This week we conclude our two-part series on local photo-blogs (see Part 1 here), by looking at three more photographers from the National Capital Region.
Jo-Ann Holden (Musician on Skis)
Surfing the local blogosphere is like going through a family attic filled with stuffed boxes, suitcases and trunks. It’s difficult to predict beforehand what you’ll find, but if you take the time to search, you can come across wonderful treasures.
This joy of discovery is particularly true when it comes to local photographers. Since starting to write earlier this year about local bloggers, I have reviewed more than 100 photo-blogs, and to my delight have come across some spectacular work.
Among my favourite sites is Musician on Skis, a photo-blog by Jo-Ann Holden, a classical pianist who teaches piano and performs live with singers and instrumentalists. Her stunning photographs are taken primarily in Gatineau Park, with a focus on wildlife (right), landscapes (above and below) and outdoor activities.
“I get a a lot of emails from people who say that the blog inspires them to get to the park,” says Holden, who is an avid cross-country skier.
A resident of Chelsea, Quebec, she tries to shoot photos on a daily basis, and regularly brings her camera while skiing or hiking.
As a fan of her work, her beautiful images leave me with a sense of childlike wonder. Whether it’s vivid photographs of wildlife, stunning landscapes, or the occasional abstract picture, her work inspires awe and wonderment.
“When my first husband died it made me realize how short life is,” Holden tells me, as she recalls the tragic death of her first husband at the age of 34, who died in 1990. “That’s why I try to go outside everyday and grab a hold of something.”
Looking forward, Holden says that she would eventually like to sell some of her prints and digital negatives. To this end, she has set up a smugmug site, although at present she is still not selling her work. Nevertheless, she hopes to have her work ready for purchase by the end of the year.
Brendan Montgomery (Shooting It … and other photo-blogs)
I recently came across this lovely phrase about photography: “If you know how to wait, people will forget your camera then their souls will open up.”
This great quote is a good way to introduce Ottawa photo-journalist Brendan Montgomery, whose captivating photos capture vivid and emotional moments. In a series of photos-blogs, (see his tumblr site Shooting It, his self-named blog, his Flickr account, and professional website), he presents a wide range of images that feature a side of Ottawa that many people (including area residents) do not normally see or think of.
Chief among his work are powerful shots of political demonstrations, such as this impressive photo from the 4/20 protest (this past April on Parliament Hill) that celebrated cannabis culture.
I first became acquainted with Montgomery’s work through images like the one above. His strong journalistic work can also be seen in other images from the 4/20 protest, the recent May Day demonstrations, and this photograph of a protest related to events in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (bought by Amnesty International).
“For the most part I shoot protests,” says Montgomery, when asked what type of news events he focuses on. ”It’s a place where you can have shots with a lot of emotion, and also I don’t need a press pass.”
His photographic work, however, is not limited to demonstrations. For instance, his profile pictures can be quite interesting, as in this photo or this one. He is also quite skilled at shooting urban landscapes, as in the image on the right that captures the Rideau Street underpass (original here), or photos like these or this one.
“I don’t try to interact with any subjects for street photography,” says Montgomery, when asked how he captures urban settings. ”I try to be a fly on the wall.”
Eva Russell (Location : Vanier)
The east-end neighbourhood of Vanier does not get a lot of respect. If you visit this area with open eyes and ears, however, and let the facts speak for themselves, you will see that this often-derided community is undergoing a lot of positive change.
One local photographer who is documenting this transformation is Eva Russell, a Nova Scotia native who moved to Ottawa in 1999 to study architecture at Carleton University.
“It’s an exciting place to live because it’s going to go through a lot of change,” says Russell, who moved to Vanier two years ago. “There is a sense of community. Everyone is really friendly.”
Since settling into her new digs, Russell has seen Vanier transform before her eyes, as the streets become safer, and younger families occupy parks and splash pads.
She has also discovered that her new neighbourhood contains interesting architecture and urban layout. “The houses are all different,” says Russell, who works as an architect. “It’s a little haphazard …. Not really on a grid.”
To celebrate her new east-end community, she launched the photo-blog Location: Vanier this past November to highlight Vanier’s overlooked spaces, such as the interesting storefront above, the sugar shack (right), or the diner (below).
What I like about her photographs is their rustic feel. Taken with an iPhone, the images feel like an intimate family photo album, which is filled with tenderness and joyful memories.
While some of her shots capture gritty parts of Vanier, overall the site presents a positive face of the neighbourhood. In fact, one can see the photo-blog as a photographic romance, in which a talented architect fully embraces her new community.
“I’ve always been interested in photography,” says Russell, when asked where her passion for taking photos stems from. “The first camera I got when I was four. It was a Polaroid.”
Almost three decades later, the 31 year old architect is still capturing images. Her photo work, however, is not limited to Vanier; she also has a Flickr account that contains photos taken with a suitcase pinhole camera, as well as pictures from Baffin Island.