Friday, 19 August 2016

STORIES

I am often asked what led me to become a photographer. The short answer is that it gives me a way to seek, see, and make meaning. While growing up my family traveled and lived in more than a dozen places by the time I was nine, so my world became largely defined by the people, places, cultures, and histories of these communities, seen through the lens of my own imagination. So arose in me the desire to document the singular moments particular to a place, its landscape and its people - its way of continuity. Not only to remember and preserve them for posterity, but more so to reflect how it has made me feel, how it changed or moved something inside of me, how it gave me meaning. As I've learned and grown as a photographer, it has become my way to cherish and preserve precious moments; it has also become my way of honouring and paying homage to the sacred and the sublime in this world.

This calling has taken me, beginning in my early twenties with my first camera, on several excursions to Latin America. Places in Mexico, Brazil, Ecuador, Costa Rica, El Salvador and Cuba. Westward to Ireland, my ancestral homeland, the United Kingdom and the U.S.A. Transversely from coast to coast in Canada, my home country. There are places I've returned to over and over, just as there are faces I've photographed time and time again, and those I've seen only once, yet somehow each time and each image manages to put something new into my experience of it, like the re-telling of a story.

It is the narrative power of documentary work from masters such as Sebastiao Salgado and Manuel Alvarez Bravo, that has inspired and compelled me to tap into photography as story telling. Partly because of these influences, I prefer to tell a story through direct images of people and I think that black and white photographs are beautiful and honest; they constantly step forward to present a timeless and unvarnished truth. In fact, my more formal portrait work has developed at the same time, from the same source and runs parallel to this.

More recently my pursuits brought me to the First Nations communities in Ontario and British Columbia, as well as events that gather elders and spiritual leaders from other reaches of the world. Some are well-known, some are yet unsung heroes and heroines, ambassadors of the Spirit, but all have led me to a new series of photographs in which I intend to document the diversity and unity of the many wisdom traditions in the world.
Relocating, in 2010, to live near the waters of Lake Ontario, in my home province, has rekindled a long time passion of mine to photograph water, in many of its moods and countenances; a story woven with light and dark, width and depth, stillness and unrest, and what it's capable of awakening in us.

All of these have been immeasurable gifts to me as a photographer. These gifts are what I share, as a teacher, with my students in my College classes in Toronto, as well as my independently held workshops and coaching sessions. 

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