Top Photographer - Issue 09
Top Photographer is a ranking based on the average score of a person’s best five photos in a given issue. The winner will be awarded this section of the magazine to do with as they please. Last issue’s winner was Sharon Wish.
Who are you and what do you do when you aren’t taking pictures?
I do administrative work at a not-for-profit medical and dental clinic in East Vancouver. It's a pretty heavy workload where I am sometimes working six days a week, but with this line of work I am able to give back to the community and that's a good feeling. Aside from the weekly grind I'm very interested in art and music, and at one time spent many years working in the music industry for a major record label.
What kind of camera do you use?
I have several cameras both film and digital, but I primarily shoot with a Nikon D700. It has served me well over several years but soon it will be time to retire it as it's been very well used and is currently being held together by black electrical tape.
Can you give us a tip on how to take a great photo?
I say that patience is important especially when it comes to that "perfect" shot. I've been known to spend hours waiting for someone to walk through my frame to get exactly what I want. The stance has to be right, the clothes, the height of the person, the positioning and balance, which can all become very complex. Then there are other times where it all comes together in a single moment and you have it. It's important to always look ahead and have in mind what you are trying to capture and create. Shoot with a purpose.
Who is your favourite local photographer and why?
That's a really tough question as this city is full of so many talented photographers. There is one photographer that I have admired for many years. Whether he's doing commercial work, portrait or travel I always get something out of his images. @williamjans is tops in any field, and if you ever get the opportunity to see one of his live interactive shows, it's 100% worth checking out.
You use reflection and silhouette a lot in your photography. What draws you to those techniques?
I think it's my love of film noir that keeps me making these types of images. Those old black and white movies with all that suspense and melodrama that would be shown on late night TV. Directors like Ingmar Bergman and Alfred Hitchcock are two of my favourites. This particular style has always been appealing to me but it was never my intention to bring it into my photography. Over time it just gradually filtered in and it's now been my style of photography for several years. I tend to create a sense of melancholy and it makes sense to me to have that faceless person with so much bodily expression. It feels comfortable.
Your internet name appears to be blue chameleon. What's the significance?
It's actually kind of funny and simple. At one time I used to keep lizards as pets, many different species in all shapes, sizes, and colours. My favourites were the chameleons and I was fascinated by them. My very last chameleon was a Panther Nosy B, which is a beautiful blue turquoise colour, and I was awestruck. So bluechameleon was the name I chose when I joined Flickr in 2005 and it just stuck with me over all social media.
What do you love about Vancouver?
Look around, what's not to love? I can't think of any other city where you can hike up into the mountains and still be home for dinner. My absolute favourite thing about Vancouver is the seawall. I've been walking around it for years now, and each time I see something different, especially with our moody weather. The winding path that might be sunny on one side and blowing cold wind on the other is always exciting. I also live for our foggy days and really can't get enough of that time of year, which is obvious with my photography. They say Stanley Park is the crown jewel of Vancouver, and I agree. It's our little escape from the city with all those beautiful tall trees and trails. Aside from our picturesque setting and having nature close at hand, the variety of cuisine this city has to offer is pretty impressive. We really are lucky to live here.
What do you hate about Vancouver?
The cost of living in the city. It went from reasonable to insane in just a few short years. Never mind trying to buy a house or a condo, but trying to rent has become as easy as winning a lottery, not to mention the insanely high cost if you do find something. Watching old buildings and homes being torn down and replaced by overpriced condos on almost every corner is heartbreaking to me. We are tearing down what the community has built and this city is becoming unrecognizable. At this rate we will not be able to see the mountains unless they are being viewed from a 60-story high-rise. The city is losing its soul and has become a rich man's playground. I find this also reflects on people and their attitude toward others.
What’s your favourite place to have a beer in Vancouver?
I'm a big fan of The Morrissey. It's a great place to find a dark and cozy spot for a quiet conversation, but also it's very lively later in the evenings and plays great music. The decor is original and creates a great mood, plus they have a nice fireplace for the colder months. The food is also excellent and the staff super friendly.
If you could change one thing about Archive, what would it be?
I absolutely love that Archive is a photography based magazine!
It would be nice to be able to zoom in on the submitted photos for more detail. Looking at photos on a smartphone is very limiting so people tend to vote for the images with less detail...the obvious landscapes, portrait and such that are easy to see at a glance. Subjects like street photography, urban cityscapes (without the sunset) and some architectural shots are perhaps losing out on the voting process because of this.
I'm not a huge fan of the Archive editor commentary throughout the magazine as I feel it's often unrelated to the photograph itself, and somewhat distracting.
It would be great to have features on events happening in the city, the Zombie Walk and the Mural Festival for example. Or maybe plug a new restaurant or the latest exhibit at the Vancouver Art Gallery. There are some interesting yet undiscovered public spaces in the city that no one knows about, it would be fun to share these locations.
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