Photography is the primary way in which I can communicate my ideas to the world. It is often my first thought when I see something I feel needs to be expressed, “how can I capture that in a photograph?” My projects often explore the theme of human impact on the environment, the contrasts of urban existence with nature, and individual memory vs. group memory.
I first picked up a camera in 1993 – a friend loaned me his dad’s Nikon F and said, “play with it and see if you like photography.” I did and a week later I’d bought my own Canon Ftb and went on a shooting frenzy. Within a month I was processing my own negs in the bathroom and out hitting up commercial photographers for assisting gigs. I struck gold when the photographer who would become my mentor hired me as one of his assistants. John Douglas Kenney was himself an assistant to Irving Penn in the 80’s, and a true professional in commercial and portrait photography. He taught me everything I know about shooting portraiture. I spent a lot of my free time in John’s studio experimenting – either in the darkroom, or with the studio itself.
As the 90’s rolled on, my work moved away from people and portraiture into the effects people have on their environment. Much like Irving Penn and his ‘Cigarettes’ series, I focussed on the remnants of humanity – the things left behind, the discarded object, the thing you walk by everyday but never really look at. I took an extraterrestrial view and found fascination in the everyday.
Living in Vancouver, Canada, nature engulfs the urban and that relationship has coloured much of my work. Humanity paves down Nature in its effort to urbanize, and Nature eventually creeps back into dominance through the process of time and decay – a process I have found myself attracted to. I have documented that process of decay and ‘exquisite decrepitude’ (Wrecks , and Bear Pit ), documented the relationship between humanity and nature via our resource industry (Pyres [2008-2010]), abstracted the everyday (Carnage ), and used impressionism to convey my ideas on the taming of nature and the quest for solitude (Beaver Lake by the Numbers ). I also spent this time paying homage to my major photographic influences – Ansel Adams, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Edward Burtynsky, Andreas Gursky, and studying the ideas of my major artistic influences – David Bowie, Brian Eno, and Marcel Duchamp.
In 2014 I started a new project that would take both me and my photography in new directions: Time Passages. I became very interested in the technique and process of long-exposure photography and spent a lot of time experimenting and perfecting the process. The experimentation paid off, but I felt the process didn’t allow for the accident of chance to infiltrate. I wanted to experiment further with long-exposures. Find a new way. My way.
With Time Passages, I have found that way. By taking to the water on ferries and passenger boats, or on land by train, I have gained a new perspective and relinquished control. The technical aspects of photography take command and chance has an opportunity to influence the outcome of the image via the movements of the boats and their course changes, the weather conditions and ocean swells, and the way in which the camera records the scene. The outcome is a series of images that evoke memory and recognition of place; ephemeral, ‘painterly’ landscapes and cityscapes that are familiar yet alien. A new way of seeing.