Happy to announcethe launch of my youtube channel called Polar Moments on December 10th. These are 1 minute vignettes documenting my experiences while photographing in Antarctica. All video has been shot on various Canon cameras including the 1DX, the Mark II, and the G16 over the past 3 years.
As I start the coming Antarctic season in 2015/16 I will be shooting 360 video using a kodak pixpro and will be continuing with more DSLR video and using Sennhesier audio equipment as well. These will be posted weekly upon my return.
You can subscribe at: http://goo.gl/jChyy0
New videos launch every Thursday.
The Robert McLaughlin Gallery Annual Juried Exhibition has chosen my print, Tabular Iceberg" to be part of their exhibit. The photo was taken in the Drake Passage in 2012 on our way south to Antarctica. On November 14th, awards will be handed out for the best photographs an the gala opening.
This coming year will be busy travelling from pole to pole with the first trip of the season in May. Beginning in Scotland we will be sailing on board the M/S Expedition owned by G Adventures through the Norwegian Fjords and then onward to Svalbard. I will be staying on for the next trip as we head to the far north and ail be photography instructor while on board.
Returning in September, I am excited to be sailing to Greenland and Iceland for the first time.
The year will close with my annual return to Antarctica in December.
Very happy to be giving a local talk on Antarctica. Promises to be a fun and educational evening.
Full datetime event:
Thursday, February 26, 2015 From 18:00 to 20:00
G Adventures Base Camp
19 Charlotte St, Toronto, ON M5V 2H5, Canada
Canada's own G Adventures is excited to host photographer Paul Teolis for their first-ever #TravelMassive event for an evening of networking and sharing with Toronto’s travel blogging community—not only because they admire what you do but because you inspire them to be better at what they do every day.
Award-winning photographer Paul A. Teolis will offer a fun, educational, and photo-filled talk about his work as G Adventures' Expedition Photographer in Antarctica on board the Expedition.
- Get photography tips from a G Adventures pro photographer
- Improve your composition
- Learn narrative principals in your own photography wherever you travel
- Discover what it's like to explore one of the coolest places in the world
G Adventures content and social team will also be on hand after the talk to answer any questions about adventure travel, the Wanderers-in-Residence program, Looptail blog, and how they work with travel bloggers. Follow G Adventures on TravelMassive: travelmassive.com/gadventures
Please share this event on social media. Tweet our sponsors with hashtag #TravelMassive!
A grey, windy, snowy day on Cecilia Island where giant petrels nest, provided exceptional opportunities to shoot this magnificent, prehistoric-looking bird in all stages of flight.
At only twenty pages in length and 6x9 inches in size, this is a great start to getting some of my favourite prints into one place. Only 150 copies will be printed and each copy will be signed and editioned. The majority of these books will only be available on the M/S Expedition at the start of the 2014 Antarctic season in October when I am aboard. A digital download version will be available shortly as well for purchase.
The pages are still being finalized as we speak. I go to print in a couple more weeks.
The time has finally come to self-publish a small photography book, and the subject of course will be Antarctica, since I have more than enough quality work to put out an affordable teaser publication.
As I am still editing images to be included, I am using Lightroom's book function to simply layout my visual flow of images and possible text position. Although I am not using Lightroom to print the book through one of their online partners, it is a very helpful tool to simply see how one page will flow into the next. It is easily to add, replace, and move images around quickly and easily.
This will not be a text heavy publication but rely more on the visual content. Not yet titled (although something is in the running) I expect to go to print close to the end of the summer as I am on a deadline for my next Antarctica sailing in October.
This will be available as a digital download eventually through this website, and the limited print run will be editioned and signed. Given the quality of digital printing and professional binding available nowadays it will be sold at a price point to make everyone happy!
Well, Happy Belated Birthday to me! 50 - a milestone.
Here’s another one.
This year, 2014, marks my 27th year of mostly gainful employment in the animation profession. It has been fun, frustrating, and difficult at times, and one cannot deny — exciting!
Animation has taken me from my home in Toronto to Los Angeles for several years working in Hollywood, overseas to India for a short stint, and because of the nature of the business, has given me the luxury of being able to work on international commercials and feature films from the confines of my desk at home. No passport required.
Looking back on your own career you might discover a defining moment, something of consequence. Something that was responsible for altering the course of your life-path. What form this “event” took might not be readily obvious at the time.
It could have manifested itself through advice, a chance connection in passing, a divorce, or a job offer. Most of us will look for a positive moment, but in hindsight, it is the negative occurrences that are the real game changers. And that is the story here.
