Photographer of the Month – Daryl Benson
When I first got started in photography back in 1986, I recall two major influences on my development as a photographer. The first was a book called Photography of Natural Things by Freeman Patterson which was essentially the kick start to my interest in photography. At the time I was doing my master’s thesis in zoology (on the behavioural ecology of Columbian ground squirrels) and I needed to learn how to make photos so that I could give slide shows to get grants to fund my research. Freeman’s book was not only my ‘how to’ guide to learn photography, but it also ended up being so much more. I saw that photography could be used for more than simple documentation; photography could be used for personal expression – very cool!
I was hooked on photography after reading Freeman’s book, so I decided to join a camera club to learn more. In September of 1986, I joined Images Alberta Camera Club in Edmonton, Alberta. And this is where the second major influence on my photography entered my life. At the first meeting I saw a slide show by Daryl Benson. I was blown away! Not only did Daryl show amazing images but his work was so unique, expressive and refreshing – wow! I could barely sleep that night! Daryl’s images filled my head and my dreams. And so Daryl became my mentor, whether he liked it or not!
At the time Daryl was just freshly accepted into the stock agency, Masterfile, and was well on his way to becoming a full time photographer. For the next few years, Daryl and I went on numerous trips together and I learned from watching Daryl at work. At first I tried to emulate Daryl: I tried to make images that were like Daryl’s. Of course I failed miserably. No one can be Daryl except Daryl himself. It was a hard lesson to learn. After some time I finally learned that each photographer must find his or her own voice and be true to that voice by shooting for him or herself and not to shoot to please others or to emulate others.
I was recently reminded of Daryl’s amazing talent as a visual artist as I watched his recent presentations at FotoExpo in Moncton, New Brunswick. Daryl is and has always been the consummate artist who is driven by ‘voices in his head ‘and ‘tugs at his lapels’ that force him to create his unique imagery that is unlike anything that anyone else creates. In my opinion, Daryl is Canada’s most creative photographic visual artist. His ‘works’ always inspires, amazes and humbles me. For those who have not seen Daryl’s website, his books or attended his inspirational presentations, I highly recommend all of them, anytime. Period. Thanks, Daryl for all you have done to help grow the photographic community in Canada and beyond. I would also like to thank you on a personal level: I am indebted to you for your patience, sharing and mentorship. To learn more about Daryl see this interview.