The sturm and drang of young brooding photographer can cause one to go dark.
Not the dark of violence, but exploring the inner reaches of the psyche. The deep reaches.
Or so I thought.
When I was looking at universities to study film photography and fine art, I knew it was all about the instructors, and not the facilities.
I happened to go to a lecture by one Dave Heath.
This photographer was a contemporary of Robert Frank, Gary Winogrand, and the whole new movement of street photographers of the 50’s and 60’s.
The intensity with which he spoke, and the emotional impact of the images he shared told me that the place this man taught was the right place for me. The Photo-Arts dept. of Ryerson Polytechnical Institute in Toronto.
With a yearly tuition of $424 a year, labs and equipment that was more than I ever dreamed of, and the staff of instructors that touched all of the points I was looking for.
Dave Heath was an especially intense instructor who did not sugar coat any assessment of your work. Why should he? Who would that benefit?
I do remember him telling a 3rd year student that perhaps she should be become a schoolteacher and leave photography, as she had not matured in her vision in 3 years.
Harsh, but probably the best thing he could’ve done.
In my time at the school I developed a relationship with Dave Heath, that manifested itself in a series of portraits as well.
His body of work culminating in the seminal work, A Dialogue with Solitude, was a book I often went to look at in the school library and became a sought after purchase.
Not that many years ago, the book was reprinted in a larger format, and Dave graciously sent me a signed copy, which holds a cherished place in my library.
Why do I go on about this photographer?
Because Dave Heath was a huge influence on my photographic life. And he is getting his due. Somewhat. At 84.
His contemporaries enjoyed fame and perhaps fortune. What he did was guide the photographic minds of students into, perhaps, a more personal,emotional, vision.
This week, a show opens at the Howard Greenberg Gallery in New York, and a traveling exhibition Multitude, Solitude: The Photographs of Dave Heath will be on view at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, September 19, 2015 – February 21, 2016. A new book of the same title by Keith F. Davis and Michael Torosian will be published in October 2015 by Hall Family Foundation/Nelson-Atkins Museum/Yale University Press. You can pre-order the book here.
Crazy, I remember Michael from school many years ago. He has spent years creating fine photography books.
Go see it, or pick up the book, and know what a great still image can touch inside you.