In The Beginning
I purchased my first Nikon FE2 shortly before embarking on a career as a Fish and Wildlife Technologist. It was that camera and a bag full of equipment that later encouraged me to pursue photography as a full-time endeavour.
Although it may seem like an unusual divergence, there is an elegant symmetry between Field Biology, which requires one to be observant of one’s surroundings and record the small details, and Photography, which requires one to be observant of one’s surroundings and record the small details.
The Way I See It
I’m often asked, “What type of photography do you do?” and since I’m curious by nature, I find that question very difficult to answer. Truthfully, I’m self-taught, which is neither good nor bad, it just is. My first paid photography jobs were as a Photojournalist working for several small newspapers around the GTA. While developing the skills to work quickly and under pressure, I simultaneously began a self-imposed apprenticeship as a Commercial Photographer’s Assistant.
Working primarily in studio settings with large-format cameras, powerful strobe lighting equipment, building large room sets and finding ways to suspend cheese in mid-air – this was all pre Adobe Photoshop – was a priceless education that has served me very well. The expectations were often challenging and the results were always rewarding.
The technical side of photography is all about understanding light and how to impose three dimensions onto a two-dimensional medium.
The emotional side of photography is all about understanding human nature and taking a genuine interest in people and their stories leading up to the moment at hand.
The creative side of photography is about bringing it all together to produce work that is unique to me.
From Hudson’s Bay To The Andes
The number and variety of clients and assignments are far too many to list here, but the technical skills that I acquired during those long days in dark studios, and the conversations I’ve had and continue to have, have opened many doors over the ensuing years.
Since then I’ve had the opportunity to produce Industrial Photography down on the factory floor as well as Executive Portraits in boardrooms. I’ve had occasion to photograph spectacular homes, the privilege of accompanying a plane full of children participating in a Sunshine Foundation trip to Disney World, and the unique opportunity of an assignment with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (OMNR), documenting wildlife management projects along the James and Hudson’s Bay coastlines. One might say that the camera took me back to where it all started, back to Field Biology.
I also spent three years at the ROM photographing thousands of priceless collections and artifacts, and with my trio of languages, carefully packed away in my camera bag, I’ve travelled through South America photographing Development Aid projects for CUSO International.
I’m hoping that you understand, by now, why I find it difficult to answer the question regarding my choice assignment. However, one thing is consistent regardless of the type of assignment I undertake. My curiosity always begins with a conversation. I enjoy people and the stories which have led them to this place and time.
Every photographer has a unique perspective, arrived at from their own, unique, lived, experiences. To hire a photographer based on their hourly-rate, is foolhardy because no two photographers are alike. Price shop for a photographer and you’re doing yourself a huge disservice. It’s their body of work and their interpersonal skills that matter.
The more often that I execute an Online search for some obscure bit of information, with positive results, that I’m forced to believe that there’s nothing we can think that isn’t thunked – to paraphrase Lennon & McCartney. It is, however, possible to put a personal spin on a common theme and, thereby, make it our own. That’s what’s unique About Me.