Vignettes of Amsterdam – Part One

For the last few years I have made an annual trip to Amsterdam; sometimes for pleasure, sometimes to teach.  Amsterdam  is a wonderful city to visit, full of amazing landmarks, museums, architecture and history.  It is the Dutch people, however, that I truly love.  As a Canadian, my country and the Netherlands have a special history together and I instantly feel at home as soon as I get off the train.

This past September I was in Amsterdam to teach a workshop and to spend a few days exploring the city with my camera.  On past trips, I have photographed the quintessential Amsterdam landmarks so this time I just wanted to capture life on the streets, those little vignettes you see when you slow down and observe what is happening around you.  As always, Amsterdam did not disappoint.

Most of the photographs in this essay were taken with the Fuji X100F, a few with the Fuji X-Pro2 and the 50mm f/2 lens.  All images used the Acros film simulation, with small adjustments in Lightroom.

I hope you enjoy this peek into life on the streets of Amsterdam.  Part two in this series, coming next week, will feature new  colour work from the same trip.

Until then!

Ian

2018:  From Transition to Realization

The end of 2016, and all of 2017, were pivotal times for me.  2017 was the year that I stopped living a dual life and went all in on being a full time creative.  In this, my first post of 2018, I’d like to talk about that process.  I’d like to talk about goal setting and about what I will be creating and offering in 2018.  This will be a long post but stick with it… I am excited and think it will be worth the read.

Change is rarely easy, but it often brings new opportunities that we wouldn’t otherwise have.  In my case I can say that the shift to being a full time creative was not made entirely by choice.  For as long as I can remember, I have loved being a paramedic and serving my community as much as I have loved being a working creative.  Paramedicine taught me about people, which made me a better artist.  Art taught me about peace and mindfulness, which made me a better paramedic.  Strangely enough, there was an overlap and a synergy between these two careers.

Life is funny though, throwing you curve balls you don’t expect.  As much as I loved my career as a paramedic, and valued the work that I did, that same career brought me PTSD.  The process of healing from my PTSD made me realize how intense the pure joy is that I experience when working as a photographer and a writer.  Even in my darkest moments I was at peace when I held a camera in my hand, when I presented on stage, when I taught a photography workshop, when I photographed a wedding or when I wrote an article.  My work as a creative was my solace, the thing that kept me strong as I healed.

Looking back, I can see that something had been building in me since 2015, despite the fact that I had been working as a creative for most of my life (in addition to my photography, I was also a professional musician for 8 years and a web designer for several years).  What I didn’t realize though, until the PTSD forced me to stop and reflect, was just how much that side of my life had been growing.  It was all there, just waiting for me to dedicate myself fully to it.

So, almost a year ago, I started goal setting and giving careful consideration to what I wanted and what I needed my life to look like moving forward.  To live a life full of intrinsic joy and satisfaction I knew that my work must provide me with:

  • Time to create the art that I love.  I enjoy client driven work when it aligns with my own way of seeing, but the primary focus must be on my own art.
  • Time to write.  2017 was a busy year for this, but in 2018 I will be taking it to the next level as described below.
  • Opportunities to create, share and engage with others.  All too often photography is a solo endeavour, but community is beautiful thing that offers so many opportunities.
  • Time to offer, and participate in, high quality education.  I have been teaching for 22 years, went to university to study pedagogy and love all aspects of teaching.  Indeed, it has been the one common thing throughout my life.
  • Opportunities to inspire others and to help them obtain their own artistic goals.
  • Finally, projects involving collaboration with my friends at Fujifilm Canada so I can continue to promote and support this brand that I love working with.

Lofty goals, right?  The planning is the easy part though, the hard part is to actually translate those goals into a working business model, one that feeds both your family and your soul at the same time.  To meet these goals, I am happy to announce that moving forward the work that I create, and my educational and artistic offerings, will include the following:

 

New Format for the website

One of the biggest changes in 2018 will be in regard to this website.  That change will come in the form of more content, more frequently, for free!

When I started this site a few years ago it was simply a vehicle for me to post photo essays and random thoughts.  A place to share, if you will.  Over the years, however, it has morphed into a site that is viewed upwards of 60,000 times per month, that has hundreds of posts, gear reviews, etc.  I am filled with joy when I think of the great people I have met through this site, the conversations I have had, the friendships I have made.  It is awesome, but I think it can be better.

So, moving forward, you will see two new articles appear each month in addition to the usual photo essays and other posts that I put up.  One is a new monthly column entitled “Street Tips” and the other is a monthly interview series.

