February 18, 2021

Roth and Ramberg-About Photography XV


(Dale Roth is one half of the photography duo, Roth and Ramberg. As writing is not his strong suit, he has asked his teenage son to correct his lack of punctuation and when possible, add in big words. However, Dale does know how to do a perfect scheimpflug.)

I’ve been wandering around my neighbourhood a lot lately. I feel fortunate to live in a great area in Vancouver called Hastings-Sunrise. It was formerly a working class neighbourhood and still shows signs of that today. It once had a strong Italian community, but today is quite ethically diverse. I’ve lived here for just a few years, but right from the beginning I felt welcome. It wasn’t long before I knew the butcher, the woman at the Italian Market, the barber, and the clerk at the record store. I think Hastings-Sunrise is one of the last great neighbourhoods. The spirit and acceptance of everyone makes it a truly magical place and I feel incredibly fortunate to be a part of it.

Since the area is so cool, we decided to do a self promotion calendar about the people and places within it. https://www.rothandramberg.com/real-people-right-next-door I’ve found in my neighbourhood that when you wander, you discover. That’s what I’ve been doing during this time of COVID-19, discovering.

If you wander off the main street (Hastings) a few blocks, there are vibrant houses with equally vibrant gardens. I’m not a nature photographer by any stretch, but the beauty and perfection of these flowers has a way of drawing me in. Even the back alleys composed of graffiti and worn out buildings offer some type of beauty. The play of light and shadows make the look of the neighbourhood change constantly. Even on an overcast day it offers up some simple beauty and composition. 

It’s been eye opening and interesting to slow life down a little during these times. I think it will change my photography as I discover new things that excite or influence me. At some point in my career I will probably be too old for the advertising game, but I believe if you truly love photography you can never give it up. The passion for it never goes away. As mentioned in previous posts, I tend to look at the world around me as if I always have a camera around my neck. My mind is always looking at lighting and composition. Photography may be a curse as you tend to look at the world differently that others, but it is a blessing as far as a career and I couldn’t have written a better script.

After my advertising career it would be nice to get into the world of Fine-art photography. I believe it will bring its own set of challenges. Right now our work consists of people coming to us with ideas and it is our job to execute them. Sometimes the photos allow us to have more creative control than others, but the basic idea is always the same: create a photograph of someone else’s vision. In the case of Fine-art photography, however, I have to come up with my own vision. I think the key to this will be to turn off the advertiser’s brain and let the artist’s run wild. How to do that after many years of advertising is the question. I think in the beginning I would always default to creating photos that the viewer would like, now I have to create photos that I like and not worry about what others think. 

I look at the the work of my friend George Webber, specifically at his

Alberta book

. It is a collection of his work from over 40 years. Being born in Drumheller, George has a passion for rural Alberta and many of his photographs show the old buildings, faded signs and abandoned landscapes of small town Alberta. There are no people in his photos, conveying in each photograph a quiet moment in time. What strikes me about the book and about George is the reasons why he stops to take a particular photo. All his photos are beautiful, but I’m not so sure the subject matter would have made me stop. With a photo of a barn and a rural road, I would have gotten close to the barn and shot the grass as foreground. What Geoge did was back up to show the gravel road in the photo to give it some context. Throughout the book, and all of his work I’m also stuck by the cropping of the images. Each photo is cropped precisely to show just enough, sometimes the edges of the photo contain something with a colour that George has purposely left it in the photo. The more I know about him the more I admire his work. He offers a different way of seeing that excites me moving forward into Fine-art photography.

Another photographer I know, David Ellingson has left commercial photography and is now producing some incredible works on his own. Using his advertising and photography knowledge he has created an awesome variety of images. His beginning series, Solastalgia consist of numerous photos of himself photoshopped into a scene, usually with some kind of bones or skulls as props. His photos show me he is producing the photos for himself and for a passion that he has, not for anyone else. He successfully shut off the advertising side of his brain and let his creative side pour out into the series. Since then he has created numerous works with a wide variety of subject matter. This is where his advertising skills come into play as he, like us, has shot everything from still life, to corporate photography throughout his career. The skills he developed as a commercial photographer allow him a lot of flexibility to explore many ideas and something that I think I can incorporate into my photography moving forward.

These are two examples of photographers that I am exploring at the present time. I will of course be looking at more as each of them offer some little bit of knowledge that I didn’t have before. That is why I love photography and will continue to do it well forever. The learning and creativity never stops.