Reflecting on my own past, the job that got away is the one that came to define who I have become creatively today. Slowly revealing itself over the last decade, I have begun connecting the “dots” in my life. I refer back to Steve Jobs’ Stanford commencement speech in 2005 for context.
“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”
For every job I was awarded there are those I turned down. And there were many. Education positions in Costa Rica and India at their national universities. A medical animation position at a hospital in Saudi Arabia, and further education at NYIT back in the late '80's after graduating from Sheridan. It makes me wonder how different things could have been if I said yes to any of those offers.
For my own reasons I turned them all down, even when facing the prospect of unemployment. I chose instead to follow my gut, never regretting the decision.
It's one thing to be employed and looking actively to better your future. As artists we strive to get better, grow, work on better projects, push our skills, and hone our craft. But it’s another thing altogether when you are unemployed and the immediacy of needing to find work takes precedence over anything else, especially when you have bills to pay. The longer the wait the more you feel like your skills are deteriorating, and the harder it becomes to explain to people why are you not employed.
Seeing that “gap” on the resume and constantly reassuring yourself it will somehow all work out, the longer unemployment drags on, the more defeated you become.
Because of circumstances, the advent of the new millennium, year Y2K, was my year off, and while it was somewhat planned (money not really an issue) it was going to be a much tougher go than I imagined.
My contract at Dreamworks Animation was finished at the end of 1999. Two films in the can, one great experience, one not so much. When the studio at the time chose to “restructure” many of the employees hired when the doors first opened in 1995 would be gone, at least in the department I was apart of.
I was thankful to have been there at the beginning. It remains to this very day one of the most enriching times in my animation career. But at that point, as I had grown tired of the studio, it simply was not a fun place to work. DreamWorks animation to me, had lost its way, or as I have often said, "forgot their roots", as short as they were at that time.
Sitting in a room waiting for my fate, one door meant onto another film, the other door, as I found out, sent you on your way.
“There’s no place for you here.” And like that, my dream of working for a major Hollywood studio was over, and the long road ahead into the unknown was about to begin.
From my own life experience, I have always managed to turn a negative into a positive.
All my years freelancing in Toronto taught me many things. It made me realize nothing was going to last forever, and I saw how the “Hollywood” money during the 90’s was changing people. Who needed three cars, a ridiculous oversized rental house and frivolous spending sprees? I bettered my skills, worked with some photographers, went to UCLA and the American Film Institute for journalism and screenwriting and did my first group photography exhibition in Venice Beach, The Black and White 100. (where my entry placed)
Essentially I was investing in myself.
The year 2000 closed and as 2001 descended, things got difficult. Work was piecemeal at best, and very sparse, the animation industry was changing. Computer generated (CG) films were the new flavour and dynamics were put in motion.
The year began, however, on a positive note, with a phone call from a colleague requesting that I submit a portfolio to Pixar. Not just any portfolio either, but a body of photographic work geared towards storytelling and shot design.
It was an interesting time for Pixar. Fresh off the success of Monster's Inc., CG animated films were still few, but story was the driving factor to their success. Pixar movies, like Disney in the early 90’s were events when they arrived at the theater. Dreamworks was still reeling from the success of Shrek and the animation business was again growing as the focus was definitely heading towards pixel over pencil.
I don't know what it’s like now at Pixar. Very different, I expect, now that Disney owns them. Interviewing at that time was no easy task. It seemed like countless interviews and phone calls.
After my initial portfolio submission, I understand ten were chosen to advance to the next round. Phone interviews soon followed (several actually). If you impressed in the phone interviews, it led to more follow-ups, very much like a casting call. Eventually, it came down to the "meet and greet" or what I refer to as the “nutbar test.” Let’s make sure we aren’t hiring some psychotic! A quick flight to Oakland on my birthday (March 23), a cab to Emeryville and a half-day being interviewed by HR and some artists made for an exhausting and inspiring day at Pixar Headquarters.
I still to this day cannot forget one of the interview questions, which interestingly is the subject of many an article I have read online of late documenting the more unusual questions being asked.
One artist asked me, “If you could have an unlimited amount of money to make a movie based on any artist’s painting, who would it be.”
Without batting an eye, I said “William Blake.”
Their response. “Who?’
So much for thinking outside the box.
Unknown to most people at the time, besides interviewing with Pixar I had applied to a hospital in Saudi Arabia, in Riyadh, to do medical animation and it was an equally long process. One-week things moved to another stage with Pixar, another week things moved along with the recruiter for the hospital overseas, and all the while, my bank account was draining dry.
