He just has a thin veneer of manhood but ultimately he's still a boy. It just draws me back to that point in my life, very insecure but slowly leaning how to be who I want to be.
—Steven Ackerman, photographer
For photographer Steven Ackerman, it doesn't get much better than taking pictures at the Winnipeg Folk Festival.
"Everyone's in a great mood, they're very sweet, trusting, and that comes through in the images," he says. "I can get these intimate images from people I meet and only know for 30 seconds. With a normal portrait it often takes hours to get that."
Ackerman has taken over 100 portraits of festivalgoers and performers and selected 20 of them for a show called People and Music. One of his favourites is an image of an unnamed attendee in a portrait he calls 16 Candles.
16 Candles, a portrait of an anonymous festivalgoer (Steven Ackerman)
people growing up in Winnipeg it's more than just a festival, it's a rite of
passage and for me, it was part of becoming a young man, becoming more mature," Ackerman explains.
"With this photograph I see myself as a young man out on the town. It reminds me a great deal of Anthony Michael Hall's character in the John Hughes film, 16 Candles
just has a thin veneer of manhood but ultimately he's still a boy. It
just draws me back to that point in my life, very insecure but slowly
leaning how to be who I want to be."
When he first started capturing images at the festival campground, Ackerman began by talking landscape shots. They were long exposures, with no illumination where people walking by would disappear, with only images of stars, the slope of the land and campfires appearing in the final shot.
He decided to add to that series with the portrait project and realized when you're trying to capture the spirit of an event, you have two choices. "You can photograph the land or the people. But it might be possible to also capture the festival on the faces of the attendees. So I eliminated landmarks and tried to gaze into the faces of the people."
The Winnipeg Folk Festival and Gurevich Fine Art present People and Music, the photography exhibit runs February 8-22 at Gurevich Fine Art.