Author Archives: cyrphoto

I’m One Happy Cowboy!

Cowboy Photography; laughing with his friends.

My piece went for $1900.00 at the auction last night.  I was utterly stunned when the piece came up for bid and so many of the bidding paddles hit the air.  I was not anticipating this what-so-ever.  The man who eventually bought it introduced himself to me right before the auction and we talked about the Rodeo and it turned out his wife was actually in the background of the image.  She said to me “That was such a cold day” and I laughed and said it certainly was.  We looked at the image and sure enough there she was in a winter coat.  I told them about my connection to Montana, being from here, and growing up at on the ranch west of Missoula.  He recognized that I was a part of the Cyr clan the other side of Alberton.  He said he was going to buy this piece and hang it at their cabin at Placid Lake.

I spent most of yesterday leading up the auction in a sort of state of limbo.  I am not the type of person who puts himself out there in the spotlight very often.  It’s one of the reasons I worked backstage in the theater.  I tend to think of myself more as a craftsman who is obsessed with the process of creation and never really need to take a bow.  So began to feel myself beginning to retreat from myself when I arrived.  Thank goodness I had two my best friends beside me to support me.  On average most of the pieces where going for what they were valued at through the beginning of the bidding up until my piece came up.  I had put a price on it of $850 and originally thought that was high for a piece of photographic art.  When the piece was held up there was a hush in the crowd and I remember thinking this isn’t good.  But then as the bidding began it seemed as if the entire room erupted with cheers.  I could not see who all the bidders were but then the prices kept climbing into a sort of frenzy, with what looked like many people in on the bidding process as I watched spellbound.  My heart was racing so fast and it was a thrill I would say was comparable to when I sky dived a couple of years back.  I was almost breathless when the auctioneer closed it and tears welled up in my eyes.

One of the things that startled me most was that I was a first time artist at the event.  I have not really sold much of my imagery, mostly because I didn’t know how.  It seems to be such an expensive endeavor to create works for charity events.  There was a very good showing of arts in so many different mediums, so many really stunning pieces, by so many artists I have admired and adored for decades now.  My piece was the 12th highest selling piece of the evening of 110 pieces at the show, certainly the highest photographic artwork.

Last year I was really questioning the value of photography as works of art.  Weather the format has become devalued because we live in the modern digital error were it seems accessible for everyone to shoot.  I talked to so many artists that are painters whose works continually sell for great amounts and I have always felt being a photographic artist somewhat limited what I could do or the acceptance of photography as an actual form of art in this modern media driven culture.  I designed this piece to become a classic work that would endure.  Printed on a beautiful satin metallic surface, suspended as if floating in a heavy black drop frame.  I was awestruck seeing the Robert Mapplethorpe piece that was hanging in the Museum the last several months and it become the base for my own vision of this piece.

Everyone keeps saying, “Well this must give you a great sense of validation.”  I don’t necessarily feel it for me, but I feel it for the art of photography and what it can become.  It is something I love that I have wrapped my existence around for years, something that is now always taken seriously in many art circles.  Tonight was a revelation that photography can stand on it’s own.

I am utterly contented this morning and now the encouragement to begin thinking and working toward bringing my imagery into a more presentational artist form.  Thanks to all who support my work and help me maintain my vision.

Here’s to Gilbert!

Helmville Rodeo Photography: Cowboys Getting Ready to Ride

Today is the day!  It’s auction day.  I am jacked and excited to have a piece going up for bid tonight.  But I must admit I am just a wee bit nervous.  What if my piece only goes for $5, will that set the standard for what my work is really worth?  There are a lot of pieces available, perhaps for too many for such a small audience of buyers.  My piece is slated for 19th out of 74, plus there are about another 30 or so pieces as part of the silent part of the auction.  The tickets are $90 and it is being held in the University Center Ballroom with the bidding beginning at 7:00.  This is the annual fundraiser for the Missoula Art Museum downtown.  I seem to be in a very good spot.  I am the end of the first section right be for the most notable piece go up for bid.

