He is an internationally recognized photographer, lecturer, curator and has had bestsellers in Canada. But Andrew Danson-Danushevsky did not actually press the camera’s shutter for some of his most famous images.
In the mid-1980s, Danson-Danushevsky talked his way into the offices and inner sanctums of the prime minister, leader of the opposition, every premier and other politicians across Canada.
He gave them a remote shutter release, told them to take their own photo and then left the room.
The resulting collection of images formed his book, “Unofficial Portraits,” which was a top seller for months.
“I wanted to make a statement about the statements they were making,” he said. “Brian Mulroney at the time was prime minister.”
Danson-Danushevsky said while he chose the backdrops, the politicians did the rest.
“He had the globe and I wanted to see what he would do with it. He had his hand on it or beside it.”
Reviewers said the PM’s photo revealed little about himself, which in itself, was revealing.
“A few weeks later he and Ronald Reagan were in his office and they were spinning the globe together,” he said. “That is very telling. The work with the politicians is all about power and how people use it, or abuse it.”
When he is not taking photos of politicians, the artist, who recently set roots in Grand Falls-Windsor, may be travelling to foreign countries in his role as a museum and gallery curator, lecturing at art colleges or universities, or conducting photography workshops.
Those workshops are centered in Change Islands, where he hosts professional and amateur photographers from across the province, country and continent.
Several times a year, Danson-Danushevsky helps the artists develop their craft.
The location is very important to him, since shorelines and water hold a special place in his psyche.
“A lot of my work is done by the water,” he said. “When I am by the sea, it is about the soul. Native people say it is Mother Earth.”
Even in his new home town, the artist insists the nearby river is an important part of the community and its residents.
“We can’t take water for granted any longer,” he said. “I think the spirit in the centre of Grand Falls-Windsor is the Exploits River. In my mind there is no question about it and I haven’t landed yet.”
Danson-Danushevsky also takes editorial and commercial photographs, but said he uses his artistic side to create commentaries on the world and people around him.
“I am drawn to issues and people and situations that strike me. I have been trying to make more social statements in my landscape work.”
Many of these statements involve a juxtaposition of images involving our destruction of the environment around us.
More of his work captures ordinary people and the struggles and injustices they are forced to suffer.
Still more shows the simple beauty of landscapes or the wrinkles earned by hard work.
Danson-Danushevsky’s artistry is not limited to capturing images with a camera and using the computer to manipulate them.
He is also a musician.
But his music, like much of his photography, is not run-of-the-mill.
He enjoys creating totally ad-libbed and improvised sounds and songs, and recently held several performances with like-minded musicians while curating an art show in Europe.
Like the man himself, Danson-Danushevsky’s photography is thoughtful, introspective, insightful, and, at times, unpredictable.
It is also often simply esthetically pleasing.
He said that while taking pictures have been much more accessible in recent years, the artistry of photography is still something that does not come easily.
“I think people appreciate the fact that they can take a picture a lot easier now than they could 35 years ago,” he said.
“For example, my brother from Toronto came to Newfoundland for the first time this past summer and the photos he has on his wall now are of Newfoundland.
“It has an impact on fine art photography and in some cases commercial photography, because I do both. In fine art photography, people are using conventional processes, which is the old silver print, chemistry, dark room kind of stuff. It is polarized and they stand out in a different kind of way. ... I can do a lot more with precision and accuracy with digital, but that said, I still love film.
“People generally have digital cameras and printers, but in the end, an artist is an artist and they become known for the quality of their work, their reputation and how long they have been on the planet.”
For a sample of Danson-Danushevsky’s work online, visit cicaworkshops.com, danushevsky.com or atlanticphoto.ca.
Check the Advertiser in coming editions for a new column featuring works by Danson-Danushevsky — and possibly even your own photographs.