Category: About Me

Award Winning Photography?

Here’s an issue I’m struggling with and I’m looking for your feedback. Yes, you. Reading these words right now. No, don’t pretend you’re not and look away. I know you’re reading this. Don’t try and deny it.

Chances are, if you’re reading this, you’re most likely a potential client. (Or else my mom. Hi Mom!) Or at least, someone with an appreciation for fine photography, and are probably better suited to answer this question than I: do awards matter?

Does it matter to you, potential bride out of Grande Prairie, if your photographer has a stack (or even one) award to his credit? Does that make them into a better photographer in your mind? How about you, soon-to-be Graduate from Fort St. John, looking for a creative way to remember your Grade 12 year? Would having a photographer with a stack of awards make you think any more highly of them? Or do you have other criteria that you use to judge their work (like, say your eyes).

Okay, that last comment probably shows where my feelings on the matter lie. I don’t really care much about contests and awards and looking for acclaim from a panel of judges, which is why I am not an award winning anything (well, not since high school when I got that silver medal in shot put…). But recently, I’ve been wondering if having an award or two to my name might not be such a bad thing.

It is a nice shorthand for “Quality”. “Award Winning Photographer” just has that ring to it. Of course, with so many photo contests out there, many of them the kind that if you send money, they’ll give you an award, the whole process of becoming an award-winning photographer seems to be cheapened. (Of course, I feel compelled to mention at this point that Google thinks I’m the greatest living photographer, and who am I to argue with Google?)

But that’s how I feel. How about you? Leave a comment, or send an email and tell me your thoughts. Thanks.

On the Professional Advantage….

When my RAV4 is cold in the morning, it sometimes gives a little puff of blue-ish, white-ish smoke on start-up. So I took it into my Toyota dealer to have it looked at. I dropped it off at 11:00 and picked it up half an hour later. The mechanic told me that it could be one of a couple of things, but most likely it was nothing. If the car uses more than a litre of oil in 5000 km, then bring it back.

The cost for half an hour at the shop for a mechanic to tell me it was probably nothing? $50. But you know what? I don’t mind. I wanted the car to be looked at by a professional. By someone who knew what he was doing, because it was more important to me that it was done right than that it was simply done at all. I paid not just for his time, but for his expertise, his experience and his unique knowledge of cars like mine. I went to the Toyota dealer to have my car looked at, because they were the best person for the job. You might want to bring yours to a Ford Dealer.

In the same way, if you care that your wedding photographs are done right, find a professional. More than that, find a professional whose style and vision is something that you like. I have a very definite style to my images that will appeal to some and turn others off. That’s okay. I want to attract brides to me who are attracted to my style. And it’s okay if you want to go somewhere else because you prefer their style to mine. 

And yes, a professional will cost more than just getting your brother in law to take the pictures, just like getting a professional to look after my car cost more than getting my brother-in-law to look at my car.

If it is worth it to you to know that it is done right, to know that you are entrusting some of your most precious memories to a professional, then it is worth it. For peace of mind, yes, but also for the results. 

Graduation Photography in the north

So, down in the States, “Senior Photography” is pretty widely understood to mean the senior class at High School, the class that is about to graduate. 

Taking photographs of these soon-to-be-graduates is a fairly big event, and is approached in much the same way as a wedding is photographed, though there is usually just one, not two, people as subject.

Up here, though, this is not the case. When you say “senior’s photos” most people think grey hair and wrinkles. The photos of the graduating class are usually handled by the same people who do the class pictures. And the graduation photographs differ from the traditional class photographs in that the grads are wearing a cap and gown.

Is there anything wrong with that? No. And yes. There’s nothing wrong with a straight up cap and gown shot, but it doesn’t really capture the essence of who these young adults are. All it says is “I’m graduating.”

For me, meaningful photography should tell a story. It should reveal something about the character of the person being photographed. I am a big fan of books for both graduates and weddings. Because there is something greater than the sum of the parts when you combine a series of photographs, all that tell a story, all that reveal something about the person or people who are featured in the book. 

For me, as a storyteller in images and words, I find that the whole cap-and-gown photo, while an important element, fails to tell the whole story.

While I have been offering portrait sessions for grads for the last few years, I’m planning on pursuing it more actively over the next year.

I am focusing on the Tumbler Ridge graduating class, but if you are from Dawson or Chetwynd or Fort St. John, feel free to call me at 1-250-242-4424, or send me an email at to discuss your pictures.

Answering the tough questions

Every bridal magazine, every website devoted to brides has a variation of the theme: Questions to ask potential wedding photographers.

While most of these questions are important, some of them are downright ridiculous, and a few are highly personal.

More importantly, it turns the discussion into an interview and not, well, not a discussion. It becomes more about getting to know facts about the photographer, rather than getting to know the photographer him or herself.

But, as I said, I know that there’s some good information to be learned from these questions. So here’s my answers to some of the most popular.

Are you a professional photographer?
It depends on your definition of “professional”, though I think I’ve got most bases covered….

If you go by the basic “do you make a living from it?”, then yes, I generate most of my income from photography.

In addition, my business is a photography business, meaning I am registered and in good legal standing with the government. (Yes, that means that you’ll have to pay taxes. Sorry.) And I carry liability insurance and Workman’s Compensation in case anything goes wrong at the wedding (nothing has gone wrong so far, but if it did, you are covered.)

