Wawota photographer Kim Lamontagne hasn't looked back since she started seriously pursuing photography almost eight years ago, when she was in her thirties and her children were almost grown. Since then, Lamontagne has amassed a library of over 16,000 images, has earned awards for her work, and will be part of an upcoming gallery show this year in Regina. Lamontagne's images are inspired by the future, but her work is also driven by her personal past. “My favourite image is the one I will take tomorrow,” she says. “But my little brother (Michael Brimner) was killed and we don't have many pictures of him, because he didn't like to have his picture taken. You never think about that, but I do now.”
Lamontagne says her interest in photography was “always there, but I didn't have a really good camera until my kids were both in high school. When I was young I was interested in photography, but it was viewed as sort of an uncool thing back then.”
“My first good camera was a Canon Rebel and now I shoot with a Canon 5D Mark III. Of course, I really wish I had a better camera when my kids were really little, but I'm ready for the grandchildren now,” she laughs. “And with my little brother, I try to drill it into my son (Justin) and my daughter (Kristin) how important it is to capture those important people and memories with a camera.”
Although her subjects range from the lights of the Las Vegas strip to nature's northern lights, Lamontagne says she is largely inspired by the natural beauty of her home province.
“I've been lucky enough to travel a bit,” she says. “I've photographed Vegas and hopefully, this spring my husband Bob and I will travel to the States, where I hope to photograph some ghost towns in North Dakota, and I'm contemplating a trip to the Yukon with (Tornado Hunter and photographer) Greg Johnson for a workshop he's holding there.”
“But I love the sunsets and stuff-the stuff that really says Saskatchewan and country,” says Lamontagne. “I like to go down a backroad that's not well-travelled and I'll find an old barn or something like that. Those are things that really touch my heart.”
Although Lamontagne holds herself to a high technical standard, she says; “I like the creative side maybe more than the technical side. But it's important to learn and perfect the technical end. Then with the creative side, you can create something that's yours, by using Photoshop or another one of the many different tools, so you can create an image that's different from everybody else's.”
“I'm really fussy and picky,” she adds. “If it's not tack-sharp, I don't want to put it out there. That's one of the things I learned from (photographer) Douglas Walker. He holds a workshop every year at Kenosee Lake and he taught me that instead of holding onto every picture-and people will get bored flipping through a bunch of pictures of the same subject-choose the one that stops you in your tracks. That's the one you show.”
“There are a lot of amazing photographers who inspire me,” she adds. “Douglas Walker is one. And as a member of the Moose Mountain Photography club, there are a lot of people who inspire me, starting with my fellow members.”
“William Sinclair from Kenosee encourages photographers to make photos into art by manipulating the original image. Lori Maxim of Regina taught me a lot of the technical part of photography. So did Paul Cutting, also of Regina. I took a workshop with Dave Brosha from Prince Edward Island who was amazing regarding night photos. I also took a few workshops with Greg Johnson, the Tornado Hunter and I learned a lot from him about shooting in all kinds of weather.”
“I really love the northern lights,” says Lamontagne. “I love photographing them and I can easily sit there for an hour and just watch them. And I like going down roads that aren't well-travelled, but that's not without surprises, either.”
“Once I was down a back road and I just kept shooting and kept moving my vehicle. I was taking pictures and I noticed a truck was following me. It turned out to be the DNR (Department of Natural Resources). I don't know who was more surprised-me or them!”
“The first time I ever went out shooting at night, I was surprised I ever did it again,” she laughs. “There was a pumpjack and it wasn't moving, but two big turkey vultures seemed to come out from nowhere and flew right towards me. I stayed and finished the shoot, but I think all of Wawota heard me that night!”
Although Lamontagne has won awards for her work, she remains focused on the joy of the process and excited about future photographic challenges.
“I was in total shock when I won the (View Bug) online competition,” she says. “I won for a picture of chuckwagon horses and the second one was a picture of a little red barn in the frost near Yorkton.”
“ And I'm really liking the abstract prints now. I'd also like to work more with long exposures.”
“I'm moving into creative portraits of kids. I really want to learn more about the portraiture of kids and the editing,” she adds. “Today, you can make the image of someone more natural, but you can also make it pop. In the old days, if you were doing a portrait of someone, you had to take what you got.”
“There's so much to learn with photography and really, you probably can't do it all, so you have to pick and choose,” she says.
“But you're never too old to do it. There are so many photographers out there-to learn from and to be inspired by.”
“It's never too late.”
To learn more or to purchase Lamontagne's work, check out Valley View Art Photography on Facebook or call (306)-739-2550.