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Photo collectives are to be admired.

More about network than net worth; more about camaraderie than competition; and more about group-strength than groupthink, I reckon collectives are the best. Being in one doesn’t guarantee an endless flow of fat-paying assignments, but it does guarantee a endless suuply of expertise, friends and feedback. If was a photographer I’d totally be in one.

Imagine my double-bliss when Boreal Collective invited me to the Boreal Bash which is itself is all about collectives.

 Two pictures of Boreal Bash 2014.


The 2015 Boreal Bash is in Toronto from August 14-16th. What is it? It’s portfolio reviews, presentations by guest speakers, an exhibition, a thought experiment, and an important workshop. It is “a place where photographers can come together, learn from each other, drink and be merry,” they say.

And, if you can get yourself there, it is FREE.

Photo collectives MJR, Prime and Dysturb will be there.


Here’s the thing though, Boreal needs to cover overheads. I donated a sketch but that Kickstarter incentive was already snagged, so I can’t tempt you with that. Head over to the Boreal Bash Kickstarter page and let them convince you. Below are a bunch of prints, postcards and newspapers to get you revved up.


Sled dog eats moose leg. 12×8″ Rafal Gerszak. Yukon, Canada. 2015


New to this bash is the workshop.  For this, Boreal Collective’s first ever documentary photography workshop THE ART OF BEING AN INDEPENDENT STORYTELLER you get two days (Fri Aug 14th – Sat Aug 15th) of intensive workshopping. They’re going to let you in on the secrets to make it as an independent photographer. They want you to have a project in progress — something for y’all to get your chops into. If I was a photographer, I’d totally be signing up.


The workshop ain’t free. But it can be. If you’re young and hungry and have the time to submit your work, there’s a scholarship spot up for grabs. I’ve got word from the inside that submissions have been slow (blame LOOK3) so statistically, your chances are good. Get on it. You’re one email from hobnobbing/editing with very talented photographers. One email from certain fame and glory.

Deadline is Midnight EST on Friday June 19th


Boreal are “united by a desire to document humanity and its intricate realities in our rapidly evolving world. […] At a time when the photographic industry is being dismantled, Boreal seeks to rise to the challenge of taking an active role in its redefinition.”

They are Laurence Butet-Roch, Aaron Vincent Elkaim, Rafal Gerszak, Brett Gundlock, Johan Hallberg-Campbell, Matt Lutton, Eamon Mac Mahon, Mauricio Palos, Jonathan Taggart and Ian Willms.


Could be yours:


Ian Wilms. Scarecrow Family, Poland (2012) From the series Why We Walk Framed, 12×18 Giclée Print on Fine Art Baryta Paper, mounted on archival foam. Edition 1/12.
A Boreal 4×6″ postcard
Sleeping vigilante fighter. Brett Gundlock. 2013. 8×8″ Digital C-Print.
Amusement park in Prishtina, Kosovo. Matt Lutton. 2008. 11×14″ Digital C-Print.
Christmas Tree, Alligator. Mississippi. Brandon Thibodeaux. 2012 – 6×6 Gelatin Silver Selenium Toned Print ed. 20
Niviaqsi and net ball, Iqalugaaqjuk, Nunavut. Jonathan Taggart. 2013. 8×12″ Digital C-Print.
Berkut in Mariinskiy. Kyiv, Ukraine. Brendan Hoffman. 2014. 11×14″ Edition: 1 of 10
Hunter at Caddo Lake, Texas. Lance Rosenfield. 2014. 8″x8″ Digital C-print
Boreal SUBJECT(ive) newsprint. 12 pages full colour.
Métis Hunter at Big Point, Fort Chipewyan, Alberta (2010). Ian Willms. 8×12 Chromogenic Print.
Boreal TENSION newsprint. 12 pages full colour.
View of the open air pit from the lookout. Thetford Mines, Quebec. Laurence Butet-Roch. 2009. 11×14″. Archival pigment print.

National Post photographer, Brett Gundlock was one of the 304 protestors arrested during the G20 protests in Toronto, last June.

Since last Summer, and dissatisfied generally with the representation of the protests, Gundlock has tracked down many of those also taken into custody. He has asked each of them to provide a (very) short statement on the experience of being processed through protest-policing and city jail.

In March, Gundlock will mount a show for the portraits and accompanying testimonies. For this he has already crowdfunded the $1,500 necessary via RocketHub. You can read more about the project here or you can watch Gundlock’s video intro.

Picturing Victimhood

Gundlock’s portraits are rather austere, which probably fairly reflects the seriousness with which many protestors take to their direct actions. In formal arrangement, they echo the look of two very famous photographers before him.

Marc Garanger, a young French soldier was pressed into a fortnight of taking 2000 identity pictures of Algierian women. Garanger considered himself – as military man and photographer – as an aggressor. His female subjects as victims. Although, as Fred Ritchin describes, when Garanger returned to Algeria decades later he was warmly received by the sitters and their families. And thus squashing the simplistic presumptions of the Western audience.

Richard Avedon’s In The American West was the work of a fascinated, brave yet perverse outsider. Perhaps the most amazing aspect of In The American West was that Avedon – under the guise of fine art – used his camera to adopt an outsider engagement with his subject akin to ethnographic research. In 20th century America, no less.

Whatever we might think of Avedon’s awe and reverence to his cowboys and oil-workers, they are set up as victims by means of their exclusion from the comfortable predictability of majority America.

Photographically, one end of the spectrum (Garanger, Avedon, Gundlock) depicts victims quiet and silent, while the other has them wailing in grief and duress. I’d suggest in this visual environment, Gundlock has made the right decision to ask for written recollections of the moment from his subjects.

Brett Gundlock is part of Boreal Collective.

Found via drool

A woman voices her opinion while a Police man looks on as hundreds of demonstrators gather outside a Toronto Police Station to protest against tactics used by the Police against anti G20 protesters over the weekend. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

Just have to say, I enjoyed reading Chris Young‘s NPAC blog this week. He’s good with words:

June 24th

A colleague of mine had advised me that kayaking helmets are the way forward for this kind of thing as they are built to come into contact with rocks. I went to a camping store and asked the guy behind the counter where they kept their rock proof helmets and was sent into the basement. There, I was met by Colin, a thin man with darting eyes. […] He looked me up and down, beckoned me towards him and asked in a hushed, conspiratorial tone “Is it for this weekend ?” I confessed it was. He quickly produced two helmets and began to give me the low down on what helmet could withstand what impact from what size rock and from what distance. I got the impression that Colin had been selling a lot of helmets recently.

June 25th

The weapons cache found in the roof rack resembling a grade 2 project comprised of a crossbow, a chain saw, and a swiss army knife as well as an assortment of handyman tools. Unless this was an A-team inspired assassination kit it began to look like a hillbilly had stopped in town on the wrong day.

June 29th

I’m the first to admit that I have a cynical streak […] maybe it’s from attending too many carefully choreographed PR stunts. But watching police cars haphazardly left at major intersections with easily flammable front seats whilst an unchecked mob of pimpled anarchists career towards them tugs at my senses. Was this a justification for the $1billion tab that the taxes payers have been left with for the summits?

June 30th

The look on the cop’s face pretty much said it all. As he climbed onto his bike to trail a group of several hundred demonstrators as they set off march through the streets of Toronto to voice their anger at the detentions, harassment and beatings they’d experienced over the previous 48 hours. He looked like a five year old being dragged around a mall by his mum to find a new pair of gloves after he’d lost the last pair. Slightly guilty, though not completely sure why, and totally over it.


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