This is one of my favourite photographs. I took this at Lake Louise, in Alberta, Canada on a 4 megapixel compact camera and it remains as striking to me now as it did then. I had acquired a Canadian working visa for the summer of 2003 and had found myself in the sleepy town of Banff, a picture-esque village in the Rocky Mountains. I had started the summer working at the HI-Banff Alpine Centre, at the time in the top 10 youth hostels in the world, and was promptly fired . . . sad but true, I’m definitely not a natural-born housekeeper. I found employment elsewhere at a hotel restaurant in the Inns of Banff, a somewhat interesting experience, for one I’ve since learnt the extra importance of gratitude, appreciation and understanding of the service industry and – yes – always tip but I’m escaping my point.
The above picture came about on a whim. On a day off from work, one of the people I had met in Banff, a fellow summer worker, decided on a road trip from Banff to Lake Louise, a distance of approximately 60km. We’d missed the last bus out of town but wanted to do something a bit special with our day off and so decided to do something we’d been advised by locals not to do – make a sign and hitch-hike our way to Lake Louise. It was five in the afternoon, it should have been a proper day-trip starting nice and early but we decided – instead – to write in black marker on the back of supermarket cardboard and try our luck in the late afternoon sun.
Thirty minutes into walking backwards down a stretch of highway, our efforts paid off, we were picked up by three young ladies headed back to Lake Louise and their evening jobs at the Fairmount Chateau It was like something out of a 1980s-buddy-buddy movie.
The above image was taken just before 7pm. We’d made it to Lake Louise and took in the view for less than an hour. It was spectacular. I asked the guy I was with to pose for a shot overlooking the lake and it stays with me as one of my favourite snapshots. I was 21 at the time and it pretty much summed up my approach to life at the time; a misquotation of Issac Newton, appropriately or not, entered my head while looking out over the waters: “If I’ve seen further than others, it’s because I was standing on the shoulders of giants.” I think my love of Oasis might have contributed to that somewhat rather than the more erudite Latin dictum of anos gigantium humeris insidentes
So the trip to Lake Louise was epic and the above image captured everything about that afternoon, that time of my life and remains a favourite image of mine. The trip back from Lake Louise to Banff was less glamorous, however. After wandering around, taking in the view, we realised the only way back to Banff would be the first bus out of town . . . at three in the morning. No chance of hitch-hiking under the cover of darkness. I guess that was fate’s way of atoning for our young libertine free spirits, by making us clock-watch for eight hours. Life’s funny like that sometimes.