2012 – My Year In Review

Wow. These past twelve months have not only flown by but they’ve also been filled to the brim with so many amazing opportunities and people and it’s honestly a little difficult to even try to summarize everything! 2012 was a big year for me, do you ever have those stand-out years in your life where you feel your own part of the world move just a bit? This year was that for me.

If this time last year you had told me that I would have travelled to the places I’ve been to, met the amazing people I’ve had the opportunity to meet or have even half of the experiences I’ve had, I wouldn’t have believed you but through hard word and good luck I’m so happy to say that this year was filled with all of those things.

At the beginning of the year I was offered an amazing opportunity with Coca-Cola to be a part of their new social media directed campaign, creating images based around a set of positive “drivers for change” that were created to be a new way to reach out to the people who enjoy both the product and art. Needless to say being able to add one of the world’s largest brands and one that has always placed a high emphasis on their graphics and art design was truly an amazing opportunity and I have enjoyed the last year working with them. It’s allowed me the opportunity to see commercial or product art in a new light and create work that I feel fits both their market and my style, I’m very excited to see what the next path is with them.

Seek and Ye Shall Find


One of my photography related goals for the year was to be able to see my work be published either in a magazine or book and I never would have expected both of those and more to happen! I was so lucky to have been able to be included in about 15 different magazines and have my photos included in 4 books and even a greeting card! It was such a surreal experience to hold a book in my hand and see my own work printed on the front. I never would have imagined that I would be answering interviews for  magazines based out of France, Russia and Korea but I’m so thankful that my work is being accepted and shared in countries  all around the world. I would like to thank magazines like fourx5, 5×5 magazine, Grae Magazine, Golden Age Magazine, Coffee Today, Phototech and many more for supporting my work and allowing me to be included in their publications.

I was also very fortunate to have the online portion of my photography continue to grow and reach new audiences.  I was able to have interviews and see my work promoted from websites all over the world and I am always so humbled when someone wants to share my work and my views with others. I had my photos reposted by people like George Takei, Apolo Anton Ono, Leona Lewis, Harry Shrum Jr, Random House Books, Oprah and more!  You can see a few of the posts here:
Canadian photographers Network
My Modern Met
The New Yorker Online
Brain Pickings
Oprah Winfrey’s Blog

Also this year I participated in a few photography festivals, something that I’m looking forward to continuing in the new year. I was invited to show my work at the Ulsan International Photography Festival in Korea in the fall and was declared one of the “Best New Photographers” by their panel. That same month I submitted photos to a local festival and won best overall  photo which was quite a surprise and honor for me.

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In non-photography related  events, I trained for and completed my fourth marathon this spring. Running has always been something that I enjoy and that gives me the chance to relax (oddly enough!) and my not-so-secret competitive side really enjoys the racing aspect of it! I ran in about 7 races this year and I was very happy with my placings in all of them. For my marathon in Idaho, I ran my fastest ever, finishing in 15th place overall with a time of 3:12 and winning a bronze medal in my age category. It’s getting close to start-up season again and I can’t wait to lace up my running  shoes and start training again for the next big race! This year I was also selected as runner for the canada-wide Rick Hansen Relay tour, an amazing relay in celebration and recognition of Rick Hansen’s world tour to raise awareness of accessibility for those with disabilities and mobility issues. It was an honor to be able to be a part of a national relay.

537568_10151729808275618_2142789272_n Rick Hansen

One the biggest highlights for me this year was the amount of travelling I was able to do. At the beginning of the year my partner and I took a quick weekend trip to Vancouver to see Betty White perform at the Vancouver Comedy Fest, it was the perfect chance to get out of the snow and explore another city, even if only for a few days. I travelled to Calgary a few times as well, to see Coldplay perform and in the summer with my partner to see Mary Poppins, both highlights of my year for sure! Earlier this year I never would have guessed that I would have flown to a small town in Indiana to attend  a gathering of 30 friends and photographers. Those few days spent together pretty much changed my photography journey completely. Before the trip I felt like I wasn’t really going  anywhere with this part of my life, that I liked photography but I didn’t have a course set out for it. But after spending that time exploring abandoned buildings, taking photos throughout the day, laughing and teaching each other, my path in photography became much clearer and I gained a huge boost of confidence in my own work and felt like I knew where I wanted to go. The following month I was lucky to be included in another meetup in Vancouver and was reunited with some friends and made new ones. Again, I felt that surge of passion for photography and it fueled the fire that I have inside for it. In October I took my turn hosting a meetup in the beautiful Kootenay Lake region of B.C., welcoming friends from all over the place. It was beautiful to be able to share a little corner of my world with other photographers. And to finish off the year, I’m travelling to another meetup in California with about 50 other talented and inspiring photographers and friends and I can’t wait to see the magic that results from being around the hub of positive and creative energy. I hope that I’m able to continue to travel and explore the world in 2013.

