Brandon Sun photographer Tim Smith has been capturing moments since he was a teenager.
Smith, who joined the Sun in October 2007, said snapping pictures of his friends skateboarding when he was younger piqued his interest in photography.
What started out as a hobby has grown into a successful professional career earning the humble photographer multiple awards and two 2013 national award nominations.
The News Photographers Association of Canada announced earlier this week nominees for the eighth annual National Pictures of the Year awards competition. Smith has been nominated in the pictorial category for his June 2013 aerial photo of a vehicle washed off of Highway 83, south of Highway 2, after a series of powerful storms ripped through Westman. Smith said after spending a day on the ground, he and a Sun reporter were able to track down a pilot in Virden to get an aerial view.
The image "tells the story of the flooding but it kind of has a peaceful esthetic," Smith said. "When I shoot, I’m looking to tell a story from a unique perspective that readers might not be familiar with."
Smith is also nominated for the Photojournalist of the Year award for which he submitted a portfolio of 12 images taken throughout 2013.
This isn’t the first year Smith’s name has been featured in this competition.
In 2008, he received an honourable mention in the feature category and in 2009 placed second in that same category. In 2010, he finished first in three categories — feature, pictorial and portrait — and was also a nominee for Photojournalist of the Year.
Another honour Smith recently received will see him travelling to New York City next month for the prestigious second annual New York Portfolio Review.
The review will give Smith a chance to receive one-on-one critiques from some of the most distinguished photo editors, curators, book publishers and gallery owners from around the world. Smith said he hopes he gets a chance to meet with National Geographic Magazine’s director of photography, who is among the list of 75 reviewers.
"To get a meeting even with one of them would be a rare experience," Smith said. "I’m really looking forward to it."
What earned Smith this rare opportunity was a portfolio of 20 images he took as part of a continuing, four-and-half-year-long personal project documenting Hutterite colonies across southwestern Manitoba.
"I had a desire to do something long term, to really sink my teeth into a story and the Hutterite culture continues to fascinate me," he said. "They’re at a juncture where there’s a lot of changes taking place among the colonies and I’m interested in how the colonies work to hold on to their traditions and values in the face of an ever encroaching outside world."
His primary focus has been Deerboine colony, which is located 20 minutes northwest of Brandon, but he’s also visited more than a dozen others.
Although he’s been a professional photographer for 11 years, Smith said it’s the extra freedom he gets outside of work that drives his creativity
"I’m really passionate about photography, so to fit it into a nine to five schedule just doesn’t really work," Smith said, admitting that focusing so much time on his craft requires a strong support system at home.
"All that stuff that I do on my own time cuts into my personal life, family life and friends ... so it takes supportive friends and family to be able to do it."
The winners of the News Photographers Association of Canada honours will be announced during the 2013 National Pictures of the Year Awards Gala on May 24 in Vancouver.
For a full list of nominees, see: npac.ca/2014/03/2013-national-pictures-of-the-year-nominees/.