Photographing the Printing Press

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Michael Harris for Vancouver Magazine: When the photographer Brian Howell arrived at Surrey's Kennedy Heights Printing Plant, this roller coaster of conveyors was roaring and pumping out thousands of copies of the Vancouver Sun. He could have photographed that industrial blur. But instead Howell waited for the machine to go still, waited for the workers to go home. Alone in that fluorescent-flooded cavern, he then captured this telling masterpiece, which hangs-seven-and-a-half feet wide and five feet tall-along with sixteen other shots of presses from around the continent, at the Winsor Gallery this month.

Timeliness is something contemporary artists often abhor, as it smacks of brutish journalism, but Howell has worked for 20 years as a photojournalist and has no qualms about letting lived experience touch on his art. And the sincerity of his inspiration gives his work the kind of simple eloquence that you only get when an artist homes in on a genuine historical moment. This is the fast-fading twilight of the golden age of newspapers. (In a recent issue of Superman, Clark Kent even quit his job at the Daily Planet, amidst a tirade about the state of journalism.)

Read more on Vancouver Magazine.