Public Parking
A journal for storytelling, arguments, and discovery through tangential conversations.
'Try to always have fun': A Conversation with Graham Wiebe
Thursday, June 30, 2016 | Luther Konadu




Graham Wiebe is an open arms, down-to-earth kind of guy. He's got a playful and spontaneous vim that permeates through all of his photographic work. Wiebe knows what he wants in an image the moment he grabs his camera but he's open to whatever happens  and ready to run with it. We recently got the pleasure of speaking with the Winnipeg based artist about his relationship with the piece of technology that helps him encapsulates fleeting seconds before they become mere stories, how this same device is more than a supporting collaborator  in his work, and how he's trying to reconcile with the aching fact of slowly losing this device to obsolescence.


From a distance we hear footsteps approaching us. It turns out to be Sarah Epp, Wiebe’s studio neighbor. ‘Do you guys want to share some red wine with me?’ She offers. Yes, Of course! We agreed.  Cheers! We grab our glasses and head back to Wiebe’s studio space. “Ok now this is a real interview. We got wine and everything” He remarks. [Laughs]

My eye scans through his studio and I notice two white and pinkish mugs sitting next to each other. “Honestly those are my two favorite mugs; mother of pearl Las Vegas and my doggie mug...he introduces them with such sentiment. “They’re always here with me.  I love them.”

"Hang on I’ll take a picture of it" I assert while finicking with settings on my point and shoot. Taking a photo is too much pressure for me so just bear with me.

I don’t know anything about digital cameras man...Wiebe declares

In surprise I ask: you only shoot with film? yeah man, he answers.


Public Parking: How do you blow it up so big? I’m guessing photoshop is involved?


Graham Wiebe: I don’t really don’t know how to use photoshop that well.  I know how to do colour adjustments a little bit but what I do is go to Martha Street Studios and I get them scanned there with their big $30,000 nice Imacon Scanner. And I get them the size I want. And you don’t really lose a lot of the resolution. Its film so it’s going to be a bit grainy anyway. But I don’t really mind it.



PP:What size do you typically print them to be?


GW:They are mainly 25”x35”. Although I would love to go bigger. But who knows maybe in the future I’d start to shoot digital. Film right now is so expensive now. I use to get it for $3 a roll at Shopper Drug Mart and I started going so much that they gave it to me at $2 a roll and that was perfect because I could do everything there. But they went out of business and they don’t do film anymore. Now, I’ve to take it Lab Works and it’s like $15 a roll.


Wiebe's Studio Space



PP: Why do think you are sticking with this technology?


GW: I am not sure. I guess it’s what I’ve been around for however long. It’s what I started with. I’m comfortable I guess.


PP: Do you think you’ll switch over anytime soon?


GW: Oh yeah, for sure. Eventually. A lot of photographers I look up to like Wolfgang Tillman used film—like a contact SLR—for the longest time and now he is shooting on digital and it looks equally as good. I think I would just have to get a really good DSL to get the same quality as I get with some of these images. But I’m very poor and lenses are really expensive and cameras are really expensive so for now I’m sticking with what I have. I like it. I like what I get from it.


PP:How long have you had this camera for?


GW:I’ve gone through a lot of these cameras. They are so fragile. When you drop them they just break. And you can’t use it anymore. This one [Stylus Epic] that I’ve is my favorite kind. They have a really good lens in them. And typically people don’t know that they have a 2.8 lens. They let in a lot of light, its sets the aperture for you so if I’m shooting low light, it’ll adjust better than say a Cannon power shot. When you are looking for cameras at like Value Village or something, they just get brushed off to the side but this is the good stuff. I picked it up for $4 and I shot a lot of work with it.


PP:Do you always have the camera in your hands when you are shooting as oppose to sitting it down on a tripod or the like? I ask because there’s a nice stillness and calmness to your photos



GW:Yes, I always have my camera with me. I keep it in my pocket so it’s easy access. I always just grab it when I need it and shoot. I’d go as close as I need to capture as quickly as I can. The whole process of capturing the image is very spontaneous and of the moment. I look and click. But that’s another thing I like about this camera. If I see something I want to capture, I don’t want to be fiddling with shutter speed and all that. There’s no time for that. I get in and get out. No second guessing. And some things don’t know? [He points outs to a framed image behind him] That is just an image of my friend with his dog but it looks like this weird biomorphic form coming out of his mouth. I remember his dog kept on licking him nonstop and I just had to get in. Things like that they don’t last too long.