“When I was younger the most satisfaction came from starting a new life somewhere and really immersing myself in the place I was at that time. But that often took months to accomplish, sometimes even years in certain places. These days I know the upper left coast is my home so it’s shorter stints right now, and the most satisfaction probably comes from a good night’s sleep.”
Alana Paterson is one of the photographers that has been on our radar for a while. Alana’s photographs breath a certain wild youthfulness. As with some photographers we admire, her personality seems to shine through her work. Alana studied at Emily Carr University of Art and Design in Vancouver, as well as The Lesley University of Boston. She holds a BFA in photography. Her photography has appeared in numerous international publications and she works with clients from all over the world. We kept bumping into Alana’s work over at Poler Stuff and we couldn’t resist the opportunity to drop her some lines.
Hi Alana, could you tell us a little bit about yourself?
My name is Alana Paterson, I grew up on the coast of British Columbia. My Dad was the caretaker of a small island in the gulf so I spent a lot of time on the water working and doing marine errands with him.
Your photographs prompt us to pack our bags and leave, how did you come to that decision yourself, what started your travel bug?
Well, I have a european passport through my dad so I always thought I should go make use of it and my dad travelled a lot in his youth and really pushed me to “step off the continent” (his words) so when I finished university I worked a season on my uncles farm saved up enough money to ride for a while and went. This resulted in the fairly mobile life style I am living today. If you aspire to live a live on the road, all I can say is it gets harder and harder as the years get on to pack up and leave. Maybe you have a boyfriend with a schedule, maybe you accidentally got a dog etc. So if you feel like you need some ‘selfish’ years out there on your own do it as soon as you can cause its only going to get harder.
How do you support yourself on the road?
I am a freelance photographer. This helps me a lot. I make my living pointing my camera at strong people with no desire to show weaknesses or expose people having a tough time. My inspiration comes from these people; architects, teachers, marine mechanics, fishermen, anyone who has built a great life for themselves that I can relate to on some level. Books are a big inspiration for me. Non fiction narrative gets me pretty fire up sometimes.
When you travel, what gives you the most satisfaction?
When I was younger the most satisfaction came from starting a new life somewhere and really immersing myself in the place I was at that time. But that often took months to accomplish, sometimes even years in certain places. These days I know the upper left coast is my home so it’s shorter stints right now, and the most satisfaction probably comes from a good night’s sleep. Haha.
If there was a phrase that you think best sums up your approach to a life of travel, what might it be?
The finest steel has to go through the hottest fire.
What, besides a camera and some film will you always chuck in your backpack before leaving home?
A flash light, a knife, matches and some snacks.
You have worked with some big brands in the industry. How did you start out, what would your advice for young photographers be?
Don’t expect it to come to you. Work for that shit. Send emails. Badger editors etc. Make choices.
What is your favourite photobook? Why?
Probably William Egglestons “Guide.” He was just looking at things like no one else at the time. Quite the mind.
Any famous last words?