Posts in Photography
T-44 - Transient Orca Whale Bones

Bringing an Orca Whale back to life is no easy task, but Mike and Michi have had plenty of experience. The pair have been re-articulating marine mammals at their studio on Salt Spring Island, in British Columbia for years. Most recently they have been working on T-44 a Transient Orca whale for the Telegraph Cove Whale Interpretive Centre. Which I was lucky enough to catch.

T-44 was first caught on camera in the area in 1978 and though never made a home in the North Island waters like the local residents, he was spotted a confirmed 161 times in his 32 years of life. Transient Whales diet differs from resident orca’s and they feed primarily on other marine mammals. At the time of T44’s death in 2009 he was found with two seal pup tags in his stomach as well as over 300 seal claws.  

 

 
 

Photographed April 2018 - Hasselblad X1D + 45mm Lens. 

 
 
Promo Books
 

For my 2018 promotional books, I put together a magazine. I wanted an editorial feel, and a format I could tell a story within. My work's strength has always been in telling a complete story, and I feel like a promo that highlighted an individual shot would in a sense do it a disservice. 

I can't say thank you enough to the people who looked over it, and offered feedback before it went to press and I couldn't be prouder to share a few of the 75 pages today.  I included some of my favourite images from the last year and a few frames that just never get old. 

If you'd like a closer look, and are a photo editor/art director send me a quick email with your mailing address and I'll get that out to you as soon as I can. 

 
The Vancouver Print Party

Last month Rachel Pick and I hosted an event we called The Vancouver Print Party.It was an under-the-radar kind of evening based on an idea to build community as Vancouver photographers. It was a way for us to take our work, and connections - so often in the digital sphere and make them tangible. We invited a select group of 20 photographers in Vancouver to come and display 1-20 images from a series of photos, a portfolio, or theme that they were working on, or proud of. It was curated invite list - limited to people that we both admired from different disciplines to make sure we had a varied show.  The instructions on what to share were vague on purpose - we wanted it to be be informal  a place to gather with talented people and talk about what we work on so hard behind the screen. I shared some work from the Yukon which I've now curated into an online gallery, Tomasz Wagner shared some incredible X-Pan images which he signed for a few of us to take home at the end, and Andrew Querner brought spreads from a beautiful book project he is working on.

We had a night talking about the thought and process behind projects we've been toying away at. Alexa Mazzarello shared a part of her Dreaming Plant Series which is officially opening at the Contact Photography Festival in Toronto this week, and Janis Nicolay - brought a beautiful series of photos from Turkey breaking from the interiors she usually shoots.  It was perfect size to see everyone's work in the flesh, and to be able to spend a little more time hearing the stories behind the frames and the motivations that they stemmed from.

Lens and Shutter Photo came out with the support of Canon Canada to print large format photos on site for everyone to take home as a favour, Faculty Brewing beer was flowing, and Make Studios provided the backdrop.

Thank you to everyone who came out I know there is a few I missed mentioning above. I'm still on a high, and so thankful to have met, and shared the room with such great artists.

It was exactly what we hoped for; a night of community, and art. A success.

A Wilderness of Mirrors - Musings on Portraiture

This weekend I finished Neil Gaiman's collection of essays - A View From The Cheap Seats. My favourite of which as a photographer is called "A Wilderness of Mirrors." It is about the National Portrait Gallery (which I visited while in England years and years ago) but I think beyond that it is about portraiture and its ability to tell us a truth.

"Who am I? 

Is the first question. 

The second is harder to answer. It was this: Who are we?

And to answer it I would open the family photo album. The photographs, black and white in the front, color in the later volumes, had been carefully stuck with photo mounts on corners and handwritten notes beneath each photograph. ... This is who we are, the albums said to us, and this is the story we are telling ourselves. 

When we look at a portrait we begin to judge, because human beings are creatures of judgement. The joy and power of portraiture is that it freezes us in time. Before the portrait we were younger, after the portrait we will age and rot. 

Ask the question, Who are we? and the portraits give us an answer of sorts. 

We came from here, the old ones say. We look like this naked and clothed, they tell us. We are here, in this image, because a painter [or photographer] had something to say. Because we are all interesting. Because we cannot gaze into a mirror without being changed. Because we do not know who we are but sometimes there is a light caught in someones eyes that comes close to giving us the tiniest hint of an answer."

