Photographer Martin Vegt in his Vernon studio with some of the cameras from his collection. Vegt is retiring from professional photography, but is not hanging up his cameras.

Photographer Martin Vegt in his Vernon studio with some of the cameras from his collection. Vegt is retiring from professional photography, but is not hanging up his cameras.

Picturing moments in time

Since 1974, Martin Vegt’s camera has captured milestones in the lives of North Okanagan residents

The natural world finds a place in many of Martin Vegt’s photographs.

“I started with photography in the 1960s when I was working with the Greater Vancouver Water District and was outside a lot. I loved taking pictures of wildlife,” he said.

He moved on to photographing people, and his photos of weddings, casual family and formal portraits often have an element of nature in them. He’s always looking for places that might make good background settings.

“Those trees have beautiful colours in the fall,” he said, pointing them out on a walk around his property on Silver Star Road.

“When I first came to Vernon, the photographers were doing their work in studios. I wanted to make use of the beautiful natural settings. The evening light at Kalamalka Park is outstanding.”

Cameras were not a part of Vegt’s early life.

“I grew up in Holland in the 1950s and everything was in short supply. The family didn’t have a camera and we have only a few photos my uncle took,” he said.

The family, with 10 children, came to Canada in 1960 and Vegt completed his education. He had a camera and darkroom in his 20s and started to win local competitions. He took a chance on his skills and attended NAIT (Northern Alberta Institute of Technology) in 1972.

One of his best memories of his training was the opportunity to work photographing the Alberta Ballet over a season and he still likes to take pictures of dancers. He moved to Vernon in 1974, and did surveying and landscaping before starting his professional studio downtown in 1974.

He and his wife, Frances, raised their four children, Jennie, David, Jonathan and Paulina, in Vernon.

Vegt likes to talk with people before photo sessions, getting an idea of who they are, what they want and how to best capture that.

“I have a casual style but there is always directing going on, noticing the light, the posture, the background. The camera has to be an extension of your fingers and your head so that you don’t waste time looking at the camera all the time.

“I started digital in 2004. Digital has made photography more fun with what you can do. You still need a good photo with light and composition but no one minds if you fix them up a little,” he said.

“They used to say a photo couldn’t lie but a picture can lie now.”

He’s proud of the series he took of well-known area citizens, including Jimmy Antoine, in his ceremonial First Nations headdress.

While he always gets his photos, there have been challenges along the way.

“Once when I was taking wedding photos at a golf course the sprinklers came on, and an organ player keeping warm with a space heater set his hair on fire. Another time, we had to save the bridesmaids from going up in flame by moving them away from the candles,” he recalled.

Vegt went on to gain more accreditation, win numerous awards and keep his equipment current. He’s pleased that he can now get digital accessories for the classic cameras, like the Hasselblad, in his collection.

For now, he’s busy getting the garden ready for his daughter’s July wedding and looking forward to a biking trip in Holland with his wife. He will still be available for photography by appointment, particularly for former clients.


Vernon Morning Star