Twenty eight years ago I announced my intention to the world that I was going to be a freelance photographer by registering my photography business. I must admit, it’s been a wild ride ever since. I got the idea, after a two-year stint as a ski bum in Europe, when I saw an article in Photo Life magazine by Canadian adventurer/photographer Pat Morrow, on hang-gliding photography. I thought, if Pat can get an article published in a national photo magazine on such an obscure subject, surely I could do the same on ski photography based on my experience in Europe. So, I went ahead and wrote an article and submitted it to Photo Life. Well, not only did they decide to publish the article, one of my photos was chosen for the cover of that issue.
That was 1985 and the beginning of my career. I found out very quickly, though, that I wasn’t going to make a living solely from ski photography, and I sent my resume to Wilderness Adventures, the largest rafting company on the Ottawa River in Ontario. The next summer I was photographing rafts and learning to kayak. It turns out that Wilderness Adventures made a lot of money from the photos and I was working at minimum wage, so I went to one of the smaller companies with a proposal to operate a photo business at their site and give them a cut of the profits. That resulted in a seven-year career on the Ottawa, working my butt off on the weekends and playing on the river during the week.
That time on the Ottawa also boosted my career as a freelance photographer, as I was one of only a half dozen photographers in North America seriously shooting paddle sports. I managed to get published in all the paddling magazines as well as several Patagonia catalogues. I even got a couple of paddling shots published in a Sports Illustrated calendar. During this time I continued shooting skiing in the winters, focusing on the resorts of the east, which resulted in photos that appeared in Powder, SKI, and Ski Canada.
The memories of the mountains in Europe were always on my mind however, and soon I was taking month-long trips to western Canada, scoping out resorts and possible places to live. It was at this time that I met Steve Kuijt, then just starting at Island Lake Lodge. Island Lake blew my mind (along with the rest of Fernie) and a year later I bought a house and moved in. That was twenty years ago – how time flies!
Now, while I still love shooting skiing, mountain biking, hiking, paddling and all of the other fun things we do around here, I’ve branched out a bit, shooting food, architecture, and industrial subjects like mining. The food photography began with the Island Lake Cookbook, a project dreamed up by Steve Kuijt, at the time manager of the Island Lake Resort Group. The book ended up winning an international award for food photography in Canada that year. I continue to shoot food for local restaurants and hope I get a chance to shoot another cookbook in the future.
Through Chernoff Architecture, Larsen Whelan Enterprises, Rivercity Woodworks and Fernie Real Estate I’ve had the opportunity to photograph some beautiful homes in Fernie and the surrounding area. However, the most exciting opportunity of late has been photographing the mining operations around Fernie. The city of Fernie exists because of coal and the surrounding coalmines are an integral part of this region. I especially love showing the scale of the machinery in photographs and this month will be displaying several of the sepia-toned black and white images seen here at Freshies. I’m really proud of this work and hope to get the opportunity to shoot more of this subject in the future.
Like I said earlier it’s been an interesting ride, and I’m happy to say I now count my early mentor, Pat Morrow as a friend and respected colleague.