Long Beach and the West Coast of Vancouver Island offer an ever changing set of conditions, from dark to light, from light surf to storm surge with any given hour of the day possibly different than the hour that came before it. I shot a lot of frames in five days at Cox Bay and the Long Beach Lodge, but these two are among my favourites. This the the 442 Search and Rescue Squadron out of Comox, BC and one afternoon I looked up to see their parachutes overhead.
For these men, this was a drill but for the people on the beach, it felt like something out of a movie to see the Buffalo Aircraft circling the bay and the Sea King Helicopter landing on the beach; one of our party described what she saw as “Very James Bond”. Making pictures of people at work is one of my favourite things to shoot, especially when it involves winter surf, four guys with parachutes and millions of dollars of aircraft. This is the kind of thing that feature photographers live for, and one that I could have very easily have missed had I decided instead to have a nap rather than heading back to the beach. It reminds me of the Boy Scout Motto, Be Prepared. I was lucky that my gear was close at hand, these images just wouldn’t be the same shot from my Blackberry! This is also a great argument to keep a small camera with you, as you never know what might drop from the sky.
Something which feels rare, for this time of year, is happening in my apartment this morning; the sun is casting shadows on interior walls. It’s also quiet this morning which also feels rare when you live above a commercial space. Together the quiet and the sunlight have conspired to create a little serenity for me, all that’s missing is a cup of coffee and that’s an easy fix. Fixed; coffee now in hand. Yesterday I photographed a small, intimate wedding, and the day prior I returned from a five day Christmas vacation on Cox Bay, perched between Tofino a few minutes to the north and Long Beach a few minutes south on the West Coast of Vancouver Island.
Dawn and early morning has always seemed to me a perfect metaphor for the new year, and with 2013 less than 48 hours out, and what may be my last post of 2012, Dawn seems like a good way to close the year. Dawn is filled with optimism, hope and fresh light. More and more I am becoming a morning person and there are a lot of early mornings when you work in events, in news or as a photographer working in either. I remember reading, years ago, that great photographers are not born, they just get out of bed earlier in the morning. This idea has largely informed my life in photography, perhaps not literally, although certainly true on occasion, because for me it’s been about working harder. I have to work harder; although I was naturally drawn to photography, photography did not naturally come to me.
I believe that photography can be fine art, but I do not identify as an artist. I want to make good looking images, but more importantly I want to tell a story, articulate a client’s vision or capture a moment of energy or exchange, and these images don’t often find homes in frames or on walls. I don’t often look to make photographs as a purely aesthetic exercise, but every now and then, however, I reach out to make a photograph for myself. Last week, on Cox Bay, I found myself in pre-dawn light, using a tripod and dragging the shutter to create something without meaning or governed by pragmatism, but simply reflective of a set of conditions on a remote beach shaped by winter waves.
Happy New Year,
Check out Photographer Derek Shapton’s piece on Art vs. Craft at Peta Pixel
Art vs. Craft: The Nature of Professional Assignment Photography