It was now May 2001. The phone rang.
An offer finally came from Pixar. A little back and forth with salary and benefits and soon after a deal memo arrived. One page. Far from the 40+ pages I had while at DreamWorks. With a signature on the dotted line, I was now a Pixar employee gearing up to work on a film called Finding Nemo and a start date in September.
I celebrated. Who wouldn't? I was ecstatic, proud; this was another kick at the can working for a benchmark studio in our industry. A leader. On top of the world!
So I did what most people would do, I went to Africa for a month. And just like that I was gone.
I was thankful. Someone put my foot in the door, and the rest was up to me. To this very day I do this for others, people sometimes need a break and I always remember what others have done for me.
It was the beginning of August 2001, back only four days from Africa, after a spectacular month of photography, I needed to begin plans to find a place and move north to San Francisco.
I rang Pixar to make arrangements but there was lots of confusion on the phone and I was transferred to someone else.
It has been more than a decade since that early morning call. I don't remember the exact words of the person I spoke with, but it was something to the effect of, "we're sorry but there's been a change in the studio’s pipeline and your position has been eliminated, but thank you."
It was like someone had died. I hung up.
I understood this was simply part of the business. But now what?
We all set goals for ourselves, sometimes-lofty ones. In animation, Disney, DreamWorks, Pixar, ILM were the benchmarks, the brass ring for most at the time. They still are for many unsuspecting students who think this is the only way you will be accepted in your career. To achieve the status of working for the "big studios" can give you the sense of accomplishment, success. They open doors, the circle widens, but there is so much more out there if you let it come to you.
The position at the hospital in Saudi Arabia was awarded to me shortly after the Pixar job was gone, but when 9/11 hit, well the world changed forever, and being in the hot bed of the Middle East was not a place I wished to call home, even if it would be only temporary.
I regretfully said no to the job offer in Riyadh.
So there I was again. No job, no opportunities. It was a scary time.
Just prior to the Pixar job offer, I had the pleasure of meeting Hollywood screenwriter Blake Snyder of Roger Ramjet fame, among other successes. I had read his live-action version of Roger Ramjet that was being pitched and he wanted a special effects breakdown. I was happy to do it. (The script by the way was fantastic.)
Now with no job prospects, I rang Blake up, broke to him the unfortunate news about Pixar and would then spend what would be my remaining six months in Los Angeles working with him. It was like taking a story development, pitching and writing boot camp rolled into one and from a very talented screenwriter. We remained close friends for many years afterwards, and I watched as Blake revived his own writing career, now as author of the incredibly successful Save The Cat series of books.
Multiple projects with Blake were eventually put on hold, and with nothing else on the horizon, the clarity to leave happened early one morning in June of 2002. I packed up and left Los Angeles for good and have never returned.
When news came of Blake's sudden death in the summer of 2009, it left a huge void among all of us who he shared so much of his writing and creative talent. He was 51. He never gave up pursuing what he loved, reminding me years earlier the power of a 'hungry" artist.
I've worked now for DreamWorks, animated on films from Disney's Paris studio, and can even add Pixar to my resume without ever producing one pixel at the studio, because this experience proved to me that I had the stuff to work there.
Over the past dozen years while I have reinvented myself within animation and from a photography standpoint, nothing would have happened if Pixar had panned out.
As I can look back and connect all of my dots, I have had more than twenty-five solo and juried photography exhibitions since returning to Toronto in 2002. Gallery representation, my first major photography award in 2006, and four others within animation as part of a successful creative team. Now I am adding workshops, lecturing and my first awarded international artist residency in the Arctic in 2013 can be added to these accomplishments. Gear sponsorship for all my recent expeditions provided by Canon Canada. My first self-published book going to print this coming fall. It's been an incredible time.
In 2012 I launched the photographer-in-residency program on board a wonderful ship, the M/S Expedition, owned by a fantastic Canadian company, G Adventures that I discovered in 1993 and have stayed connected to ever since. I return to Antarctica this fall again for my third season, and there is so much more still ahead.
People ask me if I want to return to Hollywood. The answer is easy. No. Because as I say to people, “This is my time!”
So here I am at fifty. I just set foot in my fiftieth country this past April, and the irony is it was again in Africa, Sierra Leone of all places. The context was enjoying the role of working as an expedition photographer as I journeyed up the west coast of the continent. By mid May, I sit near sixty countries visited, but who's counting.
So what have I learned from all this?
