I'm approaching 2021 with cautious optimism.
I'm also approaching it with more openness than I ever have approached anything in my life. I will be vulnerable in hopes of turning walls into doors or at least, windows. I will be sharing my idea of spirituality, one that is tied to the Earth and my craft.
This is likely the most personal thing I've ever made public. My hope is that by sharing this, someone else will be able to find the clarity they need to take on their own journey with grief, personal struggles, or really just life.
In the spirit of this, I'll be sharing low contrast, black and whites, loose subjects, and some images that take a step back from the usual excitement and distraction that accompanies this time of year.
This isn't meant to be depressing or lethargic, but rather as a reminder that it is just another day, and really, that sometimes shit just goes bad and that's ok because a lot of great things co-exist with the pain and the plain.
2020 was bad. There's really no other way to put it.
It was especially hard for our family, my mother's cancer diagnoses, watching her suffer and fade away. And in the midst of it all, losing our family dog, losing a young neighbour, and watching the world fall into a disgusting state of selfishness before we then, lost my mom.
The good was genuinely overshadowed by the inevitability of loss from Jan 1, 2020.
This year forced us to rethink everything. Every dream, aspiration, belief; toss it all out and start again. It's hard to speak for my family because we all have experienced this in dynamically different ways, so I'll speak for myself here.
I was struggling before, but the heaviness I carried came down on me in 2020.
It's now time to rebuild.
As many do, I was forced to go deeper into my heart with the loss of my mother, to stop myself from freefalling into grief. My personal journey involved a step into what I interpreted as "darkness"; somewhere beyond the known. So, as mom stepped into the light, I stepped into the dark. Taking on the suffering so she could be free of it forever.
It's not that I am surrounded by darkness, but rather this nagging task in my heart that holds me back and keeps me awake at night sometimes. I see it not as depression so much as somewhere I'm afraid to go to.
This fact gives me the power to change, rather than an excuse to suffer.
I've also realized how closely tied I am to the earth through this. I find peace in understanding this journey through the eyes of someone traversing the outdoors.
The journey through the darkness is like standing in a forest with the crescent moon shining through the trees on a clear, calm night. Just enough light to know you're in a forest, but not enough to know where you're going.
At this point, you're given the choice to aimlessly stumble through the dark or to stop. To let your eyes adjust, listen to your heart, and feel your surroundings before each step.
My first task is to embrace the latter.
And in making that choice, my mom's passing has given me the power to find clarity about who I am.
Sometimes she joins me in this place too. Sometimes she's in my dreams, walking with me, shining a light in the darkest of nights, pointing to truths left untouched.
as it relates to my photography style
I've been given the opportunity - the responsibility maybe - to look deeper into my heart than I ever have before. To uncover truths I knew were there, but to address them, to clarify what is truth and what is perception, and to plant them out in the open so that they can grow into something healthy and useful.
Throughout this journey, I came to realize so many things about the photos I create.
One reoccurring theme is that I clearly favour realism. My personal favourites are those that accurately depict the scenes in front of me.
When I see these close-ups of grizzlies and cubs in Banff, I'm not impressed or interested, because this isn't "real" in my eyes. The animals I know and know well, are timid and sly. They're protective and elusive. They watch you without you knowing, sneak about unseen for years if-not their entire lives.
And there's just something really attractive about that to an introvert like myself.
Likewise, the colours of the sky or the changing leaves can be spectacular, but they're not oversaturated or almost neon, like the Instagram post with all the "likes". They fit into nature, into the colour scheme of the land.
This isn't a dig on other photographers, I just wondered one day why I could never share the oversaturated version of my images. I realized that day, that real life, no matter how damn shitty it can be, is what I love most.
And this isn't to say I won't move into this trend.
I hope that in the future, my reality will include more close encounters and bright colours. As it stands now, I'm embracing what is here before it's gone.
This coming year has a lot to offer. I'll be going into it with positive intentions, optimism and openness, and the love and support of my family and friends. I hope to meet you along this journey, and I look forward to sharing it with you!
Until next time,