Here is a peek of things that are happening in my world... and also what is important, interesting and entertaining. A blog of what I am up to and what's new!
...and who knows, perhaps even 'The secret of true happiness' ;)
It’s always exciting when it's ‘NEW LENS DAY’ in the studio... well, maybe not all that exciting for this beast! For my latest gig I needed something with a long focal length and a fast aperture. I’ve discovered there all sorts of limitations when it comes to shooting wildlife and I have gained an entirely new respect for good wildlife photographers. Not only do you need some serious muscle on the gear side of things, you need the patience of Job! I decided on a new 80-400mm and a 1.4x tele-extender. This set up gives me a 560mm and enough speed to handhold when needed. The lens itself is quite a bit of technology because it sports Nikon’s amazing Vibration Reduction system (VR). Essentially, it allows an additional 2 to 3 stops of handhold ability by floating certain lens elements with an electric motor that counterbalance the shake... kind of like a gyro! I have never been much of a long lens kinda guy,but in my new gig... size really does matter ;)
I have ‘BEAR-ly’ been back a week and I have been offered (and accepted) a dream gig that couldn’t make me happier. Not only is it all about using the best of my photography, design and marketing skills, it will allow me to travel a few times a year plus put my energies into environmental causes that just make Canada a better place. I have become involved with one of British Columbia’s most prestigious eco-tourism lodges that is remotely located in the beautiful Knight Inlet off the BC Coast. For those who don’t know Knight Inlet... just imagine the most stunning fjord of Norway or New Zealand... and multiply that by a hundred thousand! The one thing I will have to brush up on is my wildlife photography skills, because I have a feeling my street photography style with a prime 35mmf2 won’t prevent me from becoming a Grizzly Bear snack!
It’s been a whirlwind of activity since I stepped off the plane just a few days ago! My entire life in Canada was put on hold for the seven months I spent in the embrace of Mexico’s warmth (I'm so going to have to sort my Mexican residency). I Digress... I flew into YVR and was picked up by one of my lovely little brothers and was whisked away to spend a few days with family I hadn’t seen in ages. I had only 5 days to visit, enjoy the sights and... oh yeah... buy a new car so I could get back to Vancouver Island and start life afresh. I feel great and I write this as I enjoy the ferry ride across to the Island. Many close to me have said 2022 is going to be my year, and I really feel it will be. Once back I’ll figure my new base of operations and live the Island life I have dreamed of (that includes the joy of a wood stove and a proper darkroom!). Hmmmm...perhaps I’ll start with small steps like getting the cameras and the Jeep out of storage ;)
This is a final point in space and time... a terminus. It’s staggering how quickly time can move and the last six months have passed in a blink. My flight is in a few hours and as I enjoy my final cerveza on the beach, my mind wanders through all of the marvelous Mexican moments of the last few months. Medieval poet Geoffrey Chaucer’s famous line “But at the laste, as every thing hath edne” sums up how I feel - beautiful moments are fleeting so enjoy them while you can. I am lucky that my photography is a huge part of who I am and my camera is intimately intertwined with nearly everything I experience. So much so, that I must remind myself to put the camera away and just be in the ‘now’... I’m pretty happy about how this six month adventure has turned out. I’ve made thousands of digital and film images and still managed to have been engaged and completely present in the moment... and honestly, some of these beautiful moments have been the most fulfilling of my life :)
Estoy muy emocionado! That’s right, I am so very excited how my latest coffee table book has turned out. Simply entitled ‘MEXICO’ it chronicles my journeys to this beautiful land over the last twenty years. This book has been in the works for ages, and my last six month adventure afforded me the time to update and complete the set of images that have become this stunning showpiece. I originally began with the idea that I would make a commercially sell-able coffee table book of images people would buy. I quickly realized that not only are landscapes and expensive haciendas pictures completely overdone and boring, I also started to understand what is truly important... Images I adore! This 240 page, hardcover, oversize coffee table book is filled with photos that mean the world to me. It is perfectly reproduced and is an absolute joy to journey through... I am sure all who see this fantastic folio will agree.Email me directly to order your advanced copy
Some places just feel like home! Tepic is one of those places for me. It is one of my favourite places on the planet to photograph life and I find myself continually drawn to it’s charm and it’s people. Nestled in the Sierra Madre Occidental mountain range, this metro area is home to over a half million wonderful Mexicans. I decided to alter my journey slightly and spend another week ‘street-shooting’ this wonderful city. Tepic sadly has been plagued by so much Cartel activity that both the Canadian and US Governments have issued ‘No travel Advisories’... and that in turn made me literally the only Gringo in town. This allowed me to work quietly and succinctly without masses of horrible tourists on their mobile phones trying to get thousands of social media likes. I found a beautiful little airBNB just three blocks from the heart of the city (with an amazing view of the Catedral de la Purísima Concepción) for only $26 a night and I walked for hours each day making images... stay tuned for some amazing images!
