by Jeremy Jones
When I visited Wendy Concannon at her gallery, she had just returned from hanging an installation in a local client’s home.
“They love the new window,” said Concannon.
The new “window” is actually a 38- by 88-inch floor-to-ceiling image of the red-ochre cliffs of Roussillon, an area in the southeast region of France. Concannon was commissioned by the client, a collector of fine art, to photograph and co-create this project when she heard that Concannon was traveling to Provence.
Printed at Profiles Studio on matte satin fabric in what Concannon described as “beautiful saturated color,” the piece transforms the perception of space and gives the client the illusion of looking through her doorway toward a magnificent view of a place she loves.
“Art is about the experience of the viewer,” said Concannon.
She gave me a surprise dose of this theory while I was taking a look at examples of her limited-edition “Water Series,” and noticed a photograph that reminded me of home – the coastal waters of Long Island Sound.
“Where was that taken?” I asked.
“It’s not about where the photograph was taken,” Concannon replied.
“But where is it?” I asked again.
“But where do you want it to be?” she said with a smile. “It’s about you and your experience. It’s not about where the photograph was taken; it’s about where the photograph takes the viewer. Art is that way.”
Concannon’s love for all things art began in the playing fields of childhood while growing up in Chestnut Hill. That love found its way into the heart of a camera lens and has since become her passion and her career. The twinkle in her eye is one and the same with the eye of the camera.
While at Springside School, Concannon’s talents were recognized and encouraged by her high school art teacher and photography teacher, with whom she remains in touch.
But perhaps her greatest influence – the real kick-starter for Concannon’s dream waltz with photography – was her grandfather whose hobby was photography. They formed a special bond. “We connected through our photography together,” said Concannon.
Her grandfather set up a darkroom for Concannon where she would spend hours developing film. The young, aspiring photographer became quite a familiar and always welcome face at Chestnut Hill Camera.
“Developing black and white film in the darkroom was the foundation of what I’m doing now,” Concannon said. “Everything I’m doing now applies to the digital world today. The only thing that’s different is instead of working in a darkroom, I am sitting at a computer in a sun-filled gallery space.”
She set up shop in that space at 8001 Germantown Ave. in 2012.
In 2005, after raising three children with her husband in their Wyndmoor home, Concannon “hopped right in” to doing what she always wanted to do – freelance photography, and immediately started taking classes at Moore College of Art & Design.
“I had to learn the digital photography world,” said Concannon. “I had to get myself up to speed with the computer programs. It was easy. All the lingo is the same, all the terms are the same. The only difference is you aren’t in a darkroom – you are using a computer program called Lightroom.”
While nurturing her continuing education in photography and the digital arts, Concannon honed her skills and became one of this area’s most sought-after portraiture and wedding photographers.
In 2008, the Concannons lived a year in London, where Concannon shot what has become her favorite photograph; a photo of Queen Elizabeth II riding in her open carriage on Garter Day – the Queen an up-close-and-personal distance from Concannon’s lens. This photo is mounted in her gallery as part of a series: “The Queen, The Pageantry, The People.”
Having photographed all over the world, Concannon’s work has been featured in Sports Illustrated, The Washington Post, Town & Country, The Huffington Post and USA Today.
She is an official photography judge for the Garden Club of America (having trained five years to earn this privilege).
The highlight of Concannon’s current exhibitions is “Line Series,” which reflects her inherent thirst to break new ground whenever she can. Her muse, abstract painter and color theorist Josef Albers (1888-1976), served as inspiration for what is poised to be Concannon’s signature series. Each limited-edition piece is mounted in her trademark custom-sized clear acrylic frames.
“Lines start, stop, intersect, divide and define,” said Concannon. “Throughout life we react to our physical and social environment and the situations we encounter. The ‘Lines Series’ is a photographic exploration of these paths in our lives.”
Wendy Concannon’s work is a testament of what The Guardian’s art critic Jonathan Jones meant when he said, “Photography is the serious art of our time.”