I often shy away from pictures, but the more deeply I think about photography the more I believe I should be in at least a few. They tell us a truth about ourselves and where we came from and the people that make us happy. This weekend is one I won't forget, curled up on the couch with dark chocolate that we bought by the pound, I read Gaiman's book, I cooked pizza, hiked, and laughed till my stomach hurt, and maybe I don't need a photograph to remember it, but there is a few, and I like what these ones are saying about who we are.

"Perhaps it isn't a collection of portraits as TS Eliot put it but a wilderness of mirrors."  - Neil Gaiman

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Speaking at ARC

Two blog posts in one week?! I can't believe it either. It has been far too long internet friends, I've missed you and we have a lot to catch up on. So much to catch up on actually that they are giving my a microphone at ARC 

What even is ARC you ask? A photo conference held in my base of Vancouver, that I truly can't wait for.

I'm stoked, slightly nervous, and thinking it is all too surreal to share the stage with the likes of Dallas and Sabrina Kolotyo, Brittany Esther Staddon, João Guedes, Blake Loates ,Reggie Campbell, James Moes, Ross Harvey, Nessa K, Kelly Tunney, The Manchicks, Gabe McClinktock, Ryan Muirhead, David Guenther, Brian Morrow, Dan Cristea and Jon Duenas. Mega talented photographers. And I can't wait until we are all in Vancouver.

Tickets are on sale and going fast - I've marked Xs all over my calendar, and I'm pretty excited to talk about the travel/wedding photo combo that is my life.

See you in Vancouver! >> http://bit.ly/BIGideasARC

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Packing for a Travel Photography: Backpacking Adventure to Chilean Patagonia.

The rain was starting to get to me, and though I'd been I'd been thinking about it on and off for a while, I made a spur of the moment decision on a lazy Sunday in December and booked a flight to Santiago Chile. The surreal feeling of that still hasn't worn off, and I am now about a week from take off. Slowly but surely getting things together for the two month jaunt south.

I've been sharing a little bit of trip prep over on Instagram, and I thought I'd put together a longer blog post of the camera gear I am bringing down for this little photography adventure to Chilean Patagonia.

Like with every trip I've ever done the total weight of my pack is a huge concern. In Chile I have plans to hike in Torres Del Paine as well as possibly Dientes de Navarino. These are both are multi-day hikes where I'll be carrying all the camera gear listed below, a tent/sleeping bag, clothing, and days worth of food. I'll be experimenting with video so I am bringing my audio recorder which is bulky, and a polaroid camera which is truly huge, but I've tried to make scarifies where I can leaving behind lenses and bodies to cut the weight.

Nine weeks is a long haul,  and for this trip I specifically invested in a used Macbook Air (thanks craigslist, you never fail).  I've tried to convince myself for a long time I could do this without a laptop, but I know I will need to be able to run my business remotely, do a little light editing, and make backups as I go along. If I could do this whole thing without a computer I would, but unfortunately an iPhone just can't do it all.

So for Patagonia this is the final revised camera travel kit;

Canon 5D3 - My go to.

Canon 24mm f1.4 - My favourite lens

Sigma 50mm f1.2 - A beast of a lens that is pretty much good for everything.

Canon 135 f2.0 - For all the Guancos I plan to see in the distance.

3 Canon 5D3 Batteries - I thought about bringing only two but video eats batteries for lunch.

Fuji Instax Wide 300 

Manfrotto Lightweight Tripod - For night photography, time-lapses, and video. I've been using this as a makeshift monopod as well.

H4N Audio Recorder - I will loving call this piece of equipment "The Brick."

11" MacBook Air

Lens Pen // Lens Cloth // Various CF and SD Cards // Card Reader // Two 2TB Hard drives // iPhone 6 // Journal // Chargers

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Photographs Not Taken, Book Review
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The Photographs Not Taken is a collection of essays by photographers about the times they didn’t use their camera. I have asked the photographers to abandon the conventional tools needed to make a photograph, and, instead, make one using words to describe the memories and experiences that didn’t go through the camera lens. Here, the process of making a photograph has been reversed. Instead of looking out into the world through a camera lens, these essays allow us to look directly into the photographer’s mind and eye and focus on where the photographs come from in their barest and most primitive form. These mental negatives depict the unedited world and the moments of life that do not exist in a single frame.-Will Steacy

It seems too serendipitous that only a few days before I internet surfed right into this book, I was talking to my good friend and photographer Brian about writing the photographs we've missed, all the shots that for one reason or another would have been perfect if only the shutter had closed. It could be a way to document those instances for ourselves in words that may show more than the photographs could have. We both remembered March the year before as we had crossed a border in California with a three other photographers and our car was searched. Five of us were asked to take out all our photo gear and sit on a bench in the desert heat under a sign that said "no photography." It was so ironic, sitting there sweating, weighed down by tripods, film, and more cameras than I can count, both of us just wishing we could take just one photo of the scene. Will Steacy and his book Photographs Not Taken beat us to it.