Don't let that lost moment define you. Define that moment! Learn from it, don’t dwell, just move on. And most importantly don’t let others define you.
Find your own voice and define yourself!
I found myself subconsciously converting many of the portrait images throughout my recent trip in West Africa from colour to black and white in my mind while shooting. Regions visited were so blindingly colourful as well, and yet, here I was removing the rich hues in favour of a monochromic image.
Is this how we see the Africa and its people? Is this a reflex from seeing so many documentary style images or war coverage? Is this a reaction to assumed poverty, even when their isn't any?
There is a richness in the imagery that I cannot deny. The eyes of these children pierce your soul. They speak. They ask questions. I was left humbled.
It was about 6:30 AM in the morning not far off the coast of Pointe Noire, The Congo, when a pod of Pan-African Dolphins decided to come along for the ride. Great side. Shot with the Canon G16, a little powerhouse point and shoot camera.
Local Artisan. In a country just out of civil war, tourism is almost non existent. But the local markets are full of incredible art, fabrics and faces of these resilient people.
It's been quiet here on this blog. I have been travelling 10 weeks over the past 5 months, having just returned from West Africa, and so their is much to catch up on before I am once again return to begin my 3rd Antarctic season as Expedition Photographer in October.
Managed to get a few images up before I head off to Africa for a while. It's been extremely busy the past 8 weeks, with multiple projects on the go, including early discussions for a documentary, planning upcoming printing for merchandise and getting all my new lectures ready…Lots to come in May with new galleries from the last few months of photo work.
Just have a gander here!!
The photos haven't cooled yet from Antarctica and already I am preparating to board the M/S Expedition again for a journey north along the West Coast of Africa from Cape Town to Marrakesh in April.
It's been 13 years since I was last in Africa, and this time to be working will have extra meaning. New photography lectures are being created, new countries to visit this time and opportunities to photograph more cultural subjects and people once more. It's been a while since I have been hugging the polar regions since 2010.
It will be a milestone for me too as I will hit my 50 country on this voyage and be close to 60 by the time I return home. Not bad for someone who hasn't really set foot in Europe. (yet)
The photography in residence program I helped launch for G Adventures in 2012 has been a fantastic success. Other photographers joining the trips, Sue Forbes, Lauren Farmer and Chasi Annexy have brought their own skills and talents to make each trip unique, and passengers have definitely been getting a lot of bang for their buck. Goes to show the importance of "valued added," something missing a lot of these days with most companies. It's one of the reasons why I have been a huge "fan" (for lack of a better word) at the philosophies and culture created at G Adventures, by its CEO, Founder, and good friend Bruce Poon-Tip.
Graham Peddie from Canon Canada has been instrumental in helping me obtain camera gear from their loan program for what will now be my third voyage using their cameras, giving me the opportunity to test out photographic equipment that normally I wouldn't be in the position to use. I will be giving my overall views of using the Canon 1DX body, the supreme pro camera and some observations using the other end of the spectrum, their G16 point and shoot, which was a delight to photograph with.
Once Africa is completed I look forward to returning to Antarctica, the Falklands and South Georgia Island again for the first sailing in October 2014 and my 20th crossing of the Drake Passage.
Keeping moving forward, dreams do come true. They just take time.
For the lucky passengers on board the M/S Expedition for the West Africa trip, my latest round of postcards will hit the ship's shelves when we depart April 7th. Hopefully this small run will also sell out. Plenty more to come
Still digesting six weeks working in Antarctica as the Photographer is Residence for G Adventures. Having complete my 8th crossing to the white continent, it never ceases to amaze me how breathtaking this region of the world continues to be after multiple visits.
Will follow-up with more galleries as I begin getting through almost 12 thousands photographers.
Happy to have finished a small line of postcards; printed and ready for sale on board the M/S Expedition while I am in Antarctica working as their Expedition Photographer. The great thing, even in this day and age of email and social media, I am sure everyone wants to receive a postcard from Antarctica! The Stamp alone is classic.
A portion of all sales will go to Planeterra to help support projects in the polar regions that better the environment.
Antarctica is once again on the horizon, a mid December departure this time, as always the preparation is part of the fun.
New lectures to give, new photo opportunities to look forward to, and the somewhat bizarre realization I need a tuxedo shirt, since my journey will mean a christmas and new year celebration on the white continent, why not look good for it. I mean, why not…how many times does this opportunity happen?
Except for me this is my fourth journey down and I will spend six weeks this time, my longest stint, doing three crossings with my first landings in the Falklands and South Georgia Island.
It never grows stale.