Colby pho­tos in spe­cial ex­hibit

Stanstead Journal - - NEWS - Vic­to­ria Vanier Stanstead

A very spe­cial “Mod­ern pho­tog­ra­phy” ex­hibit of pho­to­graphs taken by the late Helen (Dolly) and Charles C. Colby is be­ing dis­played at the Ele­phant Barn, in Georgeville, but only un­til Sun­day, Au­gust 11th. The ex­hibit was put to­gether by their sons, Charles and Robert, and the cu­ra­tor of the ex­hibit, Mary O’Con­ner. Many of the pho­to­graphs were de­vel­oped for the first time for this ex­hibit and it is the first time that any of the pho­to­graphs have been shown to the pub­lic.

With more than 2,300 neg­a­tives to pore over, choos­ing which neg­a­tives to de­velop for the ex­hi­bi­tion was a chal­lenge. “When I looked at them, I first se­lected good ex­am­ples of their work. What held it all to­gether for me was the way the pho­to­graphs were con­structed, from a per­sonal sense of de­sign. What was in­ter­est­ing is that they both used the same equip­ment; they had iden­ti­cal cam­eras,” com­mented Charles Colby, adding: “Years later when one got stolen, they didn’t know whose cam­era had been taken!”

When asked if he learnt any­thing about his par­ents from the ex­pe­ri­ence of go­ing through the neg­a­tives, Mr. Colby an­swered: “What struck me was how in­ter­ested they were in

art and de­sign, and how skilled they were in us­ing the equip­ment. I re­mem­ber they were for­ever hold­ing up the light me­ter. Of course, the pho­tos ac­tu­ally raise all kinds of ques­tions.”

Robert Colby pro­vided the fol­low­ing in­forma

tion by email: “To­gether Charles and Dolly (Helen) shared a deep in­ter­est in pho­tog­ra­phy; each us­ing a 35 mm Leica 2 cam­era, they de­vel­oped their black and white films in the dark­room they had set up in their apart­ment, and printed the re­sults. It should be noted how­ever that all pho- tographs on dis­play have been dig­i­tally en­larged and printed from the orig­i­nal neg­a­tives, and were not printed by Charles or Dolly.

“The Colby pho­to­graphs can be un­der­stood in the con­text of what has be­come known as Mod­ern Pho­tog­ra­phy. By the end of the 19th cen­tury, those who were us­ing the cam­era to cre­ate im­ages were known as the “Pic­to­ri­al­ists.” They im­i­tated painterly sub­jects and tech­niques, of­ten us­ing a soft-fo­cus lens or em­ploy­ing pro­cesses that would show a spe­cific brush­stroke as the emulsion was “painted” on the pho­to­graphic pa­per. Coun­ter­ing this move­ment circa 1907-1925 was a new de­mand for “straight pho­tog­ra­phy,” that is printed di­rectly from the neg­a­tives with­out ma­nip­u­la­tion.” (Mary O’Con­nor).

“The Colby’s had a pas­sion for pho­tog­ra­phy and al­ways had a cam­era with them. Th­ese pho­to­graphs re­flect their per­spec­tive or in­ter­pre­ta­tion of New York City and the Eastern Town­ships. We’d re­ally like to see this ex­hibit travel,” com­mented Chloe Southam, the new di­rec­tor of the Colby-Cur­tis Mu­seum.

Photo coutesy

A spe­cial ex­hibit of pho­to­graphs taken by the late Helen and Charles Colby is on dis­play un­til this Sun­day at the Ele­phant Barn, in Georgeville.

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