or not at all.

October 26, 2010

it’s Tuesday night, which means the Mrs. is tutoring math in the living room. which means I hang out in the bedroom for two hours pretending to be productive doing stuff like cleaning my inbox, getting caught up with my social network, and blogging.

just… really important stuff.

I just spent the last half hour or so going back through all my blogs. I don’t know why I am feeling so nostalgic these days. Anyway, I love stirring the waters of my past. As a photographer, it’s pretty neat to be able to see tangible improvement in my work. But not just technically speaking. I can also see that I am in the process of wrestling down a ‘look’ that is my own, and that’s just fine. That said, there’s quite a lot of rubbish there too. Maybe I’ll do some spring cleaning.

Side note:
How does Mumford and Sons kick so much ass??
They are the soundtrack to this blog. It’s my biggest regret that I missed their concert on Saturday in Vancouver.

I’ve been thinking about how giving up on photography might have been the best thing for my art. The truth is, nothing good could have came from the road I was on. I was trying too hard. Maybe that sounds like bullshit, and maybe it is.

I think if you want to make something beautiful, something that matters, something honest, you have to do it for its own sake, or not at all. It became too important for me to make money, you know? It’s weird, and I don’t think it suited me. I have no bloody idea what I’m doing know mind you, but I can feel my approach to photography really changing. Not ‘pursuing’ photography kind of creates some creative space to just do it. You know?

One thing that I’m realizing is that I love shooting peoples portraits. I think people are much more fascinating than we give them credit for. I would like to do more of that in the future.

Oh Ya! While looking back over posts I stumbled across this one and oh dear it put me in a good humor!
I thought I would share it in case you wanted to laugh with/at me.

OK, I’m done. Since I’m on Alicia’s laptop I don’t have a lot of pictures to choose some. Here’s a few old iPhone photo’s that I’ve always really liked.

“How fickle my heart and how woozy my eyes…”
– Mumford and Sons








October 20, 2010

on sunday i drove out to chilliwack to start making a batch of home brew wine with my dad, and i’m pretty excited if you want to know the truth. i’ve never made wine before and am looking forward to the process. also, we got one of the ‘premium’ kits, so im told it will be good.

I think one of the first times I drank home made wine was at a Seylynn Hall punk show back in the 90’s.
My buddy… or maybe it was me, stole a bottle from the parents. Sadly, we were young, and didn’t have the foresight to realize we needed a cork screw to open the bottle.
So I was pretty sure that if hit the neck to the bottle just right on that big rock over there, i could get a clean break and we’d be in business.

Needless to say, it was anything but a clean break.
Of course a few shards of glass weren’t about to stop us. It was a punk show after all.

anyway, while i was there i had to clean out some of my stuff i had been storing there. it was actually pretty cool.

like opening a time capsule

Old songs I had composed, old pictures I had developed in the dark room, old essays, old report cards and old love letters.

I dont know if you have ever sat on the floor in front of a ratty suit case filled with your life 10 years ago, but if you haven’t you should. it gave me an odd sense that that I’m getting older, and that I didn’t, as it turns out, stay 17 forever. but that would have suited me just fine. I was much better looking back then.

But it also reminded me that I am blessed and have a good life:

A dagger gifted to me by a poor, young man in the Philippines.

A foot peddle from a stand-up piano I demolished with a sledge hammer in Mexico.

A glass Coke Bottle filled with sand from Thailand

A goat skinned drum from Africa.

They were just a few treasures of my life that I’m glad I have held on too. Even if they were buried beneath the stairs for years.

so im working on just finding fun in photography again. part of that is is giving up some silliness. like, for some reason i have had in my heart an issue with those auto-vintage iPhone apps. i think a bunch of hipsters use them and think they are rather artsy for doing so.

but they’re not. they’re just hipsters.

any way, i came across one such app and have been having “fun” with it so what the hell, I don’t have to prove anything to you!



pink elephant.

October 14, 2010


No, I haven’t blogged in while.

Sitting in front of this WordPress template, desperately trying to remember how to do this again, I am reminded of just how much my life has changed in the last year.

got married

traveled to greece

moved into a sweet appartment

took a bunch of photo’s

That’s about where we left off I suppose.


I guess I should say that what photography was for me started to change. More or less I found that it had reached a tipping point where it was causing more stress than joy.


