Wall Art with Jonathan Kirby


There’s something about Pemberton that appeals to the aesthetically-sensitive and visually-oriented. That must be the explanation for the high proportion of professional photographers living here. One local wedding and portrait photographer has also been busy capturing community events, like the Library Wine and Cheese fundraiser in the fall. We talked to Jonathan Kirby to find out what inspires him and why he is so dedicated to making wall art that matters.

How long have you been living in Pemberton?

I moved to Pemberton in the spring of 2008 after a nice five year stint in Whistler.

What brought you here?

I moved here when I decided I had spent enough time sharing quarters in Whistler. At that time the rental market was crazy in Whistler and I had found a cute little apartment near the highschool. I had tried living in Squamish for a bit, but it wasn’t for me so I figured I would try going North.

Tell us about your business?

I call my business a full service “boutique” studio. The business’ primary goal is to help families fill some of those empty spaces on their walls with family photographs that are meaningful to them. I aim to create heirloom pieces they are really going to love and hopefully will be passed down through their family. I enjoy spending time and getting to know my clients, finding out what exactly is important to them about their photographs and really going above and beyond in both the photographs I create with them and the service they get.

What/who do you most enjoy photographing?

Right now I most enjoy photographing my wife. She’s a great model! Aside from her, I am really enjoying creating photographs for all of my clients. It might sound cliche but I really do. I photographed professional snowboarders for 4 years and at the end I found the images didn’t really have much meaning or purpose to me. They were irrelevant in one year and most snowboarders are in front of a professional photographer every day in the winter.

For most families it’s a big deal to schedule a photographer and a big investment. It is so rewarding to create photographs for families that are so meaningful to them and they are going to hold on to so preciously.

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Where have your photos appeared?

Peoples’ walls, computers, wallets, Christmas cards and photo albums.

I’ve also had photographs published in Snowboard Canada, Snowboard Mag, Frequency, Transworld Snowboarding, KingSnow, and one I’m quite proud of is having my photos included in Redbull’s Illume contest photo book. Out of 25,000 or so photographs submitted, I had 2  selected into the top 250.

If you were a gazillionaire and didn’t have to worry about earning money through your photography, what would you be shooting?

Landscapes and maybe fly fishing.

Do you wear other hats? What are they? What other work have you/do you do?

4 months of the year I plow snow on the highways. I also recently taught beginner photography classes at the community centre.

Where are Pembertonians most likely to run into you?

Most likely on a river or a lake. Birkenhead River or lake, the Squamish River, Lillooet Lake, anywhere there are fish!

Where’s your favourite place?

In the fall I’d have to say the Squamish River is my favourite place. I’m a self-admitted fishing addict now. I just started fly fishing this spring and keep on diving deeper and deeper into it. Squamish has some great salmon fishing in the fall.  As we get into winter and I fire up my snowmobile, then I’d have to say the Pemberton Ice Cap. It’s size and vastness is so amazing. And then in the spring the trout fishing will pick up in the lakes around here so it will be Birkenhead, Lillooet and Green Lake. I guess my favourite place is very seasonal.

Do you have recurring themes or obessesions in your work?

Using leading lines or objects in the photograph to frame my subjects. I love leading lines. I get all giddy when I find something using interesting lines in my compositions.

What do you love about what you do?

I really love making people happy. It’s amazing how moved and in love people can be with photographs of their family. I recently photographed two “generational” families which includes grandparents-parents-children and it was so amazing to see the love these grandparents have for their families and how proud they are of each of the children and grandchildren. I recently received this email after a client received her photographs and is a testament to what I love about my work.

Hi Jonathan,
I came home this afternoon and found the two packages at my door. What a surprise. Everything arrived safely. I broke out in a sweat opening everything. I must say I was nervous about the 20 x 30 of the grandchildren. It is spectacular! I can hardly wait until it is framed above the dresser. These photographs are the best present I could have given myself. And especially thanks for the extra gifts from you. I look forward to sharing them with the rest of the family…and others as well. Thanks heaps, Marilyn

What is the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen?

My wife. Without a doubt. No need to explain.

What kind of temperament and skillset makes for a good photographer? Does that describe you?

I think a desire to master your craft is important. You don’t have to be the equipment geek, but thoroughly understanding how everything on your camera works together and in relation with each other is very important. Also, an acceptance of making mistakes and lots of them. I can’t count how many I’ve made but they truly are the best learning experiences.

Where else could people find more about you? Website? Facebook?

www.whistlerportraits.com is a good start. facebook.com/JFKfineart.


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