Photo by Burke Campbell. Camera by Nikon.
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. (The quotes under the photos simply acted as a “trigger” speculation about the image.)
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.
“I had it all arranged in my head. I knew exactly what I wanted. You were to stand this way, the light striking you from that angle. The effect would be very clever, I thought. But then, quite suddenly, I could not speak and I was not here anymore. All I knew as that my hand moved and this is what I saw.”
“I love parties. I went to one last week. There were a lot of bankers there, and accountants and financial analysts. There was a lot of talk about the economy and interest rates, and money in general. The booze was nice, too. First-rate. It was very different from the gatherings I usually go to.”
“Naturally I knew that one day, such a look might come into her eye. But when it happened, just at that moment, I was in no way prepared. I see you smile when I say it. You know me too well, don’t you? That’s when I realized how very much I hate surprises…”
“If you are to bless or curse a man, you must place a spell upon his mirror, so that when he shaves his whiskers, his gaze will fall upon his face. What he sees in his own eyes will make his spirit soar or cast him down into eternal dark.” — from the Witches’ Handbook
“Later, he would explain his side of things. Naturally, she had a slightly different version. We all find ways to explain our own fate. I find that if we’re unlucky, our explanations are much more entertaining.”
“Pictures never change, do they? What we see in them, and what we will see in them…well, you never know, do you? That’s why I like taking them and why I like to keep them in locked drawers.”
“Sometimes, you throw your arms around someone and then everything that you’re feeling is suddenly spilling out, like a great wave opening across a shore. You’re holding on to them so tightly; you don’t want to let go. And then you see that you can’t. You can’t let go.”
All words and images by Burke Campbell. All rights reserved.