Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Story Behind the Picture

“To me, photography is an art of observation. It's about finding something interesting in an ordinary place... I've found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.”
~ Elliott Erwitt

The above quote probably best describes my style of photography. I often get asked, 'what kind of photography do you do?....portrait, wedding, landscape?? And though I have done a little of each of those categories, I explain to people that my favourite thing to do, is to just pick a place, any place really and just wander around and discover what there is to offer. I don't go with any preconceived thoughts of what I want to capture, I let the scene unfold as a wander. I sometimes have described my style as Mike McCardell-like - and those who've enjoyed his stories over the years, seem to know exactly what I mean by that. I'm not on the hunt for the big story (or in this case, photograph), the one that everyone will be reporting on, the kind that instantly grabs your attention, instead, I hope to bring you a photograph that slows you down for a second and maybe makes you look at the world a little differently, if only for just a moment.

After being interested in photography since I was a kid, I finally bought myself a decent camera just over three years ago. As fate would have it, the last three years have been some of the most challenging years on a personal front for me, which has made it difficult to find the time needed to really learn how to properly use my first 'big girl' camera. Add to that the fact that I have 2 young boys, so my free time, well isn't always that free.
So at times, in my quest to figure out what the H-E-double hockey sticks I'm doing, there have been moments where I've become frustrated or discouraged with my lack of knowledge. But I figured I could either put away my camera until the time was just 'right'....ya know, until all of the stars aligned, or I could just do the best with the skills that I do have and learn the rest along the way.
I obviously chose the latter. In a way, I didn't really have a choice, I 'needed' photography. I needed it in the same way that I 'need' to write. I've always been an observer and an introvert, but there is only so much I can keep in my brain before it explodes - and that would be messy!! So photography and writing are the two mediums in which I can release some of what's in my head and my heart.

So that is what I have to offer as a photographer. I can't dazzle you with my crazy editing skills, nor can I amaze you with with my technical skills, but what I can do is offer you a glimpse into my heart and head and show the the world as my eyes see it. My photography outings have become a good way to learn more about my camera, and they also make for great field-trips for my kids. They not only get to visit different areas all over Greater Vancouver and beyond, they get to learn along the way. I explain to them why I take certain photos, so they're learning to appreciate all the beauty around them, the obvious and the sometimes not so obvious. We also talk about social issues like homelessness and drug addiction. I teach them to be aware of their surroundings, but not to be scared of their surroundings. But hopefully the biggest lesson they'll learn is respect and that beauty is everywhere, as long as your eyes are opened to it. My friend Jerry once made a comment about my photography that really made my heart sing, he said something along the lines of, 'he liked how I don't discriminate when I photograph'. I took that to mean, that I see equal beauty in a rusty object, just as I see it in a beautiful sunset.

Below is a selection of photos that I've taken at various locations in the lower mainland, as well as a couple taken in Bellingham. The first shot was taken in Mission, me and the kids were wandering the old part of town, when I came across this lovely old window. There was a guy about 20-something standing in the doorway and talking to a guy parked in front of the building. He noticed me photographing the building and asked me in an almost suspicious way, what was I taking a photo of. I smiled at him and said, 'well, whatever makes my eyes happy, and right now, I love the way that window looks. He looked up at the window with a puzzled expression...I said, I love the that gorgeous shade of green against the colour of the brick, the peeling paint is great too and I love how the missing pane of glass breaks up the repetitive lines. He didn't say anything for a few seconds, he was taking it all in and then he just smiled at me and said, 'you're right, that is a pretty cool window'.
The next little scene I spotted at the back of some businesses on Denman Street, this was a collection of clean uniforms just waiting for someone to fill them. Next we head to Commercial Drive where I spotted this scarf left on a parking meter, just blowin' in the wind.
The next 2 were spotted on Granville Island - while trying to spot an empty table to sit and have lunch at, I was struck by how pretty those bottles looked with the sun shining through them. Then outside, this stack milk cartons reminded of Lego pieces - I loved the bold colours!
The next shot comes from the PNE, this is a close-up of the lights that are on the ferris wheel - I thought the shape of the bulbs was interesting.
Onto a gorgeous fall day in Fort Langley - the photo was taken next to the cemetery and I loved how this one bold leaf was standing tall, while all of the rest were flatten either by the rain or by way of people walking on them - to me, this was sort of a reminder - how life may be taken, but spirit lives on.
Moving on to New West for the next two photos, the first was taken from the Quay. The boys and I were wandering along the front and I spotted this chair on a boat - I just loved imagining someone relaxing on it while out on the Fraser River, makes a pretty little spot to do some writing! The reflection shot was taken on Columbia Street courtesy of the window at the Army & Navy - reminded me of some kid trapped inside, not allowed to go outside and play and instead having to watch the world go by....kinda creepy looking in a way.
The next two were taken in Bellingham. First we have these gorgeous grasses poking through the fence, it's funny, but it put me in the mind of prisoners arms hanging out of their cells - I know, I've watched way too many prison shows!! Then wandering around, I stopped to look at this white building, I was so taken by the shadows that were being cast on this wall, looked so pretty to me.
And lastly, we finish things up with a shot of my kids during one of our outings. They get quite excited about going on these adventures, my oldest son always asks, 'where are we going this time?' I often answer, 'I have no idea, we'll just get in the car and see where it takes us'. He then used to reply, 'no really, where are we going?!' I'd say, I really don't know, we'll head towards say, New West, but if something catches my eye en route, that's where the adventure will begin! Now he's just happy to know what direction we're headed!
That is the best part of it all, it doesn't matter where we end up - we always have a great time and come home with a camera, and mind full of memories!

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