The essays run a few pages each, and range from hilarious to dire, while the reasons for refraining from taking a photo encompass the sentimental, the ethical, and the mistakes all of us as photographers make.

The stories themselves bring you a little bit closer to understanding the motivation behind the photography, and I've really enjoyed looking up the portfolios of photographers who's essays or ideas I've connected with to see bits of their thought process in the photos they have taken.

Gregory Halpern  asked questions about the portrait. His book project called Harvard Works Because We Do is mostly a portrait series that asks a lot more questions using portraits themselves about the working class there and it is a complex situation he delicately approaches while making his opinion and the truth very visible. My favourite paragraph from his essay is below:

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Matt Salacuse  is no bullshit, and I like that.

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Tim Davis I think says it best, photography it is a way of looking at the world and seeing beyond yourself. I see things differently with a camera, and as I sling it over my shoulder the uniform transforms a lot of the mundanity into scenes worthy of documenting. It really is something I appreciate the longer I do it, and I think Davis articulates it beautifully.

My two favourite essays in their entirety were written by David Maisel and Chris Jordan. Both romanticize the photographs in their own personal lives not taken, and Chris Jordan's in particular brought up an image I have of my Grandmother from an Easter dinner a few years ago. My family sat a her long dining room table with the blue table cloth on. I was in the middle, quiet and listening to her with her party hat on and a little bit of food stuck to her shirt from the meal she'd prepared, waving her arms talking about what a sorry excuse for a Mayor Rob Ford was. It was a photo I wanted to take then but didn't, I couldn't interrupt her speech, I didn't want to, and I'll never forget that mental shot of her commanding the table so seriously, with her party hat all crooked.

I sat outside yesterday on my balcony and read the whole book in the sun in a few hours. It brought me to Uganda, and Pakistan as well as to a backyard BBQ not dissimilar to the one I had attended the day before.

Photographs Not Taken is a short, insightful read in its entirety and give a quick glimpse inside life defining moments not photographed and how they've etch their way into the stories told by photographers who subsequent work to those moments is influenced by them themselves.

Can you think of a photograph you haven't taken?

The Americans - Robert Frank, Jack Kerouac

The Americans - Robert Frank For the last year or two Jack Kerouac's writings, and now the On The Road movie have been intertwined into my wikipedia late night surfing addiction. After a road trip across the country I read On the Road, and then The Dharma Bums - [good reads]. I watched his biography, and then after a little more research I found the work his friends at the same time, photos, writings etc that all depicts the same 1950s intrepid american history.

One thing lead to the next and through a little history of photography self-study this winter I came across Robert Frank's work, which I first found online, and then amazon's single click checkout later his book ended up in my mailbox.

Jack Kerouac opens the introduction to The Americans which is a collection of photos by Robert Frank.

"After seeing these pictures you end up finally not knowing any more whether a jukebox is sadder than a coffin. That's because he's always taking pictures of jukeboxes and coffins - and intermediary mysteries."

The photographs are haunting, and honest, and the lack of colour and the romanticism of time itself make them all that more appealing.

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The combination essay, and anthology of photos is what I liked most of this book. A set context and interpretation by someone else - closer in time and place to the photos themselves, to echo or question your own interpretation of them.

These are a collection of my favourite photographs:

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I also enjoy really like the sequencing of the next five shots. In putting all of my owntravel work together into something cohesive I've been picking up on these subtleties I might have missed before.

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 I like The Americans because it covers though not all Americans by any means but a sampling enough to get a feel. It is an ethnography in a sense - a comment on culture, of a time period. The captions give enough context without ruining the air of silent mystery from the photos, and of course I enjoyed nomadic nature of the photos themselves.

"To Robert Frank I give this message: You've got eyes." - Jack Kerouac

The Americans On Amazon]