Life through the lens

Local photographer Joel Robison grew up in Cranbrook and now lives in London, where he continues to grow and develop as an artist.

Joel Robison is a photographer who grew up in Cranbrook and now lives in London

Joel Robison is a photographer who grew up in Cranbrook and now lives in London

Joel Robison, a local expat who now resides in London while pursuing his photography passion, recently returned home for a visit with family and friends. During his all-too-brief sojourn back to his hometown, he hosted a walk through the  downtown core, offering advice and guidance to a host of local photographers of abilities.

What began as a hobby for Robison has turned into a full-time career that has taken him to photo assignments across the world, most notably the FIFA World Cup Trophy Tour — a nine-month saga that took him to 84 countries as the official photographer.

More recently, his work was featured in the July issue of The Oprah Magazine, where he was tasked with illustrating the ‘big books of summer’.

Joel graciously agreed to share some insight on his development as an artist and photography as an art form with the Cranbrook Townsman.

 

Q. The FIFA World Cup Trophy Tour was the opportunity of a lifetime. How did that experience of travelling the world and plying your craft help you grow as a photographer and artist?

I think it really changed my photography for the better. Before this trip I was very concentrated on creating stories and “created” moments with my photography, I was spending a lot of time coming up with ideas, making and building props and supplies and spending many hours on each photograph. On the tour, everything was real-time and I had to look for the stories as they were happening. I had to rely purely on my eye to catch the moments and not to rely on editing to back them up. It really helped me connect with people and with my surroundings in a brand new way.

 

Q. What style or setting do you enjoy shooting the most and why?

I’d say that my favourite is always shooting portraits with other creative people because there is a certain electric energy that starts to build when creative people work together. I like to challenge myself as well and I’ve been trying to photograph more landscapes and street photography as well, mostly as a way to document my every day life so that i can look back at the images and be reminded of what I see.

 

Q. What projects or assignments are you particularly proud of?

I’ve been so lucky to have had some really amazing opportunities with my photography, certainly traveling the world with Coca-Cola and FIFA will always be the biggest highlight of my photography journey but I would say I’m also really proud of the work I’ve done getting my work onto book covers and album covers with publishing agencies around the world, it’s such a thrilling and exciting feeling to see my work in a bookstore or a library in a far away country. I’m really proud of the work I’ve done with my teaching programs as well, being able to teach and assist other photographers build their creative voices is such a huge enjoyment for me and I love watching people grow and become successful.

 

Q. On the topic of equipment and software, any essential pieces of gear?

The best camera is the one you have with you and I definitely think you can create some really impressive work with any type of camera. For me my essentials are a sturdy tripod, a remote control for my camera, and a memory card with wifi (I like to start looking at images right away on my phone). As far as software, I stick to Photoshop mostly for all my editing with a bit of extra work done in Lightroom.

 

Q. Any advice for people who are interested in getting into photography?

Do it! Photography is such an incredible opportunity to share your view on the world with other people, and for me the best part about it is the community that exists around it. There are people all over the world that are getting together, sharing their work, learning and teaching each other and it’s amazing to be a part of. It’s a hobby and a profession for me but it’s also something that I love to do because it helps me connect with the world around me and has rewarded me with some of the best experiences, people and memories I could ever ask for!

 

Q. Everyone’s got a smartphone with a camera now. Is that diluting photography as an art form or growing it?

I think it’s amazing to see so many people expressing themselves with it. There’s a huge community of people online using platforms like Instagram to share their unique view on the world and it’s such a great opportunity to do that. I think that there will always be people that feel very protective about photography as an art and they will continue to create using their techniques and voices but I think that it’s an opportunity for us all to share how different we are and how we can connect with each other.

 

Q. Photography in itself is an art form, but the conceptual images takes it to another level. How did you get into developing that aspect?

Conceptual Photography is my favourite form of expression because I feel like it allows me to visualize the thoughts, fears, goals, worries and everything else in my head that I can’t quite seem to get into words. I started by just taking random words, objects or themes and trying to show that in a slightly different way. As I started developing my own voice and my style I started unlocking these doors in my creativity that started to allow me to easily translate experiences and ideas into visuals quite clearly. Sometimes I’ll create an image that I don’t know where it came from but as I look at it at the end, I can see how it relates to what’s going on in my life or what I’m thinking about. I love that about conceptual photography, it tells a story that is up to the viewer to decipher.

