Give and Take (Nothing)

For many photographers the concept is fairly simple. Give me money and I’ll take your photograph or sell you one that I’ve taken. The idea of getting paid to take a photograph is not a new concept and quite often becomes the desire of many aspiring photographers, myself included. For some of you who follow my blog on a regular basis, you might recall some of my recent posts when I have talked about wanting to do more with my photography and use it for a greater purpose. Over the last few weeks I’ve been doing some research on organizations and individuals who are using their talents to take a photograph and get nothing in return. I thought I would pass along a list of organizations that have really impressed me. If you know of another concept or organization that I haven’t mentioned here please feel free to share back with me.

The Maple Leaf Mission is an organization based out of Edmonton Alberta whose mission is to provide portrait photography to families of individuals who are: facing a terminal illness, living with a debilitating illness yet demonstrates a life lived to the fullest, military families celebrating homecomings or deployment, soldiers returning injured from a tour. For more information on The Maple Leaf Mission visit

Help Portrait was started by celebrity photographer Jeremy Cowart. The concept is simple. Find families or groups who would like a portrait but can’t afford to have one taken. Single parents, underprivileged families, families affected by illness, army veterans, or just a neighbor. Go to to learn more.

According to their website “Outside the Lens™ (OTL) is a San Diego-based youth media literacy program dedicated to celebrating the vision and voices of children around the world and across cultures. Students (K-12) tell their unique personal stories using photography, writing and other digital media forms while under the guidance of writers, poets, journalists, photographers, filmmakers, artists, and teachers.” I like this concept a lot. The idea of giving a young person a camera should help us see the world in a new perspective. Right now they are participating in a global photography project called Water in Focus which documents the use, waste, conservation and pollution of the world’s water supply. If you are interested in learning more about Outside the Lens visit them at

Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep is an organization that has really captured my attention for personal reasons. The mandate of NILMDTS is to help parents recover from the loss of a baby. This might seem like a morbid type of charity but for parents going through a very difficult situation it might be an important part of the healing process. For parents of stillborn babies, and babies that die shortly after birth a photograph might be the only thing they bring home from the hospital. Right now they have over 12000 volunteers in 40 different countries.

Photo Philanthropy is an organization that is all about social change. They connect photographers with non-profit organizations around the world. Projects may include environmental causes, social and economic situations in places like third world countries, or education on a variety of topics. If you are thinking about donating your talents to a cause this might be a good place to start.  You can connect with them at

If you are interested in learning about more organizations to partner with you may want to look at the website or do your own search on philanthropy and photography.

“From what we get, we can make a living;
what we give, however, makes a life.” –
Arthur Ashe


Salt Water Cure

The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears or the sea. – Isak Dinesen

I’m back from vacation. It was a short walk but the view was fantastic. Even though it was only a mental break from writing and I didn’t go anywhere, it was a much need time away to recharge and refocus on my photography. In looking for inspiration there is an abundance here in New Brunswick. I can look out my window and see the Bay of Fundy and open my front door and hear it. If it is too cold I can look through any of my windows and see the salt spray that has been left behind.

The Bay of Fundy in Action

It has been during walks along the coast when I have captured many of my favorite images. The Bay of Fundy has no shortage of  inspiration and subjects to photograph. There are many times when I visit the ocean that I attempt to record its power and awesomeness . Creating images of waves can be made on just about any visit, whether calm or stormy days. On a calm day I love to get close to the shoreline to show the motion and beauty of the water. The stormy days offer the beauty as well, but it is power that it really demonstrates.

Tides In

The shores along the bay provide creatures, color and the abstract of rocks and seaweed. Having a close focusing or macro lens will come in handy to photograph these subjects. Showcasing the details allows the viewer to really appreciate all that the ocean has to offer and also to show the fragility. The ocean is such a stark contrast of power and yet it is so fragile as it is impacted by the negligence and complacency of those who either don`t care or know any better.

Adam’s Rib

The ocean has been the subject of many of my images and it has also been the source of many memories. My children enjoy the beach and ocean as much as I do (but with less apprehension about getting messy). As a family we have spent countless hours walking the coastline while sharing stories, laughs and marveling at God`s creation. Water has this unique ability to capture our attention. Even with all the gadgets, TV shows and music to entertain them, my kids will still leave all those in a instant if I offer an invitation to join me for a walk on the beach.

