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Photographer shares his way of seeing

Friday, 01 December 2017. Posted in Shootin' the Breeze

Photographer shares his way of seeing
John Salus has a way of seeing beauty in ordinary settings that are brought to life in his first gallery showing.

Photographer shares his way of seeing

By Shannon Robison

Crowsnest Pass photographer John Salus maintains one can look at stuff or see stuff.

“I’m always seeing,” he says.

Forty images, a selection of his work from the past decade or so, are currently on display at the Crowsnest Pass Public Art Gallery and demonstrate his intuitive way of seeing things.

A trip to the recycling depot is not something that would typically send a person rushing home to grab a camera to capture the view, but that’s what happened on one of John’s visits.

In the rubbish he saw something worth capturing, and the result is the image pictured above.

“I saw it as a beautiful piece of art,” John says.

The gallery is filled with photos portraying a variety of patterns, colours and contrasts from his personal perspective.

John’s interest in photography developed when he was in elementary school and got a Brownie box camera. Opportunities in high school fuelled his passion.

It was a long process that led to a successful career in commercial photography, including studies at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver and Ryerson University in Toronto.

Through apprenticeships in photography studios, John refined his skills behind the camera and in the darkroom and took away a great deal from his mentors Frank Grant and Ken Bell.

After a stint in industrial photography, he moved to Calgary in 1977 to open Salus Photography.

With well-rounded experience behind him, John was confident in starting his own business.

“I never did the dreaded B’s — brides, babies and bar mitzvahs,” he says.

Until 2005, he put his talent to work for ad agencies on still photography projects, including magazines, billboards, annual reports and product promotions.

He was one of few photographers shooting with an eight-by-10-inch camera and seldom used a 35-millimetre.

As photography turned digital in the early 2000s, John decided it was a good time to retire. His weekend home in Coleman became a permanent residence in 2005.

“The quality of work in digital in 2005 wasn’t up to my standards,” he says. “It was very expensive and required constant upgrading — I’d be in debt forever.”

John now shoots with a Lumix digital camera rather than film.

“I’ve always had an eye, and wherever I go, or wherever I travel, I see things,” he says.

“There are rules to be broken,” he adds. “I look for patterns and forms, colours and contrasts. I’ve been doing it for so long that it’s sometimes hard to explain what I see.”

Museum curator Krisztina Wood says everyone loves the show, which has received many positive comments.John’s work is on display until Dec. 10.

For gallery hours, visit www.crowsnestpasspublicartgallery.com.

Ways of Seeing

Seeing comes before words.
The child looks and recognizes before it can speak.
But there is also another sense in which seeing comes before words.
It is seeing which establishes our place in the surrounding world;
we explain that world with words, but words can never undo
the fact that we are surrounded by it.
The relation between what we see and what we know is never settled.
We never look at just one thing; we are always looking at the relation
between things and ourselves.
Our vision is continually active, continually moving, continually holding things in a circle around itself, constituting what is present to us as we are.
An image is a sight which has been recreated or reproduced.
It is a set of appearances, which has been detached from the place and time which it first made its appearance and preserved.
Every image embodies a way of seeing.
Even a photograph.
For photographs are not, as is often assumed, a mechanical record.
Every time we look at a photograph, we are aware, however slightly, of the photographer selecting that sight from an infinity of other possible sights.
The photographer’s way of seeing is reflected in his choice of subject.
Yet, although every image embodies a way of seeing, our perception or appreciation of an image depends upon our own way of seeing.

From Ways of Seeing by John Berger, based on his 1972 BBC television series of the same name.