Eve Arnold once said, “if a photographer cares about the people before the lens and is compassionate, much is given. It is the photographer, not the camera, that is the instrument.”
That’s a philosophy that self-taught photographer Mark Davidson, of Port Williams, tries to honour.
Davidson’s initial love for photography began in Grade 7, when he joined a photo club and discovered the dark room was a mix of art and science, inseparable and fun.
Once his work life began, photography faded into the background, and Davidson says he never re-discovered it until he recently retired from a 31-year career at Michelin.
All it took was one gift of a DSLR camera for his love of photography to come flooding back.
“The camera, combined with a love of the outdoors, my curiosity, and seeing things a little differently, started me down this path,” he says.
Soon after retiring, Davidson joined the Valley-based Scotian Hiker group, which regularly hikes trails throughout the province. He credits this group for starting him on the outdoor hiking path which his photography is tied to so closely.
It’s not surprising Davidson’s favourite pictures are of the outdoors, such as landscapes or scenes off the beaten path.
“The sense of wonder a natural feature gives changes with time of day, lighting and season, so the same area shot can be completely different each time,” he says.
Blomidon and the Minas Basin are great examples of this.
Although, when hiking, Davidson says he goes for the journey, not the photography. Great pictures are just an added bonus.
“I have beaten up more cameras than I want to admit to along the way,” he says. “If the camera is packed away, it really is not any use, but nature has many twists, and a few trips along the way.”
Besides scenery shots, Davidson loves taking in-the-moment candid photographs, which he says you can never be prepared.
“I have a near phobia-like nervous energy when doing candid shots such as events and street photography,” he says.
This never goes away, and may in some strange way, he says, actually help his photography.
When asked about his favourite photograph, Davidson says it’s not usually the one people expect.
“Every day, I take a photo that becomes a favourite for that day, or that adventure. It may not be one that is the most pleasing on social media, each person sees things that I may not in a photo. For me a photo is a piece of art.”
One particular photo does stand out for him, though, including one he took of Evangeline at the Grand Pré National Park in winter where he finally managed to capture a mood and an atmosphere that every time he looks at it, still haunts him and moves his soul.
For those interested in developing their photography skills, Davidson suggests starting with the boring task of reading your camera’s manual and joining one of the many photography clubs in the area. Watch YouTube videos, or more importantly, get out and play with it, he adds.
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