I am a recent graduate (B.A. Communications), a current oilfield worker, and a longtime photographer. I live in rural Alberta.
In 2006 I completed half of a diploma in photography. The issue back then was about purpose: What was I doing this for? I didn't have the answer and so I didn't complete the program.
But photography stuck around. When I wasn't thinking about the why, when I was just out there, in it—with person or place—seeing the light, feeling the moment, and making pictures that transferred all of that: it was a delight.
A couple of years later I spent ten days in Cincinnati with Michael Wilson, a photographer whose work greatly impressed me. We talked about art and photography, work, and why, and at one point he said: "Pleasure that comes from one's work seems to be a fine indicator of being on a 'right path.'"
I came home from Ohio with a change in perspective that continues to guide me. Since then, I have directed the photography for my university's student newspaper, started shooting weddings and portraits professionally, and discovered how to photograph the subtle landscape that is my home.
I am attracted to the prairies because I know them. The fact that they are not striking is their asset and it is what makes them so alluring.
Out here there are no mountains, waterfalls, or impossibly blue lakes. Unlike that of the mountains, prairie beauty is neither conspicuous nor renowned. It is charming and elusive. In my experience it demands a long acquaintance before it can be seen. This familiarity, once gained, reveals the loveliness of the prairies to be as bold and as blatant as the booming thunderheads that plough up a late July afternoon.
What draws me to the prairies? Their very nature draws me. To know them you have to see them dressed in all kinds of weather, adorned in all qualities of light. You have to listen as they express themselves—in their responses to the seasons, in their kinship with the sky, and in their relationship with you. This is their charm.
I don't think inspiration is something that can be done; I think it is something to be received. So I would say that I don't go looking for it. Rather, I put myself in places where I can be inspired and those places are usually about something other than picture-making.
My work in oil and gas has taken me all over the countryside. Many of the pictures I make happen because I notice something while driving from one well to the next. Other pictures come while chasing a thunderstorm, while exploring a new coulee, or while cruising the gravel with a friend.
I feel like I have only just started discovering something out here. Thus far I have kept focus on the land- and sky-scapes, but there is so much more that I could show about the prairie. There are the fine details, like the patterns on lichen-encrusted rock, and then there are the people that live and work here.
The hard part for me is responding to the inspiration. I have heard writers answer the same kind of question—Where do you get your ideas?—and they say that it's not the ideas that are the hard part. It is the writing that is the hard part! I feel similarly.
I shot and edited everything on Instagram with my iPhone 4s.
I have a couple of 5D bodies and zoom lenses from 17-200mm. I shoot almost exclusively with a 24-105mm and I plan on swapping out the wide and tele lenses for a couple of normal-length primes.
I also have an old Hasselblad that belonged to my uncle. It needs a tune-up before I can use it, but I am eagerly anticipating what this place will look like on film
I have a blog where I pull together photography, music, and writing around one idea or experience. Most of my professional work comes by word-of-mouth, but I will soon be launching a website to augment that. I have been published in an arts journal and am a collaborating artist in an upcoming poetry journal. Instagram, however, is the primary way I share my photography.
The platform has been a real help on my photographic journey. I haven't always self-identified as a photographer, but the responses my work has received have definitely helped solidify that identity. I also get a kick out of interacting with a global community of photographers. I enjoy it.