Seeing
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Self/portrait

 

“I’m not teaching you how to light. I’m teaching you how to see.” I scrawled these words in a notebook during the first photography mentorship session with my Dad back in winter 2018. With over 40 years of experience in the film industry, my Dad has seen his fair share of life through a lens. With each shutter click, each wind of his old Ricoh KR-10, I learned to hone my eye for portrait photography. Rather than zooming in I had to zoom out. To get the little picture, I needed the bigger picture of what was going on in my surroundings. I needed to see. What surprised me most was how far that little phrase went.

 

As I travelled to ancestral places, I could see the changes in landscapes. How old family neighbourhoods in Montreal were forever altered by years of gentrification and city planning. How plantation slavery and the sugar industry impacted island living, and affected the travel routes my ancestors took from Saint Kitts and Nevis to Canada. I could see myself in the laughter of my Aunties, the dance floor footwork of my cousins, the determination of our living. I could see that there is more than one way to see. And, when I am not seen by others, I need to be able to see myself. For all that I am. This self/portrait captures my ongoing practice of seeing my/self. A quiet moment of reflection amidst it all. If you’re looking for some quality time with the person in the mirror and could use some art as company, feel welcome to visit Aesthetics of the Archives until August 23 at the Art Gallery of Burlington.

© 2020 Desmond A. Miller