Mike Winsor: Art in the time of physical distancing

July 2020

What book(s) and author(s) are you reading right now and why? 

The book that I am reading right now is my own book that was just released, Lost In Newfoundland. It is a fine art photography book that I have dreamed of producing for years. Last year I teamed up with Breakwater publishing and the book is really a piece of artwork in itself. I have traveled the province for over 10 years from Quidi Vidi to the Torngat mountains and have witnessed some incredible beauty and magical moments. From looking upon the Saglek Fjord to seeing a multi-ton humpback whale breach at sunset. From hearing the loud thunder of a collapsing iceberg to the silence of tranquil morning in a small fishing village. Newfoundland and Labrador have so much to offer the rest of the world and now I have it captured in a little fine art photography book to share.

Outside of my book, I am reading anything related to wildlife, nature, exploring, and photography. I am a Canadian Geographic subscriber and love any other books or magazines that will transport me into nature and provide me with more ideas for exploring our world.

Is there a particular genre of films you find yourself watching?  Or do you have any recommendations of series or movies on a streaming site? 

I don’t watch much TV unless [I] really need to shut down or zone out for a bit. When I do, it is usually a sci-fi, action, or comedy, adventure movies such as Marvel movies, Star Wars, adventure. Something that provides a sense of wonder or imagination.

What music or artist are you listening to right now and why? 

I like all music and it just depends on the mood I am in to decide what I listen to. I like everything from Drake, Taylor Swift, Eddie Coffee, Tom Petty, Willie Nelson, and Andrea Bocelli. Like I said, I love all music and I pretty much have some sort of music on all day.

Are you able to keep to a routine in terms of your own work?

It is difficult to work from home as not only do I have to run my own business but there are more childcare responsibilities now. Basically, you just have to try to stick to a schedule or just wait until the family goes to bed and then I stay up late trying to catch up.

Do you have any tips or words of wisdom for others who are struggling to work from home right now?

As an artist, I need those moments to create images or I feel lost. I need that time to explore the natural world and create images that provides that moment of silence. That moment of silence that you find in your favorite work of art, whether it be a song, movie, or photograph. That moment where you are transported from your worries and stress and become lost in that piece of art. To stay creative during the pandemic, I found myself purchasing a bird feeder to photograph birds in our backyard. While it got me through the winter, I am really happy we can get out and explore our province.

Social media is exploding with daily check-ins, poetry readings, virtual art gallery tours, etc. Is there anything in particular you have discovered that has delighted you?

I have enjoyed doing zoom presentations to other photography clubs around the world such as Maidenhead club in the United Kingdom. I really love showcasing our beautiful province and hopefully it will help bring tourists back once the pandemic is over. Our tourism operators are hurting right now and anything we can do to help is appreciated from the industry. I also run a photo tour business, Newfoundland Photo Tours, and like all tourism operators our business is pretty much shut down until our clients are allowed back in the province.

How has food provided a comfort?

Funny thing is that when the pandemic started, we purchased so much junk food. We stocked up on things we would never usually eat. However, we are starting to get back to normal now with salads, fruits, and more healthy food.

Can you describe the physical situation you are in right now – what location, who you are spending this time with?

I live in St John’s and now that things are opening up because of the great job done by our health care we have selected friends to bubble with. This really helps get back to socializing for the children and ourselves as well.

In your opinion, what’s the best thing about being in NL during a global pandemic? Any overall words of wisdom to share? 

The best thing is that we able to explore our province because the active cases are very low. But more than that, we have a total change in our lifestyle or routine. We can either complain and wait for things to get back to normal or use it to rediscover ourselves. [If] there [is] something that you always wanted to do or learn and didn’t have the time, then this [is] maybe the right time. Everyone has had their lives affected somehow and usually a change is a time to reflect and to discover new possibilities. I’d say use your imagination and see if a change is meant for you.

What do you miss the most?

Without a doubt, “Exploring”. I have a list of places to explore with my camera which include Africa, Antarctica, Polar Bears of Churchill, Manitoba, and Orcas in BC. These are on the top of my list and I cannot wait until the pandemic is over so I can obtain that sense of wonder and create art again.

Michael Winsor is an award-winning professional photographer who has been photographing his home province of Newfoundland & Labrador for years. His work has been published and sold worldwide, is on exhibit in national museums, and one of his award-winning images was selected to represent Newfoundland & Labrador on an international postage stamp. For more information please see www.michaelwinsor.ca and www.newfoundlandphototours.com