I question myself about my personal creative photography all the time... especially when it comes to my street images. The genre of Street Photography has been with us since the birth of photography and the life of Eugène Atget and his images of Paris in the 19th century. There was a time when a photographer had to be incredibly skilled to produce powerful and compelling street images. He would have to be hyper-aware and talented to be able to translate the ‘decisive moment’ into an image via the camera. Today with the proliferation of cheap, high quality digital devices there is an entire generation of street shooters who can press a button and yet don’t see anything. Those who have been close to me when I’m in the ‘Street Zone’ and working intently know I have two ways of doing things. Either unobtrusive or upfront. Both have their merits and I choose my interaction based on the final image I am trying to create. I often question these images... but my goal is only to have one truly powerful image per shoot.
I wasn’t planning on doing any commercial gigs while away and concentrating on my creative project here in Mexico...FYI there is a new coffee table book in the works! 'No Gigs' - that was the plan, until I was asked to make a few images for a local boutique resort here in town. After a few discussions to finalize the requirements and the price, I spent the better part of an afternoon and early evening making a few images to be used for online promotional and social use. I’m usually quite efficient with shooting architectural and real estate images, but I am not traveling with my pro cameras and lighting setups. Luckily enough, I did bring a high mega-pixel full frame Nikon, a speedlight and my trusty 15mm ultra wide... but I haven’t even fired this stuff up in nearly six months (I’ve been shooting my Fuji rangefinders and TLR)! This type of pro-photography is like riding a bike and comes back quickly. Even with my limited gear, I was able to make some really lovely images... funny what you can use for a Tri-Pod when the need arises ;)
I have had enough of mobile phones! Now it’s not what you think, I don’t have an addiction or a behavioral issue like ‘Nomophobia’... quite the opposite actually, I just can’t stand them and what really drives me nuts is the amount of so called pro-photogs who can’t actually use a proper camera and rely solely on the point-and-shoot capability of a phone camera. Don’t get me wrong. Phones do an ok job and I love the idea of everybody having an image making device in their pocket. These new phone cameras come with up to a staggering 200 mega-pixel sensor and every piece of correction software under the sun. Thing is they still produce quite shitty images. Once you go past just posting to Instagram or your social media darling of the month and actually take a good look at the images made by phones - they are awful. Terrible colour rendition, hugely distorted lenses with all sorts of chromatic aberrations, not to mention ergonomics and ease of use. These toy cameras need every trick in the book to try to provide a decent picture. Let’s not even talk about HDR or iphone portrait blur background... Gross!
Part of the joy about being a photographer for so many years is the ability to travel through time! Not literally of course, but spiritually. As I sort my back catalogue of film images from the last 30 years, I am often transported to the exact moment I made certain photos. This landscape/seascape in particular made me smile. It reminded me of how young and concerned about making images I once was. It was 1994 and I had just bought my first Hasselblad (I had saved up for nearly a year to purchase!) and I made every effort to get up each morning to photograph. This morning I went out on a boat to catch the sunrise and I made sure I paid attention to everything technical. The photos turned out, but I learned that it was the moment that was important and not the technical ability. After this image, my style became alot more organic and intuitive... and I worried alot less about the mechanics of making images!
There is so much more to being a photographer than just making pretty pictures. Not only do you have to create meaningful images you also have to be a marketing director/ social media whiz/ branding dude/ website creation person/ secretary/ treasurer/ CEO/ CFO/ customer service expert/ book keeper and pretty much any other title you can think of. I decided to spend some time wearing my ‘webpage dude’ hat and work on a few much needed updates to my website. I have such a huge backlog of images and it’s an overwhelming thought to just look at some of my latest photos! I started with a revisit to my ‘SUEÑOS MEXICANOS’ image essay and I am really pleased with the results. I feel I lean towards a harsh reality with much of my imagery, and my ‘Mexican Dreams’ essay should represent the joy of life that I am now immersed in. Interested? Take a look for yourself here and let me know what you think!
