Not just a flash in the pan: Flash photographic festival

By Brenlee Coates

It’s not every fall you can see the works of local shutterbugs stalking you as you make your way through medical clinics, cafes, pubs, restaurants and gallery spaces.
Until now.
Each October, Flash Photographic Festival will hijack the walls of Winnipeg’s eateries and businesses, showcasing a kaleidoscope of works from local talent.
The festival engages all types of photographers – landscape photographers, wedding photographers, you name it – both amateur and professional.
“There’s no juries, there’s no rejections,” says festival organizer and professional Winnipeg photographer, Leif Norman. Other than sourcing an agreeable venue, photographers don’t face any deciphering opinions on their works.
The festival was born from a gap in opportunities felt for local artists to share their images with the public and make waves in the community.
Norman says doing the odd coffee shop show is “just small potatoes,” as you may only sell about one print per run.
He thought that with some energy, money and promotion behind a large showing, the local photographic community could gather some momentum.
Brochures for the festival, available at each participating venue, contain the list of locations and the approximately 30 artists involved with the festival, plus a sample of their works.
The festival has a website, Twitter, Instagram, Flickr and Facebook account, and even has a free app for download with a map of venues and artists.
Besides the visibility the festival lends to its photographers, there’s an educational component. Seminars, demonstrations and speakers are part of the events offered throughout the festival month. Topics ranging from historical processes to iPhone photography will be explored, and events through Cinematheque and Open City Cinema will celebrate cinema based in still photographs or on photographic themes.
Chocolatier Constance Popp and Cake-ology are even sculpting edible cameras to commemorate the occasion.
Opening parties for most galleries are littered throughout the festival, and there is an official festival opening party at the Winnipeg Art Gallery as well as an official after-party organized by the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ at Rudy’s Eat & Drink.
Dedicated local photographer Bob Tinker was eager to partake in the festival and get some fresh eyes on his work.
He likens the opportunity to his spur-of-the-moment photographs. “I just go around finding things, or they find me,” says Tinker. “This has the same kind of freedom.”
The professional photographer of 30-odd years hasn’t shown his photos in some time, and grabbed at the opportunity to display his work at the wall-to-wall-windowed Stella’s Café and Bakery at the Plug In Institute of Contemporary Art.
Because of his deep-rooted history in photography, Tinker can offer snapshots in time from Winnipeg’s storied past. One of his series is set at Grand Beach in 2001, marking one of his last pieces shot on film.
Beach volleyball action shots bring the black-and-white images to life and provide a nostalgic view of a decade not-so long past.

Grand Beach on the August long weekend in 2001 (photo by Bob Tinker).
Grand Beach on the August long weekend in 2001 (photo by Bob Tinker).

Another series dives into the late ‘80s when he and a colleague, Patrick Friesen, followed a group of three contemporary dancers across the country to capture them in motion in unique settings.
Also black-and-white, the series reads like a conceptual fashion shoot with the freedom to offer wide angle views and ignore the clothes.

Karen Jamieson Dance Company during a dress rehearsal of Passage at the National Gallery in Ottawa. © Robert Tinker 1990. From a book project, The Dance Floor.
Karen Jamieson Dance Company during a dress rehearsal of Passage at the National Gallery in Ottawa. © Robert Tinker 1990. From a book project, The Dance Floor.

These days, Tinker says, one of the biggest challenges for photographers is to earn proper compensation for their work.
“Don’t cut yourself short. If you’ve been doing the training… charge real fees for your services,” he advises.
Despite this difficulty, Tinker feels eternally grateful for the good fortune he’s had in his line of work. “The things that you’re given the opportunity to experience, the people you meet – the sense of community is truly amazing.”
The local photographic community, often unofficially headquartered at Parlour Coffee on Main Street, helped grow the first-annual festival’s reach to as far as Oakbank, MB.
Visit flashfest.net for more information on events and venues, or download the Flash Photographic Festival app.

Flash Photographic
Festival Events

Opening Night Reception
Where: Winnipeg Art Gallery, 300 Memorial Blvd.
When: Oct.1 8PM

Vintage Glory Fashion Shoot
Where: Vintage Glory, 380 Donald St.
When: Oct.4 2PM
Bring a camera, don some vintage wear from the store’s diverse collection and capture your fashionforward moment.

Cinematheque Photographic Movie Night
Where: Cinematheque, 100 Arthur St.
When: Oct.15 7PM
Dubbed Incandescent Moves, this showcase includes a short on Chicago street photographer, Vivan Maier; a short film spanning three generations, where a woman films her father watching his childhood videos; and a cinematic study of the choreography of ballet, among others.

Portrait lighting seminar (free to all!)
Where: Aspire Studios, 289 King St.
When: Oct.19 1PM
Ian McCausland, a prolific commercial photographer, leads the class on portrait lighting techniques, touching on adjustments for different genders or body types through discussion and demonstration of studio flash techniques.

Cinema in Pictures
Host: Open City Cinema
Where: Winnipeg Film Group Studio, 3rd floor ArtSpace Building, 100 Arthur St.
When: Oct.24 8PM
A 60-minute short program comprised of films constructed from still photographs, including a one-minute short on “selfies”; a life story told by 5,000 photographs presented in quick succession; and a film by experimental Japanese animator Takashi Ito, who cuts and reassembles thousands of photographs.

After-party
Host: Downtown Winnipeg BIZ
Where: Rudy’s Eat & Drink
When: Oct.29 8PM
The festival sponsor will host a gathering of photographers with local business owners, celebrating the festival and art’s place in good business.

The Epilogue
Host: Synonym Art Consultation
Where: Fitzroy Restaurant, 102 Sherbrook St.
When: Oct.30 8PM
Synonym Art Consultation hosts the unofficial afterparty for Flash while launching a new photographic exhibit at Fitzroy. Known for its high-energy cocktail parties and a discerning eye for evocative art, this after-after party is not to be missed.

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