Famous Canadian Photographers

Discussion in 'Photographers' started by MurrayMinchin, Mar 11, 2005.

  1. MurrayMinchin

    MurrayMinchin Membership Council Council

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    The Famous Australian Photographers thread got me thinking...

    Since I came home after art and photography schools 14 years ago until we got a hand-me-down computer 3 years ago, I have been totally out of touch with the goings on in the art world. Since then I have Googled up many strong photographers from all over the world, subscribed to LensWork and found APUG, so I'm trying to catch up.

    While Canada does have an international reputation for animation and documentary films (at least from our perspective), there has never been a tradition of Canadians searching out and supporting Canadian fine art photographers...or any kind of home grown still photographers. The only photographer we have with a slam-dunk "world famous" reputation, Karsh, was Armenian and got famous by taking portraits of famous people from other countries who happened to be visiting Ottawa, our national capital.

    To get a sense of where we Canadians are in the global photography scene, I did a Google search. Here are the results in descending order (remembering of course that our neighbour to the south outnumbers us 10x, and that some cultures are more likely to label themselves as famous compared to others)

    "famous american photographer".............566
    "famous french photographer".................486
    "famous australian photographer."............193
    "famous dutch photographer"..................123
    "famous british photographer"..................122
    "famous canadian photographer"..............58
    "famous mexican photographer"................24
    "famous irish photographer".....................10
    "famous scottish photographer"................5
    "famous new zealand photographer"..........1 (famous kiwi gets....7)

    Any thoughts?

    Murray
     
  2. Kevin Caulfield

    Kevin Caulfield Subscriber

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    Do you think we Australians are more likely to label ourselves as famous compared with others? :wink:
     
  3. MurrayMinchin

    MurrayMinchin Membership Council Council

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    No!

    It was a way of admitting that in the world of surveys, a Google search has to be about the most simplistic.

    Murray
     
  4. Daniel Grenier

    Daniel Grenier Member

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    58?

    I'd be hard pressed to name 2o "famous" Canadian photographers myself. Many of the better "Canadian" photographers are, in fact, not Canadian at all. i.e Karsh, like you say, was Armenian. Geoffrey James is British, Clara Gutsche, David Miller and Lynne Cohen are American, Gabor Szilasi is from Budapest etc...

    Canadians? I can think of Jeff Wall, Robert Bourdeau, Edward Burtynsky, Gregory Colbert may not be the most famous of them (yet) but he is certainly the richest Canadian photrographer selling is work for up to $350,000 a print!

    Who else?
     
  5. Timothy

    Timothy Member

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    Canadian Fame

    What about the Notman team (father and son). They were both named William but the son had an initial (like William C. Notman) I can not remember exactly. But this is a perfect example of your point about how some cultures have a fame element and ours does not. The Notman studio in Montreal in the early part of last century was the most prolific and innovative source of photojournalism in the world. When junior grew up he was given a box-car and a commission by the CPR to travel across the country documenting the landscape and people that the railroad connected. His body of work was superb rivaling most of what Ansel Adams produced 50 years later. But to see any of this work, you have to dig in the archives of the National Library in Ottawa. That is just not right, but it sure is Canada.

    Tim R
     
  6. John Bartley

    John Bartley Member

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  7. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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  8. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    Canadians don't care about being famous. It is an ego based endevour sought out by people with low self esteem.


    How about that.


    Michael
     
  9. Graeme Hird

    Graeme Hird Member

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    oh yeah - we Aussies have a low self esteem, alright ....

    BTW, what does that mean again? :wink:
     
  10. John Bartley

    John Bartley Member

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    Hehehe - sounds like something a person who was part of the Can-USA Hi-Tech brain drain would say :smile: ?

    Part of the "definition" of "Canadian" is "low profile"
     
  11. BradS

    BradS Subscriber

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    No offense but, I think that the survey method is extrodinarily biased. There are too many additional effects that are not accounted for by the single variable "nationality".

    For example...

    What proportion of all web pages are maintained by people of each nationality? Might a web page maintainer tend to be biased toward photogrpahers of one's own nationality.

    What is the nationality of the three most famous photographers. I'm gonna guess there are a whole lot more web pages that mention Ansel Adams, an american than any other photog - yet, he is only one famous photgrapher. So if there are 500 web pages that mention "Ansel Adams famous american photographer", then doesn't that count as 500 famous americans?

    What proportion of all web servers in the world are located in the USA vs. say, New Zeland or Canada?

    What proportion of web pages show up in more than one category. Consider a web page that lists a bunch of famous photogs and thier nationalities. What effect does that have on the survey? On the other hand, if one web page list 500 famous Austrailian photogrphers, that still only counts as one famous australian in the survey result.

    What are the relative populations of the nations involved?
    etc....

    In short, I'd say that the survey says more about the nature of the web and the google search engine than about the geo-political distribution of famous photographers.
     
  12. Eric Rose

    Eric Rose Subscriber

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    Daniels comments are so typically Canadian. And I don't mean that in a negative way either. Just because someone came from somewhere else they never consider themselves Canadians. They are always say, Chinese first, and then maybe Canadian. Whereas in the US once they get the green card they are "Americans". Period.

