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Fiercely Curious is an online art & design collective based in Brooklyn.

We believe in connecting directly with the artists and designers.

erin@fiercelycurious.com

Gun Roze
About Gun
Gun was born in Toronto, Canada and was gifted his first camera at the age of 8. He has since photographed constantly to date and in 1997, he relocated to Brooklyn, NY to be surrounded by the streets that he loves to photograph.

Gun received his foundation degree from Ontario College of Art & Design and has been a Master Traditional Color Darkroom Printer for 37 years. Co-owning Riley's Colour Lab in Toronto from 1979-82, he later owned and ran his own boutique custom color print lab in Toronto from 1987-92, Thumbs Up Printing. Gun has managed various professional photo labs in Toronto, Vancouver, and New York being entrusted to print the work of international photographic talents.
Gun 's Process
I have my pocket sized Canon digital point and shoot camera on me at all times. Along any route I instinctively shoot whatever I witness that impresses me for various reasons. I no longer question or analyze why I am capturing the images I do. I click and move on. Rarely is a second or third shot taken. When it comes to shooting people on the streets, doing whatever it is that catches my attention, I have a one shot opportunity. It's either a hit or a miss. Each day I record what fascinated me and where I was. I consider this my daily visual diary. At home I download all my images to then see whether there are any gems amongst my catch that are worthy achievements. I prefer the quality that my point and shoot camera's resolution gives me. This look also represents the gritty feel of NYC streets that I experience. The digital texture feels like the grain of the 35mm film I used when I originally began doing street photography during visits to Manhattan in the very early 80s.

Art by Gun


In conversation with Gun

Erin: What are you curious about?

Gun: Nature, the cosmos and spirituality. Also the human mind and it's highest potential.

Erin: Describe your art and describe your process.

Gun: For the past two years my photography has mainly focused on capturing anyone and anything I discover on the streets of Brooklyn and Manhattan. I have my digital point and shoot camera with me at all times. I'm primarily a walker so I see so much that intrigues, fascinates or perplexes me along the various daily routes I take. I am as present as I can be and am always scanning my environment en route from one destination to the next. My camera is ready to aim whenever any visual impression registers strongly. I never plan any of my shooting opportunities since there is always plenty going on and to discover along each street I'm on. At this point my approach is intuitive and quick. I rarely linger to take a second or third shot. It's a click and move on process I prefer.
Erin: What inspires you about the streets of New York?

Gun: A city as vibrant, eclectic and constantly in motion as NYC ensures my constant source of compelling subject matters. Nothing remains the same in NYC. I often walk the same streets weekly and I can always count on discovering something new going on or new found objects. With the variety and amount of people here, there is no shortage of witnessing unique happenings with the array of characters and their fashion styles. The objects and where people leave them on the streets are great finds. Plus the graffiti and the street art is extraordinary. I must mention that NYC often has the most stunning light to record all that attracts me.

Erin: You first visited here in 1980 from Toronto and immediately started shooting the hustle and bustle of NYC. 30 years later, you’re still doing it. What’s changed?

Gun: Photographing people on the streets has changed most notably. People today are far more guarded and reluctant to be photographed by a stranger. Almost everyone is aware of the presence of cameras being used everywhere, be they cell phone or actual ones. I notice suspicion and mistrust, so their resistance is quite obvious. In the 80s the people that I captured were more curious or flattered when they noticed that a stranger with a camera was taking their photo. Often I was asked which magazine I was working for. Now most potential subjects are reluctant because they have no control where images of them may appear. As a result I often shoot people without full facial recognition and often from behind. I feel their character or energy still gets represented in the shot. The other more unpleasant change, that is visually irritating to me, is the widespread presence of advertisements throughout the city. I find they greatly distract from the potential beauty of an image and especially mar a location's purity or historical architecture. I usually avoid shooting when I see the dominance of any corporate logos or blatant advertisements.

Erin: You carry your camera with you daily and don’t plan your shoots. What is it that you look for when capturing a moment?

Gun: I'm drawn to strong colors, textures, patterns, shapes, or contrasts, whether in soft or strong light. Any of these elements intuitively attract my attention towards my subject. Be they human, another life form or inanimate. I love beauty, humor, character, the bizarre, the odd, and all states of the human condition. I always hope I capture the feeling of whatever it was that captivated me. I no longer question shooting whatever I'm drawn to in the moment. When editing it will be revealed whether anything of value was actually achieved.
Erin: We are lucky enough to be showing your 35mm film work from 1982 as well as your more recent digital work. Why the switch and how has it affected your process?

Gun: The switch to digital happened for various reasons and with much reluctance. As a professional traditional darkroom printer since the late 70s, I loved spending my free time in the darkroom printing my own work. This changed when Kodak discontinued their best paper types around 2010. The joy of printing and creating stunning images for both myself and my clients ended. The struggle to compete with the results of digital prints was my wake up call to shift my approach and direction. When I decided to return to street photography in 2012, upon discovering my Manhattan 1982 street series in my archives, I chose my cell camera to see if my passion for it was still there. I did not want to lug my 35mm film camera with me daily. The ease with using my cell camera anywhere I went encouraged me to shoot more freely than ever before. After a year of accumulating many interesting low grade images, I opted to upgrade to a digital point and shoot. I see my progress and my process as an organic unfolding. When three of my Manhattan 1982 images were selected for a group show at ClampArt in 2013, I decided to work with both a master drum scanner and digital printer. This was the first time I surrendered being the master printer in total control and embraced working with the two expert digital technicians I knew were artists at heart. With my specifications met, the digital prints produced had the look and feel of analog prints. I have since had my digital files successfully printed to this quality level as well.

Erin: How did you get into photography?

Gun: My grandfather gifted me his Brownie Hawkeye camera when I was 8 years old in Toronto. I was connected to the "magic" and power of photography immediately. I still have this camera as a symbolic reminder of him and that introduction. My interest deepened in high school when B&W darkroom printing was included in my Grade 12 art class.

Erin: What is your dream project?

Gun: This is a huge question to answer with a singular response as I have numerous dream projects. I'd love to return to Alicante, Spain where I once visited in the early 70s, but lost those negatives. Though that trip was personally traumatic, so many strong images are seared in my mind. I'd love the opportunity to see if any of the reality there today matches up with my recollections. I'd love to photograph the people and the city's details.
Gun's self portrait taken on Smith St., Brooklyn in 2013.
Erin: What superpower would you have and why?

Gun: To be able to fly like a bird. To have this freedom and perspective is a fantasy I've had since I was a child. As a boy I truly believed I could fly and did try to levitate when I was alone. I'm not sure if this is a "superpower" but for a human I think it is.

Erin: What’s your greatest skill that no one knows about?

Gun: I'm a great photo editor. Not necessarily of my own work, but of others.

Erin: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given and by whom?

Gun: To discover who I am as a photographer and to own my style and look.

Erin: Order or Chaos?

Gun: Order!

Erin: Details or Big Picture?

Gun: I was detail obsessed for the first 50 years of my life. Thankfully, I now have the gift of both abilities.

Erin: If you had the opportunity to shoot anyone (dead or alive) who would it be and what would it look like?

Gun: My ideal subject would be Tilda Swinton. I would shoot her without makeup and nude on any Mediterranean beach with the eternal horizon as the backdrop. In color on a cloudy day.

Erin: What’s the most incredible place you’ve visited outside of the U.S.?

Gun: Alicante, Spain.

See all of Gun 's work

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