PHOTOS Graeme Owsianski
What sparked your interest in photography?
When I was a kid, it was shooting black and white film photos of my friends skateboarding and wanting to shoot photos like the ones I saw in the mags. I chased that for awhile and photography eventually evolved for me into a way to explore my surroundings or things I was interested more in-depth.
What do you love most about British Columbia?
Honestly, the ocean and forest. B.C has a lot to offer and has so many spectacular regions and areas, but for me it’s the coast. I can’t be away from the sea.
Is there a specific adventure or place that sticks with you?
There are a couple. The most recent adventure that has stuck with me was from last summer. For three years I had been fascinated by this lake that was formed by a landslide and the trees that remained stuck out of the water as silver snags. No one really goes there and it’s super hard to access. I thought it would be cool to canoe along this lake full of dead trees. I hiked there twice, flew over it, and spent a good amount of time on google maps trying to figure out how to access the lake and get a canoe there. I finally just went for it and carried a canoe for 6+ hrs through dense brush and over a landslide of boulders, left the canoe there, hiked back a week later with some friends when I knew the weather would be right for the photos I wanted, and spent the day canoeing around what seemed like a sunken ghost forest.
Do you find it difficult to maintain authenticity when creating content and posting your work on Instagram?
It can be. Instagram these days is a fickle beast and it’s easy to get sucked into trends or what works, but at the end of the day the images you’re creating and sharing should genuinely mean something to you. You should be passionate about the work you’re doing. It should be something you’d want to share or show your friends or people even if it wasn’t on a social media platform.
I spent 5 month putting cedar shingles on a house awhile back and thought it would be interesting to meet the people that make them. So often common products and the people that make them get overlooked, when there’s a whole backstory to the process.
How can photography on social media play a meaningful role in conserving wilderness?
I’ve heard a number of times before that “by showing beautiful places you’ll inspire people to protect those places,” which can be true, but I don’t think it’s that straight forward. I think it’s important to show the stress that certain places have on them and why. Nobody wants to see pictures of the ocean filled with garbage and plastic, but it’s a reality. People just need to get involved and be the voice we need in conserving wilderness. Having 400k followers and posting nothing but banger nature photos isn’t giving anything back to nature, if you’re not using your voice to tell your audience there’s some grim truths facing the places in those photos.
Are you involved in any cause or social initiative that you would like to tell us more about?
I love the beach, ocean, and fishing, so I try to give back and be active in my community. I volunteer with @clayoquotcleanup doing beach cleans focused on removing marine debris from our shorelines. And I volunteer and donate to @cwfsrestoration, which does a tremendous amount of work restoring salmon habitats in our streams and rivers that have been damaged by past industries. It’s incredible to see how much hard work goes into these projects and the importance of them for the future of salmon. Please, if you have a moment, take a look and get involved.
Early morning prawn haul in Clayoquot Sound, Tofino.
Name 3 Instagram accounts that inspire you.
Jeremy lives in the town next to mine and I’m constantly blown away by his work. He spends a lot of time on and in the water and it shows, with images I can’t even image capturing.
I first saw his work when he shot for Filson and it had such an edge to it. It’s raw and has grit to it. It has a real-people-doing-real-work type vibe.
This guy has been on some trips. The raw adventure of his travels is in every one of his photos.
Where to find Graeme Owsianski: