With the art of photography being somewhat lost, due in part to heavy editing and filters, a Semiahmoo Peninsula man is letting his photos speak for themselves.
To regular readers of the Peace Arch News, the name Geoffrey Yue might be familiar. The Ocean Park hobby photographer has made it routine to email photos to the editor’s desk if he snaps a keeper. He’s one of several exceptional photographers on the Peninsula who share their photos with PAN readers.
Last week, PAN contacted Yue to chat about the art form, get some photography tips and learn about his connection to his camera.
Yue first started messing around with cameras and darkrooms in high school. He went to university in the 1980s with the dream of working for TV news, but ultimately worked a 27-year career in the advertising industry.
As a result of focusing on his career, Yue said he sold his darkroom equipment and repurposed the space into his home office.
“I was chasing dollars and I forgot about photography,” said Yue, who’s now 60 years old.
It wasn’t until about four years ago when one of Yue’s family members asked if he could photograph their wedding, that he got back into it. Yue said he initially declined the offer, telling his cousin that he didn’t even own a digital camera.
His cousin insisted and allowed Yue to borrow his camera.
“I was one of those people that were a denier of digital photography. I thought, no way,” Yue said.
But the inconvenience of having to develop film eventually took its toll. After Yue retired, he turned his advertising home office into a digital photograph editing studio.
“I just love it. I don’t get too crazy with the gear, I just have two pretty simple Fuji cameras and lenses,” he said.
Yue’s photographs stay true to the scene he’s documenting. He tends to shy away from heavy post-processing, which is a common practice in the era of smartphone photography.
“I totally believe in that. The software programs are very clever and of course the camera gear is really crazy… I just figure why would you spend 30 seconds or a minute banging out a whole bunch of frames and then spend 20 minutes on the computer. I figure if you don’t take the photograph properly, you’re probably not going to want to save it or try to save it in editing.”
I’m a photographer first, I’m not a computer graphic person. They are talented, the people that can do all of the fantastic stuff, it’s a commercial endeavour.”
One photo idea Yue had, he said, took eight months to come to fruition. He said he wanted to photograph Indigenous art near the South Surrey Athletic Park roundabout.
“But I wanted to take a picture when the flowers were blooming. So I researched what kind of flowers they were – lavender – they blossomed in July,” he said.
Another challenge photographers have with standing out is not only filters, but the simple fact that billions of people around the world possess a quality camera in their smartphone.
“It kind of bugged me because what they’ve done is they’ve made too many people quote photographers, image takers… There’s too many people taking average pictures,” Yue said.
To help his pictures stand out, Yue said he avoids using lenses in the 28 millimetre or 50 mm focal length range, because that’s the lens of most cellphone cameras.
“There’s no point in me having those lenses even though that’s probably what I would use most,” he said. “It’s not that I’m cheating, it’s just that I’m hedging. I have to have something that looks a little bit different.”
Semiahmoo Peninsula beaches and the Historic Stewart Farm are among Yue’s favourite spots to photograph, but what he really enjoys is documenting everyday life.
He found that passion after talking to a news editor in the 1970s who told him that newspapers want photographs with people in them.
“I’ve kind of always had that in my head,” he said. “Like the snowbirds picture. I try to make it so that it’s White Rock-related, or with people, or what’s the connection?”
“I think pictures have to tell a story.”
Yue’s photographs can be found at https://www.geoffreyyue.com/