We are going to dive into a different genre today with our guest photographer, Chris Hancock Donaldson, from Port Alberni, B.C.. She is a visual story teller. Chris’s work includes street photography, quirky domestic scenes, mystical images of coastal rain forests and clear cuts, shots of pets and people, and more. Today she is sharing a collection of 16 of her photographs taken during the pandemic. For more follow Chris on Instagram.
Hi, Chris. I can’t help but notice your poetic voice in both prose and photograph. I recall two writing retreats we attended together with fondness; one where we experienced a few close encounters with deer. Thanks for opening this window into your life. When did you start taking photos?
Chris: I think I first started taking photos about 20 years ago when my husband at the time brought back an SLR for me — I don’t recall now what it was — from a pawn shop in St. Louis. I don’t know why he got me a camera. He must’ve had a hunch. Not long after I got my first digital camera, and I’ve stayed with digital since. And unless I’m doing a professional job, these days I primarily use my iPhone 11. Taking photos is mostly about self-expression for me.
Lesley-Anne: What is this quieter version of life teaching you, if in fact, it is quieter?
Chris: Previously, my life was tipping the scale heavy on partying. Being forced out of the haze showed me how often I was choosing substances to diminish stepping out of my integrity, angst, emotional pain. When covid hit and I was faced with the prospect of being alone with fewer distractions, I knew it was sink or swim for me. So I’m swimming in these quieter times, stronger than before.
Lesley-Anne: We often say we wish we had more time for certain things. Are you spending your time differently in view of our current world challenges? If so, how?
Chris: Mostly I do what I used to, only more of it. We’ve been graced with days of warm sun this spring on Vancouver Island. I hike daily, but have been exploring new areas, wandering for miles through forests, deactivated logging roads, pushing higher up ridges. By mid-afternoon I sometimes find a spot to hole up with a couple cans of Heineken, or my drum, with my dog, by a river, on a bluff, on a stump in a clear cut. It really doesn’t matter where — for the time I’m in nature, I don’t feel trapped.
Lesley-Anne: What is one surprising thing that happened today?
Chris: [I] Hiked down to a spot on the inlet this afternoon and sprawled against a log in the sun. The wind made whitecaps on the water and whooshed through the firs and I remembered what I’ve done since I was a child: felt the heat of the sun bite through my clothes, let the wind’s clamour dull the heaviness of my mind, and shut my eyes to a world that is sometimes too much for all my senses.
I hear you about the too much, and often feel that way myself. I can feel the peacefulness of these photos, and I encourage people to scroll leisurely and take in the simple and honest atmospheres you have encapsulated here.
May your back road journeys continue to take you wherever you most need to go.
Blessings and peace,