MidWestby Whitney Justesengroup


So in conclusion, 2012 was an incredible year. Last year I set out with a short list of goals and I’m so happy to say that I accomplished those goals. I was able to continue to share my work and feel an amazing amount of support and appreciation for it, I was able to travel and meet with friends who continue to support me and I was able to find my path and develop the road that I want to continue travelling on.

For the next year I hope this momentum continues. I already have a few trips planned, a few exciting opportunities in the works and I hope that it unfolds and plays out in unexpected and exciting ways like it did this year. My goals for 2013 are to be more organized and continue to work on the business side of my photography, to expand my vision and to start to post more on my blog and to post more tutorials, to start hosting workshops and to continue to share my views with the world.

I’d like to thank you for supporting me and what I do, I pinch myself when I think of how blessed I am to be able to receive such positive feedback and to see so many people enjoying what I do, it helps me to keep going and to keep developing (photography pun!). Thank you to those that I was able to meet this year, to the families that hired me, to the Good Ol’ Goats for the opportunity to work with you, to Coca-Cola, Coffee Today, and Cohere magazine for liking my work enough to ‘hire’ me, and to all of you who like my work. Thank you. All the best for 2013!

Thank You


October Monthly Recap

Well that month sure went by fast! Here I was just a few days ago trying to type up the random events of September when all of a sudden pumpkins were being replaced with christmas decorations and the last of the leaves are barely clinging to the trees!

October was an amazing month though. It felt like a month of clarity for me, one that allowed me to see where I want to be headed and to acknowledge that I’m not quite there yet. I’ve come to enjoy the journey of self-discovery, to enjoy those moments of “THIS is what makes me feel alive!” and to look for those chances to feel them again.  This month was full of those times.

Thanksgiving Meetup

I already dedicated an entire post to the amazing weekend I spent in a cabin with some of my closest friends and favourite photographers. It was really an opportunity for me to not only try out new ideas and concepts and think on the spot but also an opportunity to solidify that this is what I want to do with my life. I want to photograph, I want to create art and share it. I want to see new locations and use them in ways that maybe nobody else would have thought to. This meetup was a much-needed break in my life and I can’t really put into words how much these opportunities push me and help me grow.

Phlearn Interview
Shortly before I left for the Thanksgiving meetup, I was contacted by my lovely friend Angela who happens to work at Phlearn.com, an amazing website created by Aaron Nace devoted to photography and teaching artists. I’ve long respected Aaron’s work and the opportunity to be interviewed for the website was truly an honor! You can read the interview here: http://phlearn.com/phlearn-interviews-joel-robison

Zombie Walk:
What’s October without a friendly neighborhood Zombie Walk!? I had a great time spending a few hours with some fellow  zombies roaming the streets of Cranbrook!

photo by Mountain Culture Photography

Magazines/Book Covers:
At the beginning of each month I try to sit and think “I wonder what will happen in these next 4 weeks” and most of the things that end up happening are never the things I would ever assume! This month I was fortunate to have a lengthy interview (complete with cover!) with a Russian photography magazine.

I also discovered that one of my images licenced through Arc-Angel stock images was purchased as a book cover in Holland, how exciting is that!?

I was also featured on the cover and inside the 8th issue of fourx5 magazine, an AWESOME photography and design magazine, you can download the issue here:

Winning Relay Race
Normally I try to stay pretty consistent with my running (I’m training to qualify and eventually run in the Boston Marathon) although this summer and fall were so busy that I hadn’t actually managed to keep on track with any significant races or runs. I decided about half way through the month to sign up with a friend to complete a relay linking my town with the next town over, a distance of 25km. My portion was 14km and while it was a bit cold starting off in the snow, our duo ended up being the fastest team and we’re now the proud owners of a rather awkward and oversized trophy!

Last but not least, this month I hit two pretty big milestones in my online photography journey. On my Flickr account, I reached 5 million overall views of my photos and my Facebook photography page has reached 10,000 likes. For me, these numbers are motivating. They tell me that people enjoy what I do and that my work matters. It helps me to stay on track, to keep moving forward and I just want to say thank you to each and every person that has ever looked at my work and appreciated it.

This month, while mostly cloudy and grey weather-wise was full of bright memories, humbling moments and chances for me to grow and learn and I can’t wait to see what happens in the next 4 weeks!

