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Photo essay Street photography

Moments of light

Sometimes a project emerges only during extensive editing. It's how 'Moments of Light' by Matthew Poburyny came to be. The magic of light beeing the thread that sews the images in this project together.

Tell us a little about your background – what path led you to becoming a photographer, and to doing what you’re doing today?

I come from a musical background, being involved with music in some form or another for over a decade. I started playing guitar in my teens and mixing the sound for my school's musicals, leading me to take a degree in audio engineering in Montreal. After moving to Montreal and completing my degree, I started working small gigs in the live music industry before giving that up for a while to start playing in bands. I had a small run of local success with my two bands, and I started working much more regularly as a stagehand for more significant events. That all lasted until about three years ago when the last band I was in split up. I felt like I needed a new creative voice, so I sold a lot of my gear and reinvested the money in my first camera. I really had no knowledge of the medium or what I could use the camera as an expressive tool to say; all I knew was that I liked taking pictures. YouTube became my classroom as I watched tutorials about the technical aspects of photography to teach myself how to use my new tool. However, I still didn't know what I wanted to use the camera to say. I struggled for a good while to find my way into photo history to learn about the art of photography. After discovering a video about the exhibition featuring photographers from the New Topographic Movement of the 70s, I bought The New West by Robert Adams. I started finding more photographers exploring themes and subjects I didn't think you could do with a camera that I was also interested in. This helped me to start unlocking my own voice in my photographs. I started investigating the urban landscape of Montreal and its layers of history. I started combining my need to express the conflicts I was seeing play out around me while embracing my love for history at the same time. There is a strong urge to know what something used to be or bear witness to the process of change as it is happening all around the island of Montreal at a rapid pace. This leads me to investigate the island's perimeters, boroughs and neighbourhoods. There I collect what remaining evidence I can find of what a place used to be before it became what I am seeing today. 

Can you tell us a bit more about the project Moments of Light?

Moments Of Light came together as a project in the editing stage when reviewing photographs I had been making throughout 2021. There were times when I was trying to make a particular type of photograph under a different project title which I later abandoned and borrowed some images from for Moments of Light. Still, most of the photos were made on curious photo walks with no real intentions. When I came to edit a year's worth of photographs into one cohesive body of work, one thing became evident rather quickly; the light. The light became the thread I needed to sew images with different subjects into one story that I felt was honest and relatable. I decided I wanted to dwindle down my selection of photos to just thirty images to be shared on my website. I looked for pictures that best represented the locations I had visited throughout the year and offered a unique view of my surroundings. The results I hoped would offer a sense of beauty in mundane, overlooked aspects of life and a quiet reflection of silence provided by a still image. 

What was your approach to this project?

The only approach with this project was to explore places near my new apartment as I got to know the part of the city I was living in. The project came together later in the editing stage, so it is hard to say if there was a definite approach. I often went out on weeknights during the evening hours for short walks of about an hour and much longer walks on the weekends starting in the late afternoon and going till dusk as I explored new places. This habit led to the consistency of light across the images, making it possible to sequence them together as I did.

What defines a good picture for you? Or what are you looking for in a picture?

I am still learning what defines a good picture every day as I make new photos and enjoy the works of others. There is a definite attraction to create symmetry out of the chaos of our world, and that is something photography does provide for me. Framing and arranging what is in that frame are defining elements that make a picture attractive to me and something I seek to do with my photos. Visible or invisible layers are also essential to me as the viewer or the maker of a photograph. I enjoy the richness of research and knowing the history of the place you are in. When I feel that from a picture or believe I may have accomplished providing some of that insight in one of my pictures, I find great reward in that. Though what defines a good picture for me will be everchanging, I hope my ideas and preconceptions are challenged as I make my way through this life. 

Which camera and lenses do you have?

I primarily shoot with my digital camera, a Sony a6300 paired with a 35mm 1.8 prime lens. 

© Pictures by Matthew Poburyny