Doing photography as a profession, it would appear, is more than just pushing a button.

It’s Finding Work

Making deadlines

Doing taxes

making invoices

salvaging shoots gone terribly, terribly wrong…

or at least trying too.

Any way, I’m not here to whinge about what a hard go of it I had. I’m just saying I woke up one day and realized it wasn’t fun anymore.

And then I cried for a month.

Ok not really…


Anyway, when I got over my little pity party, I did what any normal person would do.

Decided to become an accountant.

No… seriously. I signed up for, and was accepted in to CGA program. Of which I have yet to fully understand why.

I dropped out as quickly as I joined.


Now. Now is still being worked out. It’s actually happening at the moment if you really want to know.

With ‘photographer’ tossed haphazardly into the storage room along with pastor, producer, and musician I’m back to the drawing board.

I was really tempted right there to say “the proverbial drawing board” but then I realized, I hate it when people say that sort of crap.

That’s the sort of stuff stupid people say to try and sound smart.

I don’t want to try and sound smart. It’ll give people the wrong impression.

Anyway, you’re probably so board by now that you’re starting to think that doing that “thing” that you’re procrastinating doing (you know the one) couldn’t possibly be as bad as listening to this tosser go on for another minute. So i’ll be merciful and wrap this up.


For the time being I’m content taking some time to figure things out. Might go back to school, we’ll see.

As for photography I’m on a personal mission to fall back in love with it. In fact, I’m just starting to realize I need to fall back in love with art, creativity, and spirituality. I kind of think I need to remember who I am.

You might not realize this but my emotions are flat out dictated by the music I listen to while writing these things.

For example, some inspirational, moody, contemplative song was just playing.

Hence the random tender moment we just shared  three lines ago.

photography needs to be fun. i also want it to be personal and mean something, not just a product that I hope will sell. so i got back out there this week and got personal with my pictures. They should be different.

It’s good to be back.





“Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future.”

– Oscar Wilde

For a couple of months I had been planning a shoot with my friend Tony. He needed some pictures for an Easter sermon he was preaching. We had come up with a fairly elaborate idea, but when that day came to shoot, it all fell apart. There was a whole slough of reasons it just wasn’t going to work out like we had planned it, some good reasons, some bad. But it didn’t really matter anymore, we just had to come up with something new.

We sat down on the day of the shoot and started from square one. We decided to start with the premises of making the shoot a realistic endeavor, using only what we had at our immediate disposal. And it actually became one of those situations when the limitations of the situation became very freeing and we had a great shoot.

I haven’t shot a lot of conceptual photography before but I hope that will change. It was such a great way for me to re-engage my craft and push my own limits. And I love what the outcome was. Let me know hat you think.


“You know more than you think you know, just as you know less than you want to know.”

– Oscar Wilde.

Everyone is watching the Oscars right now except me. I have cable, but no TV.

Go figure.

I watched some of the Red Carpet stuff over at my mum’s place. It must be weird to be a movie star. I mean, we obviously glamorize that sort of life, but when I really think about it, I dont think I would like it at all.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ll take the fortune, and I wouldn’t even really mind the ‘Fame’ in and of itself. I just think I would rather have the sort of fame that like, I don’t know, Bill Gates has. I think Bill Gates could walk down the street without being mobbed by a pack of screaming and crying fans.

I mean, windows 7 isn’t that impressive.

But still, he’s respected around the world. The movie star kind of fame is something different all together. At its core it’s a fantasy. We look at them like a little piece of utopia. The most beautiful, the richest, the most talented, the most famous, etc.  And the implication is that this is the ‘Ideal’, the good life, happiness.

But come on…

It’s why we’re so shocked when they turn out to be bad parents, drunks, cheaters, etc.

We’re shocked that they are just like you and me.

Anyway, who cares? I’m rambling, conceited, and probably a little jealous. Oh, and a hypocrite. Cause honestly, I’d probably never turn down that life if it was offered to me.

moving on.

Some of you might have heard me recently talk about how I’ve been playing around with a Holga toy camera. It’s been a lot of fun for me. I started out shooting film back in the day, spending hours upon hours in my high school dark room (which I blogged all about a while ago in “The Dark Room Series“). But it’s been a long time since I’ve done that.

