A Collection of Photographs by George Klass at the Grace Jollymore Joyce Arts Centre, Creamery Square Tatamagouche
Interview by - Peter Martyn, July 2016
Opening Friday Sept 2nd at 7.00pm, Please Join me there.
George Klass, a Malagash based photographer, will be exhibiting a collection of his recent photographs at the Grace Jollymore Joyce Arts Centre in Tatamagouche. The show will open on September 2nd at 7:00 pm and will run through October 1st. Everyone is invited.
Klass is an award-winning fine art and commercial photographer who has been taking pictures for decades. His work has most recently been shown at the Marigold Centre in Truro and the Fraser Cultural Centre in Tatamagouche and hangs in private collections in Canada and abroad. To Klass, photography is about fleeting moments. We recently sat down and talked about his art.
What was your career path? How did you become a photographer?
I worked in mechanical engineering and later moved into corporate management. Photography was always a hobby, which waxed and waned according to my career responsibilities. As I travelled globally on work assignments, I had the opportunity to visit many places of interest. In such places as Machu Picchu, Victoria Falls in Zambia and the Taj Mahal, photography became a natural pastime.
I have lived in some highly developed parts of the world and for many years in some of the least developed, such as Africa and parts of South America. These experiences inform my photography.
Early on, I had my own darkroom and processed and printed in black and white. I also took many colour slides, most of which I still have. Today I shoot with Nikon gear. I still have many of my vintage manual lenses from the 80s when I was shooting with film, which I really enjoy using from time to time. It is like “slow food”, one takes time and savors the moment.
Who got you interested in Photography?
My father was an ardent amateur photographer. When I was eight years old he showed me how to develop and print pictures in the kitchen sink. I distinctly remember the red safe light he used to stop the paper and film from spoiling. Together we made contact prints using a normal light bulb for the exposure. Once put into the developing solution the prints slowly appeared on the paper before my eyes. To an eight-year-old boy it was magical.
I was hooked, and still am.
What is it you want to say with your photographs?
This is a question that I continually ask myself and sometimes I don’t know the answer until much later when the image I saw in my minds eye appears.
The Makonde sculptors in Tanzania, when asked about their spirit carvings, always say that the spirit was there anyway and they simply released it by removing the wood around it. So it is with my images. What I want to say is often hidden and eventually it appears.
I like to show that which is there but perhaps not obvious or that which is so obvious that we don’t notice it because we take it for granted. The truck at the Wallace Rite Stop, which is a photograph in my show, is an example. I strive to capture and reproduce images of the awe-inspiring world around us. For no other reasons than to simply find my own inner balance, to use my time productively, to leave something behind and to share my experiences with others. You are welcome to join me.
There is a motto inscribed in gold under the Liberty’s clock in London which I have carried with me since the first time I read it around 40 years ago.
"No minute gone comes ever back again take heed and see ye nothing do in vain"
With my photography I try to capture those precious moments so they are not gone forever.
How would you describe your style and how did it develop?
Everyone seems expected to have a style. I have been trying to find my niche but in doing so I discovered that I don't want to be contained.
I Googled photographers and found that, almost without exception, each had been pigeonholed. They were arranged in landscape, contemporary, nature, wildlife and in many other categories. I am all and at the same time none of these.
Throughout much of my life I was a generalist. I was a general manager. I have now become a general photographer without a clear-cut style. So here we are, no niche. This I think, I hope, gives me licence to include whatever takes my fancy. What you will find in my show is a collection of various styles and fleeting moments of light and time. My show is an anthology of fleeting moments. There it is, I have discovered it like the lost chord. My thing............. “Fleeting Moments”
What motivates you to continue taking pictures?
I want to keep capturing the beauty in the environment. Particularly in the early morning and evenings, when the light is soft. The light gives a wonderful tone to what we see around us. Photography is all about light. It is wondrous to be able to create an image that gives someone happiness, peace or tranquility.
My photos let the viewer reflect on the mood of the moment. I am especially moved by nostalgia. I enjoy channeling the techniques of different eras of photography. For example, in this show there is a series of photos that are inspired by the Victorian wet plate technique.
Today, with everyone going digital, no one makes prints anymore. I fear that most of our beautiful images will eventually be lost. That is why I make prints, to create lasting memories and permanence
What is the most challenging part of being a photographer for you?
I might be called a gear-head because I really enjoy working with marvellous pieces of fine engineering, which is what the best cameras always have been. In days gone by, one simply put a film into the camera and clicked. All of the characteristics of the film were fixed.
Today everything is fully adjustable. A digital camera is a very powerful computer and has hundreds of adjustments, all of which can influence the photo. Mastering these is daunting and also rewarding. However, these are simply technical issues that enable one to obtain the best data possible. Once you get the image on the screen it becomes a creative process instead of a technical one.
To get the final print to match what I wanted to say when I took the photograph and to acquire the skills to do this is a challenging quest. It is a continuous learning process.