Things Come Apart

Todd McLellan is a photographer and fixer from Canada. He was formally educated in photography at the Alberta University of the Arts but gained the bulk of his knowledge working in the field. He works both in the commercial photography/motion world as well as developing his personal work. His most recent photo series ‘Things Come Apart’ is a teardown of our everyday objects. The series is also currently touring North America with the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) until 2021.

Things Come Apart: Accordian

Richard Bright: Can we begin by you saying something about your background?

Todd McLellan: It started in a kindergarten finger-painting class and grew from there. The only reason I say that is it was the first art work I can remember at a young age.

I was born among the golden wheat fields of Saskatchewan, Canada. It was actually the small city of Saskatoon surrounded by wheat fields. Raised by a carpenter and an electronic technician, I became fond of the hands-on approach. Always building things, I began at an early age in my father’s wood shop and that carried through to many other forms of creation. In high school I was introduced to the Pentax K1000 SLR camera and loved working in the darkroom. Although photography interested me greatly, I wanted to get into graphic design.

I moved to Calgary Alberta in 1997 and began what I thought would be the start of my graphic design career at the Alberta University of the Arts. After a short stint in some design classes I realized that this wasn’t the path for me and switched my major to photography. Sculpture was a close second. It was here that I cultivated my passion for photography and realized it could be more than a hobby. After graduation I moved to Toronto to grow my photography and motion work. I worked as an assistant for a few years at a top end photography studio where I got a good grasp of the digital world. I started as a full time photographer a few years later. I’ve photographed everything from animals to automobiles. I am fortunate enough after many years in Toronto to have the opportunity to move back closer to family and where it all started in Calgary Alberta.

Disassembled Walkman

RB: Have there been any particular influences to your art practice?

TM: I am really just an observer of the world around me. I gather my inspiration from conversations, sounds and sights. It could be someone having a conversation with someone else as I walk by. With those snippets you can create a whole vision based on two words.

I am a fan of Renaissance art, well painting in general. I could spend hours in museums just looking at the textured pieces. I should really be in tune to how this has affected my work and if I look back I could place some correlations but nothing that is conscious. I think over all I gather complex work and break it down, literally.

Old Camera

RB: What is the underlying focus of your work?

TM: I love showing things as they are with little twists. Using light and lensing we, as photographers are able to create a unique version of the things around us. I use this in all my work. With my automobiles I am photographing something that is already beautiful to the naked eye. I want to make what the original designer created pop off the screen. It’s easy to take something that is already beautiful and show it as is but if you change it somehow still representing what was meant to be it can be a whole lot better. My photography tends to focus on one object at a time, centre frame. They are very descriptive photographs and lets you come away with your own feeling and not just mine. At least that’s how I try to capture them. With my current series Things Come Apart it is about breaking these objects down and showing them in a very simple way.

Things Come Apart: Macintosh

RB: Can you say something about your series Things Come Apart?


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All images copyright and courtesy of Todd McLellan

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