|A group of double crested cormorants along the flooded St. Johns River in New Brunswick were a perfect photographic subject for me and my newly discovered joy of monochromatic type images.|
I'm not a fan of old country music, but there are some classics that I really enjoy and sing along at full throttle, putting my heart into the words. George Jones had some real tear jerkers, including "He Stopped Loving Her Today". But one of my favourites from George was "Choices". I've had choices since the day that I was born...
Like a lot of young people, I was facing university without a clue of what I wanted to do with my life. A friend mentioned a program called Finance and Administration and told me that there was an opportunity to have a job with a financial company every summer. Having a guaranteed job every summer to help pay for school sounded good to me, so I took the interviews and landed a spot with one of the big banks. For three years, I went to school and worked each summer at a different branch. That started a twenty year career in banking, all because of a chat with a friend and me not knowing what I wanted to do.
Those years were good to me in a lot of ways, and I worked my way up the corporate ladder rather quickly. From teller to manager of thirty people administering work for fifty branches, I was completely dedicated to my job. For several years, I lived and breathed work. If I wasn't on the job, I was taking courses for accreditation to further my career. That all came to a screeching halt when the trust company I worked for was taken over by a bank. A team of people from Toronto flew in one day without notice, and my department of thirty people, as well as dozens more, were given severance packages and told to pack up their desks and sent home. Not sure whether I was one of the lucky ones or not, I was left behind to help clear up things left behind. It was devastating, and a real eye opener for my working life. I struggled along for a couple of years, but my heart wasn't in it anymore and I was just going through the motions.
A couple of years later, when I was managing a branch and my job disappeared, I was given a choice. Take another job in the bank, or take a severance package. I didn't hesitate, took the package, and never looked back.
For the first time, I made a choice that wasn't the safe one. I decided to start my own company and went into the dog biscuit business. From banker to baker, I started by baking biscuits in my own home and selling them bag by bag to people at craft fairs. I landed my first wholesale customer, progressed to having people bake biscuits for me, then to having a commercial bakery. The business won the "Most Innovative Local Business in Ontario" award in 2001, and had lots of free press and exposure. Ten years, one hundred thousand bags of biscuits, and lots of happy dogs, and I was making my own choices about my own company.
There comes a time when decisions just feel right, and in 2007 I decided it was time to sell the business and fulfill my dream of living in Nova Scotia. That's when photography started becoming more important in my life.
A couple of weeks ago, I was working on a few projects that required me to go back over my photography files and try to organize them into something cohesive. It was quite an interesting task, as I have never specialized in any particular genre of photography. I tend to get interested in something for a period of time, and then go madly off in another direction and try something different. Looking back at old photographs can be very enlightening, and I'm sure most of us can see a progression of sorts as we move along the learning curve. It can be easy to forget that we all have our own path, and our own successes and failures. The important thing is to keep learning and keep trying. Sometimes we can forget how far we've come, until we take a look back over our shoulder. One bonus with digital photography is that we can go back to our old files and work with them to come up with something completely different.
Once I selected my favourite images, I took a look at them as a group and had an epiphany of sorts. Friends in my photo club might have noticed already, but it took grouping my photos together to make me realize that I prefer almost monochromatic images. I had put together fifteen of my favourites, and only one of them had noticeable colour in it. I hadn't realized it before, because I take thousands of colour photographs every year. But it took looking at the ones that have special meaning for me to realize how much I leaned in that direction.
The weather on our recent trip to New Brunswick was drizzly and foggy and a perfect backdrop for my penchant towards colourless images. As I continue to work through those files, I can embrace my new found knowledge about my photographic choices. Our learning curves on this journey through life are always something good to focus on.
published in the South Shore Breaker, Bedford & Sackville Observer, Dartmouth Tribune - May 24, 2017