In 2017, Richard Erlendson turned down all photography assignments in the spring and summer to bring to life the biggest photo project of his 40 year career – photographing Canada from coast to coast. It had been on his bucket list for years, and Canada's 150th Anniversary of Confederation was the perfect year to complete the project.
In late April, he left Calgary for Haida Gwaii, British Columbia, where the trip was launched, and four months later he returned – having travelled to Newfoundland and back. He logged 28,000 kilometres in his camper-van which became his home and office, and he captured 90,000 images. The work of the project had only begun! Post-production of the images required another four months. And curating the images with the addition of a few from his files resulted in the coffee table book Oh, Canada!
The project brought to life a long-lost practice of photojournalists known as enterprising. Decades ago, news photographers were given an hour or two on most shifts to simply drive through their city or rural surrounding areas looking for images to capture the day: kids playing, people working, unusual weather – whatever. It was enterprising, and it captured moments from the day – and created many award-winning photos.
So, Richard spent five months 'enterprising' his way across Canada. He recorded Canadians as they lived their lives in their communities and he recorded the landscapes that make Canada the beautiful country it is.
Oh, Canada! Is a celebration of Canada and Canadians. Of the trip, he says, “I loved exploring Canada, photographically. I was awed by the landscape every single day. But I was awed too by the kindness of people I met in every community. We certainly live in a terrific country.”
Richard Erlendson is a Calgary-based photojournalist and longtime faculty member in the School of Communication Studies at Mount Royal University. He holds both a masters and doctorate from the University of Alberta. He studied photojournalism in the 1970s, and began his photography
career as the chief photographer at the Daily Herald-Tribune in Grande Prairie, Alberta – a position he held through the 1980s. Since then he has been an active, independent photojournalist
Richard's photographic philosophy is captured by two words: mystery and abundance. “When I am photographing the world, I understand that I am revealing life's unfolding mystery. I am interpreting the world by the images I create. There is such incredible abundance when looking at the world through a camera: colour, texture, pattern, shape, movement, light, action, and emotion. There is so much beauty to record.”
Richard is an award-winning photographer and writer, and in 2014 received the Distinguished Faculty Award at MRU. In 2005, Alberta's centennial year, Richard's life's work was publicly acknowledged when he was awarded the Centennial Medal by the Province of Alberta – granted to Alberta's significant citizens in recognition of the province's 100th anniversary as a province. The award recognized his exemplary and award-winning work as a career professor and photographer.
Richard shoots everything from documentary photography to weddings and fine art – and everything in between.
This is his 10th book.