Sep 10, 2018
Through his work as a writer, editor, and photographer, Terence Byrnes came to know and to photograph many Montreal-based writers throughout their careers. "For ten years, he photographed them in places where they felt at home, but not always at ease. 'Most contemporary literary portraits,' Byrnes says, 'are as highly burnished as Playboy nudes or as homespun as family snapshots. When I made these images, I was an interloper the writers had to react to.”
Closer to Home: The Author and the Author Portrait (Vehicule Press, 2008) "fixes its gaze on writers as we seldom see them. These photographs, and the stories that accompany them, were captured where the writers live, work, or play. The result is a series of portraits that take us inside writers’ lives and inside the process of making portraits—all served with a touch of refined literary gossip."
Sounds like what we did when I met Terry at his home in Montreal to discuss the book. Among other things we talked about status, 'the thinker' gesture, authority and value, books and bricks, Susan Gillis, photographic crews from Toronto, the proliferation of imagery, the convergence of moving and still images, the diminishing role of the professional photographer, eyes, romanticizing crocks, impressions of presence, Roméo Dallaire, interest curiosity and light, postures, the Montreal Review of Books, Photoshop, negative ego, Annie Leibovitz, trust, Avedon in Texas and caring, achieving control over the world, noticing, Ishmael Reed, Robert Frank, contradiction and great art, sexual harassment at Concordia University, Stephen Fry, and selfies.