Photography fit to be fine art

You've heard it before: the Internet is killing photography. We are saturated with an ever-increasing mountain of disposable images. Anyone with a smartphone is now a professional photographer.

You’ve heard it before: the Internet is killing photography.

We are saturated with an ever-increasing mountain of disposable images. Anyone with a smartphone is now a professional photographer. In a world where everyone has a camera in his or her pocket, the art form often seems not worth paying for anymore.

Except that it is. And the North End Gallery’s Simon Gilpin wants to prove it.

“We sort of wanted to do a photography show because it’s something that doesn’t get done a lot,” Gilpin said.

“There are a lot of great artists in the Yukon, lots of great painters. But photography tends to take a bit of a back seat sometimes.”

The show, Facing North, will showcase four northern fine-art photographers – Manu Keggenhoff, Robert Postma, Peter Mather and Peter von Gaza – each with a different professional style and take on photographing northern nature.

“Photography has taken a little bit of a hit in recent years with the advent of Photoshop and digital imaging being readily available to most people,” Gilpin said.

“They feel that photography is not this fine-art thing that is inaccessible to them anymore. They think they can do it themselves. We wanted to make the point that photography is still a viable fine-art form, and that the images that these guys are getting can’t be replicated by your average point-and-shoot digital camera,” he said.

The choice of photographers was an easy one, Gilpin said. These are some of the most popular Whitehorse artists right now, and all are quintessentially northern.

“Peter Mather has just started printing onto metal, and his prints have been really popular. Robert Postma as well. We’d always carried his prints, but people really started asking about him and suddenly there were these four names and the show kind of suggested itself,” Gilpin said.

While the show focuses on the North and the Yukon, each approach is different, Gilpin said.

Von Gaza shoots almost exclusively mountain and glacial landscapes, with an almost Ansel Adams quality.

“Peter’s work is all sort of black and white and very stark, and quite simplistic as well. He doesn’t manipulate his images very much, if at all. He still uses quite a bit of film,” Gilpin said.

Postma and Mather are both broadly nature photographers, but Mather tends to focus more on animals and surprising compositions. He’s used remote cameras to capture in-your-face portraits of mountain goats and frequently lugs an enormous 500mm lens into the backcountry to capture animals from afar.

Postma, meanwhile, tends to focus more on landscapes with loud, vibrant colour and early morning light.

Keggenhoff is an Atlin-based photographer who has built her reputation on crystal sharp images of the southern Yukon.

She said the show has been in the works for over a year, and the opening this spring of North End’s new fine-art space in Horwood’s Mall made the timing perfect.

While her reputation is for ultra-realistic landscapes, she’s also been harbouring a secret passion for abstract work.

“It’s going to be landscapes, but it’s going to be a little bit more abstract,” Keggenhoff said.

“It won’t be super-realistic landscapes. I’ve been playing with other techniques like long exposures. It’s a little bit more impressionistic than my usual work,” she said.

She said she’s actually been doing abstract work for years, but was always shy about showcasing it publicly.

“That’s been on the back burner for a long, long time. I really didn’t come out of the closet with it until the show at the Yukon Arts Centre, which ran in April. An artist friend of mine, Don Weir, really encouraged me to work a little bit more in that direction. He said ‘Hey girl, just go for it.’”

Facing North opens tonight at 5 p.m. at the North End Gallery at 118-100 First Ave. and runs until the end of the month.

Contact Jesse Winter at

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