On August 23, 2018 I celebrated my photography journey with a party and gallery at Last Best Brewing. I can’t believe how many people stopped in throughout the night. Thank you all for coming to support me. I was nervous about this showing because it was not just my art that was on display, but also my writing and my relationships with my friends and family. In this post I have included all the writing and the accompanying images that were printed in order of display. At the gallery showing I also included some photos of everyone with me in them, photos they had taken of me, or photos I had taken of them since I met them.
A lot has changed in ten years and I’m looking forward to seeing where I will end up in another ten years, or even the next five. I hope you enjoy reading about all the people who influenced my journey (I recommend having a beer or gin cocktail while reading as everyone did on the 23rd).
P.S. All prints are 25% off until the end of the month 🙂
The Welcome at the Gallery Entrance
Everyone Needs a Friend
Welcome to Last Best and thank you for coming to celebrate the ten year anniversary of my business, Deviant Optiks Photography. This gallery is not just a collection of images from the last ten years, but also a tribute to many friends who have had a significant impact on me and my photography. The title is taken from the lyrics of a song by Devin Townsend, called “Little Pig.” Townsend is one of my favourite musicians, and his music has inspired my creative work.
The prints you will see tonight are an incomplete sample of the genres of photography that I shoot. They do show a significant part of my journey and tie into the relationships I’ve built through being a photographer. The friends you will read about today are ones who will hopefully be able to stop by tonight. I would love to do a piece for every person who has influenced my photographic journey; however, that would require a huge room and an excessive amount of prints and stories to fill it.
Everyone who has ever hired me, referred me, shot with me, bought my prints, given me a kind word, offered advice or knowledge, will always have my appreciation.
Krystyna & Ed/Mom & Dad
Deviant Optiks would not exist if my parents did not notice that I became interested in taking photos when I was going out to shows. In 2008 I completed a Bachelor of Science in Physics and my parents gifted me with a basic DSLR, a Nikon D90. At the time I had just started immersing myself in the local heavy metal music scene. I would occasionally borrow my dad’s point and shoot camera to take some shots of my friends on stage. I learned how to shoot manual and discovered what ISO is after very unsuccessfully trying to photograph a local show in a very dark bar. I taught myself a lot quickly (with the help of a few friends too), and by August 2008, I had a business name, and my concert photography portfolio was growing rapidly.
Thank you, mom and dad, for that thoughtful gift. It changed my life in so many ways. Thank you for supporting me in all my endeavours, even the odd and scary ones.
I would like to point out to my mom (who is afraid of heights) that it is her fault that I now scare her with photos of me climbing mountains or enjoying sunrises and stars on some unnerving vantage points.
When I first became involved in the heavy metal scene, Pam was one of the first “metal friends” I made. She was a well-known concert photographer in the community. I took her out for cheesecake and grilled her on camera info one afternoon. Shortly after we met, Pam launched a webzine called Pitch Black. I think I was her first contributor and it was through Pitch Black I learned how to properly review and cover a concert/festival, interview bands and how to set up press passes.
I can’t thank you enough, Pam, for sharing your knowledge when I was starting out and trusting me to be a part of your webzine. Unfortunately Pitch Black no longer exists, but I think it was one of the best online publications for supporting the local scene and professionally covering everything from a show in a tiny bar to a large scale concert at the Saddledome.
An essential part of the creative process is experimenting. And to properly experiment with concert and band photography, a photographer needs guinea pigs. The musicians that made up Sacred Ally, a local Calgary metal act somehow became very good friends of mine. I practiced my photography skills at their live shows, hung out at with them at their jam space, attended concerts with them and even played ball hockey with three of them. These guys also witnessed my first and only black eye from a mosh pit. They were all so supportive of my photography.
Colin, Jay, Pete, Tyler, and Vern, thank you for your friendship and for making me feel welcome immediately when I met you all. As a socially awkward nerd, who spent most of her time at university in physics labs and basements with other socially awkward nerds, I appreciated the immediate sense of belonging.
Nate, Jaelle, and Dahlia
I met Nate before I ever met Jaelle, his wife. However, I didn’t quite remember our first meeting until I met Nate (again?) and Jaelle at a New Years Eve party. I walked into the kitchen with my friend Trish who was introducing me to people at her party. This very tall, imposing bearded blonde Viking turns to me and says, “Hey, weren’t you in Mercury Tilt?”. I confirmed I used to play in a band called Mercury Tilt. Nate’s response: “YOU OWE ME MONEY!”. After I had quit the band, Mercury Tilt recorded another album at Slaughter House Studios and did not pay for the session. Luckily Nate laughed about it with me immediately.