Will you be taking the photos at your wedding?
Foregoing a critical illness or injury, absolutely. If you go for our new Double Vision Package, I’ll bring along a second photographer, but I will always shoot every wedding I book.

Are you a member of any associations or groups specific to the industry?
The purpose of this question is to know if I am up-to-date with current trends in wedding photography, not a small issue up north! I am a member of the Digital Wedding Forum, one of the most active industry groups on the internet. Members include the Bebbs, Jesh De Rox (formerly of Dawson Creek, now one of the hottest wedding photographers in the world), Jerry Ghionis, David Beckstead…a veritable who’s who of wedding photographers.

What styles do you specialize in? Do you do any creative shoots?
I define my style as Creative Portraiture, so every shoot is creative (though not every shot is creative. There is a place for bread and butter shots during a wedding day.) I’m hoping that you took a look at my pictures before stopping in here. If not, click on the wedding link at the top of the page. I shoot a blend of traditional (classical) portraiture, mixed with modern photojournalistic sensibilities. My deepest desire is to capture real moments, so I try not to be too pose-y. I generally set scenes in which the couple can interact “go hang out on that bridge, by that tree; try sitting down; try leaning back…” rather than forcing my vision on the couple “Okay, put your head just so….” Of course, sometimes that works best with a certain couple. My specific directions are usually things like “eyes to me” or “look over there”, but each wedding is different.

I am always looking for brides who are willing to do something a little different, too. If you’ve got an idea (“can we take pictures while dangling from a rope off the side of a cliff”), I’m more than willing to hear about it. As long as it isn’t immoral, illegal or fattening, chances are, I’ll be into it.

What type of camera will you be using?
This is one of those questions that most photographers laugh at, because most people don’t know the difference between a 30D and a D30 (even I get confused sometimes…), and as long as it sounds impressive…. the truth is, the tools do not make the artist, but good tools can make the artist’s life easier. I use a variety of cameras, from point and shoots to medium format, but my primary cameras are Canon 20D.

In addition to the cameras, I use a variety of other equipment, as needed. I bring along a mix of studio lighting, as well as on and off camera strobes, reflectors, etc. I have been known to bring backdrops along, just in case.

Does the photographer use an assistant? Is there an extra charge for this?
I try to have an assistant for every shoot, but this isn’t always possible. There is no extra charge for an assistant, nor a discount for a lack of one.

Will there be backup equipment available? And what happens if the photographer is ill?
I have backup equipment. If I were to get ill, I do have a second photographer available, though depending on how short of notice it happens, they may or may not be available. If I am unable to photograph the wedding or arrange for another photographer, I will refund your money, but my liability is limited only to that.

Can other people take photos while you are taking photos?
Sure, but they’re not going to be as good as mine…. 🙂 I have been known to ask other people to stop taking pictures due to time constraints, but otherwise, go for it.

However, if friends and families are looking to get pictures for themselves, they don’t have to bring along their own camera. Photographs are available to order online after the event. If you (the couple) wish, you can pass on the login information to your friends and family, and they can order pictures for themselves directly from the website.

Should my event last longer than scheduled, will you stay? Extra charge?
As long as it isn’t grossly over, I will stay at no charge. If you are running two or three hours behind, though, there will be overtime charged.

What types of photos will be taken (B/W, Color, Antiques, etc..)?
My style doesn’t fall into one category of processing, but I play with a full range of colour treatments, often very cinematic. Some images will be very reminiscent of 1950s Hollywood glamour shots, while others will have bright, vibrant colours. I treat each individual image as its own work of art.

Will I accept a list of specific photos to be taken?
I will, as long as the group shots don’t take all the available time. I like to have half an hour to photograph the couple by themselves, but have been in situations where the list was too long, and could only squeeze in 5 minutes alone with the couple. While shots with family and friends are important, the wedding is ultimately about the two of you. If that goes undocumented, then that is a tragedy.

What attire will you and your assistants wear?
That is up to you. If your wedding is formal, then I dress in black and white. If it is more casual, I will dress at an appropriate level of formality.

How long after the event will the proofs be ready?
Generally four to six weeks. I like to process the first batch and get them up within a couple weeks of the wedding. Within a month, I should have a sample album ready to look at and by two months, all the pictures will be online for viewing.

What type and how much assistance will I provide in planning your album?
I predesign all wedding albums, creating my “how I saw it.” Most brides and grooms are not professional designers. I am. I go through the photos and select the best photos for the album, and put them together into a consistent whole. Once the album is online, the bride and groom do have the option of making substitutions and changes, additions and subtractions, or even change the whole thing. Of course, I do provide discounts if you were to buy the album as-is….

Will you give us the negatives?
I shoot digital, but I will give the digital negatives, if asked. Note these are actual digital negatives, and not the retouched files that you see. Most computers can’t open them without special software, but this way you do have a copy of the files for your records. Note that DVDs have a shelf life of about 10 years, so it is good to transfer the files onto a new disk every decade or so.

The retouched files are available, too, though you’ll have to purchase these.

Any more questions you want to see answered? Feel free to send me an email at