For this month, Winnipeg River Arts Council features photographer Rick McGregor. Originally from Markham, Ontario, he has lived in Winnipeg for 35 years. Almost six years ago, McGregor and his wife purchased a cottage on Pinawa Bay, and they go there as often as possible, twelve months of the year.
Inspired by the beauty of nature, McGregor identifies himself primarily as a photographer. When he and his wife bought their cottage, they put up a couple of bird feeders and feathered friends they had never seen before, in various colours, started visiting. Then foxes, bears, otters, beavers, and other animals began to wander around and into their yard.
He says, “We just became consumed by the beauty of all of these creatures. I bought a camera to start capturing this finery and it quickly became a fulltime hobby. Now I would call it more of an obsession!”
McGregor also spends a lot of time in a two person kayak, with his wife keeping the boat steady while he take shots of wildlife in, on, and near the water. This gives him a great perspective that a person typically can’t get from the land where tall reed and rocks often mar the view. He says, “Half of the fun of creating this photographic art is the chase!”
McGregor is self-taught, except for one eight week evening course on camera settings and other technical aspects, and admits that he has a natural eye for capturing artistic shots of birds and animals. He has put this knack to good use, submitting his photos and writing on birding to Lac du Bonnet Clipper, published as space permits. So far, he has only used social media to get his work known.
In February, he donated two framed photographs to Wildlife Haven Rehabilitation Centre’s Online Art Auction. Between the two photos, his donation earned almost $500 for the centre. Also, he’s won five or six prizes, including three first place awards for “Wildlife Photography” – two in magazines and one in an online contest. Before this year’s Boreal Shores Arts Tour was cancelled, he had hoped to get accepted as one of their artists.
Five of his photos were published in this year’s Lac du Bonnet Living Magazine, including three in the cover montage. As well, he donated five photos to the forthcoming Lac du Bonnet Cash Calendar. He’s working to finish his webpage and hopes to have that running by the fall so people can buy prints from my website. He would also like to exhibit his work in Pinawa Art Gallery, once COVID restrictions allow.
When McGregor comes upon an interesting bird or animal, he takes 100 shots or more, moving to different angles and lights or shadows, if the subject doesn’t fly or run away. He likes that it doesn’t cost too much to get into photography. Almost six years ago, he bought a camera for $550 and he uses it all the time.
He says, “Unlike in the film developing days, the “delete” key is free so get out there and take lots of shots, and just keep the good ones. My award-winning photographs that people have purchased were taken with my inexpensive camera so don’t think you need to spend thousands. The art is in the eye, not the wallet.”