Storm Sunrock PANO – Epic summer storms from the Sun Rock viewpoint on North Naramata Road. Photography is a love affair with life. Burk Uzzle
Caillum Smith has made photographs that engage us visually but more importantly they illicit strong emotional responses and herein lies his talent, his passion and his calling. A Naramatian through and through, Caillum has been published and awarded by National Geographic, North Face, Time Magazine, Google+, the CBC, Sigma Lenses, the International Mountain Summit, Outdoor Photography Canada Magazine and the Canadian National Commission among many others.
Here is why Caillum wins awards and captures us:
Okanagan Lake Autumn Sunset – Crepuscular rays erupt over Okanagan Lake. Photography is an art of observation. it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them. Elliott Erwitt
The how is a bit more difficult to analyze. He uses strong compositional techniques, unique perspectives and dramatic lighting but there is more to it than this.
“Finding a balance between the two (technical and artistic) is essential,” says Caillum. “Better gear won’t necessarily make your photos better but can assist in tapping into further creative potential. You can have a technically sound photograph with top notch editing but if it is lacking a strong composition and creative lighting, you are simply left with a high quality, sh*t photo. Good photos are not only visually engaging, but emotionally engaging as well. Having said that, creativity and instinct will always trump technology.”
Northern Lights Naramata Bench – Once in a while the northern lights will appear over Okanagan Lake and Naramata. This was captured from Munson Mountain during the summer. Photography helps people see. Berenice Abbott
It is always amazing to me when a young person discovers a passion at an early age that will become their life’s work. Imagine all the years ahead to relish that passion and hone their skills. Most of us cast about for years and never find a career and calling all wrapped into one.
“My interest in photography first began after my grandfather gave me his film camera when I was 17, or so. I used the camera as a visual diary to document the world around me; photographing wildlife, landscapes and anything else I encountered while outdoors in my Naramata backyard. Once I left high school, my parents bought me a DSLR as a return to university bribe when I dropped out but ended up skipping final exams to go mountaineering in the Andes. A few years and international awards later, I quit my job at a winery and started Preserved Light Photography.”
Naramata Bench Vineyard Okanagan Lake – Overlooking Manitou Beach from Kettle Valley Winery’s “Old Main Red” vineyard. When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs. When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence. Ansel Adams
“I’ll usually have a pre-visualizated concept of what I want to create but some clear signs of a killer photo are when your eyes pop out of their sockets as your jaw simultaneously plummets to the ground. I’ll often tell my workshop students, ‘The best way to create better photos is to stand in front of better subjects.'”
The life of a successful professional photography is not all sunsets and adventures in the wild though. Caillum says the most challenging part about being a professional photographer is finding that balance between business tasks and personal projects. “There are times where I’ll go several months without capturing a personal photo, having depleted all energy, and hours of the day, working for clients. However, I really enjoy the challenge of being given, or coming up with, an idea for a client and turning it into a creative reality. Nothing more rewarding than when your art makes even the smallest ripple with others.”
With photos like this one Caillum is making waves:
Naramata Aerial Photo Old Main – Aerial panorama of the Naramata Bench orchards and vineyards near Old Main Road. Photography is the only language that can be understood anywhere in the world. Bruno Barbey
When I asked him about a typical day he says there is no such thing. “I only sleep four to six hours a night (if that) and have driven over 20,000 kms in the last three months alone. The thing that would surprise most people is that I’m not out adventuring and creating epic landscape photos as often as it may seem. There are many days that slip into 15+ hour digital succubus’; making blog posts, emailing clients, editing photos and what not. I’ll often grab my sleeping bag, venture into the mountains, set up a time-lapse video and have a nap beneath the stars whenever I feel my sanity slipping.”
As for the future…”That is what is so exciting about this lifestyle, I can never be truly certain what it holds. As for this winter, most of my time will be spent working with Apex Mountain & Discover Naramata’s digital marketing & media.
“I always chuckle when someone asks, ‘Aren’t you worried about wrecking your camera?’. Probably because it happens so often. If my camera isn’t dangling from a string while climbing a mountaintop, getting blasted by snow while skiing, soaking beneath a waterfall or enduring -40 temperatures filming time-lapse video of the northern lights, it isn’t doing its job!”
Aerial Photo South Okanagan – Early morning flight over North Naramata Road and the South Okanagan Valley. There are no rules for good photographs, there are only good photographs. Ansel Adams
When I asked Caillum for five tips for us wannabes he says,
- Gear doesn’t make great photos, creativity does.
- There is no magic formula for camera settings.
- Most online forums are a terrible place for constructive criticism.
- Find your style and stick to it.
- Buy a tripod
Summer Solstice Little Tunnel KVR – For two weeks surrounding Summer Solstice, the sun will set through the KVR’s Little Tunnel. In photography there is a reality so subtle that it becomes more real than reality. Alfred Stieglitz.
I spent two hours with Caillum on a workshop last week and learned a ton which I will post about soon. The biggest thing I came away with was sharing the excitement of the possibilities that photography provides to connect to people in a meaningful way. We also talked about the Okanagan and the stunning canvas it presents for his professional and my amateur but enthusiastic eyes.
You know you’ve made it as a photographer when your husky Astra has her own Instagram account with hundreds of followers…Huskyadventuredog… Seriously, Caillum has that indefinable instinct for making photographs that move us. I need no words to make my case.