Respect: A photo odyssey celebrating Canada’s boreal forest is currently on exhibit at the Harbourfront Centre in Toronto and it looks amazing. I encourage anyone in or near Toronto to check it out.
Images tell stories that might otherwise not be heard. Nowadays, we like snapping pictures to capture our very own. We use our cameras to record life’s moments, both momentous and mundane. We cherish these photos because they allow us to recreate our personal experiences. We also seek out other types of photos, ones that evoke emotions, questions and answers. For photography to elicit this collective human experience we need professionals.
Thus, I asked nine Canadian photojournalists to take part in RESPECT, not only because they are among the best, but because of their dedication and skill in telling poignant stories through imagery. I had the privilege of working with some of Canada’s finest: Allen McInnis, Kazuyoshi Ehara, Jim Ross, John Woods, Todd Korol, Dan Riedlhuber, Jeff Bassett and Andy Clark. In 2009, a newcomer joined this select club: Chris Young, a British-born photojournalist who has worked in Canada for the past two years. Their photographs convey the essence of the Boreal Forest and the meaning of our journey.
This journey began in Quebec and took us westward through Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Colombia and the Yukon between October 2006 and July 2007. We were guided by Phillip Wilmer, affectionately nicknamed Douglas the aviator, whose knowledge of the land is truly unique. Phillip is more than just the project’s pilot: he shapes the project vision, he lifts our spirits when things aren’t going so well, he embodies the passion of a forest explorer. The going was tough; we encountered many challenges before, during and after the assignment – from turbulent weather to adverse flying conditions to unexpected interruption to delays for equipment repair. While the photographers captured the forest from above, I ran interviews on the ground – discovering rich details that could later be used in photo captions. Throughout the crossing, we were constantly awed by the majestic landscapes of the Boreal Forest and its fragility; we took in breath-taking views few have had the privilege to see. We worked hard to get results and the outcome is truly outstanding.