– I always take my camera with me, and when the sun goes down I go out.
– What do you do during the day??
– Printing my work.
– When you’re asleep?
1. Wendy Paton Cafe. 2007
Wendy Paton’s ancestors were from America, but she doesn’t speak American and was a little afraid to go to distant New York from her usual New York roots. But it turns out that the American capital is in no way more dangerous than her hometown: the people are friendly, you can shoot at night, as Wendy likes to do. She imagined New York in black and white, but the city turned out to be bright and colorful. Perhaps the New York shoot will be the start of Wendy Paton’s next project. Who knows..
Wendy came to photography from equestrianism, where she was a successful rider and an equally successful trainer. She thinks that horseback riding and photography are similar: you have to make decisions in one thousandth of a second. Perhaps also because of the constant need to control and manage the process.
It seems that Wendy, despite her American smiling openness, is introverted: she feels more comfortable shooting under the cover of night. She finds that nighttime gives her a chance to be invisible and get close to her subjects. And people are more relaxed, uninhibited and free at night. The night, according to Wendy, gives a man the opportunity to be himself. The night sparkles, it creates mystery, and everything is different, less mundane and more mysterious.
– This is how my black and white mind perceives the night,
– flirtatiously jokes Wendy and adds:
– I used to shoot during the day. I’d take a picture and run away. I can shoot as much as I want at night. My favorite distance is when I’m very, very close. I like to be unobtrusive and unnoticeable. I use a thin silver beam of light which is enough to take the picture. You may ask what is in my pictures? You won’t find in them the deep detail that the viewer usually admires. My photography is a reflection of my emotions. It’s through photography that I get in contact with people, that I talk about my experiences.
At a meeting with New York photographers, Wendy demonstrated how she shoots in near total darkness. She asked to turn on the light, so that everybody could see how full light steals the mystery of semi-darkness and the chamberiness of the environment.
– And it’s not dangerous to shoot at night?
– the question was immediately asked.
Wendy, with her inherent sense of humor, responded:
– I’m from New York. We New Yorkers are very careful and wary of our surroundings. When I shoot at night, I use the simplest rules: I’m always in a crowd, I don’t walk in alleys and I don’t look for places of crime.
She shoots with the Leica M7, a silent hand-held rangefinder camera, and is skeptical of digital equipment, because she feels that it is justifiably distracting to see what you’ve got. You lose the concentration of the photographer on the process of shooting and the continuity of communication with those you photograph. All she needs is an ISO 400 film. Sometimes she uses a film with a sensitivity of 800. I’m lucky if I get 6 or 7 prints from a single roll of film, frequently 1 or 2. It’s hard to print her negatives, so she prints on her own, and more than anything else, she loves her darkroom where the mysterious and magical happens: a photo is born from a small piece of film.
– When I walk into a dark room, the magic begins. I intentionally work in black and white and use silver bromide paper for printing. Silver gives an unforgettable glow to my work and helps me get artistic prints.
Wendy studied at the International Center of Photography ICP in New York, took classes with various photographers and in 2003 took a course with Michael Kenna who is known for taking all of his landscapes at very slow shutter speeds.
– I learned patience from Michael
, – Wendy says with a smile.
– And my family, my daughter, give me inspiration.
Her first solo exhibition, works from the Tableau series, was in 2006. Her first book “Faces of the Night” was recently published. It’s a collection of photographs that have been taken over the last six years. This is also the title of an exhibition of her works at the Lumière Brothers Center for Photography which has previously been shown in New York and Cologne.
Wendy likes surprises. Her advice to beginning photographers is to keep it simple, learn as much as you can, focus entirely on what you want to shoot, don’t stop there, experiment, and keep going.
You don’t shoot at night yet? Go immediately to experience the magic of the night! Wendy Paton recommends.
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Crossing the line. 2008
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Love Tattoo. 2007
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Children of the Louvre. 2006
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Catch me. 2007
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