Cheyne Gallarde's Good Manners

Written by Eric Jones

I can see my mother. She’s in her twenties standing in our kitchen in Oakville, Ontario, mixing yellow food coloring into white margarine in a Pyrex bowl. She’s telling me that some day she’ll go back to university to get the degree she gave up when she had me. I was four.

Cheyne Gallarde is too young to know that housewives used to hand-tint their margarine, but it’s the kind of detail that he would probably get right. This young Honolulu photographer has an art director’s right-brain and a cinematographer’s left.

Great photography says something about the subject and something about the photographer. Growing up engulfed in a continuum of iconic and pulpy images, one looks for cultural alignment. Am I part of that continuum? Am I too a stereotype?

Cheyne is fixated on a style that waxes nostalgic for an era when photographers made images rather than “capturing” them. Practiced lighting, wardrobe and settings researched and rehearsed, with improvisation only as a minor note.

My own Dad carried a Speed Graphic 4x5 camera as he chased down Lena Horne, back when the word Paparazzi was still Italian. He carried seven sheets of 4x5 film, flash-bulbs the size of eggs, and had an assistant who just carried the battery. No motor-drive, no wasted shots. The art was all in the premeditation and anticipation.


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