Thursday, January 30, 2014

Bob Gervais: What Was He Thinking?

Bob Gervais is a photographer based in Portland. The final image below, taken at Santa Monica Pier, will be on exhibit next month at the 7th Annual International Juried Plastic Camera Show at Rayko in San Francisco.

Greenwich Village, NYC 2001

I was spending 10 days in NYC just taking photos. One of my favorite New York photographers is Berenice Abbott, so I was wandering around looking for spots where she had taken photos. This place in Greenwich Village was one of those. In the middle of a long (30+sec.) exposure a HUGE rat (the size of a house-cat) ran between my legs and off into the bushes. It scared the hell out of me but I managed to hold the shutter open and get the shot. Stupidly, I made only one exposure, when it could have easily been blurred.

Kunming, China 2007

We were wandering the streets of Kunming just checking out the city. I couldn't figure out what this figure was until after I had taken a very quick shot form 3-4 feet away, but I knew I had to try and get a photo. The figure wound up being someone in an inflatable suit, standing in front of a kids shoe store. In the background is a sign that says "1981". 1981 was the year that Deng Xiaoping opened up China to private enterprise, so the figure advertising a shoe store and a boutique named 1981 are very symbolic of the changes that have been happening in China.

Tomb, Shrine, Chicken, Kerala, India 2005

We had taken a taxi tour of the tea plantations and hills around Munnar, India. Unfortunately it is foggy much of the time in the Western Ghats, good for tea growing. Top Station is a lookout with a great view, but of course was fogged in. The only thing there was what looked like a shrine, or someone's tomb. I thought since it was the only view of anything I might as well take a photo. The area around the tomb was actually fenced off with several chickens living in it. So I called the photo "Tomb, Shrine, Chicken".

Mexico City, 2010

Kathy and I were in Mexico City and met up with Bruce Hall and Dennis Purdy after their long flight. They were jet lagged and we all wanted a beer and dinner. So we decided to go up to the rooftop bar at the Holiday Inn. The light was fading, but the scene was incredible. I kept jumping up from the table, saying "check out this view, guys". No one seemed much interested, but I had to try and capture the fading light and the cathederal.

Plaza Grande, Merida, Mexico

My main concern was not blurring the image. I frequently take low light photos with my Leica, using F-2 at 1/15 or even 1/8 second. This works if I can hold the camera steady. What this woman was doing was not clear to me. My own interpretation was that she was doing performance art or political protest. Her ghostly dress and multiple strings (tied to a lamppost!) seemed to imply shackles. I thought she was probably protesting Mexico being tied to the Church. Merida has been a hotbed of anti-church uprisings and protests in the past.

Mexico City, Organ Grinder

Wind the camera, stupid! Which I didn't. I thought my first shot was a little far away, then took one closer, but didn't wind the camera to the next frame. I didn't figure this out until looking at the negatives. But, it worked! Organ grinders are found all over the "Centro" part of Mexico City. They are some kind of tradition and work on tips. Some people find the music a bit obnoxious.

Santa Monica Pier, Los Angeles

Mr. two belts. He seemed to want his photo taken, but I probably did it without him knowing. Having grown up in LA I spent alot of time on Santa Monica pier, fishing. I even went to college a few blocks away. The last two years I have taken multiple trips back to LA to deal with my parents passing away. The pier has been a place for me to get away and take some photos. I was additionally inspired by the release of Garry Winogrand's unreleased works, with many taken on the pier. This piece is part of my LA portfolio.

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