Monday, October 22, 2012

Precarious Foote-ings

"It was really a pleasure to attend the Imagining Winnipeg launch a few weeks ago at McNally's!

One of my surprise takeaways from the book launch was a new appreciation for the variety of perspectives from which Foote's body of work can be viewed, analysed and interpreted – from such overarching quandaries as what Esyllt Jones dubs the "mystery of his intent," to personal connections to memories and histories, through to John Paskievich's unveiling of Foote's evolution to the "fortuitous and dynamic arrangement of triangles" (in the photo of the young Queen Elizabeth).

As a collector of historic images, let me add to this mix – with yet another line of inquiry. Beyond the images themselves, I am often intrigued by attempting to imagine where, in taking a particular photo, the photographer might have positioned themselves. I don't think it readily occurs to many of us, but early photographers were often quite the aerialists. From the photos in Imagining Winnipeg, here are a few examples:

Page 1 – Looking out over a skating rink on the Red River.
Where was Foote when he took this picture? How was he able to take this photo from such a high elevation? My guess is he was atop the large wooden toboggan slide that was constructed every year next to this ice rink. In the image, can you see those smoke stacks in the distance? I have another photo postcard image, by an earlier photographer, that I believe was actually taken from atop one of those chimneys.

Page 2 – Overview of the construction of the new Legislative Buildings.
This picture was most likely taken from the top of the bell tower of the old Broadway Methodist Church (since burned and dismantled) on the South East corner of Broadway & Kennedy.

Page 58 – Peace Day celebration at Portage & Main. This one was likely taken from a second storey window of the building that stood on the SW corner of Portage & Main (current site of the Trizec Building).

Page 70 – Veterans’ march at City Hall.
This one is particularly intriguing. The shot is taken looking up the portion of Market Street that used to exist on the West side of Main Street – land now occupied by the current City Hall. Foote took this shot from the East side of Main. The side of the building that shows on the right of the photo was the south wall of a building that once stood at the North East corner of Main & Market. It was four stories high and, from images I’ve seen of it, there were no balconies or fire escapes evident on that building's south side. My best guess is that Foote took this west-looking shot from a high (4th storey?) south-facing window.

Well, by now you get the picture (no pun intended). I'm just pointing out that L.B. Foote, like other photographers of his day, didn't always keep both feet firmly planted on the ground."

- Rob McInnes, Postcard Accumulator and Purveyor

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Another beautiful little postcard from Rob McInnes! 

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