Have camera, will travel

June 2019

Lois Nuttall captures and shares what she sees around her. Using her camera as a pen, Lois tells the stories of Northwestern Ontario’s people and places.

Early in her career, Lois operated Bayway Transit and Tours along with her sister, Maria Hudolin. Sharing our part of the world with visitors was a delight for Lois. When the business was sold, Lois took time to ponder what would and what could be next. “I remember Max Rogerson at that time asking me a question that made me think - What do you like to do?” This was easy for Lois to answer. “I’ve liked everything I’ve done!”, she laughs. But when she started digging deep, she realized that taking photographs, something she had done throughout her tourism career, was calling her.

On her 50th birthday, Lois’ mother, Mary Logozzo, gave Lois a cash gift with which she bought herself an Epson camera. It wasn’t fancy, but it did what Lois wanted and it immersed her in learning the art and science of photography.

That first digital camera was a window on a new world for Lois. She combined her people, photography and business interests and won a contract with Thunder Bay Ventures to market and promote their events. 

She sought out local camera clubs. The first one she joined was Circles of Confusion where John Nistico was a driving force. “John would critique our photos and that helped me to become a better photographer. Sometimes it was hard to hear that critique, but it did help me a lot to improve and to understand.”

Being part of the camera community has always been important to Lois. There are many people in that community who are able to share their strategies for capturing a more compelling photograph. As an artist, she realizes that everyone has a different appreciation of art. She always takes criticism in stride because people always have different views of what is the “best shot.” That sense of playfulness and always being willing to learn more is what inspired Lois to continue her formal education in photography. “When I joined the Professional Photographers of Canada in 2014, I started to work towards my Master of Photographic Arts designation.” Joined on the journey by fellow photographer and friend Susan Dykstra, Lois proudly received her Masters in Photographic Arts (MPA) designation by the Professional Photographers of Canada at age 70. She wants to keep learning and isn’t afraid to review her notes when stuck with a technical or artistic challenge.

Lois has earned accreditations in a variety of photography topics but there is something about the people of this area that attracts her focus. “Maybe it’s my Italian upbringing or my background in tourism, but I want to put people in my photos,” she says. She has launched a new venture called Legacy Portraits that helps people leave a photographic memory in the newspaper or that the family may use as the base for a digital watercolour or oil painting. 

“These portraits are done in the person’s own environment with something that is important to them – maybe something they’ve made or they are proud of. I say that photos are statements without words. They show a person‘s eyes, smile and something that they love.” One of her photo subjects, Murray Monk sports an impressive beard and holds a hand-carved walking stick. He was a trapper and now lives in Hurkett. Lois knows many people from her days in tourism and has reconnected with some of them who have become her portrait subjects. She notes that many of the people she has met on her travels may not have university educations but they are so creative and “can build anything in those backyard garages!”

Lois is always surrounded by the people in her life. Her grandchildren regularly spend summer vacation time at the family camp at Kama Point. Every year Lois assembles family photos and puts a few stories beside the pictures so that there is a lasting legacy. “It’s one of the first things the kids do when they visit - go through the newest picture book and see who’s made the cover that year!” As Lois takes photos of her family and helps people record their own story in photographs, she continues to be humble about her talent. “My grandkids say that I make jewellery and take pictures,” she laughs.

If photography means “writing with light”, then I’d say that Lois Nuttall helps the people around her write their own stories, their own “statements without words,” that will be appreciated for generations to come.

For more on Lois’ work, including a planned workshop on Porphyry Island this summer, go to www.nuttallphotos.com

Five Photo Challenge

Lois encourages readers to seek out five sites around Thunder Bay this summer to photograph. Have fun with this. Think of it as your photo assignment. Don’t worry – you don’t have to hand this in for marking!

  • Sleeping Giant: OK so everyone takes photos of the Giant. Make yours different. Get up early or photograph late in the day. Go to a new location to shoot. Focus on the sky over the Giant.
  • Kakabeka Falls: Another favourite. Instead of the whole falls, take photos of parts of the falls. Go later in the day for low light. Slow down your shutter speed to make milky water. Experiment.
  • Flowers in the yard: Get a friend to hold an 8 1/2 x 11” piece of paper over the flower you want to shoot. This will remove harsh shadows and redirect sunlight. Notice if you can see the details more clearly in the photograph. Crouch down to get a new perspective.
  • Lorne Allard Fisherman’s Park (24 Shipyard Road): This gem of a park is perfect for shooting water flowing. Again try to shoot later in the day. If you don’t have a tripod to keep your camera or your phone camera steady, bring along a box to set your camera on.
  • Mackenzie Point Conservation Area: This is a good location for photographing water, rock, sky, birds. Look for the patterns made by moving waves or clouds. Bring your patience, a picnic lunch and enjoy the shoot!

Nancy Angus is a freelance writer and regular contributor to Bayview. Contact her at nangus@shaw.ca

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