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Finally, Some Form of Normalcy

I had a taste two Saturdays ago of how life used to be. The Scugog Memorial Library is featuring an exhibition of mine, and Saturday was the opening reception. I was nervous, as I had no idea if anyone would show up, but when the doors opened at 11, people were already lined up to come in.

Fortunately, the stream of traffic was steady and not congested. Everyone wore masks, and it was so great to chat with folks I had not seen for many months, and in some cases, years.

The exhibition is a collection of black and white portraits, which I have had the pleasure of taking over the past 15 or so years. I am only featuring photographs from the digital age, and many of the subjects are local residents.

What I found amazing was many of the people in the photographs dropped by, and it was a great opportunity to, not only see them again but to chat about when we took the photo and the time surrounding it.

One of the most difficult elements of creating the exhibition was choosing which portraits to use. I have over 1,500 black and white images of people to choose from. When I was down to 150 or so, I decided to create a coffee table book, as thinning the numbers down further would be extremely difficult.

The book, Portraits in Black and White, features 140 portraits. I spent hours narrowing that down to the 50 in the gallery.

Most of us take photographs on a regular basis, especially with the convenience of smartphones. I continually challenge myself to choose twenty pictures, which I consider my best. When I take a really good photo and want to add it to the top twenty, I have to delete one from the group. That has to be one of the hardest tasks in the photography world. Applying that process to this exhibition was just as difficult.

I would like to thank the library for opening the gallery after many long months of lockdowns, the staff for their assistance in putting it together, the people who came to visit, their kind words, and the many subjects I have had the pleasure of photographing.

Jonathan van Bilsen is a television host, award-winning photographer, published author, columnist and keynote speaker. Watch his show, ‘Jonathan van Bilsen’s photosNtravel’, on Rogers TV, the Standard Website or YouTube.

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