Dreams

This may not come as much of a shock to you, but I’m a big time dreamer. Not just at night, when my eyes are closed and my brain takes over, but all day long!

I think I’ve always been the kind of person that was perfectly content being by myself. While my brothers would be off playing basketball or hockey, I would be inside drawing or reading or playing with lego. I think I didn’t mind being alone because I enjoyed being inside my own head, day dreaming. Dreams and one’s imagination are so close to each other that I think (at least for me) that they are almost exactly the same, I think that because I was such a dreamer growing up, my imagination and creative side of my head remained wide open instead of shutting down when I got to high school or into adulthood. There’s a quote by Neil Gaiman that really sums up the connection between dreaming and imagination and creativity: 

 “You get ideas from daydreaming.  You get ideas from being bored.  You get ideas all the time.  The only difference between writers and other people is we notice when we’re doing it.  ~Neil Gaiman”

I think that it’s totally true. Ideas come from thinking, but not just thinking in constructed time but when your mind is wandering. When I was younger I had a paper route that would take me about an hour to walk through each day after school. That hour was almost entirely filled by daydreaming while I walked. I remember dreaming up this scenario in which I found a calculator type device that printed out money, I must have spent a few days dreaming up all the stuff I was going to do if I ever had that calculator!

Every so often, I’ll get a message on Flickr or Facebook from someone that asks me where I get my ideas for concepts. I feel like it’s a bit of a dumb answer to say “my own imagination” but it’s true. Typically I start daydreaming and my mind will just wander from thought to thought, almost like a bumblebee going from flower to flower until I find that one image that fits what I want to do.  The best time it seems, for ideas to come into my head is either when I’m just about to fall asleep and there’s a relaxed environment for me to start dreaming or while I’m running. I think my creativity is in hypermode when I’m able to get outside and run, that’s when my brain just turns into “running mode” and can dream away while my legs do their thing, it’s strange but it works! Even in the winter or when the weather isn’t so great, if I just suck it up and go  for a walk I feel such a sense of clarity that I start daydreaming within minutes.

I wish that my night time dreams were as vivid and had as much productivity as my daydreaming but unfortunately it seems like I dream of rather boring things at night. Typcially I find that I dream mainly of people or events that occured during my day, but nothing really crazy or whimsical seems to happen in those dreams. I try to analyze them a bit when I wake up but there doesn’t seem to be much there, maybe my brain is just so busy during the day that it goes into boring mode while I sleep!

 

What are your dreaming experiences like? Do you daydream?

The Sarah Slean Experience

This is going to be a bit of self-indulgence post as I’ve just returned from an AMAZING concert from my absolute favourite artist, the lovely miss Sarah Slean.

Have you ever had a favorite singer or musician, or author for that matter whose work becomes not just music or songs or lyrics, but they become intertwined into your own life fabric? Like the notes and words and emotions are tiny threads that woven into your heartbeat and your pulse? Sarah Slean’s music is that for me. When I hear her play, it’s like there is a part of my heart and mind that opens up just for her.

Here’s a back story:

Almost 10 years ago exactly, I was in 12th grade and suffering from either insomnia or stress and couldn’t sleep. While the rest of my family was tucked into warm beds, I poured some cereal and flicked on the TV, not expecting much to be on at 2am. In a moment of luck, or maybe fate, I happened to catch a repeat of a Canadian talk show. Normally I wouldn’t pay much attention but there happened to be this beautiful, pale skinned singer playing the most beautiful song I had ever heard. I was transfixed.  Now this was the age before YouTube and Facebook and I tried to find out more about this Sarah Slean but not much existed, in my half sleep/half awake mode I emailed the only address I could find, Sarah herself asking her when her CD would be released. A day or two later, I received a short but cute note answering me.   The connection had begun!

 

 

I picked up the CD the day it came out and I must have almost melted it in my stereo I played it much. Nightbugs was the name and it remains one of my favorite albums. A few months passed and I found out that she was going on tour, stopping in Banff, not too far from me. I coerced a friend to come along and I had no idea how amazing that first concert would be.  It’s funny the connections between that first show and the one I just attended. Both in sleepy snowy mountain towns, both very intimate in a heritage building with candles and beer flowing. That first concert was incredible, the band and Sarah played beautifully and just when I thought it couldn’t get better, we ended up backstage on the green room couch laughing with the band like old friends.

There have been many more concerts and several albums, but I don’t think that I could have ever thought 10 years ago that I would have had so many memories and key moments in my life thanks to one artist. A few years ago I ended up winning a contest to attend her art gallery opening in Toronto and through the beauty of friendship (friends I made through her website no less) I found myself flying to snowy Toronto and eventually standing in a fancy art-gallery shoulder to shoulder with some of Canadian music’s finest,  and having to pinch myself that it was real.

 

Fast forward to tonight, another concert in a snowy town. When Sarah steps on stage it’s like watching an old friend. She is as talented and beautiful as that first television broadcast at 2am and I find myself taking in as much as I can in the few hours she plays. After the show, she hangs out by the merchandise and if I thought seeing her play was like an old friend, than this is something even better. She gives a huge hug and knows me by name, asking how I’m doing and how nice it is to see me again before I can even get out a word. We talked for a while about many things; running, working, the beautiful mountains and snow that surround us. After we say goodbye and I thank her for an amazing performance, I find myself once again reeling with music inside my body.

I set back out into the cold mountain air, seeing my breath before me, hearing my shoes crunch on the snowy concrete and I smile for I am lucky to be exactly where I am right now.


Do you have a musical artist that evokes that passion inside you? If so, who?

The Seasonal Photographer

Yesterday, just as I was drifting off to sleep I started thinking about what I would write about for my next blog entry. Various ideas and words floated in and out of my head but I fell asleep before coming to an answer. This morning, when I looked out the window before heading off to work, I got my answer! Snow! Well, seasons in general!