Up to this point I have been fearful of putting my stuff out there.  I love the creation part of the process and thus far have done very little to promote myself.  I think it has mostly been a matter of confidence and a lack of time.  This piece I must admit is quite stunning, especially the way I have mounted and framed it.  But tonight really isn’t about me, it’s about supporting the arts in Missoula and the state of Montana.  This shows that Montana is a cultural center for artist to thrive and celebrate.  We are one of the few states that is way under funded by national endowments for the arts, therefor it feels that most of that support has to come from within.  Montana has produced a couple of notable artists, probably the best known being Charlie Russell.  So to become a part of that company I am greatly honored.  I am just another kid from a small town with a passion for creation and the expression of the world that surrounds me.

Tonight is a greater honor for me because I get to look back on all those that have supported me over the years, getting me to this place in the history of what I am to become.  Tonight I graciously bow my head to a man who saw a vision within myself and helped me reach for it.  My greatest supporter and mentor was a man named Gilbert Millikan.  This man’s life was devoted to the support of art and Montana Artists.  I had known him since my collage days when I lived in the carriage house in his back yard.  This event for the auction was one of the events he anticipated each year.  I would often accompany him and he would sit there with pen in hand jotting down the prices everything went for, often leaving with several new pieces for his collection.  This man had the most amazing collection of art, mostly Montana Artists.  The walls of his Victorian house were lined from floor the ceiling with splashes of color and texture.  I was fortunate enough to work for many years as Gilbert’s assistant.  Well it was hardly work, it was more like riding a wonderful balloon that was constantly filled with wonder, everyday filled with new delights to explore.  It was Gilbert that helped me get into photography, and I could not have done it without his him.  He knew all the artists and was my first introduction to this community.  I used to dream of a day when I would be able to join their ranks.  Well here it is Gilbert.  Tonight is for you my dear friend.  I miss you so much, your light will be well represented tonight in a fusion of glorious color, texture filled with surprise.

Biloxi Blues – The Montana Rep

Live stage production photo: Biloxi Blues

Last night we shot the production photos for The Montana Rep production of Neil Simon’s Biloxi Blues.  The production is having a limited run in Missoula in The Montana Theater at The University of Montana before it head off on a national tour the beginning of next week.  This is a masterful production of the timeless classic dedicated to “the men and women in our military ranks who help to protect and defend the American Dream”.  I highly recommend the show as it is both heartfelt as well as funny as most of Simon’s writings.  The cast on this show are particularly strong (soon to grow stronger*) with great performances bring in members’ from Actor’s Equity from New York for a few of key roles, but it is the students that truly shine in this production.

I have been working with The Montana Rep for almost 2 decades now.  I worked in most every capacity possible in the theater to take many of the production on tour.  I am lucky to have been photographing them since I first got into photography many years ago.  They always say shoot what you know, and this is a company I know with all my heart and soul.  It is one of the few if not last touring theater companies of its size and nature.  The tour is comprised of mostly students that take on one of the greatest journeys of their lives when they sign on to be a part of the production.   Not only do they act, they have to become a part of the team that puts the show together day after day.  Everything for the production is self contained.  It must be unloaded, set up, focused, tested, preformed, torn down and reloaded often with the confines of a single day, often for many days in a row without breaks.   My heart goes out with you this year, and every year, as you make the rounds and delight so many people, this experience becoming their only interaction with live theater.  Here’s to you, for making the beauty of theater so magic.

*These Montana Rep shows are a real workout, and every time I have gone they have put me in the best shape of my life.  The sets pieces are heavy and everything gets assembled for each production.  They will become so strong they will be able to do a 200 push up with little ease by the time they finish.

Official Kickoff of the New Website

Expressionist Photographic Portrait of Becky Wilson

Today is the day I officially kick off the new website.  I have remained diligent for the past month and become a shut in to ensure its completion on schedule.  It now showcases all the various styles and type of photography I do.  I don’t think many were aware that I actually do a lot of the work I do.  I tend to have always worked in isolated circles and most everyone only knows me for that particular sort of image.  For instance theater and dance:  I have been doing this sort of photography since the beginning but those folks were surprised to hear that I actually do weddings.  I am very passionate about photographing people, all kinds of people!  The website will now become a place where I can share myself and display new concepts and ideas I am exploring.  I believe that as a photographer I never stop growing and I am constantly exploring new styles.  I believe photography is a collaboration and that together we explore how best to illuminate or capture the true nature of my subjects.  To me photography is not merely a day job that I go to, but encompasses all aspects of my existence, often twenty four hours a day.  Photography by meaning is to record light.  And as you look through my body of work you can see my passion for light.  It was one of the things that drew me to originally work in the theater and one of the elements I strive to work with in my studio.  Over the years I have managed to acquire almost every conceivable piece of light filtration equipment available.

