Around this time in 2013 as a new year loomed on the horizon, Pembertonian Polek Rybczynski decided to start a new project.
For every day in 2014 he would pick up his camera and capture one image of the valley around him. The result was Valley of Light, a photo book filled with stunning images of nature big and small around Pemberton.
The project not only helped to improve his photography skills, but the act of a daily ritual was a benefit that lingered. “I’ve meditated and practiced things like that most of my life, so I know when my brain is in the right state and when it gets out of balance,” Rybczynski said. “But in a creative sense, leading into this project I thought the more creative I get the better. I had all these creative things (on the go). In reality, it didn’t benefit me that well. I had all these unfinished things. I’d be super keen to get one thing done then I’d get another idea. I lacked discipline in myself.”
While there might have been instances — particularly in winter — where he raced the fading light to find a new image to capture, not once in 365 days did the task slip his mind.
“Photography is generally about light,” he said. “You want to catch the light. When I didn’t get up early and had to rush to a full day of work and rush back, it’s pretty much dark. That was challenging, especially at the end of the year when we had our son. That time really did just disappear. It was more the conditions to get a nice photo was the challenge.”
The other challenge was finding a new and interesting shot when there had been inclement, unchanging weather for weeks on end. But that pushed Rybczynski to be more creative and even lead to one of his favourite photos. It was taken on Dec. 22 and features the Duffey Peak framed by dark, wispy clouds.
“I was randomly driving down Main Street, it was really cloudy and this one tiny pocket popped up through the clouds,” he recalled. “I was like, ‘oh my Gosh, it’s a great shot.’ I literally stopped the car — luckily there was no one around — and I jumped out a quickly took the photo. It ended up being one of my favourites.”
The book officially came out earlier this year in September — funded partly out-of-pocket and partly by crowdfunding with people essentially paying for a copy before it was printed.
“The crowdfunding people supported me through that,” he said. “They got it when it first came out in September. I spent the first couple of weeks getting those books out, which I was really thankful for.”
Sales have been “slow and steady” since then — with a bit of a pick up thanks to Christmas. “It makes a pretty ideal gift,” he added.
Currently, those interested can buy a copy (or individual prints) through Rybczynski on his Facebook page at Valley of Light – a photo journal of Pemberton, BC, at Armchair Books in Whistler or at One Earth Collection and Mile One Eating House in Pemberton.
So, what does Rybczynski have in store for 2017?
“I’m debating a photo journal of the whole Sea to Sky,” he said. “It would be more diverse, especially with Howe Sound. I’m contemplating that.”