Published by Steidl/Scotiabank Photography Award, Toronto. Introduction by Helga Pakasaar. Text by Brian Sholis.
For decades Vancouver photographer Stephen Waddell (born 1968) 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 analog 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.