About David Roddis

Photographer / artist; humanist / skeptic; citizen / socialist; dreamer / do-er. Life needs no mission statement; art is no boxing match. Competition demeans and divides; cooperation and compassion reveal profound connections. Do you need any greater incentive?

Vision is within you, not outside of you.


It took me nearly a year, from August 2013 to today, to figure out what I wanted to do with these images of “chocolate” dahlias (my description, not official!) from St Lawrence Market.

David Roddis, "Dahlia arrangement in  maroon/green".  2013.  © David Roddis, 2014.  All rights reserved.

David Roddis, “Dahlia arrangement in maroon/green”. 2013. © David Roddis, 2014. All rights reserved.

The method was to follow my nose and know that I wanted the flower to be barely recognizable, but for the colour variations to be there.  In practical terms, this meant bringing OUT the darker tones and toning DOWN the brighter ones and especially any specular highlights (shiny spots – think of a flash being reflected on a piece of metal).

I’m fairly pleased with this result.  Which doesn’t mean I won’t revisit it sometime, probably tomorrow!

Because, you have to understand – I don’t take pictures of I want to see.  The pictures are just raw material.  What I want to see is in my head.  So I start with something reasonably close to that, and bring it out.

Sometimes I want to see something that I didn’t expect.  So I arrange the situation accordingly.

But what I hardly ever, ever do these days is arrange a shot and take a picture of it and then be happy. Why would I do that?


[July 26:  post-script:  this is going to be hellishly difficult to print effectively... stay tuned...]

Tombeaux, continued.


Tombeau :  08:13:13PM © David Roddis, 2014.  All rights reserved.

Tombeau : 08:13:13PM
© David Roddis, 2014. All rights reserved.

A tombeau is a formal posthumous tribute to a public figure and is originally a musical offering.   The French composer Maurice Ravel (1875 – 1937), for example, composed a suite of pieces for piano (which he then orchestrated) called “Le Tombeau de Couperin”.  This bears analysis:  Couperin was a French composer during the time of Louis XIV and was celebrated for his keyboard works.  So this is, at first glance, a “tombeau” or tribute to Couperin, and Ravel has created exquisite pastiches of Baroque dances that reek of Ravelian nostalgia and a mysterious, aching loss.

Maurice Ravel

Maurice Ravel

But then comes the twist: look again at the dedications, for each of these pieces in the suite is dedicated to a friend who lost their lives in the Great War.  So this Tombeau de Couperin is also a tombeau for Ravel’s lost companions. 

Well, it just slices the top of your head off, scoops out your brains, and throws them in a ditch.  Then it tears your heart out.

Here’s a YouTube video of Angela Hewitt playing the entire suite:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Mgw8pV4iPM

It was last year that I started the process of creating a series of these cathartic images. I have yet to assign them people or events, so right  now they are “freestanding dilemmas”.

The piece you see above is one of these tombeaux without an anchoring event.  It does possibly represent someone, something, that I have lost in the past year; I have charged it with the task of carrying that weight into the future and suffering under the burden.  Poor baby!  But rather you than me…


My collectors

Every artist needs someone – anyone! – to believe in him and support him.  Sure, we can “do it on our own”.  But how dispiriting and downright lonely if one has to do that.

Early on, one’s family and friends, if you’re lucky, provide support and encouragement that goes beyond “that’s lovely, dear”.  (That last remark to me is the biggest sign that I’ve failed in my intentions!).

Dana-collectorMy friend Dana is a fan of mine since day one, enthusiastically purchasing my earliest pieces and decorating his home with them – I don’t think he ever questioned the pricing, either.  That’s a lot of validation.

One of my fave pieces is “Pansylicious: Blue”, and not just for the haunting colour.  It was also my refutation of the claim that “people don’t buy blue”.  I know, I don’t get that either!


My friend Bill has also been an enthusiastic cheerleader for my work right from the start.  He A print meets its ownerrecently acquired #2 print of my piece “Seven Veils”.  This particular iteration is at 22 x 17″.

My practice is to rework the art for each owner.  The differences are subtle, yet create a piece that is unique.  I think it’s worth the effort.

(I’ve just noticed that in both these pics, my friends have chosen clothing that matches the artwork!  Are they amazing or what?  It may just have been instinctive. )

It’s important to let your purchasers know that they are purchasing original and verified works.  Most collectors will want to know the number of prints in a series, and which print they are purchasing; they also want to know about the longevity of a print.  Using archival methods and materials, it is possible to conserve prints such as these for many decades .  Important information such as the substrate and the type of inks used will help the collector take care of the print in the future.

As an assurance of authenticity, and a record of the print’s production and history, I include a unique Certificate of Authenticity for each piece.  I do this a bit differently (as you might predict!), using a watermark of the actual artwork and overprinting the specs.


A certificate of authenticity for “Seven Veils” (2014)


Be an advocate for my art. Earn money. Be happy.

My solo show at Akasha earlier this year.

My solo show at Akasha earlier this year.

I’m looking for a unique individual.

S/he will live in Toronto or the GTA (likely).  And s/he will like – no, be in love with – my art.

By helping me with placing, promoting and selling my work, this unique individual will earn my undying gratitude – and (potentially) big $$.

Do you know this individual?  Is it even – perhaps – YOU?


Dahlia Lifecycle (2014). Archival pigment print face-mounted to acrylic. 17.5 x 55″. Edition of 3. Price on request. © David Roddis, 2014. All rights reserved.

Download the job description here (requires Adobe Acrobat):


You are welcome to forward the document to anyone you feel is capable and potentially interested.

I know you’re out there…


Following the light: some thoughts, and a challenge

Photography means literally to write with light.  Many people forget this, and think that it means merely to take a picture of a person or an object.  Perhaps digital photography, with its forgiving nature and possibility for post-shooting repair, is responsible for this shift in attention.

Lighting sets the scene; lighting affects us profoundly, subliminally.  We react to times of day, seasons, moods through the expected quality of light.

Light has intensity or luminosity.  Light has temperature:  warm golds, cool blues.  Light has DIRECTION.

David Roddis, “Thistle”, from "Senescence", ©2011

David Roddis, “Thistle”, from “Senescence”, archival pigment print, 22 x 17″, Edition of 10.  © David Roddis, 2011.  All rights reserved. 

Think of winter mornings with their pale pink and blue dawns; harsh noon-day sun like a hot knife; think of a Rembrandt portrait with its chiaroscuro (literally:  bright and dark).  Think, my god, think and study Caravaggio!  (Because you don’t just look at photos, do you?  You study art.  Right?)

You probably sweat to light every square inch of the frame.  But less is more.  Try underlighting your photos. See how little you can get away with. Work with shadows.  Don’t think that every detail has to be apparent.  Digital seems to be all about detail and sharpness:  be careful that your brain doesn’t get rewired by your camera!  Make your choices creatively.

With this approach, your first question can be:  “How will I light this? Take advantage of this light?” rather than “How should they pose?”  or “Am I following the rule of thirds?”  (God help you!)

Then you’ll start to create much more interesting images.

CHALLENGE:  Take a subject that you photograph often. (Returning to the same subject many times is a good idea.)

For the next week, pay MORE attention to the light than to the subject. Send me one of the images from your week that you feel has benefited from this approach (jpeg format, under 1 Mb, no more than 900 px on the longest side) and I will publish it here on my site.

Your reward:  A feeling of immense satisfaction and more validation than you can shake a stick at.

Happy shooting.

The image:  From “Senescence”, an ongoing series of black and white images.  Click here to enquire about purchasing this image or others from this series.