written by Trish Weatherall
Photograph by Trish Weatherall
reprinted with permission from North Island Gazette
Local Photographer captures the spirit of the North Island
Chances are if you live on North Vancouver Island you have seen some of Port Alice photographer Darrell McIntosh’s work. His landscapes, seascapes, and wildlife images capturing the rugged spirit of the North Island are found in local businesses, like Café Guido, The Quarterdeck Inn lobby, and the Port Alice Scotiabank; at tourism information centres, grocery stores, and gas stations; on Port Alice and North Island tourism brochures and web sites; on Flickr, Instagram, fineartamerica.com, and all over Facebook pages like Vancouver Island North, I Love Vancouver Island, CHEK News, CBC Radio News, and GlobalBC News.
Although he has been taking pictures all his life, he has only been selling his work for the past four-and-a-half years, under the name North Island Images. Since then, he has sold more than 200 framed prints and hundreds of photo greeting cards and calendars. His customers are most often locals, who want to bring the familiar outdoors into their homes, or share it with loved ones around the world; although tourists buy the majority of his cards.
“I’m kind of surprised at the success,” said McIntosh. “It inspires me to do more, try harder, take better photos. I’m the harshest critic of my own work.”
McIntosh has been documenting his environment through pictures since he was a boy growing up on a farm in Grand Prairie, AB, in the 1960s.
“I was just capturing the scene of whatever was going on – just farm stuff,” he said.
As an adult, throughout a varied career working in the Alberta oil patch, Calgary real-estate, and the trucking industry, he was often in rugged, remote locations and McIntosh’s camera was always close by.
In 2001 he started working as a long-haul truck driver, and spent ten years travelling between Calgary and the Mexican border – about a 5000 km round trip every week.
“The scenery made the trucking so much more interesting,” he said. “There were endless new things to see and document. That’s where the camera really earned its keep. It was ten of the most interesting and rewarding years in my working career.”
He also took two winters off work to explore and camp in the remote desert area around Yuma, Arizona.
“Those two winters, with my camperized van, camera, quad, and trusty dog Tucker, were very special times for me,” said McIntosh. “That and the trucking exposed me to so much. All of which increased my interest and appreciation of the camera.”
In 2011 he made his first sale accidentally, after uploading a photo to Flickr, a public photo-sharing web site. He was ‘discovered’ by an advertising agency promoting the same truck that McIntosh had taken a head-on shot of, with snowy mountains in the background. They purchased the photo for a one-year contract.
That year he moved to Port Alice to work for Gypsy Wagon Courier, and for the opportunity to explore the rugged magnificence of North Vancouver Island. Capturing thousands of images a week, he says the key to finding so many fantastic scenes and capturing wildlife like eagles, heron, deer, bear, and seals, is that he takes his camera everywhere he goes.
He travels nearly every day between Port Alice and Port Hardy, and always keeps his photographers eye out for wildlife or a captivating scene. On his days off, McIntosh heads out on the backroads to remote locations like Side Bay and Raft Cove, or in his kayak on local lakes and a west coast.
“Get out and about with your camera,” he advises. “Things seem to show themselves to you.”
He recommends taking photos in the early morning or late afternoon lighting, to add life to pictures, and prefers cloudy days, to bright, sunny, blue-sky days.
“Some of my best shots have been on overcast days,” he said. “The colours are more intense,”
While he’s happy with his success so far, it remains mainly a hobby for him, and the opportunity to explore more of Vancouver Island with his best friend, 10-year-old Schnauzer Tucker.
“I don’t want it to be too much of a job, where the fun isn’t there anymore,” he said. “There is a fine line to keeping a balance. But I am in the spot I should be. I absolutely love the incredible amount of wilderness, remote beaches, mountains lakes and rivers. It is a true paradise for anyone who loves a slower pace, the great outdoors with all its wildlife and endless places to point ones camera.”