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!