I Heart Edmonton is a one stop guide to everything #YEG and the site’s founder Emil Tiedemann recently asked me a few questions. My answers, shared below, are part of a posted profile piece which you can see here.
i♥e/ Where were you born?
i♥e/ When and why did you first pick up a camera?
PC/ My first connection with photography was the Christmas when I was 16 months old. I’m told that after unwrapping all the gifts I was more interested in an empty film canister than any of the toys I had been given! I’m not sure when I first picked up a camera but I do remember buying my first camera. It was a Nikon N2000 and I bought it on a trip to New York City with my family when I was 16. I actually still have the camera in my photography office because I keep all the cameras I have ever owned.
i♥e/ Tell us about when you realized you had an eye for photography and when you decided that this might be what you want to do on a professional level.
PC/ I’ve had three career phases in my life. After university I became a helicopter pilot in the Canadian Armed Forces. I left the military at the end of 1999 to become a stay-at-home dad. I’ve always been interested in photography but I started to make more photographs as a stay-at-home dad because I wanted to capture the different stages of my kids’ lives.
Then in 2004, my wife and I took a trip to Venice and that trip changed how I approached photography. I wanted to do the work necessary to improve. Photography then changed from an interest to a passion and now that passion is also a business. Looking back, I’m happy that as I started to work seriously on my craft I was able to experience a couple of years shooting slide film before digital hit the scene. I love digital now because of the convenience and the workflow but shooting film taught me to approach photography with an emphasis on seeing.
There’s a slippery slope in digital photography where an attitude of “I can fix that in Photoshop” or a “spray and pray” shooting mentality can make for some pretty weak photo skills. Shooting slide film taught me to connect with the world around me, to take time to observe and to create photographs with the aim to communicate my reaction to the moment.
i♥e/ What is your personal favourite photo that you have taken?
PC/When the American photographer Imogen Cunningham was asked that question she famously replied – “The one I’m going to take tomorrow.” I do have favourites in my portfolio but, in the spirit of Cunningham’s reply, as I continue to make photographs I continue to learn and improve my skills so while I am proud of the work in the portfolio today I look forward to seeing what I create tomorrow. The learning never stops.
i♥e/ Do you have any photographers you look up to, or that inspire you?
PC/ I’ve got plenty. A few names from the list of greats who are no longer with us would be Henri Cartier-Bresson, Ansel Adams, Galen Rowell, Yousef Karsh, Richard Avedon. A few names from the list of contemporary photographers whose work I enjoy would be Michael Kenna, Guy Tal, Joe McNally, Freeman Patterson. The lists go on and on and on. I love work by photographers who put great care into what they create.
i♥e/ Do you prefer one subject matter over another (i.e. landscapes, people)?
PC/ I started out primarily making landscapes and travel photographs. I thoroughly love time spent in the various Alberta landscapes. I feel a wonderful peace when I am creating nature images. I love the fact that Alberta has four distinct seasons (some years less distinct than others!). The changing seasons help me as a photographer to appreciate light and as a person to appreciate time and how change and nature’s cycle is all part of life.
As I have progressed in my photography career I have enjoyed photographing people more and more. Creating a good portrait is a fun challenge. A good portrait hinges on making a connection with your subject. Challenges are good because they often get us to step outside our comfort zones and that’s a good thing because that’s when we learn and grow. So I really don’t prefer one subject matter over another. I just love photography.
i♥e/ What is your main camera that you use for your photos?
PC/My main camera right now is a Nikon D800. When I am asked by people to recommend a camera I always answer that photographers need to match the equipment options out there to what they like to shoot and how they like to shoot. After that it’s simply a case of picking up the various models that meet your needs and seeing which one just feels right.
Each brand has a distinct feel due to button placement, menu design etc. More than likely one will just feel right to you. Don’t worry about whichever brand is in the “lead” as far as specifications goes. More than likely six months from now they’ll leapfrog each other and do the same again six months after that.