The Holga has been a great way to get out and just have fun shooting. Remembering what its like to just be completely creative for creativity’s sake. I love the grainy, vintage, crappy plastic lens look that it gives. But I have a lot to remember/learn about shooting film, which I’m looking forward too doing.

these are just a couple portraits of me and my lovely wife.

To be honest, most of what I’ve shot thus far has just not panned out.

The back popped off for one roll, another roll got jammed/ruined, another one just sucked all around.

needless to say, it’s been very humbling.

But this roll had a few keepers. There is a whole lot of trial and error going on these days.

But now that I’m starting to feel some traction, I’m excited to keep shoot with it.

Any other Holga shooters out there? Here’s a great resource for shooting and modifying your Holga.

Finally, there was some interest over on my twitter about a personality quiz I came across based entirely on picking colours that make you feel good. You can give it a try here if you want. It only takes a couple minutes, but the results are pretty crazy. In fact, they were down right creepy for me. Try it, you’ll see what I mean.


“For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.”                     – Robert Louis Stevenson

I had been wanting to do a trip for about two months. I didn’t want to spend a lot of money, I didn’t want to be gone long, and I didn’t want to go far. I didn’t even really care where I was going.

I just wanted to go.

Not to get away from anything, but I just really felt like I wanted an experience. I wanted to do something different, I wanted quiet, time to think, reflect. And of course, take pictures.

I decided to go to the Olympic Peninsula, a gorgeous national park on the west coast of Washington State Park. Part of the experience was the road trip. It turned out to be about an 8 hour trip one way, all things considered. I loaded my Golf up with camping and photography gear and set out at 4am last Wednesday. And it felt good to drive hard for 8 hours.

Another part of the experience was camping. I used to camp a lot, but I honestly can’t remember the last time I had been before this trip. Proud moments included:

1. Setting up the tent all by myself (and in under an hour!)

2. Starting a fire from mostly damp wood

3. And going mano e mano with a cheeky raccoon the first night.

All in all, it was a great trip. Sometimes just giving yourself the time to think long and hard is the best thing you can do. Now, I’ve just started editing some photo’s from the trip but here’s a taste. I also shot a few rolls on my Holga which might make their way up here some day

This shot was from the first night, on Ruby Beach.

It was cold as a cucumber, but quite pretty.

And as serene as this picture might look, it was sheer chaos behind the lens.

Every second the light changing

Every moment the tide moving further out.

Constantly adjusting settings, moving, composing and re-composing.

Being caught off-guard and getting drenched by a rough wave.

Hand shaking and shivering , lips turning blue, toes going numb from the cold.

And finally realizing its pitch black… and you can’t remember which way you came from.

So you gather your gear, and start singing old hymns at the top of your lungs to warn the cougars and bears, (that you’re praying aren’t really there) as you run back to where you think you parked the car.



So how about these Olympics eh? Couldn’t step outside my front door without getting run down by a torch bearer. Seriously though, today is the first day it really feels like the Olympics are here. And I have to admit…

I felt a little excited.

I have had mixed feeling about the Olympics in the past, but the closer we get to them actually happening, the more I find myself looking forward to them. And they are going to happen one way or another, so I might as well have a good time eh?? Anyway, the 2010 website is worth poking around in, lots of fun stuff going on.

But not as fun as engagement shoots with an awesome couple.

not even close sucka.

Great locations, great weather, great people. What more can you ask for in a shoot?

I’ve known these crazy kids since back in my college days (ya… waaayyyy back). And my lovely wife has known Amanda since they were wee lass’. Both held prominent roles in Alicia’s and my wedding as bridesmaid and head usher. I’ll let you figure out which was which.

Bottom line: great people, lots of fun, love this shoot, stoked to shoot their wedding. Thanks you guys for being amazing! Stay classy.


“No one ever thought Clint Eastwood was funny, but he was.”
– Annie Leibovitz

I’ve been reading “At Work” by Annie Leibovitz lately. It’s a great read for a photographers, or any one who appreciates the arts. It’s a very casual read, like you’re just chatting with Annie over coffee. I love books like that. When a book is to formal it almost always comes off as pretentious.

I’m always fascinated to learn about how other photographers think about, and approach photography. The differences interest me, and the similarities surprise me. One of the most interesting things for me to realize is that people like Annie Leibovitz are just normal people with a passion and a talent.

They aren’t superhero’s or demigods.

