Monday, December 28, 2009

The Right Place At The Right Time

Being in the right place at the right time; how do you know where and when that is? Maybe the more important question should be, "do I want to be at the right place at the right time"? Really, we can never know where that will be or when IT will take place. We can increase the odds but never taking the chance actually guarantees nothing will ever happen.

Today I knew I would be in the mountains and I told myself I would take my gear everywhere so that I no longer miss great moments when I should have taken the time to capture an image. I have thought a lot about this, after all, I am a photographer. Photography is not just my job, hobby or lifestyle. If I want to be good and produce something relevant in this life, I simply have to BE a photographer.

If I never take my camera with me, how will I capture that fleeting moment? If I always say no to every opportunity that comes around, how will I ever collect those experiences? Nothing great ever happened to anyone by being afraid, safe, or comfortable.

What are you going to do today to increase the odds.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Look Around You

You don't have to look very hard or for long before you can see something amazing, just look around you.

Now what really blows my mind is physics and the simple yet absolute order of some of the things we totally take for granted. For instance; look at water, ordinary tap water. Water has this thing called surface tension. Surface tension (cohesion) is the attraction of molecules to other like molecules. Since the molecules on the surface of the liquid are not surrounded by like molecules on all sides, they are more attracted to their neighbors on the surface. This is one of the factors causing droplets of water to take their shape.

Something even more amazing about water and droplets in particular, is that they seem to bounce when they hit a puddle. You would think that they would just hit, splash and just merge with the puddle right? What is actually happening is that for just a milli-second, the droplet is landing on a thin layer of air between it and the puddle. The droplet does not even touch to become part of the puddle until the air has escaped from below the droplet. All this happening before you can even see it.

What does that mean to me? Well, it is not a life altering event by any means, but what it does do is make me believe we live in a pretty fantastic world. I have a hard time imagining that it all happened by chance.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Unbalanced Equation

Seventeen hundred and eighty-nine does not equal sixty. But if you put them together over 5 hours, it sort of does.

At first it doesn't make sense at all. Kind of like two and seven. They are not equal but when you put them together, you get your average week. Now that definitely does not make sense, working 5 days just to have two off. Totally off-balance.

Today, I tried out a new ice climbing partner in Banff. The route, would be high up on Copper Mountain. Just how high up? Well, about a 1789 vertical foot scramble up the east facing draw along the highway. Once there, our ice fall was about 60 feet. Was it worth it? Not at first.

However, once we were there, and climbed it a few times, the sun shining, air warm, and the killer view of the Banff parkway, our equation made sense.

Hard work + exercise + a great view, and a chance to be in the mountains away from the crowds, it made perfect sense.

Long Distance

I was asked a few months ago if I would shoot a wedding for a family friends' sister who had met her fiance' (from Columbia) while on a missions trip to Equitorial Guinea. Sure, I have no problem doing another wedding. But over the last few weeks I have been seeing them preparing for their wedding and interacting with their church family here in Crossfield. I have been able to get to know them a little, and get an idea of who they are. I just wish I could do this with all of my clients, it makes the photos so much more personal.
Infact I don't even consider this couple as, "clients". More like "friends," and I am looking forward to hearing about them in the future and how they adjust to two different cultures. Good Luck and God Bless guys.

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Negotiator

I am sure I had already marched about 4 kilometers down the Galatea Creek Terrace trail when a quite question slipped into the back of my mind, “why am I doing this again”? To be honest, it has been so long since I regularly spent time in the mountains that it takes more motivation than necessary. Not only was the motivation lacking, but my watch was beginning to strongly disagree with the guidebooks estimate for the base of my intended ice climb.
Half hour later, on my return, I once again crossed the first steep gully leading up to Mt. Kidd Bowl. The Bowl was not my original choice but by now I was actually starting to relax and thinking maybe I would scramble up far enough to just get a look. Of course the creek bed in the gully started out easy enough, as it usually does.
Another 20 minutes and I am side hilling the talus rim about 100 meters above the creek. Every 10 steps I look up, first the bowl, and now crystal blue ice is leaning out from the steep arĂȘte’s walls as if to say, “Hey, we are really not that far”. It is far though and I am still thinking about turning around. I am a little hungry and wishing I had stopped for lunch an hour earlier.
Up until this point, my brain has been slowly pulling its gun, and I’m beginning to feel the barrel between my shoulder blades. That’s right, my brain. It wants to go home, wants to be warm and sit on the couch drinking a beer. You see, my brain is generally the lazy one. But it’s my spirit that brought us here and right now it has to talk my brain down.
Now the spirit knows something the brain had forgotten a long time ago. It knows that the only way to grow and live a little more completely is to work hard for something, to push through the wet paper bag that our daily lives crawl into. The spirit knows about the rushing river of life just below the ice, the brain only hears it as a far off echo of what is now just a memory. Such a shame that it is so easy to forget.
Eventually I reach the bowl, negotiations cease, and the spirit has won. It feels good to work through the motivation issue; I get some climbing in and make it back to the parking lot in one piece. Today was a good day, and the satisfaction of not jamming out too soon, will last forever. “I can’t wait to do this again”.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

