Well that was short and sweet! My “career” as a reporter has come to an end after only 10 months, though, in retrospect, it was quite a (near) year as far as events were concerned and my stint with the Times felt much longer than it was.
My replacement, thankfully, will be a Journalism graduate; from Carleton University in Ottawa to be specific, and there is a certain irony in that. When I graduated from a Southern Ontario high school a few years ago, my ultimate goal was to be a writer so I applied to and was accepted by that same venerable institution. However, possibly in a strange twist of fate, I made the decision to “take a year off,” moving to Ottawa, though taking a job in a hotel instead of sharpening my pencil in journalism school. I never did make it to Carleton; instead, I began enjoying an insanely good income (for a 19-year-old) from bartending, which enabled me to buy some decent photography equipment.
I never dreamed of writing again, as I discovered the joys of the darkroom, and realized that I had found my true passion. Thirty-five years later I am winding down a career that has seen me create thousands of images for both art and commerce, never becoming rich from my efforts, but certainly satisfied with the body of work I have created.
I’m hoping to build a darkroom in my basement (when I can fix the leaky wall) in the next year or so and start enjoying the smell of fixer again. I’ve been shooting mostly digitally the last couple of years (especially with the newspaper) though still love the process of film, which, surprisingly to many, is still plentiful and easy to find. I have enjoyed seeing Pat Kelly’s black-and-white pictures from the ’70s that he’s been posting on Flickr. Looks like he’s having fun in the darkroom (digital or analogue, I’m not sure), and that’s how I’d like to spend some of the free time I’m going to have now that I’m no longer doing this job! Can hardly wait.
Speaking of film, it’s quite remarkable how that medium has survived. The ease of digital photography is such that it’s difficult to make mistakes that cannot be corrected in the processing. Analogue capture is no such animal, in that numerous parts of the process are prone to failure, and the nasty surprise that is a faint or, in some horrifying instances, a completely blank roll of film has to rank amongst the the most disappointing events a photographer can experience.
Truth be told, I wish digital photography had been available when I first became a pro; it would have likely saved me sleepless nights as I lay awake wondering if I had, indeed, removed the lens cap.
As for what I will do now that I’m no longer with one of the oldest newspapers in the country (sounds impressive, doesn’t it?), well, I am returning to teaching photography through Langara College, doing some freelance writing and photography and enjoying a part-time job at one of my favourite local stores, Freeman’s Country Supply in Rock Creek. My wife and I have been regular customers there since we became hobby farmers in 2012, and I am thrilled to join the awesome Freeman’s team. Let’s hope my back is just as happy!
I’ve enjoyed my stint with the Times, and am hoping to contribute the odd column (a la Pat Kelly) going forward. Incidentally, I can no longer be reached by email here, though, if you wish to contact me, please do so at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for reading.