Photographers Interpret the Comox Valley
It could be said that for Ed Brooks, photography is all about opportunity.
When Brooks was a teenager in the early 1960s in Prince George, he was writing a column for the high school newspaper when someone handed him a camera and asked him to take photos at school events. That led him to the Prince George Progress, which ran his column when he was a senior. “I did spend a fair bit of time in the darkroom because I was out of the way. I began helping out there,” he said.
One day the photographer didn’t show up for the work and the editor asked if Brooks could do the job. “I said sure.” He was 16. By the time he turned 17 he decided not to go back to school, and he never looked back. His first job led to a bigger one with the daily Prince George Citizen, then a job with the Campbell River Courier and Upper Islander, which brought him to Vancouver Island.
Brooks eventually left the newspaper business behind, and opened a photography studio, Backdoor Gallery, in Courtenay. “By the time I got out of the newspaper part of photography, I got into exercising my passion, which was nature,” he says.
“Nature photography is really my passion. Both wildlife and nature; that’s my sweet spot,” he says. Brooks’ appreciation for nature began far earlier than his love for photography. “I cam from a family where we didn’t have television or radio, nobody smoked or drank, my parents never had drivers’ licences. I basically lived outdoors as a kid.” He had a trap line, swam in the summer, skied in the winter and rode his bicycle everywhere.
Brooks still makes sure to get out of the gallery and back into nature nearly every day, whether it is a day-long trip to Gowlland Tod Provincial Park near Victoria with a group of like-minded photography buddies, or a walk around the Courtenay Airpark walkway as daylight wanes.
He is looking forward to getting up to Paradise Meadows too. “I spend quite a few weekends up there in the summer and fall. It’s a really remarkable area,” he says.The Meadows also promise to show some great colours this fall, he predicts, due to the good snowpack.“I think this is going to be a really good fall. We’ve got a snowpack up there to sustain us through the summer.”
DID YOU KNOW: Ed Brooks used to be known as Ed Robertson. When he got married in 1989, his wife had previously been married to a Robertson, so the couple chose a different name all together.
Kerry Dawson is a tutor. Trained as a biologist (she has a Masters in Resource and Environmental Management from Simon Fraser University), she shares her passion for science with her students at Comox Academic Tutoring during the day.
Once she punches the clock to end her workday, however, Dawson focuses on the natural beauty around her: always with a camera in hand. Dawson has been photographing stunning landscapes and wildlife photography since she worked with BC Parks and then as a grizzly bear tour guide on the mainland coast in the late 1990s.
“I’ve always loved nature, wildlife, scenery. Lately I’ve been getting into conceptual portraiture,” she said.
Dawson often wintered in Mexico, touring language students around that country. She spent hours with her camera kayaking around the Sea of Cortez in Baja California, Mexico. She has taught in Dalian, China, and in Guatemala City, Guatemala. Now she is settled in Comox.
Dawson’s “go-to” spots when she has some free time are the Northeast Woods and the McDonald Wood, Goose Spit, Mack Laing Park areas in Comox. Most are within walking distance of her home, giving her easy access. “I love photographing in the woods,” she says. “Sometimes I’ll go for a drive in the country, crawling through farmers’ fields and see what picks my fancy.”
Dawson also appreciates the digital part of photography, and has started teaching classes in Photoshop. Dawson recently purchased a new house and plans to build a photography studio once she moves in. “It’s for more of my conceptual stuff,” she said.