Not the Camera Store One Usually Expects

Dave, Pat and Sam at Enman's Camera shop

Photographer Edward Weston said, “Photography suits the temper of this age – of active bodies and minds. It is a perfect medium for one whose mind is teeming with ideas, imagery, for a prolific worker who would be slowed down by painting or sculpting, for one who sees quickly and acts decisively, accurately.”

I included that quote because the words “temper of this age” to me seem perfect for both the time we are living in and, if you looked at the accompanying image, long time photographers enjoying a rebirth in this exciting medium.

There is not much that I enjoy more than spending time with other photographers. Whether it is pointing my camera at some subject, or just hanging out talking about any and all things photography, it is always a good time.

I don’t remember when it started exactly, but some years ago several photographers started hanging out Thursday mornings at my shop. The discussions, over coffee and doughnuts and are usually about photography, are more often then not lively and heated disagreements are not at all unusual.

After all, like the medium of photography itself, photographers each come with their own personal views of how and what should be photographed and which camera best accomplishes those personal views.

It’s that diversification of opinion that keeps me interested and, I guess, entertained, and I admit I really look forward to Thursday mornings, with the sometimes filled with talk and sometimes photography sessions with a makeshift studio in the large meeting area behind the space I rent.

The numbers change. There are days with only two or three, like the accompanying picture, while other times the only room left for anyone is to stand behind the equipment counters.

I only open on Thursday, Friday and for a half-day on Saturday, except for when I host my Saturday morning mini-sessions, and my store sells anything photographic I can find. The term “used” is my preference, but with the interest in studio type photography in the last few years, I have been searching out off-camera lighting equipment distributors more and more.

I meet lots of photographers that claim to be passionate about photography. I don’t know if passionate is a word I would easily use for myself.  I guess I could say the words of Master photographer, Wynn Bullock, best describe my feelings about photography when he said, “I decided to become a photographer because it offered a means of creative thought and action. I didn’t rationalize this, I just felt it intuitively and followed my intuition, which I have never regretted.”

I could easily hide away in a studio and did for years let clients take up all my time. But now I prefer to keep my options and interest open regarding my subjects and photograph everything, no matter what, with the same intensity.

As I wrote in the beginning, there is not much that I enjoy than spending time with other photographers. And my shop certainly isn’t the usual kind of camera store. Yes, there are glass counters filled with all sorts of used photography equipment and some shelves with bags and unusual items. There are tripods and light stands blocking the window and sometimes a box or two marked “free stuff” and pictures are hanging on the walls or standing on shelves.

Things change; I never am sure what I have for customers used to those big stores that always stock their shelves with the same items. But one entering will, of course, find chairs for sitting on and talking from. People asking me questions about anything photo-related will find their time well spent, and if they see something interesting I’ll actually go behind the counter, but usually my favourite location is sitting on the other side talking with other photographers about photography.


I always welcome comments. Thank you, John

My website is at


Photographer’s Lighting Workshop

    Sarah, Bart & Ronny

  Ronny & Candice

Sarah & Dave

Candice & Bailey

Bailey & Bart

I have just finished my first day of leading another Photographer’s Lighting Workshop. I will admit that a day spent guiding excited and, I must remark of this session, very talented photographers, does tire me out.

Participants that are willing to express opinions and aren’t shy about getting shoulder to shoulder in a process of experimenting, exploring, and learning are hard to keep up with, and their enthusiasm is infectious. I try to stand back and watch analytically, but every animated smile draws me in.  Multiply times seven each fired up photographer I was working with and there is quite an energy drain.

After over 40 years as a photographer I do have a pretty large chest of experiences in just about every aspect of this exciting medium and I was employed as a photography teacher for nearly half that time. I can easily sit a group of learners down and lecture about pretty much anything photographic and, particularly the lighting workshops that are currently all the rage for photography keeners.  My knowledge is on par with most experienced portrait professionals, and I teach so that beginners and intermediate learners can keep up with the jargon and the concepts.

I enjoy the enlivened interaction that happens when a student of photography makes the decision to participate. My job is to present information on the subject at hand and keep things going. I don’t like to be a demonstrator on a stage, and rarely pick up a camera. That’s left to participants.

Sure, they tired me out, but in the recent daylong workshop on Lighting and Posing I was fortunate to be leading a group of surprisingly skilled and very energetic photographers, and I must add, two lovely and creative young models that in my opinion were willing to work hard in a demanding environment for modeling.

The workshop was held in a rural studio minutes outside of Kamloops, British Columbia. I like this studio because it owner, Dave Monsees, has filled it with quite an assortment of lighting gear. I think there are at least eight studio strobes to choose from, all setup for wireless connection with a drawer full of senders. There are soft boxes, umbrellas, diffusion screens, reflectors and a great selection of wall-mounted backdrops.

