Sunday, 30 June 2013

In Praise of Ned

Ned Pratt, for once, on the other side of the camera.

Over the past 19 years, working with a diverse and ever-growing group of photographers has been one of my most interesting aspects of my career as a writer, curator and editor.  I know that regardless of how well researched or insightful my words are the photographs that accompany them are far more important.  The topics I write about are visual in nature– and let's be honest –books, magazines and newspapers live and die by their photographs.  That makes whoever is behind the camera a key player in my game.

Ned shot the artwork for this major catalogue of mine, not an easy task as a great deal of it was silver work.

Each year it seems there are new photographers working in the province.  I've gotten to know my share.  I'll admit some I wouldn't hire a second time, others produce good results but only if you baby sit them, while a few have huge pain-in-the-ass egos or can do only one kind of photography.  It's very rare to find a versatile talent who can masterfully handle documentary, figure, portrait and commercial photography.  Ned Pratt is the exception, a talented photographer who has the right combination of technical and expressive skills.  And he's genuinely interested in nearly everything you'd care to capture in an image.

Right now, Ned and I are getting ready to work on a test group for the tattoo project.  We've already had intense discussions about what we are trying to achieve.  When I asked Ned Pratt why he was interested in shooting the project, he said that he liked photographing the human figure but not in a gratuitous way.  This made me very happy because I wanted images that acknowledged the person as much as the tattoo.  Tattoo magazines are filled with images that are basically pin ups with ink or disembodied, technical shots.  I want something that admits the sensual nature of skin and ink with out being sexual.  You can begin to see why I needed a photographer who could work across subject matter and capture both character and the formal attributes of line, texture, colour and form.  It's very demanding, and I know from previous experience of working with Ned Pratt that he has the skills and patience to pull it off.  Typically, a session doesn't end until we are both satisfied.

I really liked the reciprocity between the torque in the shoulders and the smoothness of the tattoo.  And just a hint of breast.  This shot predates our upcoming project.

Pratt's practice runs the gamut from advertising to art photography.  He is constantly on the prowl for the next gripping image.  And I get the biggest kick out of our meetings in restaurants and caf├ęs.  I know we will always be seated by the window and Ned will have a camera to his face while he says, "I'm listening to you."

This coming July 13th, an exhibition of Ned's photographs will be opening at 2 Rooms Contemporary Art, a new gallery operated by Catherine Beaudette in Duntara. The show includes sketches, prints and photographs in an attempt to take us into the creative process of Ned Pratt.  Here's the link to check it out: 
  (His commercial representation in St. John's is Christina Parker Gallery; http://www.christinaparkergallery.com/.)



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