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Christie Fitzpatrick: Amateur to Pro in 6-months & film photography in the Coast Mountains of B.C.


"What I hope to achieve in a photo is to make the viewer feel present in a passing

moment. And hopefully, that moment is epic, awe-inspiring, calming, or a mixture of all

three."



We recently developed a bunch of film for Canada-based, action-sport photographer Christie Fitzpatrick. Having seen her shots, we HAD to ask her some questions about her career and work, so far! Christie recently travelled back to Europe to visit friends and family, including a trip to Greece, where she practiced the intricate art of double-exposures. Discussing Christie's journey with photography, her first memories of film, trying new techniques, and her job as a Content Specialist in the Canadian mountains - this is a very very interesting read for you this week!


Can you briefly introduce yourself to us, who you are and what do you do?


Hey! I’m Christie, originally hailing from Cornwall, England, I now live nestled in the

Coast Mountains of British Columbia with my partner Ben and my ever growing collection

of film cameras. My official job role is ‘Content Specialist’, which essentially means I get

paid to ski and mountain bike all day and take photos whilst doing it. I shoot mostly digital

for my commercial work, and film every other day of the year.





Hey Christie, let's kick things off with how you got into photography and how your path led you to where you are now!


I had so many influences in high-school, but felt overwhelmed by my lack of technical

knowledge and experience, and I was dissuaded from pursuing photography for years. In

university, I spent every spare dime on traveling, film development and Nat Geo magazines, and that’s when I realised it was more than an interest. I was obsessed with travel, and my best friend and I would take trips abroad way too often, and my film camera always came with me. But when it came down to it, photography was just a hobby and I didn’t know all that much, I just went to some really cool places! When I moved to Canada, I struggled to make friends at first, and spent a lot of time exploring alone. I was so enchanted by the landscapes here, I wanted to capture everything on film, so that’s when I decided to pick up the camera with more intention.


What is your first memory of film photography?


My grandmother used to show us photos she had taken of us as children, on a Pentax ME

Super, and I was pretty astonished at how sharp the images were. I loved the tones and just how different the images looked compared to what I was taking on my Canon 50D at the time. Sitting at my grandmother’s dinner table, drinking breakfast tea and eating biscuits, whilst studying old family photos... that would be my first memory. I love this way of sharing art; going through physical photographic prints forces you to pause and give each image the time and reflection it deserves. I find this experience so much more rewarding and fulfilling than scrolling through iPhone photos (yet I find myself doing plenty of that, too).



You travelled out to Canada back in 2016 and you’re still based there now, how
much of an influence does the local environment have on your style of
photography?

Moving to Canada, I have learned to live life at a different pace. I live and play on the shared unceded territory of the Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish) and Lil̓wat7úl (Lil’wat) Nations, home to ancient sacred forests and all-encompassing mountainscapes. My film photography aims to convey the brevity of our existence in these powerful surroundings. This sounds a bit pompous and philosophical, but I really find that film helps me think about things outside of just the frame, outside of the 'now'. It helps me reflect on more than just 'the photograph’, and more about my place in it all.


My commercial photography is mostly action sports and landscapes. I hike, ski and

mountain bike every weather-permitting day; although I’m usually lagging at the back,

distracted by various photogenic pockets of light. I would say that weather, lighting and the

charisma of the mountains shape every aspect of my photos. My style is a coalescence of my outdoor experiences and the elevated state of calm/excitement/awe I feel in the Coast

Mountains. The confluence of ancient forests and modern sport is an element that

permeates my work.


Why film?

I was having a conversation recently with @stuminous on Instagram, and he said something that really resonated with me. We were discussing mechanical versus electrical film cameras, and he said “the mechanical feel is so pure, the feeling of the shutter just feels natural. Even if the picture doesn’t turn out, the frame is burnt into your memory”. I couldn’t agree more, and I think this applies to digital versus film photography as well. When I am doing digital work, I tend to massively overshoot in the hope that, amidst the 100 image burst I just captured, the shot is in there somewhere, and I can bring it to life in post production if I need to. It’s more about covering my bases. In a sense, much of the art and the work comes afterwards in digital photography.


In film, the work comes first. Film photography, for me, is a slower and more mindful

process. You really have to hunt for the shot you want, which keeps you so much more

present. When the shutter is pressed, you have to commit to it. You can’t just shoot

everything in sight, as each shot has a price tag. Sure, things are easier and more efficient

with digital, but I personally find it caters to my indecision. Film keeps me present and

forces me to make decisions. And of course, there is a certain nostalgia to film. You can’t really compare seeing your own creativity and imagery appear in front of your eyes with offloading a memory card onto your computer. It also has an undeniably attractive aesthetic that even the best Photoshop experts can’t recreate.





You managed a huge feat in going from amateur to professional photography in just
6 months - how did you achieve this? Was there intention and a master plan or was
this something that naturally manifested from doing the things you loved (travelling
& photography?)

Firstly, thanks. I’m very proud of what I’ve achieved, as it didn’t come easily.


With the onset of Covid, I lost my job and broke my wrist within a few weeks of each other.

The whole experience made me question what I really wanted to do with my career. Once I

realized that the Covid-era wasn’t ending anytime soon, I decided to reinvent myself

professionally. There was no master plan, but I would say I fully committed myself to it.

I spent the last of my savings on a professional SLR and went out shooting as much as I

could. Taking photos with a broken right wrist was really awkward, but it gave me a reason

to leave the house. I followed my friends mountain biking (on foot), which was a very fun

yet challenging way to learn how to shoot action photography.