There was even a fully equipped kitchen at the back that we made good use of, with fresh brewed coffee, pastries, and a large pot of chili for lunch. It can’t get much better than good food, great people, and photography.

Monsees is regularly adding props and stools to sit and pose on, as well as a growing selection of light modifiers.

The large, well-equipped space is a great rental studio and a perfect environment for an instructional session like mine. We started the session with one light behind a reflective umbrella, and moved on from there adding a large softbox, a shoot through umbrella, and a rim light to give depth to our subject when we used a black background.  We changed backdrops and light positions regularly. And those creative photographers really kept our models active and, heck, made my day.

Regarding portrait photography, Famous portrait photographer, Yousuf Karsh, once said, “I try to photograph people’s spirits and thoughts. As to the soul taking by the photographer, I don’t feel I take away, but rather that the sitter and I give to each other. It becomes an act of mutual participation.”

The first of our two-day workshop is over. I prefer two days because on the second we can review and reinforce what happened on the first. Now I am looking forward to spending another day and preparing to lead workshop participants into new territory.

I appreciate any comments. Thanks, John

My website is at

A road trip to Peachland.

      Lakefront view

Peachland town clock

Boat dock flag

Orange wall with green lamp   Wall lamp

Church window

Roof stars

My friend Dave called and said, “Want to go on a road trip to Peachland tomorrow?”

Peachland is an easy two and a half hour drive south from my home in Pritchard along highway 97 and although the elevation of both Pritchard and Peachland is the same at 1,180 feet, it is still quite cold at my house with lots of snow, while Peachland was a balmy +13c with slowly greening grass along the road and the lakefront.

So without hesitation I agreed, and when Dave parked his truck in my snow packed driveway at 9am the next morning, I was ready with a 18-200mm lens mounted on my camera and we drove south through the wide Okanagan valleys toward Peachland.

I like the small community that is mostly located on a hillside beside the 135 km long Okanagan Lake and always enjoy wandering its lake front street with my camera. In the summer the restaurants, shops and park are filled with people, but this time of year it is easy to get photographs without anyone getting in the way and I walked back and forth across the street while photographing interesting features on the buildings without worrying about cars.

Dave had his 150-500mm Sigma and began photographing some ducks and fifty or so American Coots (I think some them Mud ducks) swimming in the small boat harbor.

As we stood talking in the warm sun I looked across the lake trying to see the infamous Rattlesnake Island, where the legendary Ogopogo is said to have it’s home.

Ogopogo is the name given to a 40 to 50 foot long sea monster allegedly seen in Okanagan Lake since the 19th century. However, because the evidence is limited to blurry photographs, unbelievers suggest that the sightings are misidentifications of common animals like big otters or floating logs.

I like mysteries and I thought how nice it would be to get a nice sharp picture of that elusive beast with my 18-200mm.  Heck, I’d even share he moment with my friend Dave. After all, he had a 150-500mm lens and surely get a closer picture than me. But the Ogopogo monster wasn’t interested in getting it’s picture taken and was most likely hiding out of site in the lake depths. So, with a disappointed sigh, I left my friend to photograph the cute little Coots and walked down the street to get a picture of the town clock.

I have mentioned before that I like photographing buildings, and strolling along sidewalks with my camera, in cities, large or small is exhilarating. Whether the architecture is low and flat, skyscraping, old bricked, wooden or shiny metal and glass, I always find something different to photograph.

This time I was a bit hurried, we wanted get home before dark and Dave had almost another hour to go after dropping me off. So I ran back and forth trying to limit my photos to shadows, roof ledges and windows. Ok, I strayed from that goal a bit, oh well. Anyway I expect to be back soon.

Summer is on its way and wife and I expect to do some driving around British Columbia. My short trips will always include architectural photography opportunities in the towns and cities I visit and I think its fun to change the visual story by picking out intimate features or only a small part of a scene instead of making a photograph of the whole structure.

I always enjoy comments. Thanks, John

My website is at

March is a month of considerable frustration.

March camera

Gosh, March is here again.

I don’t have a problem with January. January is filled with optimism for a new year with new things and, for someone like me that really likes Christmas; there is still a cheery residue from that festive time. February is a hopeful month. Snow or shine I get outside with my camera and wander the low hills and icy riverside. I don’t expect much out of February and enjoy the days with their promise of warmer weather.

Then comes March. March is a transition period. Most photographers I know are ready, really ready, for something to photograph other than falling snow and icy roads. March is not a month that photographers embrace. Well, maybe a foray or two to photograph some hungry coyote, or deer, wandering the countryside. Or birds that hung about through the winter. But even for those subjects one has to hunt in an uninspiring landscape.