I pride myself on my street shooting style, and the ability to work without disturbing the magic of a moment. Last night I was out enjoying the Mexican street night life which included fantastic street food and photographing the local street entertainment. I ended up being the only Gringo in a crowd enjoying a local magician who was a master at slight of hand. I was making images in my normal unobtrusive style and somehow the magician must of felt my camera??? I ended up being the center of the show, and no matter how much attention I paid to the well known hidden ball trick, I could not for the life of me keep my eye on the prize! Bets were made, and at a ‘billete de cien pesos’ per attempt I knew I would be in bad shape pretty quickly. In the end a good time was had by all, and I’m sure with the bets I lost, this Magic-Man had a few cervezas on me ;)
The world is full of many types of personalities, some positive and some negative. Many use social media for their soap box to say anything that pops into their heads. Personally, I find my online social presence a necessary evil, and try to stick with photography heavy platforms like Instagram or even Twitter. Today, I had a number of my image posts interacted with by a troll, who seemed desperate to get a reaction from me? What’s a troll? They’re people who deliberately provoke others online and they live to make people upset and angry. What’s the easiest way to deal with them? Don’t be baited, ignore or delete what’s been said and just block them. I don’t have to explain my images to anybody - they speak for themselves, and many times much louder and much more precise than any words ever could! Note to the Insta-Trolls out there - I couldn’t care less what you think (MIC DROP!)
The one thing that I have concluded as I settle into life on the west coast of Mexico is that my timing is WAY OFF! Having spent the last year working at a break-neck pace (and almost in danger of becoming a workaholic) my creative timing is off. I still see the images unfold in front of me, but translating the mental connection to the physical motion of pushing the shutter button seems to be delayed. I know what it is, simply lack of practice and being at one with my camera. Honestly, shooting photos commercially, I became lazy, and didn’t really worry about the key image because I could re-shoot all day if needed to get what was required. My art images don’t have that luxury, and it is split second decisions that allow things to manifest. I am lucky, because I still have the ability to ‘see’... and that is something most wannabe photographers don’t possess at all! I’m not worried, my timing will return!
Sometimes you have to take advantage of opportunities and jump in with both feet! Actually, it’s a pretty easy call, and when the stars aligned with a chance to spend a Winter in the Warmth, I am outta here! Work is on hold, Everything is in storage, Goodbyes are spoken and only my favorite cameras made it into my suitcase... I will spend the next six months concentrating on myself and my creative photography. Much like twenty years ago, when I traveled as a contract photographer, I will be living out of a suitcase and immersing myself in a culture I have continually loved to photograph. I will be an honorary Mexican and be based on the beautiful West Coast of Mexico in the lovely town of Rincón de Guayabitos! Interested? Stay Tuned for some amazing images!
Things happen in life that you really don’t see coming, and they strip your beliefs to the core. These life changing moments can destroy worlds (trust me I know), but they can also allow for a redirection to rise like a phoenix from the ashes and emerge from a catastrophe stronger, smarter and more powerful. I am truly blessed to have my creativity and it has ‘saved’ me from the influence of unstable actions upon my life. My images are very personal, and I communicate to those close to me via my photos. All of us on this planet have a path to follow... the question is whether you chose to walk it with somebody who matters, or just dissapear - sadly, this photo says it all. Remember to enjoy every single second with the people who matter in your life... It's important.
What a great evening for a fantastic family portrait session on the shoreline of Discovery Passage here on the east coast of Vancouver Island! As of late I have focused (pun intended) on my commercial clients and have let my portrait and wedding workload fade slightly. I had an invite to photograph a lovely family with some of the most photogenic children I have ever met... how could I say no! The evening was lovely, with gorgeous golden hour light and just a slight breeze. We worked fast and I made loads of beautiful images - and I remember how much fun it is working with a family core that really loves each other. Thanks to Kiel and his beautiful family - WE DONE GOOD!
