Joel Klassen is a Commercial Photographer residing in Calgary, working across Canada and North America. Joel’s specializes in Residential & Commercial Interior Design Photography, Architecture Photography, Hospitality Photography, and Furniture Photography. His meticulous attention to detail and artistic vision enable him to create images that elicit an emotional response, and have resulted in multiple Award wins and publications for his clients. With a formal education in business management and previous career in commercial banking, Joel understands that an amazing photographic experience depends on many factors in addition to great photos; his reputation is built on the belief that each interaction should be professional and delightful, which has led him to be in the top 3 highest rated photographers in Canada (source: houzz.com).
To understand why Joel chose to make images for the rest of his life, read ‘Why I Do What I Do’.
Why I Do What I Do
A Scarcely Photographed Childhood
As a child of the mid 80’s, I was raised during a period when basic cameras were neither rare nor outrageously expensive. Despite this, my family could not afford a camera for most of my younger years, so photos of my childhood were scarce. When my parents did buy a camera it wasn’t too long before it was stolen, and the few photos that we had were lost in a house fire that consumed all of our printed memories long before ‘the cloud’ existed to back up photos. Adding the fact that my parents were entrepreneurial home builders who moved frequently (nearly every single year for 10 years straight), it’s easy to see why my childhood memories are a little foggy. All of these experiences have created a deeply rooted passion for preserving my vision of the world through photography and sharing it with anyone who wants to enjoy it with me.
A Budding Passion
I always wanted to look back and remember scenes from my past, so I took it upon myself to document the world around me and preserve memories of my surroundings at an early age. My first time behind a camera was with a toy: Game Boy Camera. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was hooked for life! After finding every conceivable way to photograph my neighbourhood, I bought my first Canon point and shoot in 2005. After filling the HUGE 32MB memory card (about the same size as ONE of my photos today) countless times, I bought my first DSLR on impulse while browsing a boxing day sale. I was a broke university student, but after days of negotiating, my wife graciously allowed me to keep it and I started spending 10-20 hours per week educating myself on photography. This period of self teaching began while I was finishing up my B.Comm degree, and there were times when I spent more time studying my photography hobby than I did for my degree! This was the first time that my love of business and art came together, and it sparked a dream that one day my love of art could become a viable business.
Coming Into Focus
Over time I began to focus on architecture and children whenever I had my camera. During frequent trips back to my home town in Saskatchewan, I was always interested by the old farm buildings and worn out grain elevators. Whenever travelling on vacation, I would annoy my wife by spending an hour circling one building over and over to find the perfect shot. At social events I most often found myself following children and families, documenting their interactions and sharing them afterwards.
After I had my own children, my hard drive quickly filled up with images of their faces. As people started to notice my work, I was asked to take some snap shots of a home for a local builder because their regular photographer couldn’t make it. The photos turned out better than they expected, and I soon became their exclusive photographer! My family photos were noticed by friends, and I was often asked to bring my camera places before finally being hired to take photos of friends and family. All of this was happening in parallel with my commercial banking career (which I also loved), so I had to work on my photography during evenings and weekends. The bank that I worked for also started to notice my work, and I was eventually commissioned by my employer to photograph special events and projects. This process continued and accelerated for several years, until I eventually realized that I didn’t have enough time to put my whole heart into both careers. So I made one of the most frightening/exciting decisions of my entire life and retired from my amazing banking career to pursue photography full time.
Doing What I Love
I believe that my whole life has been leading me to this career which allows me to preserve the beauty that I experience around me every day. My love for creating and my love for business have finally found a way to co-exist, and I have nothing but gratitude for the experiences that have brought me to this place. My mission is to create timeless images that resonate with viewers around the world on an emotional level. Photography has given me a stage that allows me to share my vision with every nation and every language. Klassen Photography strives every day to Make a Statement Without Saying a Word.