Why brokenfish Photography
March 26, 2017 • 3 Comments
It’s been a long search for a name, I didn’t want to use Norm Prince Photography, and started looking for plays on both light and perhaps some camera parts. Needless to say, with this democratization of photography and using web searches, it soon became evident that there are hundreds of Facebook pages or Word Press sites, using all sorts of combinations of the most common photographic terminology.
So the quest was expanded, recruiting friends and family to help with the search, now including Latin, French and Italian words, and even with that expanded search, nothing seemed to pique my interest. But it soon became evident that the world is populated with Wedding Photographers, many of them seemingly to be in New Jersey or Indiana!
The next step was to look at what I enjoy photographing: graffiti, abandoned industrial sites, abandoned buildings, old vehicles, rusted machinery, landscapes and more recently, nature photography. While a list was generated, nothing really stood out as a choice for a name. So, I ended up with a series of names I decided to try out for a reaction. Missing Film, because I do, and it’s missing from my camera, replaced by 0s and 1s. But it was pointed out quickly, that many folks didn’t miss film, and perhaps never used to shoot with it! Then I tried Last Quarter Photography, taken from Sixty: A Diary of my 61st year by Ian Brown, but not many got the connection. Many asked what I was doing with that last 25 cents.
Then, as I was printing images from my Great Bear Rainforest trip, I came across a few shots of salmon skeletons that had collected in the river estuaries. I tried a few versions, and finally settled on a shot of a whole skeleton, but I noticed that there were many partial or broken skeletons laying below the surface of the water. Having to come up with a title for the print I was displaying, I came up with Broken Fish.
The next step in this name search began with the construction of that elusive website to showcase my photography. I soon learned that the “free” Word Press templates are free for a reason, and it didn’t take long to run into problems. As I set up pages, I needed some placeholders for images, and that fish skeleton was one of the six or seven that I was using, but for some reason, I kept going back to the black and white print of the skeleton. I parked the website for a while, set up this Zenfolio account and brokenfish Photography it is!
So here’s the reach, even growing up in land-locked Ohio, fishing was an important part of growing up, I still remember eating my first fried catfish at a neighbour’s barbeque. In Europe, we lived on or close to the ocean, and spent much of our time around the water. I still remember eating my first raw herring on the pier in Scheveningen, though that was a Grade 6 dare! Moving back to BC in my 20s, I ended up living in Kits, and close to the beach, spending lots of time around the harbour in Steveston, buying fish off of the boats.
I ended up taking a teaching job in Holberg, a logging camp on the northern end of Vancouver Island, again on the water and close to Winter Harbour, Coal Harbour and Quatsino, all small North Island fishing communities. The commercial fishery was an integral part of the local economy, and even more important culturally to the local First Nation communities. The size of the salmon run would determine the economic strength of the communities for the following year. For the next 20 odd years, poor government policies, corporate greed, the demise of local canneries, forced sell-offs for fishers and the weakening of the Union all contributed to the demise of the economy of coastal communities in Canada.
With government endorsement, fish farming arrived on the BC coast in the mid-80s, and a new door for corporate greed was opened. The conflict between the wild and farmed fisheries grew, with a foreign species introduced to West Coast waters. The promised benefits of well-paying jobs never materialized, and many Coastal First Nations have now started to demand the closure of many of the fish farms. After 20 years, the scientific data is showing that there is an adverse effect on the wild salmon runs.
There’s always the slow move for change, and many consumers are starting to question the origin of the fish they’re putting on their dinner plates. Books like The Fish Market by Lee van der Voo outline the conflict over where and how fish are caught, and the price we pay for those fish.
Locally, many fishers are slowly building back a sustainable market, Estevan Tuna Company (http://www.bctuna.com/tuna-products.htm) and Skipper Otto (http://skipperotto.com/) are two of many examples of a sustainable fishery on the BC Coast. Many First Nations communities are taking charge of the local fisheries, with examples from both Haida Gwaii and the Great Bear Rainforest, utilizing young community members for research and the Guardian Watchmen programmes in their territories to regulate tourism and fishing.
After 32 years on the North Island, we’ve moved to Royston and just a short walk to the beach on Baynes Sound, a small part of the Salish Sea, located between Denman Island and Vancouver Island. Like so many other areas, climate change has started to manifest itself with acidification of the waters, affecting the local shellfish industry. Added to that mix is pollution from septic fields, old industrial sites and waste from the shellfish industry. And not too far away there’s the threat of Justin’s pipeline and Christy’s LNG dreams, all having an effect on the local environment and fishery.
That was a long reach, but there it is. Perhaps with some of my photographs and projects, I can affect the changes that need to happen sooner rather later.
So, for now, it’s brokenfish Photography.
A memorable name that has meaning behind it! Perfect.
You said it all , norm. It was great to read your blog. I am glad you are out there with your photography and your voice in your blog. Keep it going.
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Sorry for the six month stay in St Davids!