Guest Article – Richard Smith

For something a little different, I’ve asked a friend of mine to write the first article of the new year for my blog. This is the first time that I’ve asked anyone to write a guest posting, and hopefully I’ll be able to persuade some of my other friends to share some of their stories for future posts. The reason that Richard was the first person that I asked, is because, probably more than anyone else Richard is responsible for me starting to think outside of the box. About 40 years ago, he was my grade 11 English teacher and wow did he ever have a different way of teaching! It opened my eyes and mind to a new world. Funny, I can’t remember any of the novels that we studied in his classes – But I do remember he taught us to question just about everything and not to take anything at face value. As destiny would have it, it would be another 25 years before I would see Richard again. This time I was the teacher, by “chance” (Richard always motioned quotation marks with his raised hands and extended fingers) he had signed up for one of my workshops. In the years since then, he has taken a few of my workshops, shared ideas and thoughts about photography and life.


PICTURE THIS by Richard Smith

Sunrise. Prince Edward Island. I`m on a country road and the light is great. I`m composing away when this farmer comes out of the house ,crosses the road and fetches the newspaper out of his mail box. As he heads back to the house he turns and says that the scenery is far more beautiful from his back yard. Would I care to see for myself?

Well , yes I would. Camera bag in one hand and tripod and camera in the other I follow him into his backyard. Of course there are several fences to climb over but I managed to get over them despite the fact that he said with a grin that I should mind the bull.

With my back to the last fence we climbed over I start to scout the scenery. He said he`d leave me to it and went back to the house. I was so involved in setting up that I was not aware of my immediate surroundings. When I did look up over the tripod I was suddenly aware that I was surrounded by twelve young calves who were very curious about me and what I was doing. While some seemed skittish one was licking the sleeve of my jacket and another was licking the leg of my tripod. It was such a wonderful scene. City slicker photographer surrounded by young calves. But no one was there to take the picture. I felt a certain sadness at the loss of such an image. Thank goodness for a visual memory.

Now, I was not as impressed with the scenery as was this farmer. I made my way over the fences and decided that I must thank him. As I made my way to his back porch I saw the scene you now see that accompanies this story. It stopped me in my tracks. I made several images and kept shutting down the f stops to get more depth of field. I made other compositions of the area but none stand out like this one. Even landscape photographers can have decisive moments. I prefer to call them epiphanies. Those great Ah Hah moments when everything falls into place.

I pack up once more and then knocked on the back door. He invited me in and we sat at the kitchen table. He asked me where I was from. Ottawa, I said. Where abouts? Off Richmond Road near Churchill. He smiled. We lived in Westboro near Churchill he said but after the war we decided to take up farming so we moved here in 1946. And so we traded stories for a little while.

I left his farm house somewhat amazed and bewildered. What were the possibilities that this meeting could ever take place? And what were the chances that I would ever be able to make an image like this one?

I regret one thing. I misplaced his address and as such I`ve never been able to send him a copy of this image. I have friends in PEI who search out the area to determine where he lives and I feel we are getting closer to being able to track him down.

2 Responses to “Guest Article – Richard Smith”

  1. Rhoda says:

    What a great story! I agree those moments and epiphanies are special; they stay with you for a lifetime. When accompanied by your image, it makes it all the more special. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Dale says:

    Richard, you write: “…what were the chances that I would ever be able to make an image like this one?”

    Considering who your teacher was, I would say pretty darn good! :>)

    Don’t be so modest. This is but one of a fine collection you have created.

    Good yarn, and nice to see you continue to shoot in Prince County. Great shot, by the way.

    Garry – good idea to share the space.