What's Stopping You?

On Friday night a few of us took in the new Warren Miller ski movie, "DYNASTY". And when I say, "us", I mean four of us guys that get together a couple times a year and camp out in the mountains. Nothing special, except for the fact that it all started out as some kind of therapy for our souls. Now it is just an important part of our balance in this hectic, teeter-totter life.

As usual, the flick blew us out of the water. Crazy huge ski-lines down knife edge peaks, unbelievable locations, and riders pushing the limits as we know them today. Lights are on, crowd clears the Jube, and we are talking about it all the way to the car. Of course it starts unconciously, "man, I wish I was doing that stuff", "Gee I wished I got out more". and on it builds, until you get so frustrated that you forget about all of the cool things you HAVE actually done.

Which brings me to the question? What haven't you done? What is it that you still think you have to do? Is your family still holding you back? Are your kids really 6 feet of chain anchor?

Or is it just something you will do when the dust from your young marriage and even younger family settles?

Then again, maybe it is just you. Maybe you'll do it tomorrow, maybe just dream about it for a little while longer. Maybe it simply comes down to this, that the true difference between those guys on the screen and that they are doing it and your not. Really, they are ordinary people just like you, except that they have chosen to lead an extrordinary life. They have kids and bills and stress just like any of us, it is just important to them that they live while they are alive. If your living your life, then you are LIVING. If your regretting your life, then your DYIN', and very slowly I might add.

I don't regret not climbing or being in the mountains as much as I think I should have been in the past. That is because I am doing it now, and tomorrow.

A Break Maybe

Well, this years Crux move is almost finished. I started shooting hockey teams, Church directory portraits, and the odd commercial job on the 20th of last month. Packages are almost all uploaded to the lab and I can start to see the light.

Last week AirdrieLIFE magazine asked me to cover their Photographers Photo Exhibit at the Woodridge Golf Club. That was a nice change, just having a good time with a few other photogs.

A few of the shots will likely be in a future edition of the magazine. I can't post any here until they have run for a month. Look for my scruffy headshot in the bio section.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Maybe It's Not The Cold

Here is another shot from last weekend. Once the couple is comfortable and focuses on each other, the camera disappears and for a fraction of a second, you can catch them at their best.

This is what makes a crappy cold day to shoot, all worth it.

Moving Along

This week is all about postproduction, and finally getting to it....

Above is one of my last clients. These guys were great, it must have been 2 degrees out and they still managed to make themselves look comfortable.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Good Clients

Good clients make a bad day easier.

This weekend I had two group sessions in what I thought would be decent weather. Saturday, my clients showed up only minutes after the sun dove out of site and into the snow filled clouds. We shot anyway, had fun, and were able to get just a little bit more warmth out of their faces.

Today I had a large group of 9 and two dogs, with 15km winds it felt like -10. They were great though and as uncomfortable as it was, we ended up improvising some shots and getting good stuff.

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Ratchet

For the last ten years I have been fascinated with fear. No, really. Sure, most of the time it causes problems, is uncomfortable, and I can't wait till it passes. But really, is that all it is? Just a negative by-product of the lives we've vacuum-formed into? Mark Twight mentioned something in his Book, "Extreme Alpinism" that struck me. Fear (paraphrasing here) should be used for a positive purpose, instead of paralysing a person, they should point their energy "up" the mountain and use it to give them the strength to move.

