It’s a beautiful life…. Photographer Erin Wallis has an eye for capturing that beauty
“I think I was trained and destined to see beauty,” Erin Wallis says.
Her photographs are certainly proof of that.
The Campbell River photographer’s images have an ethereal, dreamlike quality that capture beauty bathed in sunlight. Wallis says her images reflect her approach of photographing things as she sees them, or as she chooses to see them.
“I choose to see life, not through rose-coloured glasses, but focusing on the beauty in every single situation,” she says. “The warm, dreamy feel is just how I see things, I suppose, life slowed down, in the best light.”
The proprietor of Erin Wallis Photography (www.erinwallis.com) trained as a photojournalist but specializes in wedding photography and family portraits.
“I realized that as much as I loved storytelling with images, I wasn’t cut out for hard news, and was more interested in capturing and interpreting moments in my own way,” Wallis says. “I cried when I watched an image form on paper in the darkroom for the first time. The magic of photography, of capturing a fleeting moment and seeing it come to life before my eyes kept me in the darkroom for hours.”
She seems almost destined to have become a photographer. She was born in Campbell River and raised by adventurous parents who took Wallis and her siblings camping, on long walks and long drives with a truck and camper.
“Camping was a big part of our childhood I have great childhood memories, being outdoors, playing, imaginative play.”
Wallis’ mother was always pointing out beautiful moments. Always saying things like: “look at that sweet (insert beautiful moment here).”
For graduation, she was given a camera and she was “instantly sold.” A stint doing volunteer work in South America with Youth Challenge International had her snapping away with her newfound pastime. After returning home, she took a photojournalism program in Vancouver but instead of the gritty photography of news imagery, she fell into work as a cruise ship photographer with Princess Cruises for six years.
“There would be as many as 15 photogs on a ship at any time, and I think I learned more from doing photography with all of the photographers from around the world than anything.
The “invaluable experiences and training” she gained from the cruise ship experience convinced her that photography was the career for her.
“The first wedding I did when I really knew it was what I was meant for…was dear friends of mine Jody and Sarah Wright (of Campbell River). It was then, that I knew…I had to do this. I loved it. Loved clambering up on a ladder wildly flailing my arms around, yelling directions to get people together for a photo that the bride and groom and their families would have forever. Loved all of the emotion, the magic, the possibilities.”
She learned to take inspiration from spontaneity but also from visual story telling.
“I am inspired by stories really. Real life stories. Inspired by old photographs of my family, ancestors. I come from a long line of photographers so I love seeing those old photographs.”
Although spontaneous, a photograph is part of a story, the story of the moment captured in the image. She takes great satisfaction from the moment when a photograph comes together.
Moments, like when “I’m with my clients and suddenly a huge group of seagulls is swarming the air behind us making for the most amazing image, or when I’ve got a bride on a bluff, and Mother Nature decides to put on a magnificent show and let the sun burst through the clouds for a spectacular sunset as though on cue.”
Big moments like weddings and a growing family’s moment in time are a major component of Wallis’ work but her images also capture small, intimate moments.
“I am always trying to anticipate what could happen. The bride getting her make up on…her mom is coming into the room…her mom might have a moment, a tear…give her daughter a hug. I’ll try and position myself close by but not incredibly in their face. I’ll talk a bit, hang back a bit, but I’ll always try and anticipate where something amazing might happen. I’m on my toes, I never stop moving, and I never ever sit down and take five. I’m always trying to be aware, listening to conversations to know what might happen, and where.”
And, of course, nature plays a large part in her photographs.
“It is really hard not to around here. Vancouver Island is such a remarkable place. I can’t help but be inspired by and want to incorporate the natural beauty of this place within the images.”
Nature also plays a large part in the wife and mother of a four-year-old and seven-year-old’s own life.
“As much as possible, I try and be outside with the kids and our family. Fresh air, the beach, trails, we are really fortunate here to have so many places to relax and walk around and play outside.”
It all makes for a woman with an eye for the beauty of life.
“I am always photographing people as I see them. The beauty I see in their family, their moments. I try and focus on how beautiful I see my clients.”
Even in the chaos or the reality of daily life there is magic right there in their family, in their life, on their faces, Wallis says.
“The connections between our loved ones are the most amazing parts of our stories, everyone has a story to tell. If I can capture a split second of beauty in an ordinary moment…then I am lucky.”