I have lived on Gabriola Island, British Columbia, Canada since 2001 and share this beautiful place with my patient, supportive partner Alison, two demanding and pretty well non-supportive cats, and several cameras.
Life started in Montreal, Quebec, and, post high school, continued in Ottawa where, after (too) many years I emerged with a M.Sc. in Biology and a law degree, the two academic endeavours interrupted by a year backpacking in Europe and North Africa. The travel addiction and photo bug both struck during these travels but life intervened, and so, after law school, a move to Toronto, and then to Thunder Bay, Ontario, where Alison taught school and I practiced law. We worked and saved, quit our jobs in summer 1979, and backpacked for 2 ½ years—12 months in Latin America from Mexico to Tierra del Fuego, 6months in Africa, 4 months in Asia, and about 3 months in Europe , mostly in France , Spain and Portugal.
We returned to Canada and both found work in Edmonton, Alberta, a city we enjoyed for almost 20 years. Each summer we travelled (cameras at the ready), alternating visits to exotic foreign locales with extended camping trips in western North America (with its own exotic and breathtaking sights).
The travel addiction got worse, the photography became more serious, and after retiring to Gabriola Island I have taken the opportunity to immerse myself in both.
Other cultures and remote places hold a fascination for me, and travels in such places as New Guinea, Kingdom of Mustang (Nepal), Bhutan, Mongolia, Northeast India, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Ethiopia,Tibet, Central Asia, and Antarctica, among others, have been extremely rewarding personally, and have offered unique possibilities for photography.
As much of the photography I do is travel-based, and I am my own porter, there is a need to pack only the necessary equipment, always trying to find a balance between bringing all the “toys”, and recognizing that each additional item adds to the weight to be carried. The camera must be sturdy enough to withstand being bashed on buses, horses, camels or bounced around in a backpack on a long trek. All kinds of electronic gadgets are of little use in the Sahara, the wilds of Mongolia and other places where access to electricity is extremely limited or nonexistent. Thus, the travel photography kit is usually a camera, a couple of lenses, the requisite extra batteries, battery charger ( in case there IS electricity),memory cards ( previously slide film ), and, if I am feeling strong or working locally, a good tripod.
I am keenly interested in landscapes, both scenic and urban, wildlife, still life, and social commentary. During the last several years I have been drawn to the remote places previously referred to and to the cultures that inhabit these harsh unwelcoming environments. I am particularly intrigued by hitherto traditional cultures, previously cut off from the mainstream, now in the process of dealing with the outside world, that exposure to new influences bringing with it change both good and bad.
Tiny Bhutan, as an example, has countered what it views as assaults on its traditions by restricting the number of tourists. It also requires its citizens to wear traditional clothing, which in turn has led to the survival of many of its ancient arts and crafts (eg. weaving, wood carving).
On the other hand, with the advent of outside religions in certain parts of Northeast India, for example, traditional culture, so closely interwoven with traditional religion, has been abandoned or shunted aside as the new religion has taken hold.
The clash of old and new, the adaptation traditional peoples make to modern things—whether it be religion, electricity, clothing, materials (plastic for wood, etc.), captivates me, and, in addition, provides a rich source of photographic possibilities. To observe, and with luck, to be able interact in some way with very different cultures opens one’s eyes to the virtually endless ways in which a successful society can be structured. To capture the moments, the events, the actions that make a culture unique, and to observe and record the shifting and transition of these cultures under the onslaught of the modern world is what I attempt to portray in my photographs.
In addition, I try to photograph the mundane from my own somewhat skewed point of view—signs, vegetables, our environment, all are fodder for the camera.
When not lugging a camera, I carry out duties as a member of the Board of Directors of the Gabriola Island Lands and Trails Trust, an organization devoted to creating and maintaining a network of trails on the island.
I am also an enthusiastic participant in the very unofficial organization known as Men in Whites or the White Hats, eight guys who get together once a month to cook up a storm and solve the world’s problems.
Exhibitions of work over the last few years include the following:
Artworks Gallery, Gabriola Island, BC
2010—“Distant Light”—Photographs from Central Asia and Northeast India
2005—“Indochina – Glimpses of the East”—photographs from Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia
2004—“African Portraits”—photographic portraits from Niger and Ethiopia
2004—“Other Places”—group show (4 photographers)—photographs of sand dunes in Namibia
Professional Centre Gallery, Gabriola Island, BC
2011—“Silk Road With Detours”— more photographs from Central Asia and Northeast India
2007—“Kingdom of Mustang”—photographs taken in the remote Buddhist enclave of Mustang, formerly independent, now part of Nepal. Mustang borders on Tibet.
2006 –“Heirs of Genghis Khan”—photographs from Mongolia
2004—“Ice and Sand”—photographs from Antarctica and Namibia
Nanaimo, BC Arts Council juried photographic exhibitions
2007—First Prize and Honourable Mention (3 photographs submitted)
2006—Third Prize (3 photographs submitted)
2005—Second Prize (2 photographs submitted)
I am currently a member of the Gabriola Arts Council, and, until recently, a member of the Nanaimo Arts Council.
My photographs have also appeared in the World Wildlife Calendar and “Rocky Mountain Hiking Guide” by Bill and Michele Tracy.