Today did not start right. Mike and I drove out to the Bow Valley at 0600 hours expecting to climb some early season ice, but when we arrived, it was gone. Then we decided to climb some semi-trad routes at Kid Goat Bluff. Once again, that did not start right. a decision to scramble directly up to the base of our intended route caused a slightly precarious situation. Moving on to the low angle slab of rock, every step had to be sure or result in a short tumble leading into rag-dolling 500 feet down the 70 degree face.

Now here is the fear part. Generally I am comfortable moving in the mountains, as well as the vertical world, but today was different. I found myself making every sketchy step with a steadily ratcheting thought in my mind, "Do I Freak-Out Here Or Just Move On"? Strangely enough, it became nothing more than a choice, a choice that eventually lead my body to move to the next step in the equation. No perception of time, or daily stress of the plastic wrapper we live in, just click-click-move, click-click-move. The fear is there but I have stolen it's energy before it steals mine.

Maybe it can't always be this way, but at this point, I am not so sure fear is a bad thing.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Time For A Break

Just finished a marathon week. Had 36 families last Sunday in one 40 minute sitting and 16 the weekend before. Shot 46 football players in Airdrie last Thursday, 105 hockey players on Monday, and last night had 190 hockey players in Carstairs. Looking forward to a few full-on family sessions this weekend as well.
But first, I am going to the Bow Valley to do some ice climbing on Friday and clear my mind. It's nice to be busy but I need a break....

Sunday, October 11, 2009

At Home

Along with moving in to the studio, I am also comfortable shooting in clients homes. In this case we had a sweet set-up. Nice oversize river stone chimney and real a country style feel. These guys were excellent to work with.

Earlier in the day I was shooting at Crossfield Baptist Church for their Family directory. It actually took longer to setup than to shoot. We did 18 families in 18 minutes, and finished one hour before our scheduled finish.


Mt. Yamnuska has got to be one of my favorite climbing areas and has some amazing history. Yam is the canadian version of Yosamite in the states and some of the worlds best climbers established themselves on the walls here. This was made from a series of images I took today from the link from Hwy 1A to Hwy 1, it is 42 inches long and when looking at the finished image, you can see detail as small as a person on it. Click on the image for a larger version.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Exercise For The Body And Mind

Had a few hours off today so I shot out to Exshaw and put in a quick scramble up Loder Peak. It was nice to get out and on the way down the sun came out and warmed everything up. Unfortunately a few hundred feet from the top the rock is covered with a thin layer of snow making a scramble at this time of the year, too dangerous for a solo.

Sometimes, when your at the bottom gearing up and looking at the route, it can be easy to write it off as hard, or pre-determine that it may be impossible. Sometimes you don't have the energy to even get started. But, then sometimes, it is important to just set off and treat every part of the route as a seperate problem, getting through each step, and steadily making your way, looking back once in a while to see your actually progressing. I'm not sure if it ever does get easier, but I do know for sure that once you make it, you know it was worth it.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Moving Inside

Well, the time has finally come. We are getting a ton of great sessions with awesome clients but the weather does not always co-operate. Shauna was happy with working in doors and it was fun. We were able to do a few clothing changes and backdrop changes in just a short time.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Hardest Working Couple

Jamie & Justin Had their big day on Saturday, it was amazing. Ceremony was great and for the first one ever in the new Baptist church, it was flawless. We had a blast with them and their wedding party even though it was about 2 degrees at our location. They all braved the cold and we worked hard to keep them as comfortable between shots as possible. Good job guys, your hard work paid off.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Day 2

Well, here goes again. Going to try to maintain an upward curve with my creativity. Taking a challenge where I have to shoot everyday for 365 days. Today is day 2. Not every shot will be up on this blog but I will update on how it goes.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009


What do you do when the road your on ends and your left with just two choices. Do you take the easy way or the hard way? Short-term satisfaction, or long-term gain. Or is it just simply about how you want to view your life, cup half full or half empty?

When it comes down to it, the choice you make will reflect who you are but more importantly, who you want to be.

Monday, September 28, 2009


Now that the studio has been renovated, I am able to setup seemless paper backdrops in any color (for now, white and black). I have also created a quick fun package for kids to come in and be crazy and cool. As always the test subjects are the little maniacs that live here.
Each session is a quick 10 minutes and there is no session fees. We are only charging by the sheet. A sheet can be either an 8x10, (2)5x7's, (4)3.5x5's, or 8 jumbo cut wallets.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Nice To Be Back

Got a chance to get back out on the rock this weekend. Felt good. The back is healing up well and the new camera rig is working.