A while back I had an idea for a project that I thought would be interesting, and since I am kind of an expert on taking on random projects I don’t necessarily have time for- I went full steam ahead on this! The idea was to interview and photograph 20 Edmonton (and surrounding area!) photographers in their homes. I know a lot of these photographers already, but I know them only AS photographers! Obviously they take great photos, but what did they do before photography? What keeps them busy aside from photography these days?

The responses from the photographers I contacted came instantly and were overwhelming positive, which was awesome because in the back of your mind you are always wondering ‘is my idea stupid!?’. Originally I was going to wait until I had completed photographing all 20 photographers, but I get really excited to share things so I am starting the post now and will add to it over the coming months. I tried to reach out to a variety of photographers: seasoned, new to the game, wedding and portrait photographers, even some commercial and pet photographers!

So below are lots of photographers that I admire and I hope you enjoy learning a little more about them as much as I did!

Haley Shandro: Shandro Photo

  1. What did your life look like before photography?

I was very newly married, completing my Masters of Science in Biochemistry.  Young, full of ambition, no clue what was coming for me!

  1. What type(s) of photography do you do?

I photography pretty much everything but I focus primarily on Weddings and Boudoir.  Part of why I shoot many different genres is because this is a full-time career for me, so I plan out how much work I need to take on in a year to provide for my kiddos.  I also find that sometimes I can get inspired doing a completely different type of photography and bring some of that creativity into a wedding shoot!

  1. What keeps you busy aside from photography?

I’m very busy with my two kids! I have a son and daughter, both in elementary school. I spend as much time with them as I can! We love traveling and going on adventures. My number one goal in life is to help mold them into kind, responsible people.

  1. What part of Edmonton (or surrounding area!) are you from?

I’ve always live in the South, for now I’m in Terwillegar!

  1. What is your favorite thing about Edmonton?

I like that Edmonton is just an overall decent city.  We enjoy our local sports teams, we like good food but still value.  The people are generally good people, and we have a strong sense of pride. And we have so many activities and amenities for families!

Jill Coursen: Jill Coursen Photography

  1. What did your life look like before photography? 

Before photography, I went to Grant MacEwan and took the Journalism and Travel programs. I worked for NAIT and then PCL. I got married and with the support of my husband, he encouraged me to pursue photography full time.

  1. What type(s) of photography do you do?

Mostly wedding photography. But also family, headshots and events.

  1. What keeps you busy aside from photography?

I feel like photography is my life, haha. Without photography, there’s family, friends, traveling and enjoying what Edmonton has to offer.

  1. What part of Edmonton (or surrounding area!) are you from?

I grew up in Sherwood Park but now live in Edmonton.

  1. What is your favorite thing about Edmonton?

The people! It has a great artistic community. I feel like it’s come so far in the last 5-10 years. There’s lots of local businesses, restaurants and artists now.

Michel Feist: Ampersand Grey 

  1. What did your life look like before photography? 

I moved to Edmonton in 2006 to attend NAITs digital media and design school. At 27 I finally decided what I wanted to be when I grew up. I majored in Design and minored in Video production. As part of my mandatory work practicum I landed a junior graphic design job with a really awesome company called Graphos. I later became the creative director there and worked in the industry for 5 years. Prior to that, when I lived in Saskatchewan I managed an Irish pub, I dated this young hippy musician that wrote songs about my feet so I started to photograph him and design his gig posters. His mom gave me a bootlegged totally legit copy of Photoshop and he helped me pick out my first computer. I fumbled my way through designing really bad posters in Photoshop and lied so hard on the interview to get into NAIT — I was shocked when they accepted me so I packed up my life and moved to Edmonton. Before all this, while I bartended my way through my 20s. I had plenty of backpacking adventures. A month camping in New Zealand, and a big solo 5.5 months trip in South East Asia. My gypsy soul has been a dried up raisin these past few years, so this morning I booked the Classic Inca trail to hike into Machu Picchu in May. I can’t fucking wait. .

  1. What type(s) of photography do you do?

I do the opposite thing that everyone who’s giving advice to newbies does, I do everything. But I usually do the opposite of what everyone else does so it makes sense for me! I primarily shoot weddings but I do anything that makes me happy. I’m super nerdy about light and solving problems and telling stories, regardless what kinds of stories they are. I craft images based on light but the story always guides me. For instance, recently I did event coverage at a bar. I shot the Halloween party at El Cortez and the drag show at Have Mercy, I was terrified to talk to strangers but I ended up loving it. I am on call to photograph a birth right now and have followed the story of a 9 month old baby who received a heart transplant–on top of documenting families in a candid way, I also love empowering women and men in my boudoir work. I love human connection and the inner connection with ourselves, that’s what got me into photography and keeps me in love with it, but if I’m being honest it’s just about light and fart jokes to me.

  1. What keeps you busy aside from photography?

I have a medium addiction to my standard schnauzer Solomon. He turns 6 in a few months and it makes me die on the inside thinking about how old that is for a dog. (gah) he still follows me around the house and every time I walk past him I ask him who the cutest dog on the planet is. The answer is always the same. When we’re not hiking in the ravine, I’m practicing yoga, writing or reading, connecting with my pals and learning new things. I just copy and pasted that from my tinder account.

  1. What part of Edmonton (or surrounding area!) are you from?

I’ve lived in Strathern for the past year and I freaking love it. 5 mins from my studio downtown, 4 seconds from wired cup, 8 mins to the mill creek ravine and my fave pub Duggans and right smack dab in the golden circle where all my awesome pals live. If you’re triangulating my whereabouts, I forgot to mention in my last answer that Solomon is also a vicious attack dog.

  1. What is your favorite thing about Edmonton?

My favourite thing about Edmonton hey? I have to be honest, it took me awhile to feel at home here. But my favourite thing is all of Edmonton’s nooks and crannies, physical and metaphorical — all the ways Edmonton strives to be itself and how that makes it different here. I started volunteering when I first moved here and met some of the most amazing people who are all still my dear friends to this day. So I guess I also have to say the people, even though that’s just so cliché, my people are worth sounding a bit cheesy for.