Photographer calls Fort Frances home

From a forest trail to a hectic event, you never know where you are going to bump into him. And from a large fire to a small frog, you never know where he’ll be aiming his lens.
For about 20 years, freelance photographer Bill Morgenstern has been photographing Rainy River District. “I never thought I’d stay here this long, and I get itchy feet so I have to travel,” he said.
But after years of travelling across North America, and rarely spending more than a couple of years in one place, Morgenstern is as close as he’ll ever come to putting down his roots.
Morgenstern is gradually building up his portfolio on a world-wide scale. By combining his minerals, wildlife, and writing hobbies with a self-started career in photography, he has created his own business, Earth Moods Photography, and is now working to create his own place in the industry.
“I started out as a kid taking pictures with one of those little old Brownies. I was intimidated by 35 mm [cameras] and I didn’t get into it until much later than I should have,” Morgenstern explained.
“I like to create . . . for me, photography is a creative outlet as well as being documentary.”
Following his childhood in Dayton, Ohio, Morgenstern began his travels as a teacher and principal for two years at a one-room school house in Kwethluk, Alaska. He taught all the students from grades three to eight.
From there, he hopped from state to state, including Colorado, Montana, Wisconsin, and Minnesota, adding experiences to his colourful palette as he searched for a career that would suit him.
One of Morgenstern’s main fascinations, along with photography, has been minerals. “I’ve been putting rocks in my pockets since I was just a little guy,” he noted.
Many of his travels have been led by that interest, including a stint in Colorado working in the mines.
“I went underground to be a miner for a while because I thought I could get closer to the rocks,” he said. “It was too dangerous, a guy I was working with got blown up.”
Most recently, that interest in rocks has helped Morgenstern procure an assignment in Norway. He already had been there once, and combined his knowledge of minerals with his writing skills and photography expertise to put together some pieces for STEIN, a Norwegian geological magazine.
“It was incredible, it was really cool. This year I’m going back to do some more photography,” he enthused.
He’ll be returning to Norway in July, not only as a photographer but as a tour guide of sorts for other rock enthusiasts from the U.S. and Belgium.
Morgenstern also always has been drawn by the outdoors and while unsure as a youngster what career he would pursue, he knew he wanted to be outside.
“I didn’t know, I was always running around in the woods and liked anything that had to do with nature,” he recalled.
Now his pictures of amphibians, skylines, and other scenery are beginning to show up in Canadian calendars. He also is hoping to begin taking photographs for the tourism industry as well as continue his mineral photography.
His favourite photo–a shot of Rainy Lake at sunset surrounded by ice-covered rocks–is one of his first to be published. Morgenstern said without necessarily intending it to be, water is a re-ocurring subject in many of his photos.
“I’m always drawn to photographing water for some reason. In one form or another, water always seems to appear. It’s elemental and a life blood.
“We’re a high percentage of water ourselves so we should appreciate it,” he reasoned.
Morgenstern didn’t realize he would make a living as a photographer until he took a commercial photography course at Confederation College years ago, followed by workshops with other professionals in Winnipeg and the U.S.
His first sales were matted pictures sold at shows. Now he has leapt into the world of stock photo agencies and online ventures.
“I just started submitting things and I got my courage up a bit and now I’ve got two stock companies as my agents,” he said.
Now Morgenstern’s biggest hurdle has become the business aspects of photography.
“You’ve got to market. Marketing really is a critical thing . . . and frustrating,” he noted. “I would prefer to be behind my camera out in the field.”