Stephanie Ford, a cosplayer performing as Adepta Sorrita, from Warhammer 40K at the Calgary Expo. © J.Ashley Nixon
Sports and music dominated my photography in 2017 as I was unable to make a field trip to Peru to continue with my long-term assignment on sustainable development. I did, however, enter a short film called Sugar in the Røde Reel Film Competition, based on one of my adventures around sugar cane plantations in the north of Peru in 2016. Sustainability also featured in a couple of conferences I photographed and filmed (Climate Action and the Sustainable Development Goals) as well as the scripting and planning for a series of short films on a water catchment in Alberta.
The international game between Canada and Georgia was played out on a most horrible cold, wet and windy day in June. In the pre-international game at the Calgary Rugby Union, it was a huge pleasure to watch my son, William play for the Calgary representative team, the Mavericks versus Edmonton Gold. The weather was far nicer when I traveled up to Edmonton to cover Canada’s game against Romania as well as the U-20 game versus Team USA. That match had a special highlight: James O’Neill, who I have seen developing as a Canuck over the years, was playing in the back row at this important junior international level.
It was a lot of fun in my inaugural season as team photographer with the Calgary Canucks. Many highlights there and you will have to take a look at my photo gallery to see my pick from many great moments in the Canucks season. Regrettably, it ended at the City Final stage when the Beavers were beaten by a surprising second-half come-back the Hornets. Better things will come “Up” in 2018!
On August 19, I participated, like thousands of other photographers, in World Photo Day. I chose to shoot three games of fifteen aside rugby in Cochrane and Calgary (Canucks vs Bow Valley; BC Bears vs Ontario Blues; and Prairie Wolf Pack vs Atlantic Rock). Now, with rugby 7s you can pack a lot more games into one day. Or why not go for two days? That’s what I did in March when, again, I photographed the HSBC Canada Rugby Sevens in Vancouver. The event generated thousands of images from 45 games, shot from the edge of the field. In a thrilling final, England beat South Africa, very pleasing to me, not so for RugbyPhotographer Garry, my sports photography mate, who shouts, and shoots, for the Blitzboks.
No time to go over for the Tour de France this year (I covered some of that in 2014) but the Tour of Alberta took me to Edmonton for a couple of Stages, around Windsor Park and a fast up-and-down circuit around the city centre. On the downside, I dropped and smacked a lens in my rush between places. It halted my video filming for the weekend but fortunately my deck builder, Greg was able to get the mangled filter removed and the lens is good to use again.
On the upside, my highlight was getting a lap around the circuit in the Silber Pro Cycling team car. Hopefully, I can do more with them, and cycling in Canada in 2018. And, let’s hope that the Tour of Alberta comes back to Calgary!
The year began and ended with hockey tournaments. In January, we traveled with the Bantam team of my daughter, Jennifer, to Missoula, Montana, the USA for a splendid display of girl power on the ice. It was also an opportunity to film the road trip and write, compile and publish my first photo book. A shout out to Mark Malone and Global Sport Academy/STIX Hockey, who made some great things happen in our girls’ development as people, not just players in 2017 across the border, over in BC (for the Canada Cup West), and up in Edmonton for the Alberta Provincial Finals where the team got the Silver Medal.
In the 2017-18 season, Mark’s positive approach to hockey continued under Kath Surbey and her coaching team as Jennifer moved up to the Alberta Female Hockey League with the Calgary Fire White Bantam Elite team. The team also performed well off the ice in some voluntary activities, including a very moving experience the day after Remembrance Day, when a young boy appeared, walking amongst the crosses. One of my poems from the year was inspired by the hockey gloves of Ella, one of the players on the Fire team. I have picked a photo from that season as one of my 17 from the year, which employs my rather rare use of Photoshop tricks. Check my photo gallery to see which one.
Closing out 2017 was the Mac’s AAA Midget Tournament, a week filled with young men and women playing Canada’s game at the highest level for their age. It was a hectic week getting around the arenas when the temperature plunged as low as minus 34 (excluding the wind chill) and covering (and editing images from) multiple games per day. The finals experience at the Scotiabank Saddledome was excellent. Congratulations to the championship teams, Rocky Mountain Raiders (Female Division) and Regina Pat Canadians (Male Division), the organizers, volunteers and all the participating teams for a great tournament.
Performance: music, dance, and comedy
For the second year, I joined the team of photographers covering the Sled Island Music and Arts Festival. This included the loudest and heaviest of Heavy Metal music I have experienced, at Dickens Pub, where Wolves In The Throne Room prepared their stage and performed with complete dedication to their hard-line genre. There was Fun Sledding as well, an evening of stand-up comedy down in the Library of Nite Owl Night Club.
One of the highlights of the gigs I covered during the Calgary Folk Music Festival Fall Concert Series was The Deep Dark Woods at the Festival Hall, Inglewood and my top music photo pick of the year (Ryan Boldt playing guitar). Another favourite was The Dead South, supported by Boots & The Hoots where some red and blue stage light did some very nice things with cowboy hats.
I was a dancing photographer for one morning in July when I dressed up and joined in with the Peruvian Community group Raices del Perú for their prize-winning performance in the Calgary Stampede Parade. The film I produced was featured on Peruvian television.
I created a studio in 2017 to do portrait photography. One of the assignments was around music players. You can see one of the images, Jennifer playing bass guitar, in my photo gallery of 17 pics. Also, there is one from my long-term assignment of capturing the costume, make-up, personality and sheer enthusiasm of Cosplayers (see top of this blog).
Arya the Airedale
In closing, it is with a heavy heart that I reflect on the loss of Arya the Airedale Terrier our dear, young dog, who passed away on September 1, 2017. Photographs can help in our memories of events, sad as well as happy. Photographs capture moments in time that are gone forever, but those images can hang on for a little longer as we continue onwards through life.
Here’s to another new year and wishing all of you, readers, colleagues, friends, and family the very best in your 2018.
Gallery of 17 pics from ’17
Here is the link to my photo gallery and my 17 selections from 2017.