Vera Saltzman

About Vera Saltzman

Photography has long been a “back burner” interest for me, but I didn't become serious about it until I moved from Nova Scotia to the Canadian Arctic. Struggling to fit in, I turned to photography to build a bridge between myself and the Inuit, creating a friendship of sorts with a visual record of an intangible exchange. After leaving the North, I left my business career behind to study photography full time at the School of the Photographic Arts: Ottawa (SPAO). Here I learned the importance of vision, content and craft in creating art. I always seem to be looking for home and consequently where I live inspires my work. Since moving to Saskatchewan, I am influenced by a profound longing for the east coast and a desire to feel a sense of belonging on the Prairies. I believe landscape is more than the physical place but that there is also an invisible landscape of memories, meanings and associations. Therefore, I do not set out to document but I often make work using the local iconography or the portraits of people of the place as a means to cultivate human attachment and belonging. Researchers refer to this attachment to somewhere by different terms including “place attachment,” and “environmental identity.” I like “sense of place” which captures the idea of location along with the notion it involves a feeling. Memory, place, identity are three words I use as touchstones in my work. I make use of numerous genres in my work including landscape, architecture, portraiture and self-portraiture. Though I primarily work with film, I also enjoy incorporating various techniques and cameras into my practice, taking advantage of all photography has to offer in the creative process. I tend to work intuitively often starting a project with a question rather than an answer. I am more interested in the semblance of emotion than I am in seeking truth through photography. For me photography is about personal interpretation, rather than straight documentation. Being a photographer enables me to express what is in my mind and heart. Since I try to infuse a bit of myself into each photograph, if a viewer recognizes an undercurrent of emotion in my work I believe they will know me better. Perhaps a shared history of common experience will emerge or a kind of kinship will form. It is this engagement that I welcome.