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I’m a Wrong-Way Photographer

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My name is Brian Carey, and I’m a photographer in St John’s Newfoundland Canada. I’m like a lot of photographers in that I like to complement my professional work with something personal, something I can connect with.

My landscape and seascape photography helps me connect with the environment around me and my street photography lets connects me with people. But not only does it ground me in a personal reflective sense, but it also helps me develop my craft technically and explore creative options.

One technique I found successful as far as creativity goes is to do the opposite of what comes to mind. Go counterintuitive. For many years, I have gone to Cape Spear (a national historic site about 20 minutes drive from my house) to photograph the seascapes, lighthouses and icebergs and whales if they are in season. I went there to photograph the night sky, I went there to photograph the sunrise over the North Atlantic, I went there to take portraits of people. I went there so much I thought, “I can’t go back there again, I’ll never get anything different or better than what I got”.

Cape Spear Sunrise – 2010
Under the Moonlight – 2013
October Sunrise at Cape Spear – 2018

I decided to take that thought and turn it around. Rather than not go, go and let’s see what I can come up with.

The same line of thinking goes for the street photography I’ve been working on for the last 12 years. I began my street photography because I had been in a local office and seen photos of people I’d seen downtown years ago when I was a kid. They’re, some of them are what you might call local legends, all gone now, but you still hear the “remember when” stories. I thought I’d like to give this a try and photograph these people for future generations.

I got to thinking how street photography in its many forms is pretty similar and “what could I do to make this a little different?” I decided to go downtown when everyone else is headed the other way. Like when a snow storm is about to begin. Everyone else is heading home and I’m headed the wrong way — I heading downtown into the storm.

Jean-marc and Sonia
Snowflake
Russel The Torbay Mall Cowboy

This reminds me of the stories I read of Stanley Kubrick who, when he was a teenager, used to go to the Bronx Zoo to take photos. Not to take photos of the animals but of people looking at and interacting with them. He got some great images but surprisingly this approach is still rare.

As for the trips to Cape Spear, I have since made my best photographs of the area, and who knows… maybe I’m not done yet.


About the author: Brian Carey is a photographer based in St John’s, Newoundland, Canada. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. You can find more of Carey’s work on his website, Facebook, and Twitter.

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