Have you ever wondered where a river could take you? I sat on the banks of the Ottawa River several years ago and wondered just that. I made a decision that day which changed my life and opened my eyes to a whole new world, a world I have learned to see through the viewfinder of a camera.
I was working weekends guiding white-water rafting trips on the Ottawa when I decided to quit my job in a synthetic rubber factory in Sarnia’s Chemical Valley. Three generations of my family had worked in The Valley, but it was time for me to go. I left the good paying, but mentally stagnating job and went to Ottawa to study print journalism. It was at Algonquin College that I developed my love for photography. After graduating with honours I completed an internship and freelanced as a photojournalist with the Canadian Press, where I covered politics on Parliament Hill. During this time my images were published in major daily newspapers like the Globe & Mail and the Toronto Star. After a few years in Ottawa my wanderlust got the best of me and I decided to use my skills as a river guide and kayaker to travel and work in Mexico and South Africa. When I wasn’t working on rivers I was out taking photographs.
It was the rafting business that took me to those countries, but once I was there the doors of opportunity swung wide open. In Mexico I spent two months volunteering with a group of Mayan writers and photographers in Chiapas. I taught them desktop publishing skills and collaborated with them on their first fotonovela (photo-comic book). In South Africa I was welcomed into the tribal community where I lived for five months, and I experienced the true meaning of the Zulu word Ubuntu, which means “largeness of spirit”. Traveling the world and working as a rafting guide was a wonderful experience, but after several years and more than a thousand river trips I decided to dry off for awhile and pursue my passion for photography on a full-time basis.
Like many photographers, I shot lots of different types of subject matter while searching for my niche. However, my life eventually came full circle when I re-discovered some of my interests from high-school: architecture and design.
As a high-school student I excelled in drafting, design and the arts, and often thought about studying architecture in university. That wasn’t in the cards for me, but architecture and interior design have now become big part of my photography business. In addition to architecture and design, food photography is also one of my passions and I take great joy exploring the proportions and perspectives of a built environment or a carefully constructed meal.
Changing careers hasn’t always been easy, but it is a decision I have never regretted.
When I was working in the suffocating heat and stench of the rubber factory I never imagined that I would one day teach computer skills to Mayan Indians or listen to wondrous African drums and voices in a tribal church in Zulu Land. I also never imagined that I would build a career as an commercial photographer in Toronto, but I put my faith in the river, I learned to trust in the flow and it carried me toward my dreams.
“I would love to live
Like a river flows
Carried by the surprise
Of its own unfolding.”
~ Irish poet John O’Donohue