I’m not a big fan of winter. Growing up in London, I loved the odd snow flurry, the ability to build snowmen and trudge through deep drifts of thick, virgin snow. It was like an exciting treat. I did not, however, enjoy the cold that came with it, nor how quickly that lovely, white, powdery snow swiftly degenerated into masses of ugly grey sludge.
While no fan of winter I do love winter photography with a passion that has surprised me. And even though I sometimes wonder how I came to be living in a part of the world where the winters are so cold and seem to last forever, I know that there is some beautiful photography just waiting for me to discover it with each new snowfall. The Red Boat is one of such discoveries. When I first visited Toronto before I came to live here permanently it was in mid-February, sub-zero cold and I thought I’d never be able to brave the cold. I will never forget it. Harry (my then fiancé, now husband) seemingly had no problem with the frigid temperatures. Recent winters have been rather unseasonably warm, making all Torontonians unprepared for “real winter.” The whole of Toronto awoke to temperatures hovering around a decidedly un-balmy -23ºC, just three days into the New Year. That’s low enough to set even a snowman’s teeth a-chattering!
Just like a lovely fresh blanket of snow, I view each new year as a crisp, untouched canvas by which I can plan ahead and make new beginnings. A new year allows me to consider fresh aspects of my photography, and seek new inspirations.
One thing I like to do is to read up on my favourite artists. I find their lives and work a vital source of inspiration. One of my current favourites is Wynn Bullock, an American photographer who was born in Chicago in 1902. He moved to California at an early age, and became passionate about singing and athletics. He moved to New York to pursue his singing career, and then to Europe.
It was during his time in Paris that he became inspired by the photography of fellow American artist Man Ray (born Emmanuel Radnitzky) and the Hungarian painter and photographer László Moholy-Nagy, both of whom were inspired by the use of light in photography and the creative engagement it allows photographers and artists with their surroundings. Bullock bought his first camera and began taking photographs.
“I love the medium of photography,” Bullock once said, “for with its unique realism it gives me the power to go beyond conventional ways of seeing and understanding and say, this is real, too.”
This is one of those quotations that really speaks to me, as it mirrors how I feel about photography exactly, and in words much better than I could ever put together.
Bullock became one of America’s greatest photographers. He worked predominantly in black and white, creating many inspirational works. In the early 1960s he moved into colour and produced art works he called “Colour Light Abstractions” which were a radical departure from anything he had done before – as I said above, we photographers like to explore new horizons! Bullock passed away in 1975, aged 73.
My choice of photograph to illustrate this post is one I’ve simply called “Red Boat”. Sadly, I don’t think it’s a boat that will be going very far whilst winter maintains its icy grip! What I love about this photograph is the simplicity of the colours – the white, red and brown of the foreground against the clean blue of the background. Even when the world is rendered in simple colours, it still retains the power to inspire.
As you can see in this art photograph and print, several people have taken steps across the snow on their journeys to wherever they were going. I wish you all the best as you take your first steps in this brand new year!