    We in Canadian need a stronger self identity.

    In Karsh's case however I think he truly loved his adopted home of Canada. Even though he retired in Boston to be close to a dear old friend.

    We have Freeman Paterson, Courtney Milne and the guy who does outhouses. In Canada we don't have the marketing system in place to promote ourselves. It seems we have to get "famous" in the US before our own countrymen will take us seriously. This is truly a sad commentary on our national view of ourselves.
     
  13. rbarker

    rbarker Member

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    I would suggest that the only famous "American" photographer was Chief Clicking Bull. All of the rest are imports. :wink:
     
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  15. MurrayMinchin

    MurrayMinchin Membership Council Council

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    I think the difference between Canada and the States is that in the States they view their country as a "great melting pot", while Canadians have adopted the concept of "multiculturalism". Down there you assimilate, up here you are encouraged to celebrate your families cultural heritage. I like that about us.

    In regards to Canadians not recognising photography as a serious art form, what responsibility should the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography have in changing that? Do they only send out the occasional traveling exhibit? Is their mandate to mainly aquire images, or is it to encourage Canadians to become interested in what Canadian photographers have to say about ourselves and our environments? Way out here on the western edge the CMCP is completely invisible.

    Craig Richards hasn't been mentioned yet, (beautiful prints...lousy web presence).

    Murray
     
  16. John McCallum

    John McCallum Member

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    Same with New Zealanders .... clearly. However I'm sure there have been a few, well more than 1. Actually I thought that Anne Geddes was a NZer but it appears she's actually Australian (just married a kiwi). But i'm sure there were more than 1.
    Let's see ... Robin Morrison, Blake of course, Geoff Moon. There you go - three.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 12, 2005
  17. tim atherton

    tim atherton Inactive

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    Most "successes" in the "new world" - especially if we are talkign durin th elast century or so - are from elswhere originally.

    Is Louis Kahn a great American Architect or a great Estonian architect?

    Canadians - most have been mentioned

    Lynne Cohen

    Karsh

    Jeff Wall

    Geoffrey James

    Robert Bourdeau,

    Ed Burtynsky

    Rodney Graham

    etc
     
  18. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    I would like to put forth Richard Harringtons name, 4 pages in the Family of Man, not to shabby for a local toronto boy.
     
  19. KenM

    KenM Member

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    Yeah, I was going to mention Craig. And yes, his web site *sucks* big time. I've tried to get him to get a better web site, but it's difficult to get him moving....
     
  20. mark

    mark Member

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    You Canadians making a list of photographers forgot about Freeman Patterson. Maybe not a GREAT photographer but I have yet to see anyone take a color photograph that looks as sublime and peaceful as his do.
     
  21. Timothy

    Timothy Member

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    Karsh

    I feel that I really must point out a glaring omission here. It seems that almost everyone recognizes the name of Yosuf Karsh but nobody remembers his brother. Malak Karsh was every bit as important a figure in Canadian photography but never got the recognition that his brother did. If you visit Canada's capitol city, Ottawa, when you get off the aircraft and walk up the hallway to get your bags, the walls are lined with a large collection of Malak's work - pictures of many different Canadian cities and people doing lots of Canadian things like hockey, ice sculpture, festivals, farmingetc.. It is a wonderful glance of Canadian life in general and totally appropriate for the capitol. It has been a part of the airport for at least 20 years now - when they built the new terminal they moved that collection so that it would still serve the same funtion to arriving passengers ( I was very happy to see that) If you look closely at any one of those pictures you will notice that the signature is simply "Malak". I think that this was because he got so sick and tired of people saying to him things like: "Malak Karsh, hey... your not related to Yosuf Karsh are you ??" as I did once myself to my eternal regret.
    The picture of Ottawa that used to be on the back of the One dollar bill was taken by Malak as well, and to this day the coffee table books and collections of Canadiana type tourist books that are sold at all Canadian ports are mostly all his work. He illustrated what was great about this country and got very little recognition for it and his brother took pictures of famous people from every where else.

    Tim R
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 18, 2005
  22. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    Forgot to mention Larry Towell. He just won a small exhibition contest in Paris.
     
  23. Daniel Grenier

    Daniel Grenier Member

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    OK. Not a "famous" Canadian photographer (yet) but certainly one of the finest practioner of the medium I have seen come out of this country.

    Name? Ian MacEachern. His portfolio is currently profiled over on Photonet and his images of the 60s taken in Eastern Canada (for the most part) are among the most powerful photographs I have seen in a very long time. Just terrific work (all analog-b&w). His work needs to be elevated to the "famous" level. It's that good IMO.

    Check it out. Worth the detour.

    http://www.photo.net/photodb/member-photos?include=top&user_id=362144
     
  24. roteague

    roteague Member

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  25. MurrayMinchin

    MurrayMinchin Membership Council Council

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    THANKS Daniel...that made the whole thread worth it!!! Are photographers like diamonds in Canada...laying undiscovered for generations pretty much right out in the open?

    Murray
     
  26. 25asa

    25asa Member

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    George Hunter