They get nervous at shoots, they miss shots, and they are their biggest critic. They deal with the same obstacles, issues, and even insecurities as everyone else. They are people.

That’s why I used that stupid quote. It’s not profound. It’s just a person’s opinion.

Annie talks about this one shoot in the book where as she was getting the lighting right for some portraits, she shot a few Polaroids. They were terribly under exposed, but she absolutely loved them and did the whole shoot like that. The whole time, she says, her assistants and AD’s were begging her to shoot some with more light, that were properly exposed. They reasoned that she could darken them in print if she still wanted to. She refused, and was annoyed at their request.

What I found fascinating about that story was the thought that there were these people on the set, who would have been quite knowledgeable about photography and have good eyes. Yet, they were begging Annie to fix the picture. They thought Annie Leibovitz was taking bad pictures.

Now, I might stumble upon those same pictures and not even think about the fact they are under-exposed and have a sickly green light. I might (and probably do… did) immediately assume they are brilliant pictures just because Annie Leibovitz shot them (I really like her in-case that wasn’t obvious).  But I might not really be able to explain why I like them.

Without rambling on too much longer, here’s my point.

Art is subjective, and photography is an art.

If you treat photography as an art, and you commit to the process, engaging who you are with it, you will inevitable produce good work. Some people will love it, some people will hate it, and some people could care less. Welcome to life. For me, photography is a life long pursuit. And even though it sucks sometimes, I love the process. It’s like dating when you’re a teenager. You fumble around, and it’s awkward for a while. But its exciting! And you slowly start getting the hang of things after a while. And I love it.

Last week alan, this week ashley.

wonderful, wonderful people. married too each other by the way.

I think one of the things I have found doing this series on the white is that it’s hard to capture all of a person in one picture.

people are dynamic, complex, and layered.

Like Dodgeball

But I love trying to draw the characters of a person out of them.

ps: I stole those 3D glasses from Avatar. Don’t tell.

“The most difficult thing for me is a portrait. You have to try and put your camera between the skin of a person and his shirt.”

Henri Cartier-Bresson

A camera has a powerful effect on people. At least when they know it’s pointing at them.

Some people don’t mind this way or that, but they are the exception. Most people react fairly strong to having a camera pointed art them. For some, its equivalent to pointing a gun at them; they freak out and run away. Others act as though a spot light has just been turned on them and they are immediately compelled to get into character, pose, and perform.

Others can’t keep a straight face and start giggling…

Between all that, and the technical requirements of actually talking the picture, there’s a lot to consider as a photographer. Between all that who do you “…put your camera between the skin of a person and his shirt.”

How do you get to the core of the person? I wish I could make a “Top Ten Ways to Do That” blog, but I can’t. And neither can you as far as I’m concerned.

I guess my point is that as a photographer you can spend a heck of a lot of time preparing for a shoot, conceptualizing it, plotting it out. You can buy and rent gear, hire models, build elaborate sets, etc. And that’s all good.

There is something though that happens so often while shooting which is spontaneous, unplanned, and organic. Preparing is good because it will make you ready when those moments come. And in portraiture, those moments, which are often really seconds if that, are brilliant. The way I see it is that those are the moments when your subject lets their guard down and reveals them self to the camera.

Alan here is a complex man, if I may be so bold.

He is thoughtful, he is smart, and he is an all around good man.

And, he has this other side to him that I particularly like. It’s the side that makes me feel like we’re toddlers playing in the sand box.

(See images at end of blog for visual)

I loved shooting Alan because when I put my camera in front of him this was the side of him that simply escaped out of him.

Even though he had worked in the cold, pouring rain all day, and even though he must have been just exhausted, he just couldn’t help himself.

And the best images from the session had a child-likeness, a playfulness, and an innocence that I absolutely loved.

Thanks Alan

Trying something different today.

Entire blog written and uploaded from my iPhone*.

This won’t be a long one.

I’m editing an engagement shoot from the other day. Real classy people. Any way, here’s a couple iPhone exclusive pictures of the couple and one of the locations.

I like the iPhone picture taking.

I forces me to think more about the photo.

To Engage my suroundings in a creative way

And, Chase Jarvis is right, the best camera is the one that is always on you.

Loewen out.

*Almost entirely from iPhone. Needed a little help in the image sizing department. I am a fraud and you have caught me. Please be kind to me.