I had to head down to Victoria as I have been considering a change of scenery. I love city life and I feel my images portraying the human condition of city dwellers are as powerful as ever. I must admit , I was slightly taken aback at the state of homelessness in BC’s capital city. There is clearly a massive issue here due to skyrocketing rents and gentrification of the downtown core. It’s all very sad, and as I haven’t photographed here in fifteen years, I have missed the chance to help shed light of what’s happening. Much like Vancouver and other cities I have worked in across Canada, it’s time to take care of those who need help. Take the time to contact your local MP and force our powers in charge to do the right thing... taking care of people is the least they can do - it’s their bloody job!
What’s that... I have been working alot? No problem, let’s get out of here for the long weekend! I piled the van full of camera gear (and beer) and made my way north to the beautiful village of Tahsis BC. It’s no easy journey with over 100kms of dirt road to transverse... but what an adventure and once you reach Tahsis, you will understand why the rich and famous fly in for a taste of the outdoors. I was happy to just sit, have a beverage, watch the tide come in, make a few photos and just enjoy being in the moment. I made quite a few beautiful images and look forward to the chance to edit them and share with all of you good people of the Internet!
Grief is the inevitable Human Condition that each one of us will experience at least once in our lives. Grief can be defined as the symptoms and reactions that accompany the loss of something meaningful in our lives. Sadly, it can have life altering traumatic results. Like many who have experienced endings that have caused immense pain, I too have simply asked...Why? To help understand why, I have started a photo project dedicated to loss . I always feel a tremendous sense of calm and some relief when creating photographs and I believe art (and in my case photography) will help guide me through some very difficult answers and grievances. The goal is simple - to work on a higher level of consciousness, observe my surroundings, connect with my inner feelings, hopefully learn how to forgive...and most importantly to heal.
It’s always great doing work for local businesses, especially within the car industry. I have found that they are always grateful for great work and always keep me in mind when something comes up. I was asked to shoot some billboard images that would promote the team and hopefully get people to actually look at a highway billboard as they passed at 120kph! I spent the afternoon working with the ‘talent’ and after some jokes to relax everybody, we got down to work making images that would be great on a twelve foot billboard. I was super happy with the results... but perhaps you can let me know what you think... next time you drive Highway 19a on Vancouver Island, keep our eyes open for my work ;)
I was at the launch of the all new seven passenger Jeep® Grand Cherokee L and what a fantastic machine! I headed out on the road with a couple team members from the local Jeep Dealer to make a bunch of promo images (and video) that could be used across multiple social platforms for ad work. We spent the afternoon enjoying the rugged sights of Northern Vancouver Island and I spent the next week editing and choosing my favorite shots. I love that so many great photos made the ‘cut’ and I have seen a tonne of social media use... now if I could only get Jeep® Canada to hire me for a national campaign ;) If you know anybody at head office... just let me know!!
As I settle into life on the coast of Vancouver Island, I am blown away by how beautiful this coast line is. I have a new gig where my commute is fifty kilometers from the house, and every morning as I drive along the shore line, I have to stop at least once and make photographs. Who knows, I may become a landscape photographer yet. I don’t really have to try very hard, the scenery is stunning. I usually just shoot with my pocket camera - the Fuji X100T, but I have a number of big cameras with big lenses in my trunk and I often wonder if I should bust out the ultra wide angles and tripods. No... shooting with the Fuji is pretty pure with a single 35mm equivalent focal length, full manual controls and just me. Let’s just say I am loving my morning commute!
It’s been a while since I have treated myself to a new piece of glass. I do really try to limit my ‘gear addiction’... honestly, I have nearly all the gear a team of paparazzi could ever dream of. There are however two lenses that are on my lust list - one being a Hasselblad 40mm (an expensive bit of kit for really only fun use) and this lens I just picked up - a Nikon 14mm f2.8 ED. I promised myself I would only get this lens if the right price presented itself. Well, the right price did! This thing is stunning and tack sharp. I use a 16-35 for a lot of work, and when I need extra insane wide, I have a crazy 8mm Cine-Lens, but this distortion free 14mm has been something I have wanted for years. This weekend I played with this lens and let’s just I am completely blown away. Thank you Nikon Pro-Services :)
Bread and butter time! The beauty about doing what I do is that when I need a gig, I can always fall back on photographing vehicles (or weddings or food). The world has moved online in a big way because of Covid and car dealerships have adapted to this virtual showroom world with ease. Good photographs go a long way to enticing a potential buyer to choose one dealership over another. Dealerships need good photographs. Digital merchandising that translates to lead generation and sales requires the greatest images. Product and service both have to be portrayed to build customer trust and I am always happy to provide quality images. The great thing about Vehicle Dealerships is that they always pay their bills... unlike some of the other industries I have provided photographs for!
