Interview by Clara Kumagai
You’ve seen our first sneak peeks of issue 52:4 – Jordan Mounteer’s poem “Mt. Misen”and an excerpt from “This is How I Remember You” by Cathy Kozak, the winner of PRISM‘s 2014 Fiction Contest.
For our next teaser, we’ve caught up with the photographer of the beautiful cover for 52:4, Robert Beardan…
What first drew you to photography? Can you remember your first photograph?
My first photograph was a polaroid image of a single celled organism that I photographed through a microscope that I had received when I was nine years old.
I wanted to become a cell biologist and I wanted to show others what I saw through the microscope. It didn’t take long for me to start pointing my camera at landscapes,
people and wildlife. I think my first photograph was of a protozoan living in pond water – a Stentor.
What photograph are you most proud of?
Wow, that’s a difficult question as I have taken more then a million images over the past 40 years, but I would probably have to say it’s a picture of the aurora borealis I took with a woman (Amanda Peterson) standing beside a tent on Pontoon lake outside of Yellowknife.
What’s the hardest thing about photography that nobody knows?
The hardest thing about photography is finding unique and different images that will engage people. With millions of images taken every day through cameras and smartphones, it’s very challenging to capture a compelling image that will make people take notice. An important component of taking a great picture is dramatic lighting.
How do you discover new landscapes and subjects? What inspires you?
I love to travel and explore Canada with my camera. Each year I try to visit new places, often they are remote places in our beautiful country. Last year I visited Newfoundland and Fogo Island, and this June I am heading to New Brunswick, PEI and Nova Scotia. I am fortunate to live in Calgary with its surrounding prairies, badlands and Rocky mountains. The BC coast and the Great Bear Rainforest are also some of the most beautiful places. For three years I had the privilege of acting as a photo-guide aboard the Mothership III, which leads kayak tours off the BC coast. For the last 6 years I partnered with Peterson’s Point Lake lodge to lead photo-tours on the tundra in order to photograph caribou and the aurora borealis.
It’s not easy to make a living as a nature photographer, but I can’t imagine a job that is more fun.
Robert is scientist, teacher and nature photographer living in Calgary, Alberta for the past 20 years. Robert’s interest in nature and looking at things through a microscope when he was young led him into a career in cell biology and neuroscience. He graduated with a Ph.D. in Cell Biology from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. After several years of Postdoctoral studies at University of Calgary, he took a Heritage Research Scholar position at the University of Alberta in Edmonton where he worked on nerve regeneration and cell to cell communication. Five years later he left research to become manager of Science and Educational Programming at the Calgary Science Center in 1991. In 1996 Robert started his own company “Science & Art Multimedia” which he operates today and offers web site development, web training and a variety of photography services. Robert has won several international awards for his photography. Robert also operates the web site www.canadiannaturephotographer.com where he shares his passion for nature photography.