Street Tips

The first addition each month will be a short lesson taken from my street photography workshops and/or my upcoming books.  These lessons will be tagged with “Street Tips”, and you can use the drop down Category menu in the sidebar to find all of these tips at any time.  To get started I have gone back and tagged 7 previous articles that I wrote, and moving forward a new lesson will be added each month.

The Interview Series

The second new monthly article will come from the resurrection of my Interview Series, which was started a while back but got lost in the shuffle.  Starting at the end of January, a new interview will be published each month, introducing you to photographers who I admire and respect.  This series will begin with my friend Tomash, an Official Fuji X Photographer based out of Switzerland and the founder of the FujiLove website and magazine.  Tomash is also an amazing photographer in his own right and I can’t wait to share more of his work with you.

I look forward to building out the content on this site more.  If you have any suggestions please let me know!

 

Group Workshops & Private One on One workshops

In 2017 I launched a new series of 3 day street photography workshops, with sold out offerings held in Vancouver, Toronto and Amsterdam.  Combining my love of street photography with the sound educational principles I have learned over the last twenty years, the purpose of these workshops is to give a photographer the tools to find and develop their own vision on the streets.  Lecture is followed by skill practice, then by time spent on the streets shooting, with each student receiving one on one feedback throughout the weekend.  On the last day post production is followed by a group critique session to reinforce best practices and to celebrate successes.  These workshops are a lot of fun!

In 2018, workshops are currently scheduled for (click each link for more info):

Montreal Street Photography Workshop:  May 25-27

Vancouver Street Photography Workshop:  June 15-17

Paris Street Photography Workshop:  July 13-15

Vancouver Street Photography Workshop:  August 10-12

Toronto Street Photography Workshop:  August 17-19

These workshops are all already filling up fast, so if you are interested in taking one please register early!

Sometimes a student can’t make a group workshop, or perhaps they have specific needs that wouldn’t be served completely in a group workshop setting.   For these times I also offer private, one on one workshops here in Vancouver (these are also available in cities that I travel to).  Each private one on one workshop is 6 hours in length, allowing us to do a gap analysis and then target education to a student’s specific needs.

To learn more about these private, one on one workshops please click here:

Private One on One Workshops

 

Online Education and Workshops

Online education has grown in leaps and bounds over the last decade, rightfully so.  Today’s technology has removed so many barriers and now we can access high quality education, 24 hours a day, from instructors and educators around the world.  In the past I have completed full diploma programs online, as well as instructed courses using this delivery model.  I am sold on its effectiveness and think it is truly a great time to be a student!

In 2016 I began offering customized education to photographers around the world via Skype.  These classes, which you can learn about here:

Online Mentoring

…are tailored to meet a photographer’s specific needs and usually consist of portfolio reviews, technical help, or education targeted to a specific need.

In 2017, I had many students who were unable to attend one of my face to face street photography workshops ask if it was possible to deliver the same content online.  This led to the creation of a Virtual Street Photography Workshop.

In this multi session course, I review a student’s current work to get an understanding of where they are at with their street photography.  From there, I deliver the same presentations that my students receive in class, have the students go out multiple times to shoot assignments, reconnect and review the student’s work, discuss and teach post processing via screen sharing, and help the student edit their work down to have a new portfolio of street photography that they developed during the course.  It is amazing to see the huge strides my students have made through this process.  Plus, it is a lot of fun to connect and work with people around the world!

To learn more about these online street photography workshops please click this link:

Virtual Street Photography Workshop

 

Books

This is the big one for me, something that I have been working on for a long time now!

One of the best things to come out of this website has been my love of writing.  150 blog posts, 4 magazine articles, 270 Instagram posts…I find it to be an incredibly peaceful and joyful way of creating.  Throughout the process I have long considered writing 3 different books:  one educational, one that is an artistic collection of my work and one that is inspirational.  I have other ideas beyond these but baby steps, right?

I am so excited to say that the first of these books, pictured above, will be launching as an eBook at the end of March.  I have worked with countless educational resources over the years and I have been pouring all of my experience as an educator into this one.  I am proud of this book and know it will be of value to many photographers.

This first offering will be followed in early summer by my second book and in the fall by my third.  Keep an eye on the site for more details coming very soon!

 

Prints

I am all in on the digital world.  Hell, I do 99% of my work on an iPad, so it really hit me years ago when I heard somebody say that “a photograph isn’t real until you can hold it in your hands”.  Then, I started printing my images.  Now, when I look up on the wall and see one of my photos printed large, framed and hung in just the right spot, I know exactly what that person was talking about.

I recently spent a few days photographing Paris after teaching a workshop in Amsterdam and during the trip I visited the Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson, where I had the opportunity to view the photos on display.  The gallery is small, just a few exhibits, but there were photos there that I simply got lost in.  There is magic in a beautiful photograph and we should all experience the joy of a printed image.

I have sold a few images over the years as prints, but always ad hoc in between my regular client work.  Starting in the spring of 2018, however, I will now have a small curated gallery of approximately 50 images available for sale online.

Stay tuned for more details!

 

Presentations

I have always loved presenting and performing.  When I was a musician, my favourite feeling was that moment just before I went on stage, full of excitement and anticipation.  It wasn’t just the performing though, it was the joy of being on stage with other artists who all shared the same vision.  Teaching new paramedics has the same feeling for me.

In late 2015, I began to present in the photography world and, since then, I have conducted dozens of photography presentations in different venues: representing Fujifilm Canada at photography events, teaching for camera clubs, presenting at the Vancouver International Photo Festival, etc.  It is such a great feeling to talk about something I love so much with like minded artists and I look forward to many more presentations in 2018.

If you have an event or organization that would like to host me, please get in touch.  I have presentations on Street Photography and Travel Photography that I can delivery anytime, and I also enjoy creating custom presentations to meet specific needs.

 

Client work and weddings

This was perhaps the hardest part of my business plan to finalize.  Over the years I have shot many paid assignments:  head shots, family portraits, musical performances, athletes (both portraits and while they were performing), product photography, etc.  I have worked in studio, with lighting, with hair and make up artists, etc.

The truth is that, despite the amazing people I worked with on a regular basis, I never felt completely fulfilled creating much of that work in comparison to the images I create when I am shooting my first love:  street photography.  It was when I realized that my love actually laid in observational, candid, documentary style photography that it all came together for me in the form of candid wedding photography.  I love the thrill of working hard during a wedding and reacting to that split second when the moment, the subjects, the light and the background all come together.  This is where I now focus my client driven photographic efforts.  And, I love it.

Click here to learn more about my wedding photography.

 

A final note…

Making a profound life change is not easy, especially in the face of adversity, but if done with purpose and intent it is so rewarding.  This entire post can really be summed up by saying that my goals for 2018 are simply to:

  • Create the work that I love through writing and photography.
  • Share my work with others through blogging, writing, teaching and presenting.
  • Encourage, assist and inspire others to do the same thing… however I can.

It is January 1st, 2018 as I write this and I am so looking forward to a year spent creating art, writing, teaching, traveling and working with my clients and other artists.  It is going to be amazing.

I encourage you to also purposefully follow your own path.  Ignore the noise and don’t pay attention to what others are doing if it leads to comparison and self doubt.  Instead, just put your head down, make your own plans (be them big or small) and get to work.  Make 2018 the year that you achieve at least one of your own long term goals.  If I can help, just let me know.

Best wishes,

Ian

My Final Images of 2017

I started writing this post on December 23rd, sitting in a coffee shop enjoying a hot chocolate after finishing my Christmas shopping (one day early I might add… no slacking off this year).  Brilliant sun was shining through the window, casting long shadows on the ground.  The shop was busy, but everyone was clearly in the holiday spirit.  It felt good.  Peaceful.  Inspiring.  It felt the way life should at this time of year and that feeling has only grown stronger  over the last few days spent with family and friends.

I have a lot of things to write about, but I’ll leave that for my first blog post of 2018.  For now, I just want to share one final photo essay for the year and express gratitude for so many things in my life:  family,  friends,  colleagues,  peers,  clients,  students,  community,  art,  health and  success.  Also, the struggles and the failures.  Our experiences, both good and bad, shape us and I wouldn’t trade any of them for anything.  It has been an amazing year.

Despite the usual year end hustle and bustle, I have been lucky enough to get out on the streets of Vancouver a few times over the last few weeks.  The weather has been beautiful:  cold, but with brilliant sunshine and a couple of days of snow.  The late afternoon sun, coming in so low during these winter months, has provided  a world of long shadows and pockets of light to photograph.  It has been a lot of fun to shoot this light with my Fuji X100F and to make images just for the sake of creating.  No client driven work.  No working against a deadline… just making art for the love it.

I hope you are all having a wonderful holiday season.  I’ll be hitting the ground running with many new projects in 2018 so, until then, let’s all enjoy some well deserved downtime.

Best wishes,

Ian