I shot a stack of portraits today and realized that I’m a little rusty. Not in my tech skills, but more my interaction and patter. The job today was fifty staff photos to be used on a corporate webpage and various social media channels. I had to smile to myself, because in the good ole days when I worked as a cruise ship photog, I could shoot fifty portraits in about ten minutes with one arm tied behind my back. I used to have the ‘spiel’ down to an art and get people in front of my camera to smile, relax, and just be themselves. It must be me getting older, or I have become a serious perfectionist, but I just felt that I could put some of my sitters at ease. No worries though, the images still looked fantastic and when done I packed my gear away like any other shoot!
It’s funny how many rolls of film I just haven’t got round to developing in 25+ years of my work. Perhaps it’s not funny Ha,Ha... but funny weird. I would ever compare myself to any other photographer, but sometimes I get a little freaked out by the Vivian Maier story and all of her undeveloped rolls of film discovered after her death. I have recently found so many rolls that I photographed between 1998 and 2000 in Turkey. Every moment I had off from my photo job at the time, I would just wander the streets with my Rolleiflex. Some of the images are really magic and I get lost in them to the point I have to remember that I actually made these pictures. I doubt I would be able to photograph the same way now because of the advent of the intrusive Instagram generation of photographers. I digress... just keep checking in with my fine art galleries for the showing of my Turkish Days...
I was delighted to hear that a portrait from a Pre-Covid photo shoot was chosen by SciMar to be featured alongside a blog article on their website. What’s interesting is not the portrait itself, but the relationship I have with the person who is photographed! His name is Sam Hofer and he has been a great friend of mine for over thirty years now. That’s right... I have known Sam since Grade Nine! Even now so many stories flood my memories. We played High School football and Rugby together, worked various jobs together and enjoyed many a beer together. One could say that Sammie is a lifelong friend, and even when time and distance separate us, we always seem to make time to connect. Makes me think of all the portraits I have made over the years and how some people stay in touch and how some just drift away...Read Sam's Interview
Today I decided to dust off the old Mamiya C330 and take her out for a walkabout. It’s no hype when I say there has been a ridiculous slowdown because of Covid-19 and I find myself with a few extra hours to play. What was it they say about ‘idle hands’? Not that I am complaining, I have never been so caught up on automobile and house maintenance, my computer and data systems are clean and organized, and my photo editing is now only a year behind!! ;) Seriously though, it is great to get out with some of my old cameras and enjoying making images in a creative and relaxed frame of mind...and that’s exactly what I’m heading out the door to do today. One Twin Lens Camera, 10 rolls of film, a comfy pair of boots and a day to myself.
I am trying to sort images for my latest online photo essay that has do with Hedonism and Hedonic Adaptation. Simply put it has to do with happiness and seeking pleasure to avoid suffering. Essentially despite positive or negative events and life changes there will never be a permanent gain in happiness. I have been making images for such a long time now and many are linked to my personal highs and lows and this project started with me trying to discover my concept of the 'Happiness Set Point'. This is a fairly personal project and it is difficult due to my emotional connection to certain images... and actually trying to get the approval to allow them to be shown.