I can still use everyone’s help to make this site a success.  I need people I have worked with or who have enjoyed my work to visit my Facebook page and like it, I need to be tweeted about, and most important I need to get some reviews of my work on Google search engines, or what ever search engines you may use.  It’s very simple, search for Terry J Cyr Photography and where is says write a review, all you have to do is click and jot down a few words.

Well here it is, I am a new cross roads in my life and it’s to share what I do best.  Thanks to everyone who has supported me so far.

Datura Bordeaux: The Cigarette Girls

Datura Bordeaux of The Cigarette Girls

I am back to work on The Cigarette Girls Series that I began working on a year ago.  Madeline stopped by today to finally look through her images and we did a quick work through and I was able to put them on a disc before she left.  Her burlesque name is Datura Bordeaux, the tag line on her facebook page suggests “Lost through the veil of time, Mademoiselle Datura Bordeaux brings her post colonial exoticism to the stage, dancing with sword and veil, she brings you “danse du ventre!””   I think the images capture the essence of her style and personality.  They were a blast to work on and with minor tweaking were ready for publication.

The Cigarette Girls is Missoula’s premiere Burlesque Troupe.   I begun bringing the girls into my studio and photographing them one by one at the beginning of last year.   I somehow got very busy the later part of the summer and fall and never got back to finish them.  I will begin working my way back through these images and put the series of my site in the next couple of days.  Datura is the first.   I love these girls!!

Putting It All Together

Cowboy waiting to ride behind the shoots at Helmville Rodeo

I have been compulsively working on this site since the beginning of the New Year.  My goal has been to have everything up and ready to go by the end of the month, in time for the Missoula Art Museum Action on February 2nd.  I think I’ll have a lot of people looking at me and I want to have a good showing of my multitude of talents as a photographic artist.  As I have been working on the site, I am actually kind of stunned to see how much my craftsmanship of lighting and style as a photographer has grown over the past fifteen years.  I keep remembering how difficult it was in the beginning.  I always heard that it takes someone ten years to actually become a photographer and I am now on my fifteenth year.  This is the first time I’ve actually ever put my work up for display.  I am both nervous and excited.  I have always been a bit fearful in the past that what I was doing was not really worthy of display.  Now that I have assembled this compilation of my body of work I see a lot of it is quite astounding.  I keep trying to step back and look at it objectively.   Much of it surprises me and really thrills me to look at as I comb through the multitude of galleries.  If this is the sum of me and my life’s work up to this point, I am quite thrilled since this is the first time I have pulled so much of it out to actually look at.

The shape and structure are now all in place and I finally have everything working this weekend.  Now I must go back through and begin fine tuning it all.  I have still got 5 days to finish it.

Artist Statement

Ruby Bordeaux of Missoula's Cigarette Girls Burlesque Troupe with large pink fan.

I am a photographic artist obsessed with light and the ways in which it illuminates the human condition.  Light is at the core of how we perceive our world and view our existence. It is continuously changing and evolving and helps me recognize the immediacy of how rich my life has become. I focus on light when I am working outdoors and in the highly controlled confines of my studio.  Light is sculptural in every way and defines the social and psychological world I live in and I use photography to follow the movement of that journey. By definition, photo-graphy means to create a graphic element of or with light; I approach it as a process of using light as a medium for painting an image of my life.

