we learn and become better photographers. That’s when things get interesting, and fun!

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What makes a good photograph?

It appears to me that passion seems to be a prerequisite for a great photo. In a world inundated with images it is passion that makes our images stand out. But passion alone is not enough. We need vision to complete the picture. This vision is the sum of many parts : spirit, attitude, life experience, empathy, to name a few. In addition to passion we need technical ability. In other words to be one with the camera. With the advent of digital photography the standards for image excellence have risen. Compared to twenty years age the horizon in photography seems limitless. But the same old rules apply : a great photograph requires great timing, lighting, composition, printing and presentation. Billions of photographs are being “taken” every day. Great photos are “made” with dedication, technical expertise, risk, a discerning eye and a love of photography and all its possibilities.

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