Saturday, March 6, 2010

Why Do I Do What I Do?

Okay ... so everyone has a blog these days. And I have to admit I've been thinking about it for awhile - especially in terms of the power of social networking and trying to figure out how to make this crazy "second life" of mine work. So why now? Well ... as I often do during my insomniac nights, I tune into the Knowledge Network and watch the "Landscape as Muse" program which is followed by the "Recreating Eden" program. 

Tonight was no exception - the insomnia is getting worse not better - and it was an interesting program on an installation artist who works a great deal of her time in the Great Bear Rain Forest of the Pacific Northwest. But it was followed by an episode of Recreating Eden featuring the great fashion icon: Nicole de Vesian who left her life in the turbulent world of Paris fashion at the age of 69 to create an amazing garden in Provence. It really hit me how similar this was to my own life experience. Maybe now I could explain my passion better to people. Maybe now it was time to create a blog to do so. 

My second life is a visual one. I have come from the corporate world of food quality assurance and safety where I had devoted the first 38 years of my money-earning, tax-paying life.  So HOW does one get from a six figure income in that corporate infrastructure to being a starving artist in the world of visual arts?? Ahh Ha ... hence the compulsion to explain myself in a blog!  

There are those who drift through life scarcely noticing the patterns and colours and visual tapestry that is all around us. BUT there are those, like myself, who are drawn in and captivated by the detail, the complexity and the fascinating diversity of visual highlights in our lives. When I search back to my childhood memories, I have realized that my life was always very visually oriented. Growing up on a farm in the Prairies surrounded by nature, confronted with the stunning sunsets, terrifying thunderstorms, quiet peaceful vistas of flowing wheat fields and gently swirling aspen leaves - one could not help but be conditioned to the visual poetry of life and nature. 

I know now that was always there, but when I finally got frustrated in being able to capture that so I could hold it a little longer - that was when my second life began. A trip to Australia and the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest in 2002 - bereft of a good camera - left me feeling that I had missed a huge opportunity in my life experience. The ability to capture what I saw - what fascinated me about this amazing country - and  hold it with me for a little longer - was gone. So as I always say to friends - Santa went out that Christmas and bought me my first real camera - and my second life was underway. 

But I digress (what a surprise I hear my friends saying ) ... this is supposed to be about why I do what I do - capture images and try to make a living at doing it. Well - I do capture a lot of different types of images - from fashion to physique - from landscape to miniature natural worlds. To me - they are all a part of the same world - where I see things as patterns and movements, as detail and complexity. Whether it is the beautiful detail of a couture designer gown  or the patterns of light and shadow on a human body. Whether it is the grandeur of an amazing spot on this wonderful planet, or the minute detail of an organic life beneath our feet - to me it is all about finding and capturing that detail, the pattern, the light and the colour. 
Hence, the past few years of my life have been devoted to exploring and understanding how I can capture that world. Technically I am pretty much self-taught. I struggle with how my life could have been different if I had gone for a fine arts education instead of a degree in Chemistry. But this is not about salty tears - it is about how I am compelled to make the best of my second life - however long that is. So I learn every day - I learn by doing - by experimenting, by reading, by spending hours behind my camera and in front of my computer. 

But now things have changed. Being thrust (a year and a bit ago) into trying to make a living out of my photography has been a terrifying journey to say the least. How does one translate what he likes to do into food on the table? Yes I could take portraits of children at Sears - nothing wrong with that - but what I'm striving to do right now with my life is to make some economic and practical sense out of my love for the visual arts - in particular - photography. NOT easy in times of economic recession, in times of amazing competitive pressures and where everyone has access to amazing technology in the form of digital cameras that do everything but make your morning coffee. 

What now? Well I know in my heart - I will survive and I will be a happier person for trying to do so. I am still not sure where my future will settle. But I DO KNOW that it is all connected - by my love of visual poetry So if I am trying to create an image for a fashion magazine or a piece of art that conveys the power and beauty and complexity of nature - it is all the same in my minds eye. I am blessed to have this opportunity, this gift, so I must make the best of it. 

So to answer my own question - why do I do what I do? Because every image I take and work with enriches my life. It makes me appreciate and respect the beauty and complexity of Nature - be that man or beast or plant or planet. Our lives are so fleeting and so fragile. The world around us is so enduring but at the same time fragile and vulnerable to man.  What better way to spend the second part of my life than in focussing on what is really important - bringing that vision to others. And if I can make enough money to buy a good bottle of cabernet sauvignon and sit on my balcony overlooking the ocean - so much the better!

Until tomorrow ... 

Always more to see at Leonard Imagery


  1. Very cool - and nice photos. With that combination of talent and passion, I think you'll be able to afford a very nice cab sauvignon indeed.

  2. WOW... I am amazed, thank you so much for sharing Harry, beautiful story, adore your drive and passion, and please KEEP DOING IT, because you are AMAZING! ... Great Blog, can't wait to read more and share of those visuals!

    In love