December 20, 2016
As one year draws to an end, another is just about to begin. I managed to get out photographing a few times in the last 10 days or so, albeit during the coldest stretch of winter to date. I travelled to Lake Winnipeg at Victoria Beach on one occasion, the open prairie around Lorette and Grande Pointe on another, Birds Hill Provincial Park on a third occasion and finally, Sandilands Provincial Forest on the final one where I made this image of the sun setting through jack pine trees. It was bitterly cold with temperatures hovering around minus 30 degrees Celsius. With a cutting breeze, the windchill dropped the temperature to around minus 40 degrees Celsius. I was toasty warm walking through the forest except for my face and hands. I have yet to find a balaclava to work well with with glasses (I now have three of them including a very expensive one). I managed to keep the fingers from freezing but I had accidentally left the thinner silk gloves in my other winter coat; I normally slip these thinner silk gloves into a slightly thicker pair when temperatures are extreme.
I love the silence at this time of year! I thought this image was fitting for the coming festive season.
Wishing you Happy Holidays and All The Best for 2017 !
There is much to feel grateful about as I celebrate 20 years as a full-time professional freelance photographer. In and of itself, 20 years in a career is not overly special but it becomes a little more significant when you consider that it follows an earlier 20-year career in the biological sciences. It was no ‘April Fool’s joke either as I launched the new career on April 1rst, 1996, essentially starting from scratch. Needing an outlet for creativity, this new adventure as an entrepreneur demanded much effort along the way but it also proved to be extremely exciting and rewarding. What began as an innocent hobby soon became a serious hobby, then a passion (if not an obsession at times) and eventually turned into a profession. After 40 years behind the camera, I now consider photography a lifestyle that will likely continue until I pass on into the next world!
This occasion offers a splendid if not timely opportunity for reflection. I feel that I have been blessed in so many ways. From a happy and nurturing childhood I then raised a wonderful family which is still growing! My relatively good health has allowed me to travel and explore the width and breath of this great country we call Canada. In the process I have engaged in many fascinating experiences, witnessed some amazing vistas as well as observed many personal, intimate views of the natural world which I seem to be drawn to.
I learned fairly early in the new career to focus on things that I liked and respected, to photograph what I loved and avoid the things I really did not enjoy. I learned to command a fair price for my services and not give away my work for a ‘song and dance’, for the promise of a credit line or, worst of all, for free. This is not to say that I didn’t contribute to charitable organizations because I did but this was done prudently and for causes I truly believed in. To be successful, a profession must be sustainable.
While I am my ‘own boss’ and I have the freedom to work for whom I choose, I also realized that, in order for this profession to be rewarding, it was imperative to treat my clients with respect and dignity. Generally, I work with clients who respect me, who appreciate the work I do and who are willing to pay a fair price in exchange. I refused to work for many clients who did not meet the above criteria. In the process, I created what I believe to be a significant body of work about this great country which will soon celebrate its 150th anniversary. I feel privileged to have authored a number of books to date and to have my photography featured in countless venues in Canada, the U.S.A. and around the world. In the last few years, I have focused more of my energies into producing books and making fine prints. In my humble opinion, those venues offer me an opportunity to present my work in the best light as well as afford a longevity to the work. This 20th anniversary further coincides with the launch five years ago of ‘The Canadian Gallery’, my online venue for displaying my artwork. Indeed there is much to be grateful for.
I also learned a great deal from others while pursuing this passion of mine. We don’t generally acknowledge the people that have made a difference in our lives until it is too late. I have been blessed learning from some exceptional teachers. I also feel grateful for the opportunity to have worked with many wonderful designers, publishers, printers and representatives who have allowed my creativity and vision to come forth. I am also grateful to have collaborated with some exceptional clients on fascinating and engaging assignments. I have met many interesting people along the way either at seminars, presentations, workshops or simply ‘in passing’. I made new friends in the process and have had the chance to reconnect with many others. My colleagues, friends and family provided me with much support over the years, sometimes via a warm meal, welcomed accommodations, a tasty cup of coffee, sound advice or simply through their friendship. I would also be remiss not to acknowledge the influence of many of my colleagues across the country as well as my colleagues closer to home, in particular those from my photo critique group which has met almost once a month for more than 35 years. We do not live in a vacuum! And what about the other artists who inspired me early on and who significantly influenced the way I see and do things, like Freeman Patterson, Brett Weston, Robert Bateman, The Group of Seven and Emily Carr to name just a few. I am forever grateful to all of you.
While I feel that much has been accomplished, I also feel that I have so much more to contribute. It’s as if I am just getting started. As the industry and profession of photography forge through challenging times, I look forward to continuing my explorations and creating imagery that I hope will inspire.
Thank you all and looking forward to the next 20 years!
November 12, 2014
The goutweed near the patio is waiting for Mother Nature to smother it under snow. In this season between 'fall and winter', it is, for now, a 'study of lines', in which I created 'order from the chaos'.
November 11, 2014
REMEMBRANCE - it's a sobering day, a day we 'honor the fallen' who have fought for us, for our freedom and for our democracy. It's also a day when I remember my own 'fallen souls' - my parents, brother-in-law, family members and friends.
Yesterday, as I was preparing the yard for the coming snow, I walked by the standing remains of a tall lily plant. I was reminded of the beautiful images by Ernst Haas that I had the privilege of seeing for an entire weekend some 30 years ago. I had never before seen the beauty in the decaying but that weekend changed my perspective on so many things. The leaves that so tightly wrapped the thick, slender stem were colorful but subdued. I made a couple of images with my iPhone and, this morning, I combined them into a 'montage', an abstraction that seemed to honor those who came before me.
Gone, not forgotten but remembered!
LIFE is BEAUTIFUL but FRAGILE. Let US also REMEMBER that!
Clouds had rolled in earlier in the afternoon and I was now driving along the shoreline of Clearwater Lake on my way to vsit friends. The sun would set momentarily and I could see a line of pink color hovering an otherwise darkish blue sky. I'm often attracted to minimalist landscapes like this one so I took the first road leading down to the lake. I quickly jumped out of the van, grabbed the tripod-mounted camera, made a quick compsition and captured the scene above. I felt good about this image from the point of view of the warm and cool color contrast as much as about the minimalist palette. Eventhough it was bitterly cold and windy, I felt rather hopeful after making this image.
As I turned around and started heading up the hill, I noticed a memorial with a handful of flowers laying in the snow. I suddenly realized where I was - at the Pump House where Helen Betty Osborne, a 19 year-old Cree Aboriginal woman from Norway House, was brutally murdered on November 13, 1971 after being kidnapped, sexually assaulted, severely beaten and stabbed. She had come to The Pas to further her education in the hopes of becoming a teacher. It wasn't until some 16 years later that 4 local men were finally implicated in her death but only one man was ever convited of this horrible crime. The town of Norway House honoured her by naming the local school 'The Helen Betty Osborne Ininew Education Resource Centre'. I remember how this singular incident had really bothered me when I first learned about it shortly after moving to Winnipeg in 1985. I have come to this location on a number of occasions to photograph the lake as it is one of only a handful of access points to the lake. How many more people have suffered a similar fate and how many more have yet to suffer the same...