Paul Vreeland

Most of my creative life has been spent as a writer. My poetry has been published in several Canadian journals and in three TWiG anthologies. I have also written two chapbooks of poetry: Hydrostone Quartet and Mother-in-Law Suite, and I’ve described some of my  experiences of living in Haiti and West Africa in “Smoked Herring and the Talking Dog” published in The Caribbean Writer, and “Awaiting Ziafo”, a Grain Magazine creative non-fiction prize winner. 

 After my mother’s passing, I compiled and edited a collection of her poetry, Something Will Occur, and in that same year published a debut novel, I’ll Tell You One Thing. The latter is available as a trade paperback and as an ebook from Amazon and from the Bookmark.

The late sculptor Carl Phyllis challenge me to write a piece with a happy ending. I’m not especially known for humour (written, that is), but “A Buck for the Babe”, which was published in the 2015 anthology Snow Softly Falling: Holiday Stories from Prince Edward Island, was the result. I consider that short story one of my best.

For a time in my late twenties, I carried an single lens reflect camera (SLR) and processed black and white film in a darkroom set up in the basement of my house. That experience was short-lived leaving me with little but the memories of contact sheets and the perfume of alchemy. I moved to Canada, faced a set of challenges I hadn’t anticipated, and lost interests in the arts.

Many years later I took up a pedestrian interest in photography with a point-and-shoot Canon Powershot 720is. I tried to get it to do more by hacking its firmware, and I began to dabble with digital post processing freeware. I’m still impressed with some of the 8mp images I made with the Powershot and, from time to time, I reprocess them.

My son became interested in photography while studying engineering at Dal. His interest reignited my own, and I acquired my first DSLR — a Canon Rebel XT. My son also gave me my first edition of Lightroom [2], but because it intimidated me, the software sat on a shelf for a more than a year.

With time, I rode the learning curve. I joined a photo club, watched hundreds video tutorials, installed and experimented with Lightroom and other software packages, and shot thousands of images. By then my interest was more than pedestrian and it was competing with my writing. Thus the title of my now quiet blog “artsconflicted”.

As much as I describe my history as a photographer in terms of cameras and technology, I’ve learned that the art is more than the bodies and lenses in my possession. I’ve come to see photography as a metaphor for an inner search for something more meaningful. My approach to the art describes a journey in which I’m learning to read my images and to see in them a never-static, evolving vision.