This past year has been quite significant for me. I had my first solo photo exhibition in January. The six-week show, 14 Gold: Images from the 2010 Olympics, was a huge success at the Chilliwack Museum.
In September, I was flown to Ottawa where I was one of two dozen people presented with a national Honouring Our Lifeblood award from Canadian Blood Services for launching the In Memory of Penny Lett Blood Drive.
In October, hubby and I eloped to Tofino, one of our most favourite destinations in the world.
And this February, I’ll be celebrating 15 years at The Progress, and also the 15th year-in-review photo issue today.
Over the years I’ve definitely become a more experienced photographer. A lot has changed as I’ve gotten better with age, education, and a lot of competition.
But that feeling I get when I capture an unforgettable, split-second photo never changes… and I will never get tired of it.
It’s a glorious moment. It lasts a fraction of a second, but stays with me for a long time. Sometimes forever.
My breathing slows and my heart skips a beat as I release the shutter. A second later, my heart is going a mile a minute knowing the image I’ve just made has been encapsulated forever.
It’s a moment of pure joy and satisfaction. A moment that only I see at the time it happens, but is later shared with thousands of people.
Sometimes it’s all about the shadows and the sun being at the right angle to light the subject just-so.
Sometimes it’s about capturing something at the perfect time, like a facial expression that happens so fast and is gone so quickly, that it would never be noticeable in actual time.
Other times it’s a quiet and beautiful occasion that no one knows I’m even focussing on; the people I’m photographing are so involved in what they’re doing, they’re oblivious to the world around them.
Spectacular images are all about perfect timing, light, composition, and emotion. If a photo has one of these elements, it’s a great photo. If it has two of these elements, it’s a fantastic photo. If it has more than that, well, it’s an outstanding, jaw-dropping image that may even be an award-winner.
For people who love photography, specifically photojournalism, I encourage you to have a look at the annual World Press Photo book each year. You can also see some of the world’s best photojournalism at worldpressphoto.org, or nppa.org which is the National Press Photographers Association.
These two organizations, along with hundreds of fellow Canadian and American photojournalists I know, is where I turn to for inspiration.
But it doesn’t have to be a Pulitzer-prize winning photographer to inspire me. Sometimes it’s the “little” things that bring about the most memorable images.
Like the passion thousands have for Cultus Lake United Church Camp (CLUCC). In May, a group of teens gathered for the last time to say goodbye to CLUCC, after its 81-year lease was up. They stood in a circle for an evening prayer, each young face aglow in candlelight.
Or the simple beauty of Chilliwack.
One day at the Cheam Lake Wetlands, a trio of ducks floated past me in perfect sync. The duck at the top of the frame was just slightly ahead of the one below it, which was just slightly ahead of the one below that duck. It was like the 100m freestyle competition of the Duck Olympics coming across the finish line, with first-place at the top, silver in the middle, and bronze at the bottom.
Another photo was of a powwow dancer. He was backlit, so his face was in silhouette, but the feathers and headdress he wore were beautifully lit by the summer sun. Plus, the line of the mountains in the background couldn’t have been more perfectly placed.
Being a great photographer means you are continuously seeing images around you, whether you’re looking at them through a viewfinder or not. You frame things in your mind and take virtual photos on a regular basis — as you’re driving, walking your dog, or looking out a restaurant window.
You notice details in things that others don’t see and you make a picture out of it. You appreciate how light falls on a subject, how a shadow has a life of its own, and how genuine emotions can touch your heart.
Wherever you get your photographic inspiration from, use it. You don’t have to travel the world to create exquisite images, many can be taken right in your own backyard.
See these images on Flickr.