"A true saying it is, Desire hath no rest, is infinite in itself, endless, and as one calls it, a perpetual rack, or horse-mill." - Saint Augustine
My grandmother passed earlier this year. Due to the covid pandemic, travel to England was not a possibility to say goodbye. Part of life is having to say goodbye and to grieve. Life is also growing older and watching those you love age. My grandmother Muriel was 96 and she lived a beautiful life filled with travel and family. Sadly I haven’t spent as much time with my grandparents as I wanted too. Great distances separate my immediate family and we live in Canada, Mexico, UK and Australia. This past week we gathered in the flesh and digitally on the shore of the Pacific Ocean to remember my Grandma. We ate her favorite foods, drank her drinks and told her stories. I will miss her... and others who have passed from my life. We released flowers into the ocean and we read a poem that meant the world to her... xo
I love all things analogue. That’s probably part of the reason I still love photographing on film. It’s September and you know what that means... World record Day! Since the annual event inaugurated in 2008, I have done my best to line up and support the local record stores I love so much. Unlike many of my age bracket, I never gave up my Vinyl collection when it fell out of fad. There is alot of talk about LPs and the quality of sound. Most of it is ‘fake-news’ by certain hipster types and marketing teams. I don’t necessarily listen for the sound (an uncompressed, lossless digital file sounds amazing on the correct equipment), but I love it more for the interaction. Touching an album, gazing at the artwork... dropping a needle on the groove, etc! I have literally worn out my copy of the latest War On Drugs album. It is much like analogue, mechanical ways of making images. Not technically better, but soulfully better.
Wow have I ever been enjoying the Sunrise and Sunset here in my new home. I’m not really a Landscape Photographer... I think Ansel Adams had that pretty much covered a hundred years ago, but there is something to be said for just sitting on a rock by the ocean and watching it all unfold! The thing is this - I feel I can’t really do these moments any justice with my camera. They are so grand and perfect. I suppose no photograph can ever portray the actual moment and it will always be a far distant facsimile. My landscapes are just that - a facsimile documentation of the moment I experienced. I need to remember that those who view the corresponding image were not there with me... so it probably looks pretty good. A frame of reference is interesting in that way ;)
The day has come once again for a big move. Six years ago I packed everything up and moved to the most easterly point in Canada. I eventually returned to my place on the West Coast and the bustling city of Vancouver. Thing is this... the East Coast changed me (on many levels), and Vancouver no longer felt like home. Time has come to make a real home and after many visits and lovely photographic journeys to beautiful Vancouver Island we have decided to call this place home. Island Life is something special, no matter what coast you are one, but sorry Newfoundland, the West Coast has one major plus - no snow in July! The van is packed and I am looking forward to this next step in life in a wonderful place with a trusted friend. It will be a perfect home.
Those who know me can attest to my love of books, bookshops and anyplace where I can find a great ‘pre-loved’ book. I have amassed quite a library over my travels during this life. I’m not much of a fiction fellow, but love history, art, theory, nautical and of course photographic subjects! Unfortunately, I have been reading less from physical books and reading more from digital devices. It’s sad really, and I will be trying to ween myself off of these electronic marvels. My partner is a voracious reader and each evening she beds down with a good book. Pun intended - I need to take a page from her book and limited my digital immersion. It will be better for my eyes and it will be better for my soul. It’s time to read more books :)
...And it has begun! I am finally working on my latest coffee table book. It is simply titled “LOS MEXICANOS” and it will represent a twenty year retrospective of my time photographing the spirit of Mexico. The images that will become key components of this book will highlight an exciting and vibrant culture during the first two decades of this century. It will also show my personal journey as an image maker and I will include some of my early ‘serious’ photos when I decided my life would be dedicated to photography. I was lucky enough to work on both the east and westcoast of Mexico in my twenties and many of these film images will make the cut! That said, I have a huge job in front of me and the daunting task of narrowing thousands of images taken over twenty years, down to approximately one hundred and fifty... wish me luck!
There is exciting news on the horizon. I don't want to jinx things, but let's just say it involves packing things into boxes and moving! Not to worry...still on the West Coast of course. I have collected quite a few things during my lifetime and it seems that everything is dusty! The windows and doors in the studio are left open for much of the year and that may have something to do with it... In an attempt to get ahead of all the packing I have started on the first of my camera shelves in the office. There is loads of dust on these paperweights and it took me ages. My work cameras are always kept in their protective cases when not in use, but these display cameras are all machines that have broken, fallen, smashed, etc over the years. They may not be boxed yet, but at least they are clean.
I have so many projects on the go an so little time to dedicate to them. I suppose a positive of the Covid Pandemic is that I have alot of time. It’s no secret that I love all things mechanical, and I am please to re-visit my ‘Auto-Mechanica’ project that has been on the back burner for ages (years!). I have thousands of Automobile images I am now in the process of sorting and editing. There is alot of great vintage and patina in these photos and I am looking forward to having a show dedicated to the art of autos - now if I could only secure a venue.. Coronavirus sure has changed things. Another plus is that I am actually caught up on my own vehicle maintenances. Huh, who would of thought I would run out of tinkering in the garage!
