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Capturing a World of Vibrant Beauty

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“I use colours to evoke various emotions.”
—Tamara Bahry, Canadian photographer


Canadian photographer Tamara Bahry approaches her craft with heartfelt passion, boundless curiosity, and a mindful quest for inspiration. Drawn to capturing vivacity in everyday life, Bahry is constantly on the lookout for beauty, even in subjects and occurrences many might consider mundane.


There have been many such inspiring moments, but one in particular stands out in her memory. “I was blowing bubbles with my children at the cottage by the beach in a dreamy state, and I started observing the reflection in the bubble,” she says.


To capture these images, Bahry used a macro lens—the hyper-detailed lens used to photograph bugs’ eyes. To add brilliance and reflection to the picture, she added motor oil to the bubble solution.

The result was a series of photographs that became part of her Bubbles & Reflections collection. With visions of sunsets and outdoor landscapes reflected on bubbles, the images gave the audience a unique opportunity to view these scenes from a microcosmic lens.

Bahry’s works have graced the pages of publications like Architectural Digest and have been exhibited at fairs and museums around the world, including the Petroff Gallery, the Art Gallery of Ontario, and Art Toronto.

After the Sunset, a work by Canadian photographer Tamara Bahry. 

One with nature

Childhood is another source of inspiration for Bahry. Having attended traditional Ukrainian dance performances as a child, she recalls the colourful costumes filling her with joy and energy.

“I remember being mesmerized by the oranges and reds of the poppies, and by the yellows of the sunflowers. When the dancers danced and spun around, the garlands and the flowers became a swirling bouquet of brilliant rainbows,” she says.

Today, Bahry’s unique ability to convey colour adds depth to her photographs. Her images emanate a joyful spirit, much like the Ukrainian dancers of her childhood.

To portray such vibrant moments, Bahry’s challenge is to capture and time the light. For the Bubbles & Reflections collection, for instance, she used different lenses to photograph the same body of water in the same spot at various times of day from September to May.

She found the variations in timings significantly altered the colour of the photos. “The timing was critical. If it’s 2 p.m. on a sunny day, it’s going to be very difficult to capture that colour because it’s going to be blown out [overexposed],” Bahry says.

The “magical hour” to take a photograph, according to her, is dusk. “The afterlight of a sunset, those brilliant colours in the skyline—it’s just so vivid and surreal,” she says. “What might be a very bright pink at two in the afternoon might be more of a brilliant fuchsia at seven in the evening.”

Likewise, changing lenses can also make a world of difference, as each lens alters lighting and colour. “What would come as black, dark water when using a wide-angle lens becomes very blue with a macro lens,” Bahry says.

Left: Diamonds in the Rough. Right: Bark Reflection. Both are photographs by Tamara Bahry. 

In one of her photographs, Diamonds in the Rough, the glistening sunlight gives the impression of gemstones rolling along the velvety sea, or perhaps even of tiny nymph auras dancing above the sea.

In the photograph Sky Lake from her Wanderlust series, Bahry captures an ethereal spirit, with the amber horizon acting as a meeting point between heaven and earth, placing the viewer in a tranquil state of balance. “Your own cultural experiences and spirituality play into your image,” Bahry says. For her, the sky is a reflection of the divine.

To capture that magical glow, Bahry used a traditional photography technique called bracketing. She took three shots milliseconds apart from each other, under and overexposed, and then merged them into one image.

“I’m creating my own drama by layering the images and playing with contrast,” Bahry says. “Colour can show so many different emotions: anger, fear, happiness, calm, melancholy. I use colours to evoke various emotions.”


Inspired by Rembrandt

During the COVID lockdown, Bahry used art to channel her own complex emotions.

She shares an instance of observing a beautiful bouquet of flowers on her kitchen table. Throughout the day, she noticed how subtle shifts in lighting seemed to alter the bouquet’s colours. Fascinated by these observations, Bahry took the flowers into her studio and began to play with lighting, experimenting with a photography technique inspired by Rembrandt, her favourite painter.

The photograph Butterflies from Rembrandt’s Flowers collection by Canadian photographer Tamara Bahry.

“Rembrandt had a supreme mastery of light and texture that emphasizes emotional depth as no other painter I’ve seen,” she says. “He could capture the nuances of human expression and portray his subject’s moods in his artwork, and this all stems from his deep understanding of the human psyche.”

Her favourite Rembrandt work is Flora, a portrait of the Roman goddess of spring. This masterpiece inspired the Flowers in Isolation photography series she shot during the lockdown.

CP1 is a dramatic flower portrait inspired by Bahry’s favourite Rembrandt painting, Flora.

In the series, flowers are accentuated by a blacked-out background and a single point of light: all hallmarks of Rembrandt’s lighting technique.

Through the juxtaposition of light and dark, Bahry hopes that the viewer can feel both optimism and sorrow. “The drama was about isolation, which I captured by setting the subject against the black background. It reflected the flower in isolation, as I was in my own isolation,” Bahry says.

Still, she found a sense of optimism and beauty during those times. “During that period, I didn’t have distractions, and there were no deadlines. My art was my peaceful outlet where I would go and play with light and everyday objects like flowers. It gave me a sense of hope,” she says.



This story is from Magnifissance Issue 117

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Inspired for a Beautiful Life

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