Growing up a fourth generation cattle rancher in Western Montana, I was always denied a means of creative expression.  Art wasn’t a topic of conversation and creative endeavors were often shunned or dismissed as trivial and meaningless.  I am gay and throughout my childhood on the ranch I felt constantly out of sync, like I needed to keep the greater part of myself hidden. In college I was able to let that go and began working in the theater as a lighting designer.  The theater segued into photography, which for me has become the ultimate expression of light. I am mesmerized by the concept of Chiaroscuro Lighting and tend to explore themes of light emerging from darkness in most of my work.  I love strong, deep, rich shadows and am fascinated by what is hidden there and the beauty of its exposure

Many of my images are about romantic ideals that I feel are beginning to fade from a culture that has become desensitized by modern media.  I am inspired by the photography of Robert Mapplethorpe and his ability to take us inside his inner world and reveal his emotions, desires, and fears within the context of a single image.  My work is about getting to the core of who I am within our culture.  To reveal my own humanity, where I have been, what I have done, and how I relate to the environment that surrounds me.  I enjoy identifying and capturing the essence of pivotal moments in time and using that to explore and show the world my unique perspective.  A large part of my personal growth over the past couple years has involved going back and examining my own heritage. Photographing rodeos and the great things about Montana that once captivated me, but I then suppressed.  There is now a fondness in my heart to embrace my past and reclaim the darker side of myself I rejected for so long.  Photography allows me to seize the remarkable beauty that still lingers there.

I take a completely non-traditional approach to how I create images.  The camera is used as an extension of myself and I do not center on brand or model as long as it can be used to express a connection with my subjects.  I tend to break the rules I was taught about lighting and never work within prescribed formulas or ratios. I am technical when setting up an image and then rely on instincts and impulse when actually shooting so I can respond to what is happening within the context of the moment. It becomes more about mood, feeling, and what I see. The taking of the picture does not become a function of my expression.  It is my expression.

Optimizing Myself

Ricky's Hands - a fine art photograph of a man's torso with texture of hands across his stomach and chest.It was a cold weekend and a good one to stay in doors. I spent most of it working on optimizing this site. It has been my goal the last couple of weeks to begin to pull together a portfolio of my images and expand them so others could become more aware how proficient I am with my craft. I tend to dabble in many different areas and styles and am not just stuck in any one category. I have been a photographer for about 15 years now and as I work through my archives I am awestruck by how many images I have amassed over the years. I have been quite lazy in getting them organized and/or promoting myself. I have always been right of the cusp of what I can actually handle, workwise, and so have never needed to actually promote myself. I definitely have a unique approach to my work and am not very commercial. It has never been my goal to just crank out stuff to make a buck. I have way undercharged for my services over the years and always try to work within someone’s budget. I think most people are vaguely aware I am here and very few know the caliber of work I’ve been doing. It’s now time in which I somehow needed to put this all into perspective and at least make my presence known as a photographer in Missoula. The piece in the Missoula Art Museum is giving me a lot of exposure. The piece was featured as a half page image in The Independent last week. I was actually quite shocked to see it there. I had also placed an ad in the Wedding Fair special edition from last week. Knowing these two events were coming up at the beginning of the year, I began a campaign to rework the website about mid-December. It actually came together quite quickly. I love the new look and feel of the new site. Since I have begun the optimization process at the beginning of the New Year, the site has gone from about 5th or 6th on search engines to the front page. It surprises me how quickly it has moved. So anyway, I have spent the entire weekend completing the structure of the site, filling in all the Meta tagging, (which no one ever sees) and checking all the content and links. I see how powerful my work has become and for the first time I am beginning to see it as a collection!

A New Chapter

Framed Artwork Created From Helmville Rodeo for Missoula Art Auction

Tonight is the beginning of a new chapter in my life?  Several months back I had submitted a piece of my art work to the Missoula Art Museum for their annual auction benefit.  The piece was accepted and tonight is the opening reception.  The piece is one of my rodeo images called Helmville Rodeo, Montana #112.  I had shot it several years back and had it printed on a satin metallic paper that was wrapped behind the image.  I then had Janell at the Art Attic frame to it in a big black drop frame so the image looks like it is floating within the frame.  The final piece was stunning, I could barely stand the thought of giving it away.  So tonight I feel is my debut in the Missoula Art scene.  I am still a bit stunned and not sure what to make of it all!!!!