Stephen Waddell

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“Stephen Waddell embraces the entanglements and conundrums inherent to photographic mediations. For decades he has reinvigorated street photography and reportage through keen observation and an empathetic eye for social subjects. Initially a painter and filmmaker, Waddell brings questions about the very notion of realism to picture-making. He often references pictorial histories, such as early photography or classical painting, acknowledging that observation is informed by recognition and an unconscious awareness of existing images.

Working with both analogue and digital tools, Waddell’s highly considered approach involves experimenting continuously with new processes and materials. The subtlety of his photography is amplified by a painterly sensibility that emphasizes qualities of light. Illumination becomes a reference to photographic perception as well as to human vision. Consistent across his work are close affinities between a print’s subject matter and its material qualities. At times, Waddell’s layered images allude to the act of photography itself-as evident in his large gelatin silver prints depicting underground caverns lit from within.

Waddell takes on the challenges of having single images carry dense meaning. Looking at one of his mise-en-sc√®nes is a richly rewarding sensory experience, as close scrutiny animates uncanny details. While his images are to some extent staged, chance elements infiltrate each picture. He finesses the dynamic between controlled and wild elements in images at once precise and ambiguous.”Helga Pakasaar

Waddell does not wish to stage the images he would like to make and so must hunt them down. As a direct photographer, Waddell relies on luck, but it is luck he earns through dogged labor. Roy Arden

Co-published with Scotiabank Photography Award, Toronto

Additional information

Weight 1698 g
Dimensions 25.4 x 31.4 cm
Publisher name Steidl
Publication date 1 September 2020
Number of pages 456
Format Hardback
Contributors Introduction by Helga Pakasaar, Text by Brian Sholis
Dimensions 25.4 x 31.4 cm
Weight 1698 g
Stephen Waddell began his career as a painter, completing his MFA in painting at the University of British Columbia in 1994. He has exhibited internationally at Monte Clark Gallery, the Vancouver Art Gallery, and the Contemporary Art Gallery in Vancouver; Espai d'Art Contemporani de Castelló in Castello; Kunstforum Baloise in Basel; and C/O Berlin, among other institutions. Waddell's works are held in the permanent collections of the Armand Hammer Collection in Los Angeles, the Vancouver Art Gallery, the National Gallery of Canada, and numerous others. His books include Hunt and Gather (2011) and Dark Matter Atlas (2017). Waddell is the recipient of the 2019 Scotiabank Photography Award. He lives and works in Vancouver.