Hello! My name is Joel Robison and I’m 30 year old conceptual portrait and self-portrait photographer originally from Cranbrook, British Columbia. I’ve always been one to express myself through visuals and I stumbled across photography about 6 years ago purely by chance and that’s when I realized I had finally found a way to really connect myself and the world. Over the last 5 years I’ve completed several 365 photo a day projects and have turned my hobby into a career.
Last year I was hired by Coca-Cola and FIFA as the lead photographer for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Trophy Tour, a world tour around the world and one of Coca-Cola’s largest marketing campaigns. I’ve been fortunate to work with an incredible list of clients, publishers and agencies from around the world and I continue to look for opportunities that allow my work to tell stories and connect with people.
Currently I’m taking a year to live abroad in the UK, exploring the country and seeking new inspirations for my work!
An Interview with Joel
Q. When is your birthday?
A. My birthday is August 3rd 1984
Q. What is your best memory/moment from one of your past birthdays?
A. One of my best birthday memories is from last year, in 2013. I was on a cross-country photography workshop tour with two of my best friends and we were traveling across the southern states. We started the day in New Mexico with an amazing morning at the White Sands National Monument, endless acres of pure white sand and the hot August sun was something like out of a sci-movie. We shot photos and squinted our way through the sand, then started driving through short bursts of a summer rainstorm to end up in Texas. We played a hilarious round of mini-golf, laughing so hard we cried and then ended the day with a miniature apple pie with a candle in it!
Q. How about your worst? And why?
A. I think one of my worst birthday memories was my 18th birthday. At the time I was working at our local Tim Hortons and found myself between a closing shift on the night of my birthday and an opening shift the next morning which meant I spent most of the day working and then going home to get ready for the next day of work. Certainly one of the most low key ways to spend a birthday!
Q. What do you believe is the most important aspect of celebrating a birthday?
A. I think for me, the most important part of celebrating a birthday is to reflect on the last year of your life. A lot of people do this on New Years Eve, look back at their year, but I like to do that o my birthday. I like to think back in the last 12 months of my life and see what the highlights were, what the lessons I learned were and how I can make the next year of my life one that I’m happy and excited about living. I think that celebrating our achievements is a great way to celebrate a birthday.
Q. Do you/your family have a tradition/rituals/ceremonies to celebrate birthdays? What is it?
A. I think the only tradition that my family has is my mom will phone everyone she knows on their birthday (although now she uses Facebook if she can’t call) and sings happy birthday to them. I remember as a kid she would round my brothers and I up around the phone and we would sing to cousins, family friends, and grandparents first thing in the morning. It always makes me smile to think that she puts so much effort into others.
Q. What is your life motto?
A. My life motto is Be The Change You Wish To See In The World. It’s quote by Gandhi and one that I try to reflect on all the time and make sure that I follow that guide.
Q. What/Whom drives you to keep going and why?
A. I think that I’m my own motivation to keep going. During my teens and early adult years, I was very depressed and spent a lot of time trapped in my own mind and not really living. Now that I’m feeling much lighter and open to the world, I try to keep going and experience everything as much as I can to make up for lost time. That regret that I have over not living life for so many years is what keeps me wanting to try harder, live bigger and give back as much as I can.
Q. If you could change one and only one thing – big or small – what would it be?
A. If I could change anything in the whole world, I think I would erase the feeling we all have of doubt or self-consciousness. I think sometimes we stop ourselves from living because of our own doubts and if those didn’t exist, we would be more likely to go out and try all of the things we have in our minds.
Q. Which photographers have influenced you, and how did they influence your thinking, photographing and career path?
A. I’m influenced by a lot of different photographers, certainly those like Tim Walker and Annie Liebowitz inspire me with their creativity and way of telling stories within their work. I’m inspired by Kirsty Mitchell and her dedication to creating intricate pieces of art that she spends months and years creating step by step on her own. I’m inspired by Brooke Shaden and her amazing skills on marketing and building her business at the same time as she works on her own art. These photographers inspire me by showing me that it’s possible to create personal work and let it guide you on a career path that is fulfilling.
Q. What motivates you to continue to take photographs?
A. I create my photographs because it allows me to tell a story, whether it’s a story based around my own fears, goals, dreams or emotions or it’s a story that I’ve created just from my own imagination. For me, creating these stories gives me a voice that I haven’t had before and that’s what keeps me wanting to share with others.
Q. Why did you agree to participate in The Birthday Book Project?
A. I agreed to participate in this project because I felt like it was an amazing opportunity to connect Canadians around something we all have but experience differently, our birthday. I think it was an interesting way to get to know people and to see how our birth dates reflect our lives.
Q. What do you expect to accomplish through your participation in The Birthday Book Project?
A. In this project I hope to be able to meet not only a collection of fellow Canadian photographers and create a community of linked artists across the country but also help to create an amazing collection of art that reflects the personalities, lives and stories of Canadians from across the country.