Interview Edward Burtynsky Photographer & Filmmaker

Posted 10 years ago by myetvmedia

Acclaimed international photographer and now documentary filmmaker Edward Burtynsky has just won the 2013 Rogers Best Canadian Film Award along with co-director Jennifer Baichwal for “Watermark“. Burtynsky and Baichwal first ventured into the filmmaking world together when Baichwal directed the 2006 award winning documentary featuring Burtynsky’s landscape photography entitled “Manufactured Landscapes”.

We met with Edward Burtynsky during the Toronto International Film Festival, where “Watermark” had been selected as a TIFF gala premiere, to talk about his work and his inspirations:


Landscape Photography

Burtynsky says he followed his passion for photography from an early age and turned it into a career. When he started out as a photographer in the 1970’s his inspiration came from artists such as Edward Weston (1886-1958) and Ansel Adams (1902-1984) whose seminal photographic collections are characterized by large black and white photographs, many depicting magnificent landscapes.

Ansel Adams – Boulder Dam (1941)

Edward Weston – Dunes, Oceano (1936)

These were the sorts of landscape images that inspired the creation of the National Parks system. Burtynsky set out to do something different. He wanted to create large landscape photographs in colour, more like Eliot Porter’s (1901- 1990) work. Burtynsky was to be one of the pioneers to open up the world of large, colour landscape photography as an art form. When he started out in the ‘70s the medium was considered as having commercial use only. By 1979, a landmark year for contemporary landscape photographers, color photography was accepted as fine art. The Metropolitan Museum in New York held its first ever color photography exhibit entitled “Intimate Landscapes” and featured the work of Eliot Porter, who was by then in his late 70’s. Burtynsky was part of this new and exciting art movement.

Eliot Porter – Intimate Landscapes 1 & 3 (1960)

As Burtynsky’s work evolved he realized that the landscapes he was really captivated by, that he found most compelling, were not pristine parkland scenes but the man altered landscapes. He was awestruck by the pace at which the population of the planet was increasing by about a billion people per decade and the toll this took on the land to service the needs of this single species. He wanted to document the incredible change that humans were able to create on the face of the planet. Watermark is a breathtaking example of this vision. See full review

Edward Burtynsky – Dyralaekir River on Myrdalssandur, Iceland (2012)

Just recently Edward Burtynsky’s work was exhibited alongside Ansel Adams works at the Kleinburg Art Gallery, in Kleinburg, Ontario, home to the Group of Seven. Photos of Burtynsky’s work courtesy of Nicholas Metivier Gallery, Toronto, Canada.

Moira Romano

Subscribe to
Our Youtube
Subscribe to
our RSS

ETV Newsletter

Get the latest on the media landscape and the minds that create inspiring, paradigm-shifting ideas. Sign up and stay in the loop.

Follow Us
On Twitter
Visit Our
View Our
Flickr Stream
View Our
Vimeo Stream
View Us On

Advertise with Us