Aaron Tambour has made a name for himself as a photographer in Hay River with seeming lightning speed.
That’s because he began taking pictures just over a couple of years ago – way back in 2016.
It all began while he was working at Ekati Mine, where Tambour recalled that to pass time he would find photos on the Internet with his iPhone and edit them using various apps.
“I was playing around with that and showed my girlfriend the pictures that I had edited and she was thinking, ‘Well, have you tried taking your own?'” he recalled. “So I said OK and I started taking my own pictures around the mines and stuff like that, around home and whenever we’d go out.”
His girlfriend, Sherri Vegso, then got him a Canon point-and-shoot camera.
And it was with that camera that Tambour captured an image that really launched his career as a photographer.
“One day we were coming back from the reserve heading back to town over to home and I was driving by the teepee at the ENR building there,” he recalled. “And there was a full moon, maybe 90 per cent, I think. But it was still pretty big. The teepee was lit up that night. So when I drove past, I seen it with the side of my eye that there was a teepee lit and then I see the big moon behind it. So I stopped.”
And he took the photo.
After some editing, Tambour put the picture of the teepee and the moon on Facebook.
“And it just blew up,” he said of the reaction.
People were commenting on the photo, offering him compliments, sharing it with friends and asking to buy copies.
“That was it right there,” said Tambour. “I figured maybe this is it. This is where I want to go now. This is what I’m going to start doing is getting into photography.”
Tambour admits that he didn’t have much of an idea of how to use a camera when he took that photo.
“I didn’t know how to focus or anything like that,” he said. “I pretty much just lucked out on that really great shot. If I go back to do it today, I think I probably could do that photo a lot better just because of all the things I know now from it.”
Not long afterwards, he took a course being offered by Adam Hill, a former resident of Hay River who became well known for his photos of the Northern Lights.
Tambour said he learned everything he could from Hill about how to use a digital camera and how to capture images of the Northern Lights and was inspired to improve his camera equipment.
“And I started getting out there and doing my shooting all the time, as much as I can,” he said. “I was working at the mines, so I had two weeks off to get out there and really play around a lot with my photography. So eventually I started up a Facebook page and invited a whole bunch of friends, and then they started sharing my work and it just started expanding from there. Then I started meeting a lot of people. It’s been going crazy lately, and it’s a lot of fun.”
While not a photographer during his teenage years, Tambour – a member of K’atlodeeche First Nation who grew up on the Hay River Reserve – was interested in Native art, particularly ink drawings.
However, he didn’t develop that art.
“I just lost interest in any kind of art,” he said. “I just didn’t have any patience for it.”
However, Tambour believes he has discovered his artistic calling with photography.
“I think I have now found my art, for sure,” he said.
In the past two years, Tambour has taken pictures of the Northern Lights, landscapes, nature scenes and people.
“When I first started photography, I didn’t want to just limit myself to one style,” he said. “I want to be able to photograph people, landscapes, nature. Almost everything.”
When asked how he became such a good photographer in such a short period of time, Tambour replied, “I really enjoy it. It’s something that’s new. And when I take an interest in something, I always try to focus everything on trying to learn everything I can about that. With photography, there’s always something new to learn.”
Two of his images have even been used in a television commercial for the Shaw Direct satellite television service. A picture he took of the Northern Lights was also used in a book by Canadian Geographic.
Tambour, who is employed by Cando Rail Services, has also established a small business called Aaron Tambour Photography.
In the long term, he hopes to become a full-time professional photographer.