Like I stated in my previous post, I live in a beautiful part of the world, the Rocky Mountain Trench, to  be more specific. Now having the mountains as a backdrop is one thing, but LIVING in them is another! Today, while watching the snow drift and pile up outside, I started to think about how photographers have to adapt to their surroundings. Sure if you have a studio, and you’re more a portrait photographer the freezing temperatures or rain storms might not have an impact on your work, but for those of us who use natural light or minimal setups, it’s all part of the process to incorporate whatever Mother Nature decides to throw our way.

When I look back at some of the ridiculous things I’ve done, all in the name of photography and to “get that shot”, the list is pretty long and a lot of it centres around the weather. I’ve strapped on my snowshoes and hiked into the woods for a few hours to get to “the spot” that I needed to use as a backdrop. Frostbitten fingers, numb noses and shoes encrusted in snow and ice may seem like painful side effects of a photography hobby but in the long run they’re really just tiny parts of a longer journey that help to make us not only heartier photographers, but for me, they help me appreciate being warm, having a fireplace to return to, a mug of hot coffee and a cozy pair of socks.

There is something really inspiring about getting out there and really seeing, feeling, experiencing the seasons. Using the changing colours, trees, skies to add depth and relevance to photos. For me, I love seeing how the same space can be transformed from January to December. The same field can be a barren expanse of white, then it can be filled with 6 foot clover and wild flowers before turning into a golden sea of wildgrasses. The natural lighting changes, the tones all change and for me, it’s cool to be able to not only experience it but to capture i and witness the changes through the camera lens.

 

For me, photography tends to be an organic experience (even if it is digital). It’s about using my surroundings, incorporating as much of the natural world as possible into the photos I want to create and when the seasons change I feel a surge of inspiration in the changes happening in the environment around me.  As much as I love the extended shooting hours that summer brings, I love the vivid colours of spring, the warm lighting in autumn and the stillness that winter can bring to an image.

What is your favourite season to shoot in?

The “i” Word

Inspiration.

In the past few months I’ve done a few interviews with some blogs and online journals and the question “What inspires you” seems to be the most commonly asked question. I wish that I had a simple enough answer, but I find that much like other areas of my life, it’s a theme that doesn’t have a particularly concrete answer. I would say that at least once a day I ask myself that very question; “Where does my inspiration come from?”

Sometimes I think that the answer could be as simple as “the World!” or “my imagination!” But it’s more than that, sure I’m inspired by nature but trees and water call out more to me than rocks and squirrels do.  It’s broad at times but it’s also equally specific, if that makes sense.

Yesterday while walking through the forest, a place that does tend to spark my imagination and inspiration, I was thinking about this very topic and trying to form a solid answer. I’m inspired by both the ideas of reality and how we can bend it. I’m inspired by taking something ordinary and making it extraordinary. Take for instance, a coffee mug. On it’s own it’s a coffee mug, a recognizable shape and size but what if you make it HUGE, or what if you have 200 of them rather than one or two, or what if you make it fly or float or balance in a stack that looks like one breath will knock it over. The idea of something so normal being seen in a way that seems impossible inspires me, it’s like being a magician or an illusionist.  

Aside from creating those impossible possibilities, nature does inspire me. I’m fortunate to live in an area of the world that provides me with an almost endless expanse of trees, mountains, lakes, fields, and every size of animal from mouse to grizzly bear. Growing up in this environment has given me a deep respect for nature and the natural world around me and has now provided me with the opportunity to incoporate itself into my work. If photography is my art form, the natural world would be my canvas. There are few things more beautiful to me than an open field with a wide view in the background, these spaces inspire me to fill them with imagery. Like a dancer wants to fill a stage with movement, I want to fill these natural stages with art, even if it is temporary or digital.

Another inspiration for me is popular culture, not so much in the broad sense but certain parts of it. I like taking something like the Harry Potter books or Kermit the Frog and finding a way to interpret them in my own way, putting them into my life or me into their world. It makes it seem like the line between reality and fantasy doesn’t exist. For as long as I can remember I’ve been a HUGE fan of all things Disney (when I was a kid and asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, my answer was always ‘a disney animator’) and I love being able to take the imagery from those films and incorporate them into my life. For me it’s like taking a recipe and adding a few different ingredients to turn into something just a little bit different, it’s a new way to see something that already exists. I think people like Walt Disney and Jim Henson  are good examples of artists liked to blur the line between reality and fantasy.

Inspiration is something that constantly evolves, what inspires you one day might not inspire you the next. You may walk past the same tree or field or doorway every day but maybe one day you’ll see it in a new light, with a new perspective and it will provide you with a bolt of inspiration. For me, I try to pay attention to the small stuff, those coffee mugs, a stack of books, a leaf. They’re all normal on a basic level but if you look at them with a slightly skewed vision, they can inspire you to create something brand new.

Now that you know where my inspiration comes from and what inspires me, I’d love to know what inspires you?

The Beginning!

Hello there!

Welcome to my new blog, which will hopefully become a sort of home-base for my photographic journey.

Eventually I’d love for this little space to have tutorials, behind the scenes shots, question and answers, videos and all sorts of fun stuff that I hope will give you an insight into my world! Please feel free to subscribe, comment or just read along with my posts!

I decided to start this blog because over the past few months I’ve felt that I have an opportunity to share what I know with others and I really want to do that. Through my photography journey, mostly on Flickr, I’ve been so fortunate to come in contact with so many amazing people and I’ve learned so much and feel that the right thing to do is pay it forward, to give as much as I can back to the community that helped to pave this path for me. 

I have much to be grateful for and I have you to thank for a lot of it!