Robert Postma began dabbling in photography in 2003, after being inspired by a photographer friend. Over the years, he has mastered the art and takes every opportunity to practice. Postma has traveled all over North America and visited places as diverse
as Australia, Iceland, Bolivia, Peru, Guyana and Lebanon. Algonquin Park, says Postma, is where he feels most comfortable. I think it's the call of the loon that epitomizes it for me, says Postma, who is publishing a book of his photos taken in the year following the death of his partner Alicia. Visit his website to find out more.
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Q You've done a lot of work in Grasslands National Park. How do you take photos of one place and keep finding new subjects and angles every time you return to it?
AI was down [in Grasslands National Park] in winter. The first week I had a tough time trying to find something new. It's all about just wandering around new areas of the park.
Every time I walk the trail, I see something new. Grasslands isn't that big, but there are enough areas to get sufficiently lost if you wanted to. There's always new wildlife to encounter, and the skies are always so different here in Saskatchewan. You never know what you're going to get in the morning. It lives up to that moniker, 'The land of living skies.'
I think of the places I've traveled and which ones mean the most to me. I don't have one particular place, but there's something about Grasslands that pulls me. There's also something about the Yukon and Iceland. There are so many places where I feel peaceful. I don't think it's the photography that makes me feel peaceful; I think it's a vessel to make me feel peaceful. It's being out in nature that makes me feel harmonious.
Q You won the grand prize for CG Photo Club's Annual Photography Contest in 2011, for which the theme was 'Extreme weather.' You also have a gallery in your portfolio dedicated to storms and stormy skies. What draws you to that subject?
AIt's like what I said about being part of nature. When I'm out watching a storm or waiting for a storm or the northern lights, I feel this moment of clarity before it hits. It's a humbling feeling. Human beings are so tiny in the scope of nature. A huge thunderstorm coming in could wipe you out in an instant. You can feel pretty insignificant doing it. I just feel I understand my place in the whole thing of nature.
I think I need that. There's a lot of power and energy that comes out of these storms. Maybe I'm tuned in somehow to that.
QYou have a category of photos in your online portfolio called, 'Impressions.' Tell us more about that.
AThat came about after my partner passed away a year and a half ago. I felt like I needed to do something different, convey some emotion through photography. When you do those impressionistic [images], you never know what you're going to get. Sometimes you get beautiful results, they're so abstract, they're not a photograph. They're like a water painting.
After Alicia died, I viewed them as if there's an afterlife, that's what it would be like.
The photos are either [the result of] long exposures or multiple exposures on one file. I just stack them one on top of the other. There's lots of experimentation and camera motion.
Everyone likes to keep their camera still when taking pictures. Sometimes you get unique results if you don't.
QHow did you get your start as a photographer?
AI've always been interested in photography, even from a young age. It took off when I moved to the Yukon and met a good friend up here. He was a photographer, and he gave me the inspiration to get out there and start capturing images. It's been a rather long process, but I've seen how my photography has grown over the years.
I've taken some workshops, two or three. But most of it is just trial and error, and thank God for the advent of digital photography. I used to shoot a lot of film. On a roll of 36 slides I'd probably come out with one or two keepers. To buy a roll of film and develop it was 25 dollars per roll. Now I can go out and shoot thousands of photos without additional cost. I do miss sending my film off and getting it back in the mail.
QHow does your work in nursing affect your photography?
AIt did before. If I wanted to take photos in Nunavut, let's say, I used to look for a nursing posting to work in Nunavut for two or three weeks. My travel was paid for me, and I could take photos after work and on weekends.
I do think I see the world differently. I appreciate the things in our fast-paced world that people neglect, like a bumblebee gathering pollen from a flower. I can watch that for hours and take a picture of it. Most other people couldn't. I've always had patience. If we all had a superpower, mine would be patience. I understand my place in nature through photography.