Photo by Burke Campbell. Camera by Nikon.

“I like to take pictures. I like to look at them. They’re like a mirror, a reflection of myself and others. In them, we can see who we are; who we were; what we did. The pictures also say what we might have done or what we might have been. But let me tell you a secret. If you put all the pictures together, carefully, patiently, they conjure a very real place. It’s called the Looking-Glass Room. It’s where we can always meet, no matter the time or distance. Don’t you believe me? Just look at my camera. Can you see it now?”

In 2006, Dennis O’Connor, owner and director of the O’Connor Gallery, a commercial art gallery in downtown Toronto, invited me to have an exhibition of my photographs. The black and white images, all taken in the late 1970s and early 1980s, were mostly of artists, actors, television and film producers, musicians, and agents. My photographs focused mostly on people “hanging out” in the emerging cafe society of that period. Indeed, during that time, Toronto itself was changing from a large “town” into a much more cosmopolitan centre.

By 2006, digital photography was rapidly supplanting film photography. Working with film negatives, fellow photographer and master-printer John Gundy offered his expertise in digitally scanning the negatives and creating museum-quality digital prints for the exhibit, titled Celebration in the Looking-Glass Room. John also played a key role as patron and curator.

Celebration in the Looking-Glass Room consisted of a number of photographs, culled from thousands. The selected images were displayed, along with snippets of my own writings, which acted to further involve the viewer with the photographs. I felt I would show samples of the show here, for easier viewing. I hope you like them. I should mention that I have been taking photographs for over thirty years, mostly using various Nikon cameras. For the O’Connor exhibit, we used Epson equipment to scan and print the images on Epson archival photographic paper.

“A man isn’t supposed to stare at himself in the mirror. It’s considered vain and narcissistic. But I’m not just checking out the way I look. It’s to remind myself I’m here. I do exist. You think I’m looking at you but I’m really looking at my reflection.”
“It’s hard to resist a man in a uniform. Especially when it’s peeled back to reveal yet another.”
“I was the educated one, the one with experience. So of course, I knew it’d be easy for me to have my way. We make our own traps, don’t we? We create our own downfall.”
“People are always asking me where I get so many strange ideas. I don’t know. I guess I can’t see anything normal.”
“When there’s a good looking woman in the room, you just have to pay attention. A handsome woman really knows how to hurt a man, and as a spectator, I find this infinitely engaging.”
“The gardener sees all. The blossoms and the thorns. The spider and the butterfly. The gardener’s hands are grimy with earth, but more than anyone, he knows how to hold a lover.”
“The most brutal men are capable of acts of great kindness.”
“I’m happy. I mean I feel happy. But I don’t think people realize how hurt I am inside. They seem to trust me in the strangest way, as if I’m just another part of them. I’m not strong enough to be that, though. That’s why I let the camera do it.”
Most of these images were taken with a Nikon camera. If you’d like to check them out, please visit:
For the O’Connor exhibit, the film images were scanned and printed using Epson equipment. If you’d like to know more of their scanners, printers, and photographic paper, please go to:
To view more of the exhibit, Celebration in the Looking-Glass Room, go to:
All words and images by Burke Campbell. All rights reserved.

About Burke Campbell

Photographer, Writer, Journalist, Dramatist.
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  1. Pingback: CELEBRATION IN THE LOOKING GLASS ROOM | Burke Campbell Archived Posterous Blog

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