Through her fine art photography, Desirée Patterson hopes to encourage dialogue on environmental sustainability and preservation. In this photo, the model has been shot in-studio in Vancouver, and is blended with an image of a hydro dam near Whistler.

Inspiring preservation through photography

It wasn’t until Desirée Patterson had her camera stolen in Paris that she realized she wanted to be a photographer

It wasn’t until Desirée Patterson had her camera stolen in Paris that she realized she wanted to be a photographer.

“That was the first time in my life that I had been without one,” the Langley-born artist recalled.

“I realized how much it meant to me to capture the things that I saw and the things that I wanted to express. It was always just a hobby, I didn’t realize how important it was to me until then.”

Paris was one of hundreds of stops on Patterson’s seven-year trek to 32 different countries. After graduating from Langley Secondary School, she travelled around the world to find her calling, just to realize it had been “under my nose” (and shutter finger) the entire time.

While the French thief awakened Patterson’s love for taking photos, a second event gave her a reason to share them with the world.

Her friend’s uncle was a travelling stock photographer, and at one of his fundraisers for a village in Africa, Patterson realized, “I want his job.”

“He was showing his pictures of the 40 somewhat countries he has travelled to,” she recalled.

“I just realized how much making images meant to me. I went there and I sat in a little chair and I said, ‘this is what I want to do, I’m going to do this.’”

Patterson moved to Whistler and opened her own photography business, with a focus on landscapes and commercial work.

“My dream was to hang out of helicopters and photograph snowboarders,” she said.

“The fine art was always just the hobby that I did for myself.”

But a car accident changed all of that.

Suffering permanent damage to her shoulder, Patterson was no longer able to take her gear back-country.

Her focus shifted to art.

“My artistry has evolved so much in that time,” Patterson reflected.

“When I first started out, I was very much influenced by my strong exposure to travel, culture and geographic diversity.

“And then living in a place that’s as scenic as Whistler put an emphasis on sustainability. Coming back to a city like that opened my eyes to a lot of the environmental issues that we face.”

Today, the 33-year-old’s talent for photography has transformed into a remarkable business with an activist voice.

“Now I create more contemporary work specifically to encourage discussion and dialogue regarding sustainability and preservation,” she said.

In her latest work, Patterson has shot local models in-studio and morphed their images with landscapes of New York City, clear-cut forests and oil refineries to create juxtapositions that will start a larger conversation.

“I really strive to do things that are original that I haven’t done before — that really means a lot to me,” she said.

“I don’t like to copy things, I like to have my own voice. What I’m trying to create is extremely complex and it’s really hard to find all of the elements that will go into it.”

A large part of Patterson’s passion comes from her travels, where she’s witnessed some of the world’s most affluent, and the world’s most impoverished.

“I’ve been to a lot of third world countries and those impacted me in different ways,” she said.

“Cambodia inspired me in different ways than a place like Italy.

“The third world countries have shown me that there’s a lot of environmental issues going on over there because there isn’t even enough resources to take care of their people properly, so the environment really gets put on the back burner.

“That definitely opened my eyes to appreciating what we have in B.C. and really looking to protect it and to inspire ways of preservation.”

Completely self-taught in photography, Patterson is now learning metal sculptures at Emily Carr University to add a new level of dimension to her work.

“I am very much inspired by the conceptual background that contemporary art brings,” she said.

“I think it engages audiences in a different way.”

Although her 3D work is still in progress, conservationists and art enthusiasts alike have two opportunities to view Patterson’s photography in person this month.

She will be at Circle Craft Christmas Market at the Vancouver Convention Centre Nov. 11 until Nov. 15.

Patterson is also one of 400 artists featured at this year’s East Side Culture Crawl in Vancouver from Nov. 19-22.

Working out of the Vancouver Community Laboratory at 1907 Triumph St., she will be featuring a number of her conceptual pieces inside LED light boxes — another new element of her art.

“I never would have thought in my wildest dreams that I would make a career of it,” she admitted.

“At the end of the day it’s pretty amazing to say you’ve created a career out of your own creativity.”

For tickets and more information on Circle Craft market, visit www.circlecraftmarket.net.

Route maps and information on the 19th annual East Side Culture Crawl is available at www.culturecrawl.ca.

And to see more of Patterson’s photography, visit her website www.desireepatterson.com.

Images submitted by Desirée Patterson. Through her fine art photography, Patterson hopes to encourage dialogue on environmental sustainability and preservation. Top photo: this model has been shot in-studio in Vancouver, and is blended with an image of an oil refinery across the border in Washington. Bottom photo: This model has also been shot in-studio in Vancouver, and is morphed into a landscape of Manhattan Beach in California.

Just Posted

LETTER: Langley man questions Liberal’s green policy after fracking funding

The money could be better spend on green technology, he writes

Suspects sought in Langley crimes

Langley RCMP have released surveillance photos of a number of suspects

UPDATE: ‘Mortifying smell’ alerts local employees to fire inside the Alder Inn

The inn was evacuated before fire crews extinguished flames in an upstairs room

Prospera and Westminster credit unions approved for proposed merger

Abbotsford- and Surrey-based companies now take matter to membership vote

Climate Strike protesters gather in Langley

A small group of mostly TWU students gathered at the Township hall

PHOTOS: Young protesters in B.C. and beyond demand climate change action

Many demonstaers were kids and teens who skipped school to take part

Oak Bay father’s testimony at murder trial like plot of ‘bad low-budget movie:’ Crown

Crown alleged Andrew Berry’s ‘entire story of Christmas Day is a lie’

B.C. truck drivers to face higher fines for not using winter tire chains

As of Oct. 1, not using chains on the highway when required could net you a $598 ticket

Singh campaigns in Toronto, May in Winnipeg, as Liberal and Tory leaders pause

All parties expected to be back on the campaign trail Sunday

Possible Canadian cases of vaping illnesses being investigated: health officer

‘I think that will be really important to address the overall trend of youth vaping’

Area 51 events mostly peaceful; thousands in Nevada desert

Three more people were arrested Friday on the remote once-secret military base

B.C. First Nation signs agreement to return its land on Vancouver Island

The land on the east coast of Vancouver Island will be returned to the We Wai Kai Nation

Former B.C. lifeguard gets house arrest for possession of child porn

Cees Vanderniet of Grand Forks will serve six months of house arrest, then two years’ probation

Student arrested at South Delta Secondary for alleged assault

The alleged assault occurred between two SDSS students on Wednesday, Sept. 18

Most Read