WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM MY FRIENDS
As I sit here on the corner of Bedford and Downing Street in New York City, nursing my morning Ice Latte, I am trying to find the words to describe how integral the people around me have been in shaping the photographer that I have become and the photographer that I will continue to be.
Every artist needs some form of inspiration, something that pushes them forward to pick up that camera each day and create new images. For me, it’s my friends, my three beautiful daughters, and the various characters I meet on set each day. While the gear is undeniably important, trust me, I do love new gear (who doesn’t?), it’s crucial not to lose sight of the reason why you want that gear in the first place. You desire the gear to assist you in capturing the world in front of you.
I fell in love with photography in high school. It was probably the first time in my life that I realized I was genuinely talented at something. Okay, okay, in my opinion, I was talented, and that’s what matters most. At that time, It wasn’t something I considered as a career path. It was a way for me to document my friends doing wildly unnecessary things. A record of a time we all spent together having fun. I’m a terrible writer as evidenced by this article, so photography is how I am able to best say what’s on my mind. It also serves as my way of participating in the moments I spend with my friends. Seems somewhat anti-social, always being behind the lens, but focusing thru my viewfinder seems to better etch the memories in my mind.
I didn’t fully realize it at the time, but my environment on the West Coast of Canada was shaping the tools I used to obtain the best images. My teachers in school encouraged me to use films from Fujifilm because they brought out the greens and blues of the Pacific Northwest. So I predominantly used Fujifilm Velvia stock. Fast forward to the present day, and I still use Fujifilm digital cameras for the same reason. I believe their rich history in creating film has given them an advantage in producing the most filmic vibes in a digital camera.
In fact, my first digital camera was a Fujifilm Finepix camera, I believe it had 3 megapixels, and it felt like it was modelled after the 35mm point-and- shoot Tiara. Presently, I am reaching for the GFX 100s and am super excited about the release of their GF 55mm F1.7 lens. For those of you who aren’t familiar, the GFX system is Fujifilm’s medium format digital camera system. The resulting files from these cameras are outstanding, and the level of detail is truly astonishing. This latest lens release is important to me because, for the first time in their GFX line, the camera is no longer just a resolution monster; it now has the ability to create real medium format- looking photos. `
The main draw for most people with medium format film is the ability to separate the foreground from the background, and having access to that F1.7 finally grants us that ability. They do have the 80mm f1.7 in their lineup, but it felt more like a really great headshot lens. This 55mm focal length allows us to showcase the subject within their environment, and that’s what I love most about medium format. That ability the 55mm f1.7 to showcase the who and the where is so important in telling a story. Being a documentary and portrait photographer the environment my subjects are in are crucial in better communicating the story to the viewer. So the more information I can capture in a scene the better.
I capture photos of life and the people who are part of my life. I have a strong attachment to a particular visual point in time. Images created by artists like Herb Ritts, Richard Avedon, and Irving Penn have influenced me greatly. Their images were so crisp and had a distinct feel to the depth of field. This is how I want to perceive the world. I try not to get stuck in a certain trend and am constantly changing things up to communicate with the visual language of each new generation. However, I always find myself returning to that medium format aesthetic.
With each new generation, I incorporate their additions into the solid foundation of traditional medium-format photography. Like a history book, I utilize knowledge from the past to build upon my future while honouring the incredible image makers of the past. My friends and family will always be my inspiration and give me a reason to pick up my camera. The world is such an amazing place; thankfully, photography helps me hold onto those memories.