The only time in my living memory that I know my mother snapped a photo was in 1979. It was with an Instamatic camera on the shore of our summer home in Nova Scotia with my not-yet two-year-old son, Damian. Yet my Mother taught me everything I know about photography.
Grace Berst d’Entremont was an accomplished artist. Graduate of Philadelphia’s prestigious and historic Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts – on scholarship – this daughter of Presbyterian medical missionaries only stopped painting a few days before she passed away in 1997. During her lengthy career her works – paintings, murals and interior design – graced private collections, commercial buildings and award winning architectural interiors worldwide.
So how did she teach me everything I know about photography? She taught me to squint.
Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1965 – I’m 15 years old – and we’re at my first retrospective of impressionist art. I’m 15 years old…it’s Saturday night…why am I at an art museum? I’m looking at a Cezanne landscape. It’s nice.
I’m not complaining – I had learned… Then my mother pulls me back ten feet from the painting. She tells me to squint.
The image explodes. The painting’s on fire – the colors shimmer. I’m in the twilight.
I’m in love – with my mother and art.
I get it. It’s not the medium that’s the magic; it’s the eye.
I own several quality cameras. None cost more than US$600. I don’t use filters. I don’t use photo shop.
I use my eyes.
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