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March of St. Nicola

by Allan Kliger

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Copyright to Allan Kliger © All Rights Reserved

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March of St. Nicola

by Allan Kliger

http://lensmagazine.net

Copyright to Allan Kliger © All Rights Reserved

79


Copyright to Allan Kliger © All Rights Reserved

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March of St. Nicola

by Allan Kliger

I’ve never actually met David Alan

Harvey.

We came to know each other several

years back. I had become familiar

with his work and the agency he

works for, Magnum. He’d been an

accomplished National Geographic

photographer, leaving them to

beat to his own drum. His style of

photography engaged me. Different

than mine, to be sure, but one can’t

argue with his success. He seemed

“all in”, even living with a family to

truly document and photograph

their lives - his “Tell It Like It Is” story.

We had planned to meet in Rio de

Janeiro where he was going to run

a workshop. He and I would shoot

together for a few days so I could

“see” what he sees, add another

arrow to my shooting quiver and

push my creative eye.

My bags were packed, camera

batteries charged, hotels booked. I

was excited about the trip and made

my way to the airport. October, 2013,

as I recall. As I was checking in and

handing the airline counter agent

my passport, she asked for my Visa.

“Visa”, I replied…”I don’t need a Visa,

I’m Canadian and heading to Brazil”.

She looked at me, knowing the storm

to come which was as yet unseen by

me. “As of recently”, she explained,

“All Canadians require Visas for travel

to Brazil. I’m sorry, but without a

Visa, you will be refused entry when

you land.

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Can you change your travel plans?”. I was

dumbfounded. I didn’t know what to say, which,

if any of you know me, is something that pretty

much never happens. I just looked at her, thanked

her for her time, picked up my bags and walked

away. “C’est la vie”, I thought. Wasn’t meant to

be, and so back to the office, I went, stoically

trying to process how this could have happened.

Back at my desk, I called David to break the bad

news. I was expecting him to feel sorry for me, to

commiserate and share my disappointment and

surprise at needing a Visa from one of the most

civilized and respected countries in the world,

to tell me how sorry he was that we wouldn’t be

shooting together. No such luck. No sympathy

there, I quickly learned…”You should have done

your homework first” he said, “should have

looked into whether you needed a Visa”. Felt

like I was kicked in the head while already on the

ground, but he wasn’t wrong. I assumed that I

wouldn’t need one, felt ticked off that no travel

agent alerted me to the need for one, that even

Air Canada hadn’t said anything when I booked

my ticket, but, hey, the damage was done. Live

and learn for the next time I wanted to head to

Rio.

We stayed in touch, emails and texts from time

to time. We’ve still never met but seem to have

established some kinship. Perhaps it’s the full

head of hair that we both sport, or that we’re

both mature, at least age wise. Be that as it may,

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We both share a love of photography, of

capturing unique moments and emotions

- each in our own way. From time to time,

I’ll get a message from David commenting

on one of my images. He thinks I shoot too

much like Steve McCurry (I’m much better

than McCurry) or that I seem to feel that the

exotic locales are needed for great images

(I do love to travel and the more exotic the

better so guilty as charged), but one thing

David mentioned recently on one of his

Instagram blogs (i.e. not directed to me

personally but to aspiring photographers at

large) was why he was presently shooting

an assignment at home, in his own backyard

rather than some exotic locale.

“Follow your passions and interest,”

he wrote. “It will show in your work.

Editors notice these things. They also notice if

you go running off to India or Nepal or Cuba

to just shoot some exotic pictures because

you think that’s what editors want. Wrong...

You need your own voice…What matters

is the body of work…the meat of content

over form and over time”. And so, David

was shooting a story in his own backyard.

Nothing exotic to be sure, but images no

less striking. Lighting, composition, drama,

characters, story. All the same thought, just

don’t have to travel far to do it. So, here’s

my story. Shot in my own backyard. Thought

it would be fitting for this issue to go along

with David’s work and message.

March of St. Nicola – Every year, late in

June, a very special gathering takes place

in Toronto. It’s not on any “Best To Do This

Weekend” web site, in fact, if you’re not a

member of the local St. Nicola Di Bari Parish

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Copyright to Allan Kliger © All Rights Reserved

in Toronto, chances are you’d never know about it

all. I certainly wouldn’t have known about it I had I

not been driving along St. Clair Avenue West one

Sunday in June a few years ago when something

caught my eye. I drive by the church almost

every weekday on the way to work, and knew the

relatively non-descript building, the church of St.

Nicola di Bari, was there but today something

was different. There was a large crowd gathered

outside, even a band standing around seemingly

ready for something, and, local politicians in their

Sunday finery, with their medallions and ribbons,

festooned all over their chests and shoulders. I

pulled over, grabbed my camera, and went to

check it out.

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A parade was about to begin. Each

year, about this time, rain or shine, the

local Italian community, many of whom

settled here after the Second World War,

would gather to have a special mass and

celebrate their patron saint, St. Nicola.

Celebrate their past; celebrate their roots,

their families, their coming to Canada

and their great city of Toronto which had

given them a place to call home. To give

thanks to the present, and to look to the

future. And so this community, many

of whom were now elderly, were about

to begin their celebration. It was a time

for catching up, for warm greetings and

embraces with their Pastor, perhaps an

exchange or two about remembrances

forgotten. A time for laughs among

friends who had come from the old

country so many years ago, and a time

to pay homage to their patron saint.

Proudly, and with reverence, this small

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community would each year

embark on the tortuous process

of removing the large effigy of

their saint from their church,

place it on a large wagon, and

pull it through their streets, band

a’playin, for all to see.

