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


Emergence | Looking Forward | Celebration

63 days.  That’s how long it has been since I’ve eaten in a restaurant, visited a friend, had a haircut, worked for a client, boarded a plane, gone to a movie, or sat and wrote in my favourite coffee shop.  

… just 63 days.

The world has changed a lot in that time frame though, hasn’t it?  We’ve been fortunate here in British Columbia, with a combination of strong leadership / good citizenship / and luck helping us avoid much of the tragedy that COVID-19 has brought to other parts of the world. 

During the early days of the lockdown I decided to relax and allow myself the space to just “be”.  It has been a strangely peaceful time, focused on family and artistic endeavours, but also one that has been largely recuperative physically, mentally, and creatively.  I have watched from afar, as an artist but also as a veteran health care worker, while heroic efforts were made by frontline workers, while armchair quarterbacks diminished those efforts through their cynicism, and while humanity showed its endless capacity for compassion and caring.  I have watched artists produce amazing new bodies of work, musicians play from their balconies to boost the morale of the people around them, and everyone come together nightly to show thanks for those who still work on the frontlines.  This is a time for the history books… that is for sure.

And now I find myself thinking about what life will look like moving forward.  What will I return to and continue doing?  What will I chose not to bring back into my life?  What am I the most excited about?  How can I best serve my family / friends / clients?

The world has changed, but I can’t help but feel optimistic that this pause is also an opportunity to shape our lives just a little bit… to give thought to what we want and to what we need to do moving forward.  They say that every cloud has a silver lining…. perhaps that is also the case here.

Photography never completely goes away though, right?  During the COVID-19 lockdown many of my Official Fujifilm X Photographer peers, myself included, produced videos for the Fujifilm community.  My video focused on how I approach shooting on the street, both philosophically and compositionally.  You can view the video on YouTube by clicking the image above.

Fujifilm Canada and I also continued our working relationship with the 2020 renewal of my status as an Official Fujifilm X Photographer.  Collaborating with this incredible company changed my life, both personally and professionally, so I am excited to continue supporting them and the artists who use their cameras.   

In closing:  I hope that you and your families are all doing well, and that we see each other out there very soon.  In celebration of my 2020 renewal, but also just in celebration of “life”, I’d like to end this post with a selection of my Fujifilm images.  This selection is varied, including some street photography, portraits, wedding photos, and cityscapes / landscapes that I have made with the Fujifilm X series over the years.  Some of these images go all the way back to the original Fujifilm FinePix X100!

Be safe everyone.  Talk soon.

Cheers,

Ian

What Will Your Verse Be?

The powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse.  What will your verse be?”

– Walt Whitman

“The meaning of life is to find your gift.  The purpose of life is to give it away.”

– Pablo Picasso

2020 is in full swing for most of us, the celebrations of New Year’s Eve already a distant memory.  I normally start each year energized, eager to plan out my year and attack new goals with intent and purpose.  My calendar fills with product launches, travel, presentations, podcasts, workshops, Skype sessions… and before I know it summer has arrived.

This year started out differently though.  Our usual cold, rainy days were followed by snow, causing power outages and blanketing the sky with lifeless grey clouds.  Productive planning sessions were replaced by contemplative periods, and most of my time has been spent writing, playing guitar, and walking the dog.

These have been slow days…. quiet days…. good days.

I initially attributed this different pace to my father’s recent passing, especially as it has only been 21 days since I delivered his eulogy, but more and more I am realizing that there is something bigger forming in my mind… a desire to do something special that is not yet defined.

The last few years have been incredibly productive:  I have reviewed a lot of gear, written almost 300 articles, guested or guest hosted on dozens of podcasts, delivered hundreds of presentations and taught thousands of students.  I cherish all of these things, with no intention of slowing down or stopping, so this desire isn’t because I am unsatisfied with the work that I am doing.  It is, rather, a desire to do something new… something… bigger.  I find myself constantly thinking of the quotes that I started this post with, especially this one:

“The powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse.  What will your verse be?”

I have always felt that my “verse” was the work that I do with my students.  I am a creator to be sure:  I love crafting a wonderful image, creating a well written essay, or nailing a song on my guitar.  But, I find more joy from seeing my students grow as artists.  It is what I live for.

I am realizing now, however, that the Create Forever project that I participated in last fall set off a huge period of intrinsic reflection… reflection focused on things like service to others and personal fulfillment.  I am sure that these feelings were compounded by many hours spent writing my father’s eulogy, where I spoke about his amazing life, his remarkable accomplishments, and his legacy.

So, it is time for me to write a new verse; not to replace what I am currently doing, but to build something new that can exist alongside my current work and contribute to this wonderful community of people that I am a part of.  It doesn’t need to change the world, but it definitely needs to be meaningful.

….

I am writing this post while sitting in my favourite coffee shop.  It is another rainy Vancouver day, and I am taking a break from reading a script that a film-maker and respected friend sent me.

The script is for a short film, an intensely personal project that tells the story of a loved one’s mental health struggles.  The story is told with passion, with love, and with an artistic vision that I hope to one day achieve in my own work.  In summary, it is brilliant.

This is a great example of what I am talking about:  My friend is writing a new verse in his powerful play, and it couldn’t be more awesome.  I am very proud of him.  And, I am inspired by him as well.

….

Have you ever felt like this?  Like there was something building inside of you… something that you just had to do or create?  If so, I would love to hear about it in the comments below, just as I absolutely plan on writing about my journey here on this site.

In the meantime of course, life goes on:  Soon you will see new work on this site from San Francisco and Los Angeles.  My street photography workshops in Vancouver and Toronto are filling up nicely, and I have many speaking engagements and weddings already booked.  I am sure that Fujifilm will release new equipment of course, which we will definitely discuss here as well.

The powerful play goes on and on though, doesn’t it?  And, it is time to write a new verse.

…what will it be?  What will your verse be for 2020?

Cheers,

Ian