Photographer of the Month: Thomas Koidhis
Many creatures call northern Canada home. From birds to beast they survive in an area of broad skies and snowy terrain, where man is less known and the aurora borealis paints the night sky a riot of colours. This is a land that Thomas Koidhis not only calls home, but one he finds his muse and expression in. Join me as we look through his lens and learn about his process, purpose, and vision.
They Let Me
King of the Castle
How did you get interested in photography?
I've pretty much always had some sort of camera in my hand. Mostly disposables or very low megapixel point and shoots throughout my youth. Just playing around, you know? Until around 2007, there was no intent or knowledge or emotion applied to the snaps I was taking. In the years leading up to the time that I really began to focus on creating images that would mean something to others I had become fascinated with our natural world and overall reality. I was always looking at the stars at night, wondering what caused this and that, and what this existence means, and could mean, to all of us. Events in my life around this time really shook me and I guess you could say I experienced a sort of personal transformation or evolution in the years since. Photography has been a massive part of that for me.
In 2006 I started talking about wanting "one of those cameras that you could change the lenses of." My Mom took advantage that Christmas and bought me my first DSLR - an Olympus E-410. It took little time for me to become obsessed and I've practiced with rigor for 5 or 6 years since then. I can never fully relate what the last half decade has encompassed for me - except through the images.
What is your favorite place to photograph? Or Subject?
If I had to categorize my work I would say nature and landscape photography. I have a very small base of fans of my work and I don't think most of them have seen my OTHER work - lphotojournalism, editorial, portrait work, etc. I don't know if I could name my favorite subject. I'm simply too fascinated by everything that's around me.
Warm Fox in a cold forest
How can photographers help change/impact the world, while they are traveling?
Since its creation photography has been one of the most powerful revolutions in the way we communicate with each other. I think most people go through their lives without appreciating or knowing how much photography changed the world, and is still shaping it today.
One of my biggest influences (and you could rightly say one of the biggest influences of most nature photographers), Galen Rowell, is one of the brightest examples of how even a single photographer can change the world and affect millions. He brought into the limelight the biggest environmental and humanitarian issues that seem to plague our times and was one of the biggest advocates for the preservation of untouched wilderness. He understood how important the natural world that gave rise to us is, and how closely we are interconnected to, and depend, on it. He traveled the world, shared his vision, and even befriended the Dalai Lama. His untimely death is a reminder of how rare and special individuals like that are - how much we need them now.
A New Friend
Are there rules in other countries people need to be aware of about who or what you can or cannot shoot?
I haven't gone to any other countries since I began "serious" photography (irony?) so I can't really speak from personal experience, but I can state the obvious. I would be careful abroad, especially if you are packing any gear that makes you stand out. Most places are safe but make sure you check with embassies/officials to get any information you can about the safety of places you plan on shooting in. Wherever you are, remember that many buildings will not allow tripods inside, nor flash and some won't let you shoot at all - you may be asked to leave. More importantly, be careful about taking any images of government buildings. It isn't illegal, but don't be surprised if the MIB descend on you. ;) All in all, be as aware as you can of customs and traditions of the people in the location you are in. I am personally much more worried about offending locals than offending governments.
Any photography tips you want to share?
Never use someone else's images as a standard. It's okay to learn from others and to admire their work, but if you try to emulate them you are only limiting yourself. Don't compare your work to others, only be in competition with yourself. Photography is about communication but it is also a deeply personal experience and it is difficult to communicate if you don't have a solid foundation to communicate with. In my experience if you always try to best only yourself, you will excel.
Solitude and Motion
Early spring aurora over Slave River
Is there anything else you'd like to share with us?
A little excerpt from an old book funded by Alberta education. I find it ironic, since the environmental issues surrounding the province and the oil sands.
There are a lot of ads now about how it's become "clean" etc. I beg to differ, but before I give the excerpt I will say a few things. At the moment we need fossil fuels. Most people are dependent on the economic systems we have built. That goes without saying, I guess. This need not always be the case.
I think as humans we have defined success in some ways that have created a very dangerous situation for ourselves and the ecosystems of Earth. We are dependent on these natural networks and don't get it twisted; we will perish without them. We cannot, in any meaningful timescale, ever be divorced from those roots. We would do well to start thinking and behaving in ways that put those roots at the top of our priority list. If we insist on keeping our heads in the sand, don't be at all surprised when we get blindsided. Cast the politics aside. I'm so tired of seeing the useless partisan squabbling. While politicians sit and argue on T.V., and in the capitol, demonstrating to us how little some of them actually know about anything, the public are the ones paying the price.
"'To the reader:
"No man is an island!"
We have read these words in poetry, heard them in song, but have we, in reality, subscribed to their message: that we are all interdependent?
Our personal survival depends not only upon our fellow human beings but upon Earth's other vivifying entities as well: plant and animal life. During the last few generations, those resources have been squandered ruthlessly. As a result, we have been forced during this decade to re-evaluate our use - and our misuse - of our fragile environment.
Who owns the Earth? At first this may seem a very philosophical title for an anthology. In actual fact, the answer to the question is fundamental to our own heritage and crucial to the heritage of those who come after us. We must ensure that the treasures of the Earth are responsibly bequeathed to the generations who are yet unborn.'
Who Owns the Earth?
1979 by Alberta Education, Pp 5."
Jordan Oram isn't only WE's Photo Editor, he's also the Outdoor Adventures Editor and combines these passions in photographically adventurous ways on his world rambling journey. You can follow his zany hijinks at http://maplemusketeer.com/
All photos courtesy and copyright Thomas Koidhis
Article by Jordan Oram