Blog.

Local Landscape Photography.

Innumerable mornings or evenings I find myself driving along the rural backroads of the Lakeland region. My only hope during this search is that something will intrigue me enough to slow down, descend the ambiguous ditch only to immediately ascend again and look towards an undiscovered subject. This oversimplified explanation of my yearning to uncover hidden beauty in my home county could be an insight into my idealism. Regardless, I’m perpetually hopeful that the light and conditions will come together perfectly to highlight the optimal subject in the location I happen to be driving towards. The reality is a majority of the time I go out to shoot I come back with either nothing or something underwhelming such as the first image below. There is this romanticism with photography, especially when it comes to making mages in your own backyard. I look at the legendary Ansel Adams and he made it seem so effortless. I realize he considered a good year to be getting twelve ‘keepers’ but the quality he produced is still magical. I suppose he was somewhat aided by the grandeur of Yosemite and one could say that the Lakeland region is a far cry from such an iconic location.

People often drive through or visit this area without thinking about its history or what makes this region unique from many others. To a certain extent, I’m still learning much of that myself and the cliche could be said that it all comes down to the people. However, there is something about this landscape that I am perplexed by. No other place have I travelled and had more difficulty to make photographs that I think are interesting, complicated, or beautifully simple. My home is where I have the greatest difficulty. It could be due to familiarity, yet I don't want to take the easy excuses, which leads me to just having to embrace that if I want to document the landscape of this region it’s going to take a lot of work, patience, and vision for the kind of legacy that can be established.

With all this said, if you’re interested in learning from me, I now offer solo lessons where we do an hour of lessons, and then another hour of actual shooting during golden hour. You can have never turned on your camera and by the end of it, people walk away much more knowledgeable and excited for figuring out how to see from a photographers perspective. I’d love for you to join me in this unrelenting pursuit of uncovering the unique geography in the Lakeland.

5 Environmental Tips for Photographers.

1. Buy Used Gear

This alleviates the constant flow of new gear entering the market. It also lengthens the time materials are used and not discarded. Too often photographers get caught up in buying the newest, best, and shiniest camera's and consequently their skill often doesn't scale with the amount they spend.

2. Use Equipment Extensively then Repair or Recycle

I'm relatively easy on my gear but I do know other professionals who are somewhat careless with thousands of dollars worth of equipment. Of course, accidents happen to all of us and once one does, rather than throwing it out or replacing it, repairing it will again aid in preventing those materials ending up in a landfill. Worst case scenario, drop it off to be recycled.

3. Print with Eco-Friendly Material

One of my favourite parts of the photography process is printing my work. With that being said the materials and ink used the produce stunning wall art is not always the easiest on the environment. I still have yet to find a Canada based company who offers recycled material printing or environmentally friendly ink, and due to this, the amount I'm printing has subsided.

4. Don’t Geotag

By visiting uncommon places it prevents the promotion of already heavily trafficked tourist destinations. In addition to lessening foot traffic in common places, you can bring awareness to the subtle beauty that is found everywhere. When posting on social media with a large following do your best to avoid geotagging specific location so there isn't an unsustainable influx of people.

5. Shoot Local

Personally, this tip has been one I had to learn after doing plenty of travel. I'm definitely not suggesting to entirely cut out travel, but participating in a way that doesn't use excess transportation seems important. By photographing your local environment you become more aware of how to share what it close to you. Learning how to communicate what has formed you and how you view the world is not easy, which is why as a photographer it will push you to change your perspective on scenes that are all too familiar.

Thanks for reading and if you have any other ideas I'd love to hear them! It would mean a lot if you sent this to your other photographer friends so we can all work towards using our craft in a way that promotes sustainable practices.

The Concept of 'Fun.'

What does fun mean to you? Take a minute and think about it, deeper than mere activities.

I’m entirely unaware of what might have just passed through your mind and that idea alone is fun for me to ponder. Somewhat of an odd statement, I know. For some time I’ve been perplexed by the concept of fun. Often mutual confusion occurs when various concepts of fun are exchanged. Currently, I have no desire to experience an adrenaline rush. I’m not sure if many young people are aware but that chemical release occurs in order for us to survive during dangerous situations. I can't help but ask, why would one desire for that mechanism to kick in?Honestly, I don't know and the idea of it is already exhausting me.

