Mistissini photographer shows his love of the land

Brendan Forward of Mistissini, Que., communicates his appreciation of the Cree communities and the outdoors through his photography.

28-year-old Brendan Forward says his best photos are taken at dawn or dusk

Through stunning photos of lakes, wildlife and the night sky, 28-year-old Mistissini, Que., photographer Brendan Forward is capturing life in Cree territory and the culture of the Cree people.

He says his photography shows his appreciation of the communities and the outdoors.

"I spent half of my life down south, and to have the ability to come back and reconnect with the land, with the people and with the place... It's so unique to be able to walk five minutes out of a community and just have beautiful dark skies."

He loves getting up early to go kayaking and camping, and always brings his camera along because his best photos are taken at dawn or dusk.

"It's the colour, the most yellow, the shadows are the most striking, the light has a character to it that it kind of looks dramatic," said Forward.

"The night, during the half moon, it gives you enough stars that it looks really full but bright enough that you could see the land itself."

Forward recently launched a photography business in Mistissini, 785 kilometres north of Montreal. He submitted his photos to a few regional and national contests, once placing in the top 10.

His passion for photography started a few years ago when his work required travelling to all the Cree communities in Eeyou Istchee, or Cree territory. He was captivated by the natural beauty of the land.

Forward says taking photos is a great opportunity to tell people a story. One of his favourites is a recent photo he took of the northern lights as they were coming out over a lake near his hometown.

Brendan Forward says this recent photo is one of his favourites. 'It showed how the land is transitioning from spring to summer; it showed the beauty of the night sky. I think it told a small story.' (Brendan Forward)

"It was just starting to open up so the ice was apart. You could see the water, you could see the reflection of the northern lights on the water, it was one of the moments for me," said Forward.

"It showed how the land is transitioning from spring to summer; it showed the beauty of the night sky. I think it told a small story."

He said turning his hobby into a business requires discipline and hard work and his parents are great role models.

"My mother's been a teacher for, I would say, over 40 years. From a young age she taught to love learning and make it a part of our everyday life which is really important to me as a photographer.

"My dad is single-handedly one of the hardest working people I know — he's outside right now cleaning the backyard. He makes it a part of his day to day life to be productive."

Forward said he hopes to use his photography business to promote tourism and document wildlife.