Many public spaces became art galleries for Flash Photographic Festival, which ran from Oct. 2 to Oct. 29. Over 80 photographers showcased their work in restaurants, offices, and pubs across Winnipeg for the festival, which also hosted a number of social events and workshops for photographers of all ages and skill levels.
“It’s a creative exercise in itself because you start thinking about all these public spaces, whether it’s a store, or a laundromat, or a college, or a window front,” said Colin Corneau, a local freelance photographer. “It gets you thinking, well, everything can be a gallery.”
Corneau has participated in the festival since its first year.
“I thought it was a good opportunity and a chance to have some fun the first year I heard about it, and that’s been true ever since,” he said. Corneau has a gallery of documentary photography showing the men who ran the Brandon Sun’s printing presses at Red River College’s Exchange District campus. The college has been his venue for Flash for the past three years.
“The practical aspect is that it’s a big, wide open space,” Corneau said.
“It’s beautiful light in there, and it’s also philosophical, too, because it’s free.”
His gallery is located in the atrium of the Princess Street building, which has two walls made of windows, and windows in the ceiling as well.
Rebecca Schroeder, communications director for the festival, said the festival’s core purpose is to promote the art of photography.
“[Executive director of the festival] Leif [Norman] noticed there were outlets for other types of artists to have shows and take part in programming but there was a lack of specifically art photography being promoted in the city,” Schroeder said.
“There are festivals in Vancouver, Montreal, and Toronto that focus on photography only, so his idea with year one was Winnipeg needs a photography festival so we actually start paying attention to photographic art here.”
Events at the festival included a studio lighting workshop, a weekly lecture series where guest photographers spoke about different kinds of film and digital photography, photo walks in Winnipeg’s downtown and Exchange District, a salt print and cyanotype printing demonstration, a photographic garage sale, and the Victorian Digital Challenge.
“We want to provide some interesting education and some social events for photographers of all different age ranges all different levels of photography expertise can come together and the community gets strengthened that way,” Schroeder said.
The Victorian Digital Challenge saw a selection of photographers take no more than twelve photos of two models dressed in Victorian costume in under 30 minutes at the Dalnavert Museum and Visitors’ Centre.
“The idea was to shoot with a roll of 120 film. So you have twelve frames like medium format film,” Corneau said. He was selected to take part in the challenge.
“Basically it was a creative challenge,” Corneau said. “Often they say less is more, and it’s true. When you minimize and strip away all the advantages and things we normally have when we photograph, it really gets you to focus on what you’re doing and how you’re doing it.”
The photographs from the Victorian Digital Challenge were on display at the Flash Fest closing party at the Dalnavert Museum and Visitors’ Centre on Oct. 29 and people were able to vote on their favourite photograph.