Ok...Enough is enough, this Covid thing is completely out of control and is not only causing the world to fall apart, but it’s affecting mental health all over the planet. Imaging a place where it is full moon all the time and then magnify that by a million. Personally, I have had to limited my consumption of the news, cancel a couple international trips and (at all costs) avoid each and every paranoid and mysophobic person I see. I’m not trying to down play the issues behind Coronavirus, but luckily here on the West Coast of Canada there has been comparatively very little infection. People have quarantined themselves if there has been any potential virus contact... yet the crazies are walking around in body condoms and quoting scripture. I can’t wait for normal to return...
Taking advantage of all the downtime due to the Covid-19 shutdown, I decided to spend a few moments in the darkroom and get caught up on my film development. Although I ordered new dry chemicals out of New York, (they haven’t arrived at the time of writing this) so I only had enough to mix up a gallon of Developer and a gallon of Fixer. It’s enough to process some 120 film that I have been sitting on. Making images on film is such magic and it’s truly amazing to see all of these moments come alive in the form of negatives. So many moments on rolls of film. Some beautiful, some ugly... some happy and some sad, but they are all perfect. When my inventory of processing chemicals I can tackle some of my 35mm stuff!
Speaking of film, I am really happy with the latest edition to my camera collection... an original Ensign Ful-Vue box brownie camera from the thirties. I have a really soft spot for vintage and antique film cameras, and many have been added to my camera family over the years. I even still use a few of these cameras to make stunning images! I have been on the look out for one of these early Ensign cameras. These are great little British cameras with only a single shutter speed of 1/30sec, one F-Stop of 11 and a super bright finder, and unlike most box brownies, the most important feature of this camera is the use of120 film and 6x6 square format! I found this particular camera on-line in Greece and let's just say I'm 'well chuffed'.
Things are going slightly mad in the world... and people are scared. Everywhere I have visited in the last few weeks has been in ‘Shutdown Mode’. The journey away from the city highlighted how crazy things are getting. Rules about when and where you can go, supply chains breaking down giving us empty shelves and a general mistrust of your fellow man. Sadly there is alot of misinformation from misinformed organizations and people who can’t seem to turn off the news. It’s pretty simple, wash your hands regularly, avoid contact with communal things like dirty door knobs and if you are sick - STAY HOME! Do your part to be part of the solution and hopefully life will return to some sense of normality.
The world is falling apart... or so the news says? Coronavirus is shutting down the planet and people are wearing any kind of mask they can find. Time to 'get outta Dodge' or something like that. Vancouver is getting really weird around Covid-19 and there has even been panic buying of Toilet Paper (even though the virus symptoms have nothing to do with that end!) Well... gas prices are the lowest they have been in nearly a decade, so time for a surprise photo road trip away from all the city doom and gloom. Where to on the map? How about Highway 3 and up into the Rocky Mountains for a couple weeks :)
I picked up a few new books this week to add to my library. One book was a great find in a small used bookshop about my favorite photographer - Diane Arbus. It’s funny how many millennial photographers no nothing about the history of the medium. That is another discussion, but most have no idea the photographic path that the art has taken over the last 120 years. I love the work of many photographers, but Diane Arbus’s work just connects with me. She often photographed people on the fringes of society always probing the questions of identity. She used a TLR and her images were not about the ‘tech’ but about the moment. I highly recommend reading about her! “A photograph is a secret about a secret. The more it tells you the less you know - DA”
I love Vancouver Island...there, I said it and any chance to head over and enjoy the Island lifestyle, I am in! It is a wonderful place and like all of the islands of the coast of BC it has such a chilled vibe, that you can’t help but relax. A full tank of gas in the van and over on the ferry for a few days to check out a few of the places on the Eastern Coast. So many great places to ‘renegade’ camp and I made some amazing images. I particularly loved Cumberland and had a fantastic coffee there. So many quirky little places all along the coastal road, but the winner was a crazy Bric-à-Brac shop in Campbell River with all sorts of things and a surprisingly great selection of antique cameras. !
