Colby photos in special exhibit
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.
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.