The irony of this topic is that the majority of my friends yearn for such a chemical rush to infiltrate their bodies while undergoing dangerous activities. In an attempt to be a good friend I try to engage in some of the activities but I simply become drained during the time of adrenaline endorsed activity. What really excites me is knowing I'm pushing myself outside my comfort zone and learning to adapt to adversity. I'm sure people affirm the same thing while searching for the next adventure, although I think it might be a little different. My primary reason is that it seems as though there are two contrasting sides; the intelectual and physical. You can observe this balance perfectly when watching high-level athletes perform. They are forced to react perfectly on a physical level, as well as, to be mindful of the upcoming play. Personally, the mental part of sports and even video games are what I find exhilarating. Testing the intellect of others and myself in a way that brings about an unexpecting competition is what I can only describe as fun.

I'd love to hear how you perceive the cultural luxury of fun. The photos below are from an extremely windy day of skating in the middle of Two Jack Lake. Enjoy!

What Makes an Image Matter?

The idea of posting new imagery week after week is perplexing. If I’m creating photos for nothing more than aesthetic satisfaction or social media ‘likes’ then what value does my work have? I desire for the materialization of changing reality through my photography. I’m unsure of what that looks like, primarily because I observe it from so many other greats who have come before me and display or share the stories in ways that genuinely brings change to our world. Immediately, I think of Paul Nicklen who has some of the most mesmerizing photographs of wildlife and consequently has made enormous strides in various conservation efforts.

Of course, I don't expect my work to reach the masses to the extent he does but I can't help but contemplate the insanity of repetitions when my work is currently lacking the motivation to insue action. You might be thinking that in order to make a change one needs to have patience and continually be in pursuit of the next opportunity. I wouldn't disagree and have convinced myself that every time I post something new. The unrelenting paranoia of meaningless work plagues my self-conscious mind. With all this said, the image below of the barn is my most viewed and ‘liked’ piece of work ever and I never would have guessed.

It’s a photo of a barn. I can't say I had any conservation statement to go along with it or an important cause or message that tied in perfectly to bring people into public action. It is merely a quaint image of rural history with no greater voice or vision for the photograph. This leads me to ask the question of whether or not a story or cause finds the image or the image finds the cause? Possibly it’s both. There is the creative part in me that does enjoy making photos that people find beauty in and I’m always flattered by the compliments. My dilemma is why should people care? I don't think beauty is enough to bring longevity to my work and the way social media is set up, brevity is a drug we yearn for.

This year I need to reconstruct the way I create and share my photographs in order for them to have more of an impact. Which means maybe I shouldn't share a post unless there is a complimentary, significant message. I’ll continue pondering this relationship between mere beauty and utilitarian calls to action through imagery. For now, I hope you enjoy the images below while on the road from Bonnyville to Edmonton.

Devolving.

I’m not sure why or what the cause is but lately I’ve been feeling unsuccessful in all manners of life. There are many facets where I continue to learn more and gain knowledge but it all seems to be stagnant. I can read or learn or act in ways I think will set me up better for the future, yet it all feels like the perpetual advancement equivalent to a treadmill. Of course, there are quantitative checkpoints I can mark but for the time being it feels like the target is either moving or entirely transparent. As you saw in my last post I have plenty of goals I want to accomplish, however, the downside is that none of them seems to result in immediate release of dopamine. The troubling reality is that I understand how I’m may be setting myself up well for my long term ambitions. Even so, I'm not excited about what would usually have me yearning to act.

As a result of my last sentence, the word burnout might come mind for a few of you. With insignificant progress, I’ve contemplated whether or not I’m experiencing the oh-so-infamous burnout. Genuinely, I doubt the legitimacy of my self-diagnosis but it’s possible I’m in denial. Most of my life I’ve worked more intensely and focussed than I have in the past year, which leads me to wonder if I’ve moved into a different phase of development. Is it possible that the ambitious achiever inside me has grown into an unproductive loaf? Or more optimistically, have I become more calculated in a way that directs my energy to things that matter in different, less self-focused directions? Embarrassingly, I’m unsure of which one to claim or if either analysis is remotely accurate. Often I find myself desiring a busier schedule with unrelenting stacks of work. This is likely an unhealthy compulsion to bury myself in work in order to drown out the various existential questions that fluster my mind when monotony moves in. I think it's one of the healthier crutches one could resort to, unfortunately.

When I sat down I didn't expect to write about this but it seems that my fingers have to lead me to an odd self-reflection. As I conclude this post I’m continuing to brood over how useful it is to write down these thoughts considering they serve virtually little to no purpose in my contribution to society. Would this time be spent more productively looking for people within my local community whom I can help in a physical manner? I’m still not sure but as always, thank you for joining me in these few paragraphs of critical thought. Enjoy the images below from Moose Lake Provincial Park, one of the places I continually go to in order to extend praise to the Creator with nature around me.