I would like to go out and search for some subject that demands to be photographed, but I can’t rouse any creativity as I stand staring out the window at the falling snow.

I have written before that my foreboding for March began when as a child I read “Moby Dick” by Herman Melville. I do remember that until my teacher made us delve into the imagery of the novel, line by line, I had just enjoyed it as another adventure story. “Beware of the ides of March,” said the soothsayer, and poor ole Captain Ahab gets himself pinned to a whale and dies in the end. Even at that young age I wondered, why March? Then to my dismay came the same words when I read Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, and there is was again, he was told to beware of the ides of March. And to make things worse there is, “In like a lion and out like a lamb.” Does it never end, these disturbing warnings of March? I just want to wander around in a photogenic landscape taking pictures. I don’t care if there is lots of snow, or lots of grass; I just want one or the other and an end to the cold temperatures that have been plaguing this country.

The “ides of March” is just a way of saying March 15 in Roman times, but this month always frustrates me and I want it to be over soon. March doesn’t give much it just makes me wait.

The host of the British public television program “Making Things Grow,” Thalassa Cruso, once quipped, “March is a month of considerable frustration – it is so near spring, and yet across a great deal of the country the weather is still so violent and changeable that outdoor activity in our yards seems light years away.”
 And prolific writer Ogden Nash said “Indoors or out, no one relaxes in March, that month of wind and taxes, the wind will presently disappear, the taxes last us all the year.”

I suppose we could put our heads down and get up earlier because of the time change (one more problem with this month), in anticipation of a better season and friendlier months, and just march onward, (ya, March) awaiting a time to do photography again. But for me, I just think about poor Caesar and poor Ahab. March doesn’t work for me either.

I enjoy all comments. Thanks, John

My website is at

A photographer walks along the frozen riverside.

Ice & Pritchad bridge 1

  Oil can 2

Pier studs 3

Noisey Geese 4

Ice art 5

Clamshell 6

Goose down 7

Last breath 8

 Henri Cartier-Bresson wrote, “Photography is not like painting. There is a creative fraction of a second when you are taking a picture. Your eye must see a composition or an expression that life itself offers you, and you must know with intuition when to click the camera. That is the moment the photographer is creative.”

      Walking along the frozen riverside.

There is something mysterious about the end of winter when the weather climbs to just around freezing. The snow is only just there. We can’t see the whole story, but it is letting us know that something waits beneath.

The Thompson River meanders along the valley basin not far from my woodland home and it’s on days like I just described that call me to wander the ice-covered shore. I like the solitude and although I carry my camera and I suppose I should be searching for something important to photograph, I usually don’t have much of a plan. I look for, as Cartier-Bresson said, ”a composition or an expression” that is interests me at that moment.

I would like to say it’s a quiet walk along the river side, but there is the constant din from the Trans-Canada high way that runs along one side of the river. However, this time, as I walked across the snow-covered ice and slogged through the emerging mud, an urgent alarm went up from several (actually, a lot more than several) sentinels stationed along the river’s beach up where the sand had dried. I had been so intent on looking along the ice edge that I hadn’t noticed all the resting geese, but they saw me and weren’t very happy at my intrusion and their honking was so loud that I no longer could hear the road noise.

I have friends that would have quickly moved into action and captured image after image of the geese loudly taking off and flying overhead. They also would have photographed the splashing of those heavy feathered birds coming back down in smooth backwater under the bridge. I did raise my camera to release the shutter a couple times, but I enjoyed watching them and liked the honking sound, so I turned away so as not to disturb them more. Besides, I am sure they appreciated that warm sand on the cold winter’s day and there will always be another opportunity to photograph geese.

I regularly see people prowling the river shoreline during the summer in search of treasures and I guess that is what I sort of do too, although I rarely do it in summer. Unlike them, I don’t touch the treasures. I just point my camera at something I am curious about and take the picture. I don’t move or change anything. My camera and I do the moving instead, as I choose the appropriate angle for each subject poking out of the sand and ice.

I never have seen another camera-equipped person walking that shoreline in the winter. I guess most find the place boring. The traffic keeps larger animals away, the low angles aren’t that favorable for grand landscape shots, there are no bridge lights that would encourage anyone to plant a tripod after dark, the sand and river water aren’t that inviting and this time of year the river is lined with stark, leafless trees.

For me it is perfect. I’ve walked along the frozen sand many times and I am sure many of my photographs over the many years look a lot alike. I expect someday I’ll get a really unique picture of a neat boot, a carcass of a really big fish or even some broken and discarded boat. Who knows?

As always, I really appreciate your comments. Thanks, John

My website is at