April – dawned full of promise.
BUT a week into the month my car was not working again, this time it was corroded brake lines and an electrical issue that kept the running lights and cabin fans on – even with them turned off, fuses pulled and the car off.
So I focused on my work – it became a mantra during some difficult times ahead. I would close my eyes and remember the reasons that I had come to Alberta in the first place.
The month kicked off with a high school aged provincial performing arts festival.
Spring was now springing but that meant nothing for the midget hockey series. They were still pushing their way through their playoffs.
However, the Junior B hockey team, the North Peace Navigators, had finished their season and were now touring the town with their trophy. They stopped by a gymnastics centre to donate some money and the kids got to get up close and personal with the cup and some players.
Then I had one of the craziest weeks thus far.
It started with a series of unexpected text messages – it became clear my girlfriend in Lloydminister was using the medium to break up with me. I felt hurt and pretty deeply disrespected over the whole situation.
But again my mantra played through my head.
I decided to focus on my work and building friendships in Peace River. That week a friend and I were driving through town on a particularly warm day to go to the movie theatre. I turned a corner and the road was blocked and flooded…
So I dropped off Tyler, went home grabbed my cameras and went to work.
This was my first experience with the QMI wire. This photo of a Ford Probe was used with papers owned by Sun Media around Canada, accompanied by a brief. Parts of downtown Peace River had been put under voluntary evacuation that night – so it was news.
Interesting note about the Probe… My first car, a ’96 Mazda 626, was built on the same frame and chassis as the Probe – they were built at the same plant in Flatrock Michigan. The Probe is a two-door coupe though and I was looking to buy a Probe or an Integra in December ’13 when I started looking for a car to replace my 626. I found an Integra.
The next morning was my day off but I was up for an emergency council meeting. Then I left to go and find someone who had left their home the night prior due to the floods. I found this fellow whose ground floor and basement had been demolished by the waters.
Later that day I was driving home and as I pulled up to my street I spotted two moose grazing across the road.
I pulled over and grabbed my cameras and took some pictures.
I went home and remember thinking that despite how rough the month had started – this was a pretty beautiful place and the beauty just kind of slaps you in the face when you don’t expect it but need it the most sometimes – there were good things happening.
The photos were for me but I’m also the town reporter – so I figured I should file them. I found out later they were used by the Toronto Sun to illustrate a recap of the “10 most Canadian News Stories Ever.” That happened a few moths later but when it did I smiled.
All in all April was actually a slow month for me, photographically. There was a lull in events and I was trying to step up my game as a writer. After March I had grown cocky and complacent – not good. Going into April I gave my head a shake and focused on writing and finding better stories, improving my photography was put on the side.
While I struggle with this decision I have thought about it like this: I actually never wanted to be a photojournalist, I wanted to be a journalist. Photography seemed like a means to an end. In the process I got wrapped up in the competition and I forgot about the journalism part, until I moved out here.
Putting the emphasis on being a journalist I know I can take good pictures. But I know those pictures will have more legs if I can write about the subject, interview sources, experts and write bout it later.
Still I couldn’t resist the opportunity for a creative portrait when I did a portrait of a denturist in town. In her office there was a dentist light used to light the inside of your mouth and I thought – perfect, I’ll use it to light her.
After April I was broke trying to cover my still breaking car. Despite that, I knew I had been able to grow quite a bit as a writer, I was much more comfortable with the crappy parts of journalism too – tracking down a source, transcribing notes and endless cold call phone calls to strangers. Those are the parts NO ONE emphasizes when they start talking about how cool it would be to be a journalist.
Going into May I figured I decided I would step up my photo game again, now that I had a better handle on this writing thing. As for the car – she was slipping further away.
In the settler era, when wagon trains left the east to settle in the west, oftentimes the weeks long journey would result in deaths of settlers en route. So they had to bury them, place a cross and move on. Once these colonies were established there was a high mortality rate in the first year.
Cat and myself made it here safely, Brea, unfortunately had started to show she had not recovered from the sickness she incurred from our crash outside Winnipeg. I started to come to terms with the fact that my party may face a 33 per cent mortality rate.
Unfortunately I had no other options but to continue to use Brea the Integra for the time being.
In the Instagram world…
With Spring on the way I took this picture of Peace River as it started to melt.
Cat had started to grow used to her new home – however, even by April it was clear she hadn’t forgiven me for the trip west.
This is the Instagram photo I took of the moose crossing the street. The orange apartment building behind it is where I live, you can se my living room window from this picture.
As a reporter in town I was invited to be a guest judge at an elementary school heritage fair event. The fair is like a science fair where kids make projects about Canadian history and heritage. It was pretty cool.
This is a photo of the full moon over the town. The view is from my living room window. I wanted to go to a lookout spot outside of town but my car wasn’t working that night, so I wasn’t able to.
I have been waiting for a night like this since.
A few weeks later when my car was working, it was Easter. There was a morning church service on one of the lookouts – it was pretty cool.
That weekend some friends came over to my apartment and we baked a turkey. This a pic before it went in.
In a search for affordable and fulfilling pastimes I got a library cards and some books.
On a rainy day when my Integra was working. Car porn.
At one point work took me to the nearby town of Grimshaw so I snapped some pics.
In Grimshaw the Mackenzie Highway starts. The highway goes to Yellowknife, one day I’d like to drive it.
More to come on May.