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Seventeen miles north of Consort, Alberta in Canada, on the Alberta Trail of the Buffalo, you will find the Neutral Hills, where photographer Sean McCormick ably practices his craft of photography. This unusual place name finds its origin in native legend which says the hills were suddenly created by the Great Spirit to keep two warring tribes, Blackfoot and Cree, apart. Inspired by their abrupt appearance, the natives pledged neutrality in the hills that were thereafter peacefully shared for hunting.
Sean got his first camera at the age of five, a gift from his grandmother who coached him when taking pictures. He has been taking photographs ever since, and finds his subjects mainly in Central and Southern Alberta, and in and around Banff and Jasper in the Rockies. "The best area to photograph, really, is the one you’re standing in right now," says Sean. "There’s always something of interest if a person looks close enough, or looks at things from a different perspective."
Sean's photo-philosophy is that people should follow their intrigue - that which arouses their interest or curiosity. "This may mean favoring particular equipment (e.g. pinhole cameras and film), a particular region or a particular subject," he says. "Most photographers get excited about creating images of ocean sunsets, waves crashing along beaches, and interesting and abstract bits of driftwood," says Sean. "I'm not most photographers. The prairies are my ocean, fence lines are my beaches, and rusting hulks of machinery abandoned in waist-high grass are my driftwood. It's what I love."
Sean says you will find tiny towns in the Neutral Hills that have withered away after their grain elevator shut down and the railroad lines were removed. You will also come across forsaken pioneer homesteads, oil pump jacks, stunted trees, windswept grass, cow pastures, rustic hotels, derelict vehicles and of course, cows. "We've got plenty of the latter," says Sean.
True to his philosophy, Sean's images demonstrate that you can make excellent photographs close to home, from scenes that many others might overlook or pass by as ordinary or uninteresting. Sean seems to see subjects where another photographer might not.
Sean is a published photographer. He co-authored Digital Portrait Photography and Lighting with Catherine Jamieson, an excellent book that is available for sale on Amazon.com.
SEAN'S WEBSITE - A visual journey through east central Alberta.
View more of Sean's captivating pictures on his Neutral Hills Stills website.
YOU TUBE - And here's a bonus, have a look at Sean's dramatic Neutral Hills slide show on You Tube.
Sean McCormick's mud splattered self portrait.