From Light to Layers: Vickie Legere Divulges Her Secrets
Who are you and what do you do?
Vickie Legere – I am an educator, portrait, fine art & event photographer.
Why do you do what you do?
I teach to share my passion for the art of photography. I create portraits to empower people and celebrate their unique personal ‘beauty’. Event photography celebrates our lives & my fine art images reveal the ‘marvelous in the mundane’ – reminding the viewer to see the world with better eyes!
How do you work?
I educate in the classroom (physical or virtual) or in the field. I shoot portraits in studio or on location for all other types of photography. I work in the ‘digital darkroom’ to bring out the best in my images.
What’s your background?
I have been fascinated with photography since childhood. I joined the Abbotsford Photo Arts Club in 1996 and I have been shooting & learning everything I can since then. I belong to various art groups & international social media groups to keep the creative juices flowing.
What’s integral to the work of an artist?
The drive to create & express the passion within us – using whatever medium satisfies that need.
What role does the artist have in society?
The artist is a healer, a catalyst for change, a keeper of memories – it is our role to remind the world of the beauty within & without and to re-examine our souls upon occasion.
What has been a seminal experience?
I was listening to a presentation by photographer, Platon – he has photographed the rich & famous as well as the unknown – creating powerful portraits that do more than ‘tell a story’! He ended his presentation by challenging the audience to ‘do more than just take pretty pictures’! That was a pivotal moment that resounded in my soul & changed everything for me.
How has your practice change over time?
For many years I was a ‘generalist’ photographer – creating images of whatever caught my interest, often the small, overlooked details of the world around us. 3 years ago, I discovered a real passion for creating portraits, particularly of the over 50 generation, once it was drawn to my attention how little our ‘beauty’ and wisdom is appreciated in this age of social media. I have been driven to intensely educate myself on all aspects of portraiture & have created V-Art Portrait as a result. Educating others developed from presentation skills I learned during my government career of 31 years – it was an exciting transition to use those skills to share my love & knowledge of photography with others.
What work do you most enjoying doing?
Even though it takes more time than it should working in the digital darkroom, what I love the most is the end result. From the initial inspiration and excitement, planning, timing and the actual shooting through taking that raw image to the conclusion of that initial inspiration. Which is not always the final result – as I learn more I often go back & re-work an image to improve upon it even more!
What themes do you pursue?
I pursue portrait themes that allow a person to play or make believe, to be seen ‘as they wish to be seen’. I am creatively drawn to fantasy, steam punk and ‘dark beauty’ themes.
Describe a real-life situation that inspired you?
The 10 year anniversary of my late husband passing away. I was partnered with 2 painters for a large gallery show and I wanted to create something meaningful and not show just a collection of random images. I was inspired to create a series of self-portraits depicting the journey of grief – interspersed with fine art images that I created during that 10 year period. I titled it ‘From Grief to Grace’ – alternating the portraits with quotations about grieving, change and transformation and the fine art images. As it started to come together, I realized that I had created something very important. Death & grieving are very uncomfortable topics which we as humans tend to avoid – my show allowed people to be in those moments with my journey and relate it to their own life experiences. My audience talked, cried & expressed their gratitude for the impact of my show.
What jobs have you done other than being an artist?
I worked 31.5 years for the provincial government (the ‘welfare’ office) – as I progressed on my own personal journey of healing & becoming a better human being, I gave myself the title of ‘Vickie’s Information & Problem Solving Service’. That was for clients, stakeholders, the public and staff – I loved it and thrived by treating everyone like they mattered!
Because our creative souls demand an outlet to express our wonder, our joy, our pain & our curiosity.
What is an artistic outlook on life?
I see everything as artistic possibilities – storing serendipitous moments & scenes in the photo album of my mind. If I cannot stop to photograph it, I try to imagine how I might re-create it or incorporate it into an image. It has taught me to really SEE the world around me and my life is far richer than before the days when I was blind to marvelous.
What memorable responses have you had to your work?
Tears – both from my ‘Grief to Grace’ and ‘Cracked Perceptions’ series. It told me that my work truly had an impact – my audience expressed appreciation for my courage to share my personal vulnerability as well as leading them to express their own hidden grief and pain. Even though my viewers expressed pain they also loved the work that truly made them feel something.
Is the artistic life lonely? What do you do to counteract it?
Any life can be lonely – I am an introvert (yes it is true) that expresses herself like an extrovert. I joined photography groups, local arts groups & stepped up to the plate to volunteer my skills doing the things I love. One example is my years of volunteering for the Harrison Festival of the Arts – I was doing some of the invisible, behind the scenes work, but was also sharing some of my images of the performing artists. That lead to creating a photography team for the festival – putting me ‘out there’ interacting with performers, audience & volunteers while I am doing what I love. I also share a lot of my work on social media – all those ‘likes’ and comments from people all over the world can really give a person a lift in the moment. I am NOT alone!
What do you dislike about the art world?
That there is still a lingering attitude the photography is not really art. I remember being included in two different gallery shows with my ‘music & passion’ series. In the first show the curator loved the power of my series and it was showcased at the entry of the gallery for its impact. The series was created specifically to be shown in the second gallery as part of a milestone anniversary scheduled for that year. That curator reluctantly allowed me to participate only after her first choice had to cancel. I came to realize that this curator saw no value in my work. My portion of the gallery show was very well received in and my art cards from the show remained in the gallery shop for over a year due to popularity. It was my first experience with the attitude the photography is really ‘not art’.
What do you dislike about your work?
Too many hours spent in the digital darkroom.
What do you like about your work?
I love the joy that my portraits & fine art images bring to the viewer. I love that some of my series speak to uncomfortable and thought provoking truths.
Should art be funded?
What role does arts funding have?
It supports all types of artistic creation – visual & audio. The world would be a darker place without it – we humans would wither & die inside without creative expression.
What makes you angry?
People with ‘ugly’ souls who take out their pain & anger on the world around us.
What research to you do?
All of it is related to becoming better at my craft and a better human being.
What superpower do you have and why?
I inspire others – with my energy, my passion, and my belief that everyone matters.
Name something you love, and why.
Music and dance – before I felt the need to become a ‘creative artist’ – I expressed my internal passion through dance and I still do today.
Name something you don’t love, and why.
Country music (either it whines or it is ‘wanna be rock & roll’. Right up there is also jazz music – I find it is a disturbing distortion of melody – both grate on my nerves like fingernails on a blackboard.
What is your dream project?
My current dream project is to work with heart transplant patients and survivors. I’ve been asked to celebrate their stories and capture powerful portraits of people & their scars – we are looking at a variety of mediums to carry the message, to inspire & support this aspect of heart disease.
Name three artists you’d like to be compared to.
Joyce Tenneson, Jerry Ghionis & Sue Bryce
Professionally, what’s your goal?
To create enduring & powerful images becoming a successful portrait photographer. That goal includes remaining open to new things & being a lifetime learner
What wouldn’t you do without?
Love, my fur babies, my camera & computer.
Who do you think your photography is reminiscent of? Is there another photographer or artist that you would compare it to?
When it comes to portrait photography, I would have to say the work of Richard Avedon really resonates with me. Back in the 1980’s I subscribed to the Time/Life Photography book series and within discovered the work of many amazing photographers. As I look back at images of his work, I recognize parallel styles. Avedon created images of the beautiful, the mundane, the edgy and even the macabre – all themes I find echoed in my own work.
For street photography I was influenced by Henri Cartier Bresson and Lee Friedlander. Still life influence came from Edward Weston. Landscape, floral photography was influenced most by members of the Abbotsford Photo Arts Club.