Jaelle and I only chatted briefly at that party, but we quickly became friends as we kept seeing each other at shows and ending up at the same parties. Jaelle has one of the biggest hearts in the metal scene. She loves the music and the people.
Nate is such a hard-working force in the Calgary Metal scene. He’s played in some very heavy hitting bands, was the stage manager for internationally acclaimed Noctis Valkyries Metal Festival, runs Big Nate Productions (this includes podcasts, a mostly annual festival, recording bands, etc.). Nate and I worked together at many concerts and festivals, and it was always a pleasure…and sometimes insanity. And of course Jaelle would always be working hard alongside Nate, making the festivals run as smoothly as possible.
Nate and Jaelle, over the years you made me feel part of your family. I know I will always get the best hugs, high fives and laughs with you two and your very fortunate daughter, Dahlia. It’s been a blast working with you. Thanks for supporting my concert work.
My Polish (Heavy Metal) Fairy Godmother. I don’t even know what to tell you about this amazing woman in such a brief write up. From some of the photos here you can probably guess I met Terese in the heavy metal scene. She’s Polish like me, so we bonded over discussions about cooking and perogies. She was VP of a hospital, a mountaineer, runs her own business, put on the biggest and best heavy metal festival in Western Canada, supports her son’s music…and this doesn’t even scratch the surface of who she is and what she does. Over the years since we’ve met, we have gone for dinners, breakfasts, coffees and every time I learn another new and inspiring thing about Terese.
Terese and her festivals (especially Noctis Valkyries Metal Festival) provided Calgary (and Canadian) metalheads the chance to experience some music acts that never would have traveled here otherwise. I should mention she also put on a heavy metal conference – how cool is that?
Terese, thank you for your support of my concert photography and eventually my landscape work. Thank you for sharing your stories and always encouraging me. Everyone in the metal scene that has the honour of calling you a friend is very lucky.
Because of Terese, I met one of my favourite bands, Venom. The album they put out after I met and befriended them, included a thank you to me in the liner notes. A personal highlight of my concert photography career.
Catherine is one of my best friends and my favourite concert/festival adventure buddy. We met through the Sacred Ally guys just before I completed my physics degree and immediately clicked. Catherine and I started going to local shows together and I even somehow convinced her to study with me in one of the physics labs where I worked part-time. We traveled together to see concerts and festivals and also worked together for her father.
When I was photographing shows, one of the hardest things to give up was the front and center spot on the barrier with my best friend at the big concerts and festivals. Catherine always supported me, and we have the best time together at shows, regardless of if I am attending or shooting. We’ve seen many of our favourite bands together and even have two cameos in the Iron Maiden documentary Flight 666. Our appearances happen during our favourite song “Hallowed Be Thy Name” – we are of course head banging up front on the barrier.
Catherine, your friendship has meant so much to me. Our concert adventures are some of the best experiences I’ve had. Although we live in different cities now, I hope we keep meeting up for concerts every once in a while.
Cai’lin is special. That is all I need to say about her.
I will elaborate further though because the way we met always make me laugh. On my 23rd birthday, I was celebrating in Canmore at the Canmore Hotel, and some of my favourite Calgary acts were playing. After the show, there was a party upstairs. I was sitting on a couch talking to friends when Cai’lin came into the room and perched above me on the top of the couch. She said someone had told her I was a physicist, pole dancer, metal head, photographer, and some other things I can’t remember. I confirmed it was all true. She then told me I wasn’t a real person and stormed off.
We became friends after enjoying a Zimmer’s Hole show, standing side by side at the front…and I can’t tell you the rest because of how inappropriate it is. If you find either of us tonight, we may let you know what happened.
Cai’lin is a very talented singer and guitarist. We would often figure out a way to meet bands and get her guitar signed by the musicians whose signatures she wanted on there. One of the silliest and fondest memories I have is of Cai’lin trying to teach Lamb of God the chicken dance on their bus.
Cai’lin, thank you for being my friend, even though you didn’t believe I was real. Thanks for your company at concerts up front on the barrier and also on the edge of the action when I was shooting and hauling all my gear around. Since you stopped going to shows, you’re a little bit lame, but I still enjoy spending time with you (I can’t believe how PG I kept this write up).