 

Q. How do you start putting a concept photo together?

I have two very different approaches to creating an image. One method is very formulated, I’ll meditate or brainstorm ideas on a piece of paper and write down any visuals that seem to be at the front of my mind. Then I’ll start building the idea based on those visuals and the locations I have available to me (and the weather of course). Then I’ll go out and start shooting, it’s very controlled and I usually finish shooting the images within a few minutes because I know exactly what I want and need.

The other method is much more free in it’s creation, I’ll just grab some things that I like and put them in my bag and head out to a location that I like and see what happens, sometimes it’s a bit like an abstract painter creating on a canvas. I’ll start just taking photos seeing where it all goes and sometimes it works out and I end up with something that I really like and sometimes it doesn’t end up going anywhere but I still feel like I’ve learned something and that I’ve exercised my creative mind.

 

Q. Describe the process you went through to create the photo you’ve chosen

For this image I went through a fairly simple process. The models in the photo are two of my friends, both incredibly talented artists themselves and they’ve been dating long distance for several years. Bella lives in the UK and Pratik lives in the USA. They frequently travel together but spend most of the year apart, we planned to meet in the UK and I wanted to create an image that showed their connection and love for each other even though they’re often in different places in the world. I started writing down visuals and the word house came up and I remembered seeing a cardboard house at a craft store and I thought maybe I could connect their love with the smoke coming out of the chimneys. We met in Oxford and the shoot was over in a few minutes!

 

 

 

Just Posted

A tent housing a mobile vaccination clinic. (Interior Health/Contributed)
Over 5K jabbed at Interior Health mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinics

The clinics have made stops in more than 40 communities since launching last week

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Interior Health COVID-19 cases falling slower than the rest of B.C.

More than a third of provincial cases announced Thursday came from the Interior

Students at Creston Valley Secondary School put together an art installation of a replica residential school room. (Photo by Kelsey Yates)
Creston students create art installation of residential school room

The replica was decorated with a small bed, school uniform, and notes written with pleas for help

A tent housing a mobile vaccination clinic. (Interior Health/Contributed)
Second dose vaccinations accelerating throughout region: Interior Health

To date, more than 675,000 doses have been administered throughout the region

1914
It happened this week in 1914

June 13 - 19: Compiled by Dave Humphrey from the archived newspapers… Continue reading

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

Police are asking for public assistance in locating Anthony Graham who has been charged with the murders of Kamloops brothers Carlo and Erick Fryer. (RCMP photo)
2 charged, suspect at large in killings of B.C. brothers linked to gang activity: RCMP

Kamloops brothers Erick and Carlo Fryer were found deceased in May on a remote Okanagan road

Albert Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney unveil an opening sign after speaking about the Open for Summer Plan and next steps in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta 1st province in Canada to lift all COVID-19 public health restrictions

70.2% of eligible citizens 12 and older in the province have received a dose of the vaccine

Fraser Health registered nurse Ramn Manan draws a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe at a walk-up vaccination clinic at Bear Creek Park, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Honour our fathers’ with COVID-19 vaccine protection, B.C. urges

109 new cases Friday, 75 per cent of 12 and up immunized

(Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Trutch Avenue in Chilliwack to be renamed to remove racist taint

New name to have Indigenous significance as Chilliwack takes new step toward reconciliation

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is seen during a joint news conference following the EU-Canada Summit, in Brussels, Belgium, Tuesday June 15, 2021. Trudeau says Canada is on track now to have 68 million doses delivered by the end of July, which is more than enough to fully vaccinate all 33.2 million Canadians over the age of 12. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine deliveries enough to fully vaccinate all eligible Canadians by end of July

Three in four eligible Canadians now have their first dose, nearly one in five fully vaccinated.

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam listens to a question during a news conference, in Ottawa, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases attributed to the highly contagious Delta variant grew in Canada this week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s public health agency reports spike in confirmed cases of Delta variant

More than 2,000 cases of the variant confirmed across all 10 provinces and in one territory

Bella Bella is on B.C.’s Central Coast, accessible only by air and ocean. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
B.C. provides $22 million for Heiltsuk development on Central Coast

Elders care home project, tourism, lumber mill supported

Most Read