About Ottawa Photographer Robin Spencer
Robin Spencer, Master Photographer and Paul Harris Fellow
I could post the same boring bio as every other photographer, that I received a camera as a child and fell in love with photography or something equally cliché. Loving photography and actually deciding to make it your full time career are two totally separate paths. Just pleasing yourself with the result of your photography and doing it when and where you want is one thing, but pleasing clients with your photography and on a specific time and date requires a whole different set of skills.
Back in high school (1970) getting a traditional job was presented as the only option, working for yourself was never even mentioned as a possibility. I didn't know what I wanted but knew a monotonous 9 to 5 desk job just wasn't for me.
I wanted a career that was fun, with new daily projects that involved thinking and creativity and meeting new and interesting people and hopefully a career where my quirky sense of humour would be a benefit.
After college I stumbled around in a few non-desk jobs, eventually I found myself working for a great boss and in high tech start-up. Unfortunately like so many start-ups they closed after six months. Out of a job again and knowing we had two small children to feed, a friend and professional photographer Norm Johnson knew of my interest in photography and took me under his wing and taught me professional photography. Not the finer points but the in the trenches no nonsense stuff. Norm taught me business basics and how to turn out great photos with minimal fuss and equipment.
I learned the finer points of portraiture later, traveling across North America to study under the great master photographers of our generation; Tibor Horvath (Toronto), Tim Kelly (Florida) and Bruce Hudson (Seattle).
My further professional education came from PPA's Winona International School of Photography in Chicago, and thanks to winning a scholarship from Kodak Canada I studied Advanced Portraiture at the Winona International School of Photography in Atlanta Georgia.
Then back to college again this time night school for four years to study marketing. You find out quickly in this business that no matter how good your photos are if they don't sell you can't put food on the table.
So am I living the dream? Well I guess. Working on something different everyday, meeting fantastic people from all walks of life, from different countries and in different professions. I just love hearing their stories, hearing of their travels and adventures and sharing a few laughs.
And if growing up in the 1960's taught me anything it was to love the music of Bob Dylan and that we all had a social responsibility to help others. So I created several charitable projects tying our portrait photography promotions into fundraising for various charities like Wheelchair Foundation, The Salvation Army Soup Kitchen and WaterCan etc. You can read about our successes here.
In 2011 Rotary International honored me with a Paul Harris Fellowship in recognition of my community and international service.
Man, it's been 39 years and one heck of a ride.
Living The Adventure
At 17 I hitchhiked across Canada, at 47 across Ireland. I've been chased by a bear on more than one occasion, charmed cobras on the streets of India, backpacked Japan, been blessed by an elephant in Agra, walked on the Great Wall of China, watched the sunrise over Kathmandu and enjoyed momos and chai at the foot of Annapurna.
(A man's man, with a girl's name)
Robin Spencer, Professional Photography Awards and Recognitions
(The required stuff they tell me I'm supposed to include to a page like this)
Master of Photographic Arts (awarded 1996)
Master's Gold Bar Recipient (1999)
Awarded Three National Accreditations
National Award Winner (9 times)
International Award Winner (11 times)
International Award (Canada/USA) 2nd Place Wedding Category
National Level Judge (1996)
Craftsman of Photographic Arts (awarded 1992)
Awarded Paul Harris Fellowship (Rotary International 2011)
Wedding Photos featured on "Say Yes to the Dress" (2011)
A CHANNEL Viewers Choice Award 2006*
OTTAWA METRO Readers Choice Award 2010**
Readers Choice Best Wedding Photographer in Barrhaven/South Nepean 2010 & 2011***
* Top 3 Christmas Portrait Photographers in Ottawa
** Top 5 Best Photographers in Ottawa
*** BEST Wedding Photographer 2010 (Platinum Award)
*** BEST Wedding Photographer 2011 (Diamond Award)