Trevor Hagan was born and raised in Winnipeg, MB and now, he’s a professional photojournalist in that city. With his passion for photography and a mix of hometown glory, Trevor created Everyday Winnipeg, an Instagram account that celebrates the notoriously snowy Canadian city.
Here, Trevor shares his photography journey, the lessons he has learned and the stories behind Everyday Winnipeg.
- Tell me about what inspired you to create Everyday Winnipeg?
The idea of a group of professional and advanced amateur photographers submitting photos that show the beautiful side of ordinary life really appealed to me. Once I saw those accounts, I knew that I had to start the @everydaywinnipeg account and I began asking photographers to participate.
- Are you originally from Winnipeg? Where in the city do you currently live?
I am originally from Winnipeg, and often struggle with the feeling that I’ve been everywhere and seen everything in this city. This is why it’s so fantastic to be able to see my hometown through the eyes of other photographers who participate in this account. I’m often in awe over their photos, thinking, “Wow, I never would have thought about shooting that scene that way.”
- What’s your favourite Canadian city to visit?
I love visiting both Toronto and Vancouver. I find it exciting to be surrounded by so many people. It opens up so many options for doing street photography. Downtown Toronto offers fantastic light and shadows. Vancouver is such a pretty city, and I love being near the water.
- On your personal Instagram account, you take a variety of photos. There are lifestyle photos, photos of athletes, nature shots and even a snap of Justin Trudeau! What is your favourite genre to shoot? Why?
My primary Instagram account (@wpgphotog) includes photos from whatever work I am doing for a variety of clients, as well as some of my own personal pics, although I have yet another personal account on top of that.
The great thing about being a photojournalist is that every day is so drastically different. As you mentioned, recently I’ve covered the prime minister, Justin Bieber, Garth Brooks, CFL Football, National level gymnastics, breaking news, studio portraits, and many, many other things.
A photojournalist really has to be able to shoot any genre, and they have to be able to switch modes within minutes.
If I had to choose a favourite though, it might be sports. I really enjoy shooting the Winnipeg Jets. To be a good sports photographer, you have to truly understand the game you’re shooting, especially at the top level like the NHL or other pro leagues. The game/athletes move so fast, you can’t play catchup. You have to understand and anticipate what is likely to happen and be ready for it.
- What about photography intrigues you?
I am inspired by photos that represent perfect framing and timing in a passing moment that can’t easily be recreated. Also, I love when I see someone create a beautiful photo in what I know would be a difficult moment.
- As a photographer, you must interact with many different people every day, and hear many inspiring stories. What’s one story that still sticks with you, that motivates you to keep taking photos, to this day?
Over the years, I’ve had people reach out to me through my site, Twitter, Instagram, or even sending letters to the Winnipeg Free Press to thank me for images I’ve taken. When that happens, it’s motivating and inspiring. It’s a great reminder that the work we do has an impact on other people’s lives; people who we may never meet or see for any other reason. I really like that.
- What’s the best part about curating the Everyday Winnipeg feed?
When I started the @everydaywinnipeg feed, I fully expected to be impressed by the work that the other participating photographers submitted. What I hadn’t anticipated was all the amazing images submitted by our followers by either DM or by using our hashtags. Every single day there are more people using our tags to share great photos from around Winnipeg.
- Where do you see Everyday Winnipeg in five years?
In five years, I would love to expand the current number of users that post photos to the feed, and of course continue to grow the number of followers. I would like to expand from the digital platform to a gallery showing of some kind, and I would also really like to use the publicity to raise money for charity in the city. This is already under some discussion.
- When did you start taking photos?
I can’t remember when I started taking photos. I always have.
- What’s the best part about getting to take photos and share them with Winnipeg, and the rest of Canada?
Being a photojournalist can be quite stressful. Often times, there are hours of planning before creating an image. Sometimes the time you have to get a photo is just a few minutes or seconds, but days of work have gone into preparation ahead of time. It’s a really rewarding feeling when it all just works. And to know that your picture is running in hundreds of thousands of papers across the country is a real rush.
- What would you say is the hardest part of being a photographer in Winnipeg?
Winnipeg isn’t a huge market. We don’t get all the national events and attention that other larger cities get. Because of this, there is only so much work. That can be tricky. But it’s also sort of a blessing in disguise. It forces a shooter to not be entirely specialized. That really works for me. For example, one day I’m shooting an event for Golf Canada, the next day I’m assisting on a video for Maclean’s Magazine, the next day I’m shooting a calendar for the Blue Bomber Cheer and Dance Team. Because there isn’t the same kind of work every single day, you have to be willing to do it all.
- What’s one of the most valuable lessons you’ve learned so far?
One of the hardest parts for me starting out was that I felt bad for taking people’s time. It takes time for some people to get comfortable having their photo taken. And that will translate in the images. Sometimes asking for an extra five or 10 minutes will wind up providing you with that one extra special image. One of my most valuable lessons was learning that it’s ok to ask for more time.
- Did you always know you wanted to be a photographer?
I had originally planned to become a teacher. I have a degree that I earned while pursuing that career, and went off in a different direction afterward. I did always know that I really enjoyed taking photos. I didn’t know I could make a career of it.
- Describe the first time you took a photo. Do you remember what it was you took a photo of? How did it feel?
I don’t remember the first photo I took. But I do remember the first photo I had published in the newspaper. It was for a story about our river still having open water, and delaying the skating trail to open. It was a really proud moment for me to see my name under a photo, even though it was something pretty plain. I must have 10 copies of that paper somewhere in my basement.
- Where do you go to find creativity?
To find creativity, or when I need to reset myself, I like to take one camera/one lens and some music and walk around downtown. Giving myself some sort of assignment to post to Instagram is a great way to clear my head and allow myself freedom to shoot whatever I want and however I want. There are no editors or creative directors to answer to.
- Is there someone who continues to motivate and inspire you, today?
John Woods is a friend of mine, and one of the very best photographers in the country. He continually inspires me with fantastic images that are really on another level. We often get to cover the same events, and to be lucky enough to see the pictures he comes away with, it’s always a treat.
- What would you tell to other up and coming Canadian photographers?
My advice for up and coming Canadian photographers is to understand that what you are doing is worth something. There is a need for true professional photographers in every industry. Whether you want to go into journalism, food photography, weddings, sports, or whatever, everyone wants professional photos. Maybe now more than ever!
People are consuming photos at an astounding rate. If you have trouble understanding what I mean by that, next time you are on Instagram, pay attention to how fast you scroll through your feed. How long do you spend per image? How long did it take the person to make that image? We see hundreds or thousands of images a day. People take all those pictures.
You deserve to get paid for what you’re doing. If you aren’t getting paid, are you replacing a person who was? Think about that before saying yes. We are all responsible for making sure that being a photographer can be a job and not just a hobby.
- Do you have anything else to add that our readers should know?
I have a few basic pieces of advice for anyone who wants to be a better photographer. Get closer. And once you are closer, get even closer. Shoot more. And always have your camera ready. If it’s with you, over your shoulder or whatever, have it on and ready to go.
See some of the amazing photos published on Everyday Winnipeg below: