Inspiration For A New Year

Without a doubt 2020 took us all by surprise and on a ride we never anticipated. We’ve learned a lot, especially about our own resiliency as creatives, artists and business owners in an ever-changing world. As we turn the calendar to a new year, we wanted to explore the possibilities that lie on the horizon ahead. So, we asked our OFFBEAT Contributors the same question:

What is inspiring you as you step into 2021?

We also asked each one for a photo that might symbolize that inspiration. Let’s kick it off!


Banff, AB

After a full year of honing my skills locally, I’m inspired to explore the world again, chase remoteness, and document new wild places. I’m also extremely excited to introduce fellow photographers to special parts of the world I’ve fallen in love with.

Paul Zizka
Photo by Paul Zizka.


Long Creek, PEI

What’s inspired me a lot this year is just slowing down and appreciating all that’s around me….even if that means, quite literally, my own backyard. Creativity doesn’t require a plane ticket, or somewhere “epic”. It just requires appreciation for the beauty around you…which can take so many different forms. 

That was a real lesson for me in 2020, in that regard, and I – for one – will carry that into 2021. To slow down. To realize art is “not a race”. And to just keep looking for all that is great and inspiring around me. 

I look forward to the hope and challenges of a New Year.

Photo by Dave Brosha.



Reflecting on this last year and all that came with it inspires me as we move into 2021.  Amongst a year of challenges, limitations, and change gave me a new appreciation for my own ability to adapt and grow, a different way of seeing the world, of experiencing it and photographing it. A better appreciation for what the camera allows me to capture and reassurance in the importance of observing and being present in the moment. Being able to capture a connection with my subject, whether that’s my kids, grandparents, or a landscape, requires fostering that connection, and 2020 taught me there are countless and unexpected ways to do that. My inspiration moving into 2021 is fostering those connections and letting them guide me as I create.

Ashley Soeder
Photo by Ashley Soeder.


Newfoundland & Labrador / Nunavut

As we step into 2021, I am feeling unabashedly optimistic. The past year has been a handful. Much could be said about the trials and pitfalls we’ve faced collectively, and as individuals. But I’ve also seen kindness, determination, gratitude and a real willingness to look within. To take a pause, like it or not, and examine our hopes as well our follies. As we stand in line for another trip around the sun, I am inspired by friends and family, the gift of our outdoor spaces, and our potential to embrace the next set of adventures with laughter and a stronger sense of what is important.

Curtis Jones
Photo by Curtis Jones.


Calgary, AB

The natural world and our connection to it is inspiring me as I step into 2021. This past year has been extremely challenging but what I found so heartening is the joy people were able to find outdoors. It was wonderful to see so many people exploring natural areas close to home, even in their own backyards, and experiencing the enormous benefits, both physically and mentally, to connecting with nature and wildlife. Exploring outdoors can help alleviate stress, can improve mood, and can help remove life’s distractions. As the New Year approaches, I’m inspired to continue to explore wild places and to appreciate the silence and reflection that time in nature provides.

Colleen Gara
Photo by Colleen Gara.


Fredericton, NB

In looking forward to 2021, what is inspiring me is hope and passion. As we all know, 2020 was a different year, filled with restrictions and changes to our everyday lives, as well as to our photography. While I was still creating client work in 2020, I allowed myself the space and break from the pressure of creating outside of that work. I allowed myself the chance to rest a bit and not feel guilty about the lack of personal work I had created. Heading into 2021 after taking a rest, I am feeling hopeful that I will be able to create work that feels meaningful on a personal level again, work that feels fun to create and work that teaches me things about myself and about photography. Work that is inspired solely in creating for the sake of creating. 

Maggie Hood
Photo by Maggie Hood.


