Going Beyond The Lens

June would normally be the start of my workshop season, a wonderful four or five month period that I spend each year making images with students from around the world.  This year will be different of course, the world has far more important things to spend time on right now than photo workshops, so I will just be running one small course in Vancouver this summer for students here in Canada.

Spending time with my workshop participants is a privilege that goes far beyond just taking photographs, something that I was reminded of today when I found a few student images on my iPad from years gone by.  I am inspired by the work that my students create and by the conversations that we have, so I’d like to share these images with you now.  To my students whose work is featured here:  I apologize for not listing your name by the image… I am just working quickly from my iPad and don’t have the course rosters with me (please feel free to provide a link to your website or social media accounts in the comments).  

And, for those who are struggling right now:  struggling with illness, struggling with racial injustice, struggling financially due to the COVID-19 lockdown, just… struggling… please keep your heads held high and remember this quote from Dr. King:

“We must accept finite disappointment, but we must never lose infinite hope.”

Stay safe and focused right now everybody.  Be kind to each other, and to yourselves.  And, continue to make photos.  Lots and lots of photos.  🙂

Cheers,

Ian


The Sun Still Shines…

I will remember the winter of 2020 as a long, dark period; one marked by feelings stirred up while helping others through their struggles and by the death of my father.  The long winter continues now of course, fuelled by the daily onslaught of COVID-19 related news and the cancellation this week of a family vacation to Disneyland (we were to touch down in LA the day they announced the park closures).

All of this can seem like a lot, can’t it?  Especially when you consider that we humans are wired with a negative bias (our DNA is still watching out for Saber-toothed Tigers), which means that it is easy to become overwhelmed by all of these negative feelings if we allow it to happen.  

Amongst the chaos of life’s challenges, however, there are still opportunities to find peace and simple moments of joy.  Such was the case earlier this year, when I finally had the chance to get away and be a photographer again.  I spent a few days in a city that I love, spending time with my amazing wife and with my photography friends.  I felt the sun on my face, I relaxed and watched the world go by, I dined with friends, and I made photos again with intention and purpose.  It was a wonderful reminder that no matter how dark the winter is… the sun will always shine again.

Even now, at a time when we should all be making realistic modifications to our daily lives to help slow the spread of COVID-19, the sun will continue to shine.  I won’t be travelling again for a while, but there are ways that I can find moments of joy while still doing my part to protect the herd and keep pressure off of our health care system:  I can spend time with my family, shoot landscapes, process old photos, read books, play guitar, re-watch old movies, go out and enjoy my city in a way that respects social distancing, do yoga, etc.

No matter how dark the winter is… the sun will shine again.

So, keep your hands clean my friends.  Don’t use hand rails when going up stairs.  Try not to touch your face while you are out and about.  Stay home if you feel ill.  Stay 6’ away from people when you can.  Perhaps phone or Skype at risk family members and friends rather than visiting them face to face for a little while (remember, you can be an asymptomatic carrier).  Understand that these common sense actions aren’t just about keeping you safe, they are about protecting the herd and our health care system.  They are about protecting immunocompromised people.  They are about protecting pregnant people.  They are about protecting our elderly who have co-morbidities.  After all, we are in this together, right?

Most importantly though:  Be purposeful in deriving joy from your life and your art, even during these troubled times.  No, especially during these troubled times.  Don’t let your passion get drowned out by negative bias or by the onslaught of news that the media sends our way.  Use common sense, but always let the sun shine in… for all winters come to an end.

And with that, I shall leave you with some new photographs.  I hope you like them.

Best wishes,

Ian

The Injury Chronicles – Part Two: Assembling The Watchers

We have all felt fear – that sense that something is wrong even when we can’t put our finger on it.  Perhaps it is a gut feeling that tells us not to walk down a certain street one evening, despite it being on our usual route home.  Maybe you have felt unsettled in a lonely parking lot, your eyes constantly scanning while you hurriedly unlock the car door.  I know that I felt unsettled many times as a paramedic, such as when we would approach pitch black houses at 3am or when we were surrounded by a crowd that was turning angry on a scene.  Fear is an intrinsic thing, primal in nature, and because of that it is used by many creatives in their work (I’m looking at you Stephen King).  

When I am out shooting I will occasionally use an emotion as a source of inspiration for my photography (happiness, surprise, fear, etc).  Over the last year I have had the idea of “The Watchers” in the back of my mind… a feeling that maybe there is something dark and foreboding following us that might be a threat.  As an exercise in creativity I have been working with composition, darkness and silhouettes to try to create this feeling in some of my photographs.

This is the first time I have put some of these images together in a series.  I am definitely still exploring this idea of shooting to a specific emotion, but I thought I would share these first steps with all of you.

Cheers,

Ian

Note:  The Injury Chronicles is a series of photo essays, with minimal text, that I am posting while I rehabilitate a hand injury.