Adventurer. Mentor. Viewfinder.
With a camera in his hand, Jason Symington discovered he could boss people around—and he liked it. It began when he was six years old and his mom gave him a Brownie Hawkeye camera. He would direct his friends into Star Wars poses and shoot as much as he could, with as many rolls of film as he could get his hands on.
“If you look at any photographer’s website, everybody started when they were six,” says Jason. “I think it’s in our union rules.”
The camera gave him the freedom to get what he wanted, and the feeling stuck with him. Though in his undergraduate years he wanted to be a painter, a camera was always near at hand.
“ I’m lucky enough through the many adventures I’ve had in my lifetime to always be able to tie them into having a camera or being creative.”
“Photography is something you don’t stop doing,” he says. “Passion, yes. Talent, partially. Drive—a lot of that. The biggest thing is to find something you enjoy doing, want to do it often and can’t see yourself not doing it. I’m lucky enough through the many adventures I’ve had in my lifetime to always be able to tie them into having a camera or being creative.”
His most memorable adventures have included a gig teaching English in the middle of Japan—”smack dab on a mountain with 1,800 Japanese people who had seen maybe eight foreigners before me. But my personality gets me through a lot of awkward situations.” He also lived in Germany, where he followed in the footsteps of many of his photographic idols. “I spent my days searching for the next image to capture and my nights overindulging with friends,” he says. But he always comes back to Edmonton and to teaching.
“What keeps me coming back to teaching is the success of the students,” he says. “Everybody has the potential to be creative and to enjoy producing what they see the world to be through the camera.” For Jason, the camera offers the artist something they can’t recreate through a drawing or painting.
“And when you take someone from not knowing which buttons to press to creating their vision of the world around them, you can’t help but feed off their excitement.”
Jason Symington teaches photography in the School of Continuing Education and in the Bachelor of Communication Studies program. Find out more at MacEwan.ca/SCE, MacEwan.ca/Photography and MacEwan.ca/CommunicationDegree.