Mud Pies

Besides photography, my other passion is the environment. Over the past 3 years I have participated in an international effort assisting in beach clean-ups.  The Ocean Conservancy ( promotes the annual event along with a local organization called Atlantic Coastal Action Program (ACAP). The list of grossness that we have collected is too long to mention but I have picked up just about any type of trash you can imagine.  If you have never been involved in a local clean-up, I urge you to find one and participate. You will be left with a tremendous feeling of accomplishment and the added benefit of not having to photograph around trash the next time you visit the beach.

Compassionate Photography

1 Peter 3:8 – Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.

I have struggled with this week’s blog. My first dose of writers block has set in. This was originally planned for Palm Sunday but I have been unable to focus and to get my mind away from the environmental issues I wrote about two weeks ago.  Since I posted my Running Water blog, I have read a few other stories on the topic of water and the environmental and I’ve struggled to concentrate on much else.

Palm Sunday - It was a great time for some internal reflection

For several years I have wanted to use my photography for a greater purpose than just my own fame. There is part of me that still has the desire to be a full time photographer traveling the world creating captivating pieces of art; but there is also the part of me that understands the greatest satisfaction will come from making a difference in the world with my images.

Don’t get me wrong, going out early on a morning or late evening continues to motivate me and I still get excited every time I plug my camera into my laptop. Just being outside enjoying nature, recording images and editing on my computer sustains me from week to week, but long term I would like to accomplish more.  I was planning a trip later this year to Kenya with some friends from my church but unfortunately that was postponed due to an election in Kenya. I had visions of capturing the next image of “The Afgan Girl” like Steve McCurry or a wild creature like Frans Lanting’s “Cheetah and Cub” but that will have to wait.

Synchronized Swimming - A lot of my inspiration comes from sharing the uncommon and the common; sometimes at the same time.

Palm Sunday and Easter is a time of celebration of an Individual who was an example for us all. On several occasions Jesus demonstrated his compassion for the less fortunate and those who were sick. I think most of us now realize the issues that we are now dealing with in regards to the environment will have the greatest effect on the poor. Those who are least able to help themselves are the ones who face the biggest obstacles. The challenge for me now is to demonstrate compassion like Jesus did and is there a way for me to use my photography to share this message.

I have had several discussions over the years with different people and family about my ideas and desire to use my images for something else besides art on a wall. I have discovered new organizations like Help Portrait, Outside the Lens and Broken Light Collective and many others which are all amazing projects. I just haven’t found the one that feels like the right fit for me yet.  So now I’m turning to you my friends, new and old, for ideas.  If you are involved in some kind of an organization or doing something on your own and using your photography to give back to others, I would love to know what you are doing.

The Fundy Isles – Campobello Island

Campobello Island is one of the other Fundy Isles that provides many interesting photographic possibilities.  This 70 square mile island is part of New Brunswick and accessible by ferry from Deer Island or directly by bridge from the town of Lubec Maine. The Bridge is called the Roosevelt International Bridge, after the late President Roosevelt. The President had a summer home on Campobello Island and it’s now a historical park.

The Famous Fishing Boats of Campobello Island New Brunswick

I’ve visited the park on a couple of occasions and the President’s summer home is beautiful and interesting for those who appreciate history. I spent most of my last visit with my family walking the trails inside the park. All are beautiful and offer some fantastic views of the Island and the Bay of Fundy.  The must see part of the park is the beach, and especially the Friars Head.  This rock sculpture hugs the coast and shore line of the water.  I was fortunate to arrive at the golden hour on a clear evening so I was able to capture a few wonderful images before the sun had set.

Sunset behind Friar's Head

The Friar's Head looking over his bay

One of the most photographed lighthouses in the world, the East Quoddy Lighthouse, or also known as the Head Harbour Lighthouse is another famous tourist destination once you are on Campobello. Build in 1829, this is one of the oldest light houses in Canada. This lighthouse is set in an area that offers wonderful opportunities at sunrise and sunset as well as low and high tide. Unfortunately, the lighthouse is also famous for the individuals who risk traveling to the lighthouse too close to high tide and have been caught in the current.

East Quoddy Lighthouse

From fishing boats, to beaches and wildlife Campobello Island offers so much. Its charm is captivating and a refreshing break from busy city life. Getting there from bridge or boat just adds to its appeal.  The benefit of taking pictures on a small island like Campobello is being able to plan your day around where the sun and light is best. I also appreciate knowing that wherever I am on the island there is something beautiful to capture with my camera. It is island hopping at its best.

