As photographers, there is a side to photography that goes beyond the image. It is in there, deep, making up each and every pixel; the story. We are visual storytellers. Preserving a moment, a person, an experience, a place as if time stands still. We draw inspiration from these stories, from all the different elements that knit themselves together to create an expressive image. Even the most simplistic of images can have the most intriguing and inspiring stories, from rather unlikely places. Jeremy Fokkens did exactly that, but it is more intriguing than you would expect.
As Canadians, we are privileged to find stories and beauty from coast to coast. We have Niagra Falls in Ontario, Moraine Lake in Alberta, Peggy’s Cove in Nova Scotia and Aurora in Yukon. These four are barely the tip of the deepest iceberg of places to photograph in Canada. Often these places are surrounding big cities like Toronto and Vancouver, tourist destinations such as Banff, or some combination of the two depending on the province. It is what we picture, what the world pictures, when you think of Canada. But there is so much more than that. Untapped beauty and inspiration in the hidden nooks of Canada. Small towns with powerful stories, that otherwise are silenced. This notion is what sparked the beginning of Jeremy’s epic photographic adventure, BACK TO THE LAND.
With the motivation to capture the true essence of Canada, Jeremy Fokkens has been travelling across Canada, capturing the photographs and stories of the people who make up our country. Sometimes, as both photographers and viewers, we forget there is a deeper story behind the image. Yet these stories can often be the defining aspect of the image. There are times that a story resonates with you, changes you, and inspires you to keep it alive. Jeremy Fokkens felt exactly such with an unlikely encounter, 90 Year Old Fisherman From Winnipegosis.
Before even starting his photographic journey, Jeremy had a rather memorable experience of Manitoba. Just a few swarms of flies, a brigade of police cars and a couple of giant mosquitoes may be an understatement, but if you want all the juicy tidbits, you will have to read his story yourself. The next day he made it to the docks of Winnipegosis just in time to watch the commercial fishermen slowly flood in for the first day of the season. This is when he met Clarence. Jeremy’s initial encounter was rather short due to the start of the finishing season, a gaggle of eager fishermen, and Clarence being the most experienced and senior of the bunch. But through enough coaxing of his fellow fishermen, Clarence stood for a couple of shots before departing for the day’s work. This brief encounter left enough of an impression that three years later, Jeremy did some searching to get Clarence’s number, to finally have a phone interview. Jeremy wanted his story.
For Clarence, a man of simple pleasures, Winnipegosis was the perfect home. With hunting, fishing and free will at his fingertips since he was a child, Clarence never felt the desire to leave, everything he ever wanted was right there. Despite suffering from a stoke just months after having his photo taken, Clarence lived a full life. He expressed to Jeremy that he is not scared of death, and hopes to see his wife when his time comes.
Such a minute moment created such an emotional story. From the moment Jeremy met Clarence, he felt a connection. Solidifying his dream that beyond the mundane, unexplored parts of Canada, are people, hidden gems that make up the mosaic of Canada.
For Jeremy’s full story of Clarence, read 90 Year Old Fisherman From Winnipegosis.
To see Jeremy’s portraits, check out BACK TO THE LAND.
To get a better feel of what BACK TO THE LAND is all about, watch the video below.