Photos, photos, everywhere!

Instagram, Flickr, Tumblr, Google+, Facebook, SmugMug, Snapchat, portfolio sites, blogs: all of us are now published photographers. We now share the moment, express our creative urges, communicate in a new visual language and mostly can’t see the forest through the filter-enhanced trees.

To be sure, among all the visual noise, there are some stunning works exploring and exhibiting the potential of monochrome and HDR, bokeh and long exposure, gritty documentary style and stylized art imagery. It’s just that most of these also get lost in the flood of images that pour through the many online information streams.

I recently came across something altogether different, something that really captured my attention in a way that few photos do: the following work of Patrick La Roque, a respected Montreal based photographer who like me has a passion for Fujifilm’s delightful X-series cameras. La Roque creates some great images with his Fujifilm tools, but This Morning I Found my Father’s Yashica is something new. It runs one minute thirty seconds so it’s not a photo. It is an edited work that shows both still images and video but it’s not really a film. It is overlaid with written text, excerpted from La Roque’s voice-over monologue, and underscored by a spare musical score; it’s something more than a poem.

La Roque’s beautifully crafted monochrome exploration of a battered old Yashica camera is a meditation on its owner, his father. Without sentimentality it examines memory, ageing and death. ’Yashica’ is a hypnotic work. Stylistically, it brings to mind the works of past experimental filmmakers like Chris Marker and Stan Brackhage, but I think La Roque has created a fresh type of visual expression with ’Yashica’. Watching it for the first time, I felt I was watching a living photograph – in a way I never feel with animated GIFs, which usually just annoy the hell out of me.

I’d like to see much more of this kind of art. There’s no doubt animating a photo in this way requires a greater skill-set than would be expected of a photographer – in this sense ’Yashica’ is quite like a film, but La Roque shows the kind of new medium that can be created with an imaginative mix of media and a well crafted story. It’s the kind of image-making that is far removed from the detritus – and the gems – that can be seen in the social media streams and I hope La Roque and others explore the concept further.

This Morning I Found my Father’s Yashica by Patrick La Roque : October, 2013


UPDATE – I’ve begun experimenting with this concept myself.  I’m calling them kinos.