I get asked the question, what do you?, regarding my photography a lot.
It’s easy to answer when I talk about the photography that pays my rent. I am an editorial photographer who supplies images to accompany articles, illustrate stories and/or provide news, sports, entertainment coverage for newspapers and magazines. People get that.
It is much harder to explain the project work.
I often use the line (which is altered from an original sentence somewhere else I’m sure) that I am archiving British Columbia one image at a time.
That’s part of it but explaining it is kind of like the challenge of crafting an artist’s statement that encapsulates everything you do.
I do hope I am creating an archive of images, an archive that will have some sort of visual historical value. An archive that educates viewers about what a certain kind or part of life in this western/coastal part of Canada and North America.
I hope that the images convey something of the idea that I have that our immediate surroundings, be they physical, manufactured or social, shape who we are and save us from the commonality of global culture. I do think that despite the fact both I and a person living in Tokyo and another in Cairo could all be reading the Guardian on our iPhone while sipping a Starbucks coffee we are all fundamentally unique because of our own landscapes that we live and grow up in.
I also hope that the images stand on their own, simply as visual images, striking enough to hold hold your eye.
I hope they exist as both art and as archive.
The image above if from the site of the former Tranquille Institution in Kamloops, BC. It was at different times a home for the mentally challenged and a tuberculosis sanatorium. It has been closed as an institution for many years and now it is home to a small farm and vegetable stand but the many buildings on the site appear to be slowly wearing down. At the start of my career, working for the Kamloops News, I photographed my first photo essay ever at Tranquille, a series on volunteers working with kids with autism. It was the first time I saw the power of photography, having at the stage only read about it in photography textbooks, when the director called after the story had run to tell me about how people, moved by the images were calling up to offer their services as volunteers.