September 2012 – Goats, Mountains, and Magazines.

This past month has proven to be one that snuck up slowly and then rocketed past with so many wonderful days filled with amazing memories. I’ve been meaning to post about all the opportunities that I’ve been so fortunate to have been involved in but I haven’t been able to find the time to just sit and write. I’ve finally managed to find a few quiet hours to try and recap the last few weeks!

Band Photos With The Good Ol’ Goats

Earlier this year I was “introduced” to a local band of students from the school I work at, a band called “The Good Ol’ Goats“. Immediately I was a fan of their folk sound and amazing talent and I mentioned that if they were ever looking for some photos, I’d love to work with them. At the beginning of September, we met at a local ghost/historical town to work on a series of promotional photos for their new album and while I was nervous having never shot band photos before, it was a fun afternoon filled with a lot of laughter and music.

It’s been so great to be able to work with a local group that is getting so much positive attention and I feel that our collaboration has been mutually beneficial, I’ve suddenly been booking more local shoots and have been meeting with a lot of other local artists and people looking for photo work. The power of community!

Fall Fair

On my first day back at work, a coworker mentioned an upcoming fall market/country fair that was taking place and suggested I enter the photography competition. I’ve never really enter my work into a judged competition and I only had one day to pick three pieces to enter but I figured that if this year was all about pushing myself to try new things, I should just go for it. I dropped off my photos and hoped for the best!

Unfortunately because the fair happened to be in the middle of a really busy weekend, I couldn’t actually make it to see my photos on display but when I went to pick them up after it was all over, I found out that I had not only won a ribbon, I had won best overall photo and a second place ribbon in the category I entered! I was totally shocked and humbled by the kind words the lady running the booth said to me as she handed me back my work. It was certainly an unexpected but very much appreciated surprise!

Youth Fair Speech

On the same weekend as the fall fair mentioned above, I was also booked as a ‘keynote speaker’ at a travelling workshop aimed at promoting job skills towards youth. I was pretty nervous trying to think of what I would talk about and how I was going to stand up and talk about myself without feeling totally awkward but again, the motivation of trying something new was stronger than my nerves. I ended up writing a short speech on my journey as a photographer and how each of us has the potential to go where want in life and that our passion should lead us in the right direction.

Hiking The Rockies:
During the summer a teacher and friend sent me a message asking me if I would be interested in joining her Outdoor Skills/Geography class on a few of their multiday hikes in the backcountry. Immediately I said yes and I’m so glad that I did. This month I was fortunate to join in on two incredible hikes. The first, an overnight hike to the Conrad Kain Hut at the base of the Bugaboo Glacier in the Purcell Mountains. We spent about 5 hours hiking through an avalanche debris field, climbing over boulders, lugging 40 pound backpacks up the sides of mountains and enjoying the overwhelming views of the glaciers ahead. In the morning we woke up early to watch the sunrise over the Rocky Mountains before heading home. Just last week I joined the class again, this time on a 4 day hike through the Rocky Mountain backcountry in the Steeples Mountain range. There is nothing like hiking among yellow larch trees in the fall, the air crisp and clean and feeling the power of the environment around you. I felt totally recharged after spending 4 days away from the normal day to day life.

This month has also been an amazing month for mail! I was lucky to recieve two magazines that have featured my work in them. The first, Coffee Today from Korea is a magazine that I’ve been ‘hired’ by to create covers for. It’s an amazing opportunity to be able to work on images that are being printed and distributed around the world. As a big coffee fan, I’m also very keen on finding inspiration in every cup 🙂

The second magazine, 5×5 magazine out of the U.S. is a beautiful magazine that contains a wonderful 6 page feature including an interview and full page photos. It’s always really thrilling to see my work in print and to feel it in my hands rather than only see it on a screen.

Jane Goodall

And finally, on the last evening of this month I was fortunate enough to attend a short lecture by the inspring Dr.Jane Goodall. She presented a speech on the power of hope and the power of humanity and I was left with an overwhelming sense of motivation and inspiration. Being able to listen and watch such an accomplished teacher and activist share her life story and fill the room with passion was incredible and I’ll never forget her last quote of the evening
“Only when there is harmony between the mind and the heart can humans fully reach their potential”.  Those words sat very clearly in my mind and I hope that one day I can look back and feel that I have found harmony between my head and my heart.

This month was full. I started to book more portraits which were exciting and gave me the opportunity to work some new people with great ideas. September was fun and full of memories, of laughter and love, of community and inspiration and I can’t wait to see what October brings 🙂