I took photos of my local brewery’s beer cans on our adventures, and shortly after they

asked if I wanted to be paid to take some for their new beer releases. I was stoked! At this

point, I still didn’t have a proper grasp of aperture or why I wasn’t getting professional

quality photos with an f/4 zoom lens. But I learnt! The learning curve has been very steep

but I have progressed so much in 18 months. From my first gig, it was just lots of shooting and lots of networking, and having the guts to approach people and ask for work. I landed a job for Whistler Blackcomb as their Content Specialist last year which has given me such an amazing platform on which to progress. My team are my biggest cheerleaders and I’m always encouraged to push boundaries.


Having lived outside of the UK for a fair few years now, what do you most look
forward to shooting when you get back?

My friends. They are beautiful and I love having the opportunity to try and create an image

of them that accurately conveys how I see them. I find that such a magical thing, showing

someone a photo of themselves from a perspective or angle that they haven’t seen before.

It’s like stepping into someone else’s brain for a moment in time. I also love to photograph

classic English landscapes that remind me of my childhood.





We really enjoyed developing your photos from your summer trip back to Europe, is
there a specific country or place in Europe you enjoy shooting in most?

I love Greece. The sunrises, the sunsets, the white walls, acropolises (acropoli?), the old

Greek men smoking on their plastic armchairs...it's just a photographer’s paradise. I have

some amazing friends that live there, and pre-Covid I tried to visit Greece every year, even

when I had moved to Canada. I am always inspired to try something new in my

photography when I’m in Greece.


Your double exposure images in particular caught our attention instantly, what was
the thinking and inspiration behind these?

So this was actually my first attempt at double exposures. They have been on my hitlist for a while as a photography technique to try. I think I’m addicted! I have come across some

amazing double exposure photographers on Instagram, and I connected with them before

giving it a go. The geometry of certain plants and their juxtaposition with portraits is so visually attractive to me. I've always loved how the pairing of certain double exposures

brings out elements of human personalities and natural beauty. I also love the pairing of

landscape double exposures, as both frames are usually an embodiment of my experience in the area, two parts to a greater whole. Portraiture and double exposures are something I look forward to leaning into more this winter.





What is your main motivator when it comes to photography?

This is a hard one! I actually find it really hard to be motivated sometimes. I don’t have a

ton of connections in the industry and often I find social media quite demotivating.

Photography is an extremely competitive profession in Whistler. It probably sounds cliche,

but I find travel to be my biggest motivator. Photography motivates me to travel, and

travelling motivates me to take photos. This can be travelling to a foreign country, a local

road trip, or travelling on foot through the mountains. Whenever I travel I am collecting

new experiences and new perspectives, whether it’s on a local ski touring mission or a

bustling market on the other side of the world where I don’t understand a word anyone is

saying. What I hope to achieve in a photo is to make the viewer feel present in a passing

moment. And hopefully, that moment is epic, awe-inspiring, calming, or a mixture of all

three.


Since I can’t (yet) travel 365 days a year, I have subscribed to a few print magazines and

really been filtering through my social media so that I am consuming more inspiring

content. This is really important for me in order to keep my motivation up, especially

during the rainy months when I’m spending a little less time outdoors.



On your personal blog there is a jaw-droppingly good photo of a bear in a lake
eating a fish, firstly how high up does this rank in terms of your own favourite
photos and secondly how long had you waited to get the shot that day?

I love that photo! But I truly cannot pick a favourite from that set. I purchased my first

600mm lens for that trip where I was shooting photos for Chilko Wilderness Resort. As a

perk, I got to spend some time bear viewing every day. I honestly love my whole set of

photos from that trip, you can see them here. I would say I was waiting about an hour for

that photo, and it was tough to get in the rain, cold and on a wobbly boat! Freehanding a

600mm lens isn’t for everyone, I felt like Popeye after that trip. I wonder sometimes if I’m

going to end up a wildlife photographer, I just get so excited when I’m photographing

bears. They are such regal yet goofy animals, and I try to capture some of their personalities in my photos.





And something we want to ask all of our talented interviewees - do you have any
advice for those looking to get into photography? What's the one bit of advice you
perhaps wish you’d been given at a younger age/first starting out?

Stop thinking about what other people are doing. Stop thinking you’re not good enough or

experienced enough. It’s never too late to make a change in your life or to start something

new. Just get your hands on a camera and get out there and shoot! Don’t be afraid to ask

questions, but make sure you have a great handle on the basics before you approach

professionals for advice, as otherwise you may not understand the answer and feel even

more confused than you did before! If you’re specifically looking to get into film

photography, have a crack at digital first, as you’ll probably make a lot of mistakes at first - and that’s pretty expensive on film...


Also, try not to simply emulate people you admire, but rather reflect on your own strengths and remember how important it is to bring individuality to each project. Your unique perspective is one of your biggest assets.



Thank you for answering all our questions! Just to finish off, we have some quick fire Q’s to end with...

● What’s your favourite film camera to shoot on?

My Nikon FM2 at the moment.


● Favourite film stock to shoot with?

Portra 400. Nothing captures the golden hour quite like it.


● Best shooting location you’ve shot at?

This is tough, but probably Mount Assiniboine on the border of B.C. and Alberta, home

of the Ktunaxa First Nation.


● Who is your biggest inspiration in photography?

Authenticity is what inspires me the most, so I feel very drawn to the documentary and

adventure photography communities.


If you want to find out more about Christie and her work, why not head to her blog or find her incredible prints from Canada for sale here!


OR if you need some developing, head to our film developing options and choose from a whole range of 35mm and 120 developing options, with scans, prints or just the negatives for at-home scanning!


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