The Fundy Isles – Deer Island

There are several unique qualities that the Bay of Fundy offers for photographers. Of course, the ocean and coastline are top of the list, but something that I don’t hear mentioned enough are the islands that make up such a large part of the beauty of this area.  There are three in particular that are a must on my list of places to visit at least once a year. Known as the Fundy Isles, Deer Island, Campobello Island and Grand Manan are a photographer’s paradise.

Capturing photographs of wildlife from shore is one of many reasons to visit Deer Island Point Park.

The island that my family and I visit most often is Deer Island. The ferry ride from the mainland of L’Etete, which is just outside St. George New Brunswick, is about 20 minutes. Once on the island, there is no shortage of subjects to photograph even with the island only being 12 kilometers long. The twisting roads that run through this rural fishing community provide incredible imagery of a beautiful coastal community. There are several wharfs, and weirs to go along with the colorful fishing boats. Once you drive in closer to the wharves and boats, the fishermen with their tackle such as nets and traps are great subjects to capture in detailed shots.

Fishing Boats docked

The centerpiece of the island, for me, is Deer Island Point Park. This area of the island offers a campground and some of the best opportunities to photograph everything from sunrise to sunset along with whales, seals, porpoises, bald eagles, and osprey all in one day. It is truly a photographer or outdoor enthusiast’s paradise. Some of my favorite images from the island have been captured here, not to mention some of our best family vacations.

Some things look like they haven't changed in a 100 years

The other part of Deer Island that I consider a photographer’s delight is the area between Chocolate Cove and Lord’s Cove. It is here that the fishing community comes to life. The area starts to stir at 5:00 am and is constant motion all day with fishing and whale watching boats coming and going. The boats along with their traps and nets offer unlimited chances for creating the perfect image.

The Fisherman's day starts early, so mine had to as well

Deer Island may be small in land mass but it is enormous when it comes to photographic inspiration and opportunities.  The other benefit to visiting Deer Island is that taking a cruise to this island is free.

Time of Reflection

“God’s miracles are to be found in nature itself; the wind and waves, the wood that becomes a tree – all of these are explained biologically, but behind them is the hand of God.”   Ronald Reagan

Fall is a bitter sweet time for me. It means the end of hot summer nights, the end of beach combing days and late evening sunsets.  It means that winter is soon to arrive with snow and ice and minus 20 degree (minus 40 with the wind-chill) days.  But it also brings spectacular colors and frosty designs that come with the change of temperature.  It means I need to get out as much as possible with my family to enjoy a cool hike and all the sights and wildlife that summer foliage conceals. I’ll admit that with the onset of colder weather I become a little bear-like and take the odd photographic hibernation.

Park Point Reflection, Deer Island, New Brunswick

Through out the year I love to look for images of water or create images from reflections in the water. This is especially true in the fall with the change of season bringing bright colours, leafless trees and newly formed ice. The addition of fog coming off the local rivers and the Bay of Fundy add to the drama of the scene.  There is something magnetic about the water to me.  Maybe I feel this way because we humans have such a dependence on it.

Heron - Lunnenburg, Nova Scotia

The reflections in a body of water seem to not only enhance the image but also emphasize the fragility of the places we live.  It seems ironic sometimes as I read the news there are so many in the world who are in dire need of rain and others who wish it would just stop.   As I’ve said before, when I create an image it’s with the hope that the viewer has a greater appreciation of the gift that God has given us.  This is especially true for our water.

Fall Reflections - Musquash Marsh, Musquash, New Brunswick

Last fall I had the opportunity to spend several days working with an organization called Blue Legacy that was started by Alexandra Cousteau.  During the few days I spent with Alexandra and her group I heard several amazing stories about water issues around the world.  Some are still sad while others have the potential for a happy ending, but we’ll have to wait and see.  In one of her speeches, Alexandra gave a suggestion that I made the point to do with my family this past summer.  If you want to show your family that water is not an inexhaustible resource take them to the lake or watershed that fills your tap.  It was a great object lesson for my kids.  When they looked at the lake it may have seemed enormous but when I explained that 50,000 people all need to share it, it started to look a whole lot smaller.

Sunset Reflection - Mud Lake Bog, Quispamsis, New Brunswick

The process for taking a photograph is no longer only about depth of field, focal length, or shutter speed; they have become secondary. For me it is about the time of reflection and appreciating the gift we have been given.