With local police escorts and old

men sweating in their Sunday

finery wondering how many more

years they could keep doing

this, on went this parade. When

the heavens opened up the old

women looked skyward, their

umbrellas providing temporary

relief from the downpour,

wondering why their Saint would

choose today of all days to rain

on them. But on they went, slowly

becoming fatigued as they went

for their second circuit around

the long block until they returned

to their church from whence they

came, to finish their mass, and

await next year to celebrate all

over again.

So this is my story. Shot in my

own backyard. Nothing exotic,

no images of faraway places and

faces. Yet drama and emotion

nonetheless. People, their story,

their lives. Perhaps this is what

David was alluding to. We don’t

have to travel far (although

that exotic unknown will always

appeal to me), there’s adventure

to be had around the corner, in

our own hometowns. Just have

our cameras ready and, our

curiosity about life and people

about us, and perhaps the story

will be there for the taking/ASK.

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ALLAN KLIGER

People, Portrait, Places.

contributor

That’s about the

order of things for

me. I’m drawn to

people, to emotions

and to experience, to

connection and to the

capturing of the world

and of its people.

I think it’s the people

thing that draws

me the most. Every

photographer, every

artist, finds their

soul feeling most

alive, most alert,

when it connects,

intersects, with that

which somehow speaks to it. For some it’s their way

of looking back at their life, for others their way of

looking forward. I think my inspiration comes from

both. The looking back part clearly comes from my

Father. For as long as I can remember my father took

pictures. For him, it was a way to connect with friends

and family. Cameras with bellows, fancy sounding Zeiss

lenses, bulb flashes that had the coolest sound when

they popped, light meters and film, my first Brownie

Hawkeye camera. My father was the one at family

events who was always taking the pictures. He was

always handing out copies of prints that he’d made

for his friends and colleagues. I saw first-hand the love

he had for capturing moments, of how his camera

enabled him to connect with friends and strangers, and

to share those moments with those he cared about. So

I guess that love of connecting with people, of sharing

moments with others has come naturally to me and…

And inspired me to do more. To continue the tradition

and to chart my own path forward.

What do I shoot? How Do I shoot? What makes my

images different? Well, I shoot what I love. I don’t shoot

because I have to; I shoot because I want to. I try to

capture the drama of life around us, the emotions of

everyday living and to do that, I look for the light. I look

for the drama in the light, the hard contrast and the

soft edges, the sculpting and dimension of light that

wraps, that molds, that shouts and that is subtle and

mysterious. And to do this it seems that I mostly shoot

in black & white. Don’t get me wrong, I do love color

and, I often shoot in color. Our world’s in color. I love

the explosion of color, the depth and intensity of color.

But, there’s something special about black & white

that that speaks to me. That helps me “see”, to feel.

My friends joke about this, how I would go to India, a

land that almost screams color, and end up shooting so

much in black & white. It’s become a standing joke but

in the end, the moments, the images, somehow seem

more timeless, more magical and dramatic, leading

the eye where you, as the photographer want, free of

distraction. The image that I feel without even knowing

what it actually may be at the time.

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Most who know me would say that I’m a people

person. That probably explains why I love to shoot

people. Portraits. More often than not in some far away

place where I don’t speak the language. I don’t need

to speak the language. We all connect at some level,

we know what fight or flight means. It’s primeval. And

so is knowing when it’s ok. When it’s safe. We see it

someone’s eyes, in their gesture. I hope people see it in

my eyes as I approach them. I prefer shooting outside, in

a natural environmental. I explore, wander - that’s part

of the adventure. Looking for the light, for something

elusive, something perhaps around the corner, an

open doorway, and some motion that catches my eye,

beauty, frailty, something real. A moment, something

that makes me want to make time stop. Perhaps it’s

something I can identify with, even if I don’t know it. A

feeling.

I don’t shoot with a long telephoto – I shoot up close

and personal. I want that connection. I’m the guy in

someone’s face. It’s personal and the subject knows it.

I dance around, like a boxer or a Judoka in the judo

ring. I’m observing the light, the face, the comfort and

nature of the subject’s demeanor and pose, waiting for

the moment when it all comes together. Specular light,

rembrandt light, light & shadow, depth and dimension.

I need the shadow, the blackness, the mystery and hint

of light and then the hard, dramatic contrast of light.

And then, in between the shots, I find it. The connection.

When the subject finally feels relaxed enough to let me

see them, to immortalize their soul in the light that I’ve

found.

When I’m in the studio, I try and do the same thing. While

most photographers today like the techno wizardry of

strobes, beauty dishes and softboxes, I lean towards

something much more traditional, more old school –

Tungsten Fresnel Lights. Feathered light, dramatic light,

specular light, Hollywood light, cinematic light, and

contoured light. “What you see is what you get” light.

It works for me. And it seems to work for my subjects –

making them stand out from the crowd. After all, isn’t

that why they wanted to have their picture taken in the

first place?

And when I shoot a story, a documentary, I shoot the

same. I look for the people, the places, the edges, the

light that makes the story something more, something

to remember, to go back to time and time again.

Thanks for reading. Hope to connect soon/Allan

CONTACT ALLAN KLIGER:

Web: allan kliger photography

Instagram: allankligerphotography

FB: Allan Kliger Fine Art Photography

Contact: photography@allankliger.com

Tel: (416) - 669-0647 Toronto, Canada

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Fine Art Photography Magazine

AUGUST 2017 #35

DOCUMENTARY

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