Writing On Photography – Geoff Dyer

June 4, 2017 | Filed Under Art, Documentary Photography, Geoff Dyer, Photo Book, Photographers, Photography, Photojournalism, Photos, Street photography, The Ongoing Moment, Uncategorized, Writer, Writing, Writing on photography | Leave a Comment 

 

I find Geoff Dyer one of the most interesting, and idiosyncratic, writers around. He’s written a great deal about photography and photographers, much of which is found in two of his books ‘The Ongoing Moment’ (seen here) and a section of essays in  ’Otherwise Known As The Human Condition’.  His descriptions and thoughts on photography are both  insightful and entertaining. Here’s his description of the photographer William Eggleston’s work ” Eggleston’s photographs look like they were taken by a Martian who lost the ticket for his flight home and ended up working in a gun shop in a small town near Memphis.”. What a wonderful descriptive (and accurate) sentence. The cover image is a section of a photograph by the late British photographer Michael Ormerod who  is discussed in the book (Ongoing Moment) as well.dyer-book



Portraits of British Columbia writers

April 29, 2015 | Filed Under Arts, BC Photography Archive, British Columbia, British Columbia Photographic Archive, Canada, Canadian, Cascadia, Documentary Photography, Literary Photographer, Pacific Northwest, Personal Project, Photography, Portrait, Vancouver, Victoria, Writer, Writing | 1 Comment 

I spent over a decade photographing Canadian writers, a project that resulted in a few exhibitions and two books published by the Banff Centre Press (the second one here). That project petered out after the second book, pushed to the side by the usual  reasons, making a living etc.

Two years ago I thought I might start creating portraits of writers again but while I did make a brief start at the end of 2012 that attempt was short circuited by a couple of events and I just haven’t tuned my focus back to portraits.

I did take a look at the images the other day and thought I should post them.

My feeling is that writers, even those that have some success, are still less-known than the average music or tv/film star. Maybe you know the writers below, all from British Columbia, or maybe not but they are all worth checking out.

Esi Edugyan

Esi Edugyan has had enjoyed a considerable amount of attention for her book Half blood Blues which won several major awards and was shortlisted for the Man Booker prize. Her site is located here.

Steven Price

 

Steven Price originally published as a poet but is now producing novels. His latest By Gaslight is set in London in 1885 and made the news for the substantial contract he signed for the book. Price is married to Edugyan. Some info on him here.

 

D. W. Wilson 1

D.W. (Dave) Wilson has recently returned to British Columbia after getting an advanced degree in England. He writes both short stories and novels. His first collection had the great title Once You Break A Knuckle. His site, although under construction right now, is here.

Brad Cran

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brad Cran is a Vancouver based poet, non-fiction writer, photographer and , as well, an accountant. I’ve photographed him before, he is featured in the Banff Centre Books. He was the Poet Laureate for the City of Vancouver His website is here.

Brian Fawcett

Finally we have  Brian Fawcett, a former Vancouver city planner, has lived in Toronto for quite a while but continues to write often and well about British Columbia. he has had many books published but you can get a sense of his work here at the Dooney’s Cafe site. This photograph was taken at the Vancouver Writers festival and was my first chance to meet Brian whose work I’ve enjoyed for a long time.

 

 



Poet Robert Service on Vancouver Island

March 25, 2015 | Filed Under Architecture, BC Photography Archive, British Columbia, British Columbia Photographic Archive, Canada, Cascadia, Documentary Photography, Landscape, Pacific Northwest, Photography, Road Trip, Street photography, Vancouver Island, Victoria, Writer, Writing | 1 Comment 

The Bard and Banker Pub on Government Street in Victoria.

The Bard and Banker Pub on Government Street in Victoria.

Almost everyone living in Victoria knows that Robert Service, the writer who became known as the Bard of the Yukon for his poems such as The Cremation of Sam McGee and  The Shooting of Dan McGrew after moving to Whitehorse, worked as a bank clerk for the Bank of British Columbia on Government Street before that move.

The bank building opened in 1862 and operated as a banking facility until the late 1980′s. Totally renovated a few years ago the building now operates as a pub and restaurant called, in honour of Service, The Bard and Banker.

Service didn’t move to Whitehorse until 1904 but he was writing poems well before that, even before moving to Canada. The Daily Colonist, now the Times-Colonist, published several of his poems between 1900 and 1902.

A small plaque marking another of the author’s publication sits alongside the road to Cowichan Bay just outside Duncan. the plaque commemorates that he published ” poem local press 1903″. The plague is inset into a stone chair next to a major local history marker.

Close up of Robert Service memorial plaque.

Close up of Robert Service memorial plaque.

It was a surprise to come across this plaque commemorating this celebrated writer on a quiet country road seemingly miles from anywhere. That said, a historical search reveals that Service worked as a store clerk in Cowichan Bay in 1899 so maybe he felt a connection to the local paper.

Historical markers on road to Cowichan Bay

Historical markers on road to Cowichan Bay

So Service is memorialized in both the name of a pub on the site of his former workplace and on a small plaque on a back road in rural Vancouver Island.

You can check out the Bard and Banker and their fine selection of beer on tap here and for more info on Robert Service here.



Writing on photography – Geoff Dyer

January 18, 2015 | Filed Under BC Photography Archive, British Columbia Photographic Archive, Photography, Writing | Leave a Comment 

Snowman and Coffee Shop Victoria, BC 2014

The photograph above has nothing to do with the post. It’s a street scene from downtown Victoria, where every year over the Christmas season, the owner puts up a inflatable snowman, often the closest we’ll come to snow in our west coast climate.

If you are a reader, discovering a new writer whose words you enjoy is obviously always a treat. I tend to read mainly non-fiction and the writers I enjoy, and whose books I keep, are those who I will go back to and reread every year or two. This process, will over the years, weeds out some books after a time. I’ve found with certain non-fiction books, those that deal with current events, can lose some of their appeal as the events fade, the writing not strong enough to carry them a decade later.

I find as well that you re-read differently.  That time and experience add to the experience, making it better, or sometimes relegating the book to the used book store pile.

I’ve just discovered Geoff Dyer, a prolific British writer. I’m currently ploughing through his non-fiction, he’s also written novels, after discovering his selected essays and reviews ‘Otherwise Known As The Human Condition’. For me when I discover a writer whose work I like but also find that he/she has some interests that dovetail with mine then I tend to grab everything they’ve written

The essays cover a couple of lesser known photographers who I’m interested in, William Gedney and Michael Ackerman, as well as writers such as the Polish journalist Ryszard Kapuscinski among other topics. That book led me to his book on photography, ‘The Ongoing Moment”, his latest ‘Another Great Day at Sea, two weeks on a US aircraft carrier and am currently ploughing through ‘Yoga For People Who Can’t Be Bothered To Do It’, a sort of travel book. He’s eclectic if nothing else although themes carry through. His interest in photography and lack of personal ability at it pop up though out his various pieces.

An odd observation from the aircraft carrier book. He is paired on the two week trip with British photographer Chris Steele-Perkins, a member of Magnum Photos, the famous photographer collective/agency. He refers to Steele-Perkins simply as The Snapper ( a British bit of newspaper reporter slang for a photographer), never mentioning him by name and only momentarily mentioning the photographer’s work on the boat. It seems an odd act of omission given his interest in photography.

When I finish the Yoga book I have his work on D.H. Lawrence ‘Out Of Sheer Rage’ and then will probably re-read some of the essays before leaving Dyer for a bit. His essays will be a keeper for the shelves.