Alan Burns Photography
Alan Burns ~ Photographer/Musician
“There was a time when I thought I had to have a single career. I spent several years as a musician, in bands traveling around western Canada. And yet in my spare time I would happily spend weeks photographing everything that caught my eye. Music and photography pulled me in different directions, until one day I realized that I could do both. Photography and music are almost the same thing…notes of music on a page, tones of colours in an image. Time spent in the darkroom was as important as time practicing at my drum kit. As Ansel Adams once said, "The performance of a piece of music, like the printing of a negative, may be of great variety and yet retain the essential concept."
After a long tour on the road as a drummer, Alan ended up in Prince Rupert, BC, playing a lengthy gig. One of the bands playing on the same bill needed a promo shot, and that was the start of a new career. Bands traveling to Prince Rupert would make sure that Alan did their promotional photography. Moving to Vancouver in 1984, he branched out into advertising and catalogue photography, portraiture, travel photography, as well as a monthly column in Gardens West magazine in Vancouver ('Fresh from the Garden').
In 1993 Alan and his young family moved to Roberts Creek, B.C., on the Sunshine Coast. "I had grown up on the prairies in Saskatchewan. When I moved to B.C. I was never really content, never felt settled, until I was living by the ocean. One day it hit me that the ocean was like the prairie grasses, constantly moving and shifting. Like music, like photography."
With his wife Sally Quinn, Alan began to produce photo presentations of garden tours of England. His nature photographs appeared in the award-winning Inner Reflections annual calendar. And then the shift came. "Digital photography enables a photographer to work anywhere, not always having to return to the darkroom. I was able to work on site, developing and printing my photographs in a completely new dimension."
Alan has been documenting the work of several architects, who specialize in custom-designed homes, commercial and health architecture. “Each custom home I photograph is a collaboration of creative energy from the owner, the architect and each artisan who adds their stroke to the canvas. I am there to capture the final result of a very thoughtful design process.” The architectural photographs that Alan produces for his clients become a growing retrospective of their work.
He continues to work as a musician (Big Band, blues, jazz, the occasional C&W gig). His association with a proliferation of musicians brings him full circle to photographing musicians for their disk covers and websites. Artisans and luthiers appreciate his sense of lighting and the way he seems to capture the music of their instruments in his images. He has photographed lifeworks of a variety of fine artists, creating DVD catalogues of their art. He was the photographer for the Paintings Below Zero projects (Italy/Cultural Olympiad 2006 Torino, Canada/Toronto 2007, Canada/Niagara 2007, and Canada/Vancouver Olympics 2010). “I love the variety of my work. You never know who’s going to call next with a great project.”