My college photography teacher Mike de Moree turned 83 years old today and I was happy to post a video of us talking about his life and interests, specifically what he considers when creating art. We talked for about an hour and a bit, although I cut out a bunch to keep the first part near 35 minutes. The remainder, about how he came to be a photography teacher and his hobbies at this stage of his life will be covered in the Back in the Bay Magazine’s fall edition (expected to roll off the Beatty Printing press Sept. 22).
Mike was my boss back in 1987 and 1988 while I was a journalism student at Canadore College. It was a part-time gig as darkroom monitor, which supplemented my beer and grocery budget, and allowed me to do personal projects and freelance jobs. It was weekend work, mostly, and that meant a bumpy bus ride down Cedar Heights (usually with a hangover) every Saturday and Sunday morning.
He also set me up with some of the freelance work, including a job shooting Ektachrome slides of Niki Patterson’s paintings for a juried gallery show. I remember splicing in strips of electrical tape to matt the slides. She was an interesting person, for sure, very colourful. I think she lived in a top floor apartment of a house near The Station House steak and ale place at John and McIntyre St. East (or might have even been in the top floor above the pub.)
Photography was my number one interest at one time, although the more I learned about the craft the less I wanted to do it full time. I was basically cured of any interest in studio and wedding photography after working for Wayne Singleton of Amora Studios (when it was on Main St. West between the Delmar Restaurant and Bank of Nova Scotia). Aside from framing photos, I worked the front desk where clients and students came in to pick up their portrait proofs. Not much need be said about it except people skills are gold when serving the expectations of wanna be models of every persuasion.
One conversation with a grisly veteran newspaper photographer complaining about his job sticks out as additional motivation to become better at writing. Taking dozens of car photos for a dealership ad didn’t sound like amazing journalism to me. I was wrong, of course, because some of my favourite memories as a reporter involved shooting spot news, championship sports action and feature photos.
Mike wasn’t a news photographer, he was always more artistic and technical, which made him a great teacher of the basic fundamentals. I told him that my darkroom ability honed under his watch helped me get several jobs at newspapers, at least at the beginning. It was key to working at the Kapuskasing Northern Times in 1990 and also a big part of keeping a job as a regional sports editor covering Simcoe County.
It was great fun chatting with Mike about how he creates such excellent photos. You can see more of his work on his Silverpixel blog, which includes a photo he posted today that was shot in Ottawa on Sunday. There’s no moss growing on that rolling stone. You can email him your best wishes HERE.
Writer, photographer and proud father. My mom’s family is from the Soo with its Algoma Highlands, dad hailed from Cobden in the Ottawa Valley and I spent my teen years in Capreol. Summers were at the beach on the Vermillion River and winters at ‘The Rink.’ Born in East York but Toronto never was my thing. Ever since a kid looking out the window on long trips, I imagined living on the highway in a little house with a big yard and trees growing all around me.