Canmore, Alberta

As I move into 2021 I’m inspired by the idea that there is more to the ordinary waiting to be discovered. Prior to this year I might have only got out of bed early for a guaranteed fiery sunrise or thought I had to travel to epic locations to capture the images I wanted. This year has taught me however that there’s so much possibility hiding in the everyday. By appreciating what I have right in front of me, I’ve realised there’s a myriad of potential on my doorstep that doesn’t require a plane ticket or a shiny new camera to appreciate. Finding magic in everyday is what I’ll embrace as I move into 2021. I’ve worked hard to build a lifestyle I love and that will continue to reward me when the world returns to normal but until then, I’ll strive to appreciate everything I do have, including those bad light days. 🙂

Kahli Hindmarsh
Photo by Kahli Hindmarsh.


Charlottetown, PEI

I’m inspired by believing that constantly moving forward is a positive thing. I feel positive about how the world will adjust from what has happened in 2020 and I am motivated with endless ideas that are only limited by time. If there was ever a year to do a reboot and start new, it is 2021.

Stephen DesRoches
Photo by Stephen DesRoches.

The Continual Location Hunt

By Maggie Hood

Choosing a location for a portrait shoot can set the tone and dictate the whole outcome of a shoot. The right location will fit the desired mood, have great light, and create an environment where clients can relax. Few things are more frustrating than shooting in terrible light in a busy spot where subjects are distracted or feeling like they are being watched by bystanders. Discovering locations in your area that fit your style, have great light, and provide a relaxed environment is important for portrait photographers. In my experience, clients generally are open to the photographer’s suggestions on where to shoot and sometimes only give a location style preference (i.e rustic vs modern). Having a small bank of location ideas to share with clients makes it easier and allows you to produce solid, consistent results for your clients.

Photography and COVID-19: Thoughts on Weathering the Storm

Written by Meghan J. Ward
Feature photo by Paul Zizka

You had ideas, dreams, business plans. You had a bucket list of places you wanted to photograph, some gigs booked, a conference you were looking forward to attending. You had a sense of possibility, of growth, of a bright future; that all your hard work was coming to fruition.

Then, COVID-19 changed everything. Everything.

What’s a photographer to do?

Finding Your Niche

By Lizzy Gadd

When I look at my work now, I admit I do feel very fortunate to have somehow fallen into this niche of ethereal self-portraiture/landscape mixtures that, I humbly also admit, I am kind of proud of.

It was a long process getting there. I don’t really know how it happened. But the moment I found it, it felt right. It’s what speaks to me, being able to express myself, and my love of nature, together. And so I’ve been doing exactly that for nine years now, and it still feels right.

Kyle McDougall OFFBEAT Photo Storytelling

What Are You Trying to Say?

By Kyle McDougall

What are you trying to say?

A question that I revisit often. It grounds me and gets me back on track whenever I’m pulled in different directions during this wild creative journey. But maybe even more importantly, the answer to that question plays a huge role in helping me make decisions in the field and later on while back home processing.

Thinking Beyond a Snapshot: 12 Key Components to Consider

By Kahli Hindmarsh

When I first started to take photos, one of my biggest hurdles I faced was figuring out how to take what was in front of my camera and turn it into a compelling image.

That should be the easy part, right? Find an interesting subject, point your camera, press the shutter and boom! Not quite… I was visiting these amazing places, but when I looked at my images, all I saw was “tourist” style snapshots. They lacked meaning and interest. They were cluttered and messy. They didn’t tell a story.

Finding Opportunity in Creative Ruts

By Elizabeth Gadd 

Creative ruts.

We all experience them. (If you don’t… you’re probably not human and I need to know your secret. Seriously.)

Some ruts last only a few days. Some are much longer and more intense. I often experience a 2-3 month hiatus in my work every year, usually during the late winter to early spring months.

Workshops: Get Off the Beaten Track

OFFBEAT is all about tapping into that spirit of adventure and keeping life exciting by venturing off-the-beaten-track. Founders Dave Brosha and Paul Zizka have designed photography workshops that help you explore new frontiers in your photography and new corners of the globe.

The first two stops, Greenland Grandeur and Nights of Wonder: Faroe Islands, are prime examples of the far-flung destinations we’ll be exploring. From bobbing icebergs and dancing auroras of Greenland to the seaside cliffs and fjordland of the Faroes, these workshops will help participants reconnect with the wilderness and their creative side. These first two workshops are already sold out, but keep your eyes out for more great stops.