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 16, 2015
I was fascinated by architecture from very early on. For the last 20 years, architecture has been an important part of my commercial photography business as well as my personal work. Buildings are designed by artists and I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to photograph their works. I am attracted to the same design elements as when I am photographing nature - line, shape, form, pattern, texture and colour. From skylines to details, interiors or exteriors, I love capturing how light transforms "The Built Environment”.
Join me as my special guest this coming Wednesday, November 18, 2015 as I share my thoughts and images about 'Architectural Photography' for the Winnipeg South Photo Club. I presented a similar presentation last year for the Manitoba Camera Club but I have just revamped much of the presentation with new images! Presentation starts at 7:30 PM at Acadia Junior High School.
November 3, 2015
This coming Friday at 7 PM, I will be launching my latest book 'Beautiful Alberta' (Firefly Books) at McNally Robinson Booksellers (Winnipeg). Alberta is a place I lived in for nearly seven years and the place that I have returned to over and over during the last 30 years to photograph and capture its magnificent beauty. I look forward to seeing some of you Friday evening and perhaps I can autograph a book for you as a gift to your loved one for this coming Xmas.
December 21, 2014
For the better part of a week, I struggled over which images would be included in my ONTARIO book. In the end, I selected about 10% of the original 2,300 images I had preselected. Part of the difficulty was choosing images that would work well opposite each other on a page spread. I was mindful of the geography, the seasons, colors, format and big landscape vs intimate views vs closeups, which proved to be a difficult task indeed. However, I achieved what I set out to do. Selecting the images and laying them out is the most difficult part of producing any book but it is also the most enjoyable, with the exception of producing the images and the actual experience itself. I meet with my publisher in a couple of days to finalize the layout. The next tasks include writing a preface, the captions and the stories behind the photographs. Plenty of work left to do!
Above are a few additional images that will appear in the book.
December 13, 2014
Now that the 'Alberta' book is mostly behind me, I am immersed in the production of my 'Ontario' book! I have been thinking about doing this book since 2005 just after I released my 'Canada' book. I seriously began photographing for this book in 2008 after publishing two other books: 'Georgian Bay' (2008) and 'Muskoka' (2010). When Key Porter Books went into receivership in 2011, those plans fell through. Luckily for me, I had retained the rights to all of my books and Turnstone Press of Winnipeg (publisher of my 'Prairie and Beyond' book) agreed to take on the Ontario project.
While the 'Canadian Prairies' has become my adopted home, I was born and raised in Sudbury, Ontario. That's where all my childhood memories are. While attending university and up until I left Ontario for Alberta in late 1978, I managed to experience much of the Central region of the province (what the politicians call Northern Ontario!). In the late 1990s, I traveled through many parts of southern Ontario to produce a number of business/tourism books for cities like London, Hamilton, Kitchener & Waterloo, Cambridge and Guelph. I even collaborated on 'Healing The Landscape' book (2001) about the reclamation of the Sudbury Region. When I moved to Winnipeg, Manitoba in 1985, I then began to explore Northwestern Ontario. Through the various trips back and forth from Edmonton / Winnipeg to Sudbury to visit family and friends, as well as all those business trips, I accumulated a significant amount of imagery of the province.
This week I rummaged through a filing cabinet of Ontario slides and short-listed 400 slides. I then searched for high res files on my hard drives, found 560 and copied them to a folder for further consideration. Then came the task of going through 8 hard drives of RAW unprocessed images to select another 1300 images. My first round of editing resulted in a first selection of 2,260 images. In the next couple of days, I will edit the 2,260 photographs down to about 250 images, thus rejecting 90% of that initial selection. It's not an easy task to be sure, especially when many of these are my favorites. But there is only room for so many images in a book and one must be ruthless during the editing process. Images will be chosen for various reasons including: geographic representation, variety of subject matter, landscapes vs intimate views, wildlife and plants, seasons, time of day, color, horizontal vs vertical, etc. I will then spend a great deal of time matching or pairing images on a 'page spread' so that the images complement each other creating continuity, visual flow and harmony. I thought you might enjoy some insight into what goes on in producing a book. I hope to produce the best Ontario book yet!
Attached is a small sampler of some of the images from different regions that will probably be included in the book. Wish me luck !