Photographs by and copyright to Irene Suchocki
Above: Montreal, Quebec-based photographer Irene Suchocki
From time to time, you come across images that speak to you in the same way as having a conversation with an old friend that you’ve had for years. There an indescribable warmth and memory that you can’t always place, but the experience transports you back to a time that surrounds you with a sense calm and familiarity, like a hazy childhood vision of yesteryear. This is something that I felt instantly with the work of Irene Suchocki, a self-taught photographer based out of Montreal, Quebec, who describes herself as a purveyor of little poems for the eyes. In her work, we see landscapes, floral depictions, and fleeting glimpses into what seem to be the notes of out of the most emotive and private of notebooks. The best part? These amazing images that have been featured on Extreme Makeover, Real Simple, Montreal Gazette, Canadian Geographic, Photo Life, and as one of Etsy’s featured sellers of 2008, can grace the walls of your home in your choice of size and finish!
Irene Suchocki Speaks with Ava Living:
Your images have a beautiful vintage quality to them. Does this come mainly from your choice of camera and materials, or more from the post-production work that you do after the original image is taken?
It comes mostly from post-production. I primarily use a digital SLR and I use Photoshop as my digital darkroom. I love the immediacy and the complete control that digital technology gives me over the creative process. That being said, I also love that I can play and experiment ad infinitum, and sometimes come up with results that surprise and delight me.
There is a lot of vignetting in the corners of your pieces, like they have withstood the trials and love of time. Is this also something that’s done in postproduction or do you use camera equipment and filters to help to achieve this effect?
All of the above. The end result is more important to me than the means of getting there, so I like to have many tools at my disposal. In some cases, I use Photoshop to create the effect. In other cases I use a special lens, called the Lensbaby. It creates a lovely blur that is akin to that of a toy camera. I also sometimes use a combination of my digital camera and a vintage Kodak Duaflex.
Above: Letting Go of Time
Your pieces feature such titles as ‘Letting Go of Time’ and ‘What We Feel Has No Name’. Is much of your work based out of personal experience or more out of dream and imagination?
I would say the photographs primarily come out of my imagination. However, when it comes to selecting the photographs that I choose to share or sell as prints, I tend to choose those that resonate with my own personal experiences. The titles I assign to my photographs often come from my personal connection to them, when I am able to put it into words.
I love your piece ‘Stargazing’, a photo of a simple dandelion with a shallow depth of field. Are you a deep believer in seeing beauty in the every day?
Oh yes, and the camera is the perfect tool to help me do that! I can spend hours photographing a single subject, observing it from all angles, and in different lighting situations. This way, I get to spend more time contemplating my subject while working on photographs in my digital darkroom. Photography has really helped me to slow down, observe and appreciate the life that is happening around me.
Above: Looking For Love
There are a fair amount of pieces that are based in Paris, or at least have Paris in the title. Do you do a lot of your work while traveling?
I first developed an interest in photography in the 90's when I was traveling a lot. Nowadays, I mostly photograph closer to home. However, I still love to travel and do so at least a few times a year, even if it just means a road trip and packing up the camping gear. The excitement of being in a new place is about the only thing that gets me up before dawn to photograph in the early morning light.
Above: The Rule of Thirds
You live in one of my favorite cities of all time, Montreal! Where do you find the most inspiration in your city? Was it these things that drew you from your native Ontario to Montreal?
Actually, it was my boyfriend that drew me to Montreal in 2001 and then my passion for photography really deepened here. Montreal has so many wonderful green spaces, such as Mont Royal and the Botanical Gardens, which I frequently visit throughout the seasons. Since Montreal is an island, I am also inspired by the shoreline as I love coastal and long exposure photography. There are also so many great neighborhoods in Montreal, like Old Montreal and the Plateau, that make for wonderful subjects, as well as serving as beautiful backdrops for my people photography.
Above: The Swing Set
Your book list on your website includes Robert ParkeHarrison’s ‘The Architect’s Brother’, who does a lot of image manipulation and photo collage in an editorial context. Did you find a lot of inspiration in his body of work?
He is probably my favorite photographer. I return to his images time and time again for inspiration and to feed my soul. Even though he explores some fairly bleak themes about loss, struggle and our destruction of the environment, there is something so beautiful and poetic about his images. I see his photographs as a call to action to save our planet before it’s too late. The creativity and amount of work that goes into each photograph is astounding, and I have such an immense respect for him (and his wife, with whom he works).
Your prints come in a choice of archival matte paper or a metallic finish. Can you explain the difference between the two?
The matte paper has no gloss and is well-suited to photographs that are layered with textures, as it gives the images a more painted quality. I absolutely love the metallic paper though. The colors are so vibrant and it has a unique three-dimensional quality. The metallic paper has a subtle pearlescent sheen and certain colors positively shimmer on it.
Above: Possibly Maybe
Do you participate in a lot of gallery shows? Where can we keep an eye out for your work besides your personal website and your Etsy website?
Thanks to the internet, gallery owners have found my work and contacted me about participating in exhibitions. My work has been displayed in a few galleries in the United States and the United Kingdom. I haven’t approached local galleries to date, although I plan to later this year. My websites are the best way of keep up-to-date on my latest work.
Irene’s prints can be ordered in 5x7 up to 24x30” sizes in an archival matte or metallic finish. Many are also available in a square format, and custom and wholesale orders are also welcome.
To contact Irene Suchocki:
Visit her company website at: http://www.irenesuchocki.com/
Visit her blog at: http://is-theblog.blogspot.com/
Visit her Etsy shop at: http://www.etsy.com/profile.php?user_id=5064563
Written by Ehren Seeland