Simon Barker and Healing through Photography

We are super proud to have Simon Barker as a Superhero subscriber to League magazine. Simon does artful, thoughtful and introspective photography that we find really moving. Simon says this about himself.

©Darwin Wiggett

In life I see myself as a responsible environmentalist, trying to limit my footprint as much as possible. We have only one car; two bikes and a bunch of solar panels on our roof to off-set electrical use. Our house is 900 sq feet wide and we’ve been there for 26 years….who needs to move for the sake of it? Sandra and I have supported AWA for over 25 years, golden eagle research for over 10 years, Calgary humane, Alberta institute of wildlife rehab for many years, Ghost River watershed for as long as we have been in this community -15 years. These are just a few of the organizations we support…I think it’s important to financially support these groups whenever possible. We strongly support live, local acoustic music and have been members of the Nickelodeon folk club for 25 years. Oh, and we LOVE dogs….our pups have always been rescue dogs. Currently we have 3….Rocky, a maltipoo; Pedro a chihuahua and Lola a Yorkshire terrier. Two came from Little Mutts rescue, we were only supposed to foster. Well that lasted about 2 seconds before we adopted. Rocky came from the city pound…..he’s a 6lb miracle dog who survived being hit by a car. Luckily for us we have pet insurance!

Simon has donated two prints that he made while on a League of Landscape Photographers  event to be awarded to two lucky League winners who subscribe to League magazine by the 4th of April 2017. These images are printed on an Epson 3880. The paper size is 17×22 inch, with the actual image being 12×18.

©Simon Barker

©Simon Barker

Simon tells the story of making the image at Bighill Springs Provincial Park:

“I didn’t even think about the memorial “forest” at first; even though I’ve been there several times with it in mind. However, once there and given a moment to dwell on things I felt I should spend a few moments in the memorial forest. The actual park must have had several hundred people in it. But next to the parking lot, in the memorial area, there was only me. That seemed fitting… best friend committed suicide a few years ago. I had known him for over twenty years and had been the best man at his wedding. To be suicidal, he was obviously very troubled. However, it did come as a big surprise and honestly, I’m not sure if I’ve forgiven him yet. So when I’m alone there, I talk to him…..and no I don’t think I’m crazy! But I swear at him a lot 🙂 So best if nobody is around!

At times like that, I find it makes me slow down and think about what I’m trying to achieve. I knew I wanted an image that I would print. Somehow the rusty barbed wire seemed symbolic…the whole mental illness/suicide thing. Behind the wire there is hope, light, growth, warmth, etc. However, first the wire has to be broken through. I also knew that the theme for the day was the shore and also lines. Well, the barbed wire certainly provided the lines and so did the background trees.

Over the past few years I’ve really enjoyed learning the printing side of things. It gives me a tactile feel to my photographs. I’ve collected a whole library of different papers to print onto. So now when I see something to photograph, I’m thinking it through to the final print. Again, it’s part of slowing down to think things through. Not just pressing the shutter button a thousand times knowing that because it’s digital it doesn’t matter.

Over the years there have been several fairly major “life events” for me. When they’ve occurred I have always been able to use photography as a means of therapy. For example, at the very same time that Doug committed suicide another very, very close friend died from a short bout with cancer. She was my wife, Sandra’s closest friend. So double whammy on the friends dying front. Her name was June, and at 61 years old it was far too soon for that to happen. Talk about someone who was ethical and environmentally responsible. June had the ideal life after leaving the rat race of Calgary for the quiet life of Hornby Island. It just goes to show, that when your time is up….it’s up. So you’d better make the most of this time on earth.

Anyway, with June it was absolutely awful. Sandra and I went to visit several times a month, but really what could we do other than offer support. The only thing June wanted from me was to see some of my photographs. So, as often as I could I would send her one. At her memorial, all of the photos were used in a slide presentation and then after, I used them to make a blurb book to give to friends and family.

Little things, but maybe it gives you more insight into how photography fits into my life.

I’ll save the best story I have about my photography journey for another time….over a beer or wine. Pam knows the story. It involves rattlesnakes, broken bones, $14,000 in lost gear…..and 6 hours to recover a memory card. After 6 years I’m still paying the price physically! It was the moment I knew I loved photography!!”

©Pam Jenks



1 Comment

  1. Dawn
    April 3, 2017

    So proud to have you as our Uncle Simon. We look at the photos you gave us and it makes us smile everyday. The children won’t let me take the 2016 calendar down! X