Time is a difficult concept... especially when associated with photography and memories. I have found myself with the luxury of time on my hands and have decided to revisit over twenty five years worth of my analogue imagery. It is time to properly go through thousands of negatives and prints and digitize my archive. This is no small endeavor, and many of the images were personally important when I made them. I did attempt this a few years ago, but sadly circumstances brought everything to a halt. I am now ready to catalogue and clean up my photo past so I can concentrate on the future and all it brings. It is time to “Enter at Own Risk”
Last week I had the chance to photograph a couple of properties for a boutique renovation company here in Vancouver. Although I have shot quite a lot for the Real Estate pros, I had never made images for renovation contractors. I have got to say it was great! To meet the craftsman who actually do the work on these million dollar properties and feel the pride as they point out the finer details and the technical challenges was a real eye opener for me. It never occurred to me how much work goes into altering properties in downtown Vancouver’s high-rise market! Thanks to James and Owen for the gig and I look forward to your next impressive project!
I was unpacking a few boxes the other the other day and I came across some light modifiers I bought about 5 years ago and never used! All my studio lighting schemes are produced from a combination of up to five strobes and various softboxes, reflectors and umbrellas. Pretty simple stuff really... but I always think my softboxes are too small. Don’t get me wrong, they are great for food and product images, but I always feel my portraits have odd rectangular catchlights. Long story short, I bought this 60” Octabox but never got round to using it and it was packed when I moved across the country. There it stayed until this week... It’s amazing... and humongous!
I was treated to a lovely gift by somebody very important to me... a week away in one of my favorite cities - Portland. It has been years since my last visit, but Portland always has a special part in my heart. It is a place one to itself with a unique style and thriving art culture... and my favorite book store on the planet - Powell’s (Google it)! Off in the mighty Vandura we made our way down Highway 101 and the rugged Oregon Coast. I made loads of images as we our way through Olympia, Astoria and Long Beach. Patina and genuine people, Shipwrecks and craft beer the journey unfolded in front of my camera. The USA does some things so well...and some not.
They say the real estate industry in Vancouver is having an ‘interesting’ time and sales are down on every type of property. Honestly, I haven’t seen a change in the requests for property listing and promo images. I had a photo shoot on the North Shore of a six million dollar home that sold ten days after listing! The home was stunning and included an infinity swimming pool and the most amazing gourmet kitchen. As I worked away photographing ALL 21,000 square feet, I kept thinking to myself “why would you ever need so much space”? I never really came to a conclusion, but I did image myself living as the other half and being the six million dollar man.
The season is changing and the days are shortening and I find myself spending as much time as possible making images on the coast. The sunsets can be especially spectacular and I often wonder why more ‘Westcoasters’ are not spending their moments bathed in the Sun’s embrace? It’s ok though, I am quiet happy to have the beaches to myself... we all have those introverted and serene moments... and it makes for beautiful images. I usually walk with just a single camera with a single fixed lens. It reminds me to be in the moment rather than being about producing a product. It’s a good thing, although there have been a few missed shots, but that’s okay, I still loved the moment!
My ongoing project of photographing the faces of people caught in the viscous Vancouver gentrification cycle continues... but it is difficult personally. So many humans are finding it difficult to exist here in the Lower Mainland. The news is filled with tent cities, people living in vehicles and the horrors of the DTES. I have watched the Eastside change into hipster heaven with micro-breweries, brand name clothing shops, expensive restaurants and exclusive micro loft apartments... and the entire time the people who manage to barely carve out a life have been squeezed into ever smaller spaces. It is heart breaking. With elections looming, I DARE the powers that be to take a walk and open their eyes. I dare the hipster Millennials to not be ignorant.
It’s that time of year again when the days of rain mean my time can be used to process and edit my undeveloped rolls of film. Unlike many, I never did stop making images on film. I did stop using sheet film, but 120 and 35mm roll film are always in my camera bags ready to go. The next couple days will be spent in a very dark room with some fun chemistry that turns the invisible latent image into something magic! It is great to no longer be living on an island, where photo developers and fixers are classified as dangerous goods and could not be shipped. I will never again take for granted my D76 and Rodinal film developers! Film always makes me happy and seeing beautiful and unexpected surprise images is one of my biggest joys in life.