By Lynn Calf Robe
Skateboarding and photography drives 26-year-old Blaire Russell’s passion. He comes from the Kainai Nation and hopes to become a professional photographer and make a career doing exactly what he loves. His passion for photography inspired his own business: Blair Russell Photography, but he has had an interest in photography since childhood. “I began to see life through a lens,” he says. “I drew a lot of inspiration from different places, mainly my artistic family. I grew to love skateboard photography. My dream job is being a skateboard photographer for Transworld Skateboard magazine.”
Father of two, Russell spends most of his time working not only in the photography business but also in the oil and gas/utility excavation industry. “I work most of the time,” he says. “Unfortunately, photography isn’t my day job.” His recent work includes portraits, which he says he has found “great joy” in creating, and he has aspirations of going back to school to enhance his skills in multimedia and fine arts. His other interests include playing and listening to music. When he is not taking photos, he is probably working or with his kids (one son and one daughter). He currently resides in Calgary.
What started out as a hobby has become a serious profession in digital photography over the past year. He is largely influenced by his family as well as pros like Ansel Adams and Annie Leibovitz, “I get my inspiration from other artists and photographers,” he says. “I have an artistic family full of painters, photographers, and musicians. Growing up, I always admired Ansel Adams’ black and white photography. I think that’s why I prefer to shoot in black and white. I get a lot of inspiration from Annie Leibovitz’ photos from past to present. With her work, creativity never expires.”
The last year has really put Russell in the spotlight with his work featuring Miss Canada Globe Finalist Carrissa Lowhorn and Savage Rose Designs. His style can be described as provocative, sexy, and random with lots of edge. Capturing a whole new way of how Aboriginal people are seen, Russell has done numerous photo shoots with youth in and around Alberta and told New Tribe Magazine that Calgary was one of his favourite places to take pictures.
Regarding his career, Russell says, “My biggest challenge is myself, I tend to put many unnecessary barriers in my life that get in the way of where I want to be. The one thing that really keeps me focused on my goals is the need to actively continue my traditional way of life. I am a proud member of the Blood Tribe of the Blackfoot Confederacy. Being brought up in a rich heritage, I find it important to know where you come from because it helps you when you know where you want to go.”
Blaire Russell’s mentors have always have given him lots of advice and helped him define his photography as “the architecture of light.” Now he encourages aspiring photographers to think outside the box. When asked what sets him apart from the competition, he humbly answers, “Each photographer is different in their own way. Not one person is ultimately better than the other.”