As our very first Customer Spotlight, we wanted to feature an incredibly talented artist—and one of our favourite customers—Doug Friesen of Doug Friesan Photography! Based in Manitoba, Doug is an excellent photographer, web designer, and technical writer, and above all, a warm and unassuming personality who is a true pleasure to speak with.
Continue on for Doug’s full interview, and to get a glimpse of his spectacular work!
Doug, why don’t you tell us about your website and what you do?
Over the years, my website has evolved as my pursuits, goals and artistic visions have continued to formulate. At this time my photography has moved in the direction of landscape/travel/fine art along with upcoming commercial ventures. My prints are available online via my website and at various off-line venues seasonally. More works are being added. The format of my website is simple elegance, much like my current vision. Art is the focus. I also shoot some weddings and portraiture. I believe that it is important to connect with the proprietor of a business and know who you are speaking with. I don’t hide.
You were published in Canadian Geographic! Care to share something about that?
Yes, my images have appeared in two of their magazine products to date. In both instances, my inclusion was a direct result of correctly using Instagram hashtags and social media. #sharecangeo is their official hashtag.
The first was in August of 2015. The image, ROCKSTAR, appeared in their In A Snap page within the publication. The image was created outdoors, during a sunny afternoon, in the middle of a botanical garden. The flare/light in the top corner is an off-camera flash that was pointed into the lens at full power and close range. This caused some interesting light bounce and washout in the lower right corner along with the purple/blue hues (originally this is more of an orange lily in reality). Uniquely beautiful.
The second was in May of 2017. My image, SUNKISSED, appeared in their 150 Ultimate Canadian Instagram Photos special publication. Though the image appears to present serenity, the reality was anything but serene in the moment. To the left of me, not pictured was a storm front that was part of a tornado warning and I was hunkered down in the ditch next to the highway, joined by swarms of mosquitoes. In front of me was a beautiful sunset about to be swallowed. I had to work fast and managed to capture the warmth of that moment. It is very quintessential Southern Manitoba.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
Colour. Form. Motion. Story. I am inspired by everything around me, from the changing seasons of nature to the cultures of the world, and the personalities of those I interact with. But foremost, my mentor was not a photographer, he was a painter. He was my art teacher and believed in everyone that he instructed. He built up every single student regardless of their talent. It was important that you drew upon what was deep inside. All inspiration for art is sourced from deep within and he exposed what was in the creative mind. Now I see art, whether it is a back alley or an expansive sculpted landscape. His name was Marcel Debreuil. Inspiring photographers are Edward Burtynsky (Urban Abstract), Gerry Ghionis (Wedding/Portrait), Benjamin Wong (Creative Assignments), Joey L (Commercial) and Paul Zizka (Canadian Landscape).
We see that you and your wife share a passion for travelling! What is your favourite place to travel to and where would you recommend people visit?
My wife has a very demanding and exhausting professional occupation, thus travel is something that becomes necessary as a way to unwind. One of the best ways to experience multiple locations and cultures is via a cruise. We even book our seats on flights based on the flight path, direction of the sun and potential landscapes below. There is a science to everything.
We have been on several in the Mediterranean and Adriatic Sea regions. Some of the destinations we have been are London, Venice, Rome, Naples, Mt Vesuvius, Pompeii, Barcelona, Cinque Terre, Dubrovnik, Zadar, Lake Bled, Venice, Santorini, and more. Additionally my wife has been to the Canary Islands and Morocco along with South Africa. My top experiences and recommendations are Barcelona, Santorini, and Pompeii.
Future destinations will include Iceland, Canary Islands, Alaska. If you are in London, don’t miss Bowl Of Chalk walking tours. Jonny, the proprietor is AWESOME. And we booked him for a private tour of non-tourist locations within London. Barcelona is a city with so much history that I strongly recommend it. If there, don’t miss the MNAC (national art gallery) or walking through the old city.
Canada will always burn bright in my heart and there are many destinations yet to see. Banff will always top my list.
Another afternoon while there were throngs of people all huddled around the lake views, I captured a more unique image where no one was.
How did you discover Canadian Web Hosting and how long have you been a Canadian Web Hosting customer for?
I originally discovered Canadian Web Hosting several years ago while searching for Canadian hosting companies via Google Search and peer reviews. There was a period where I fell out of love with the WordPress environment and moved onto a SAAS all in one solution hosting service that promised the world. But all things are not more intuitive and greener on the other side. This summer I returned to WordPress hosting for my websites and made Canadian Web Hosting my exclusive provider of web hosting. It was like returning to home.
Why did you choose Canadian Web Hosting as your provider?
Stability: I wanted to know that my website(s) would be there tomorrow and every day. Canadian Web Hosting has been around since the early days of web hosting. This says a lot.
Canadian Servers: Client data privacy is very important to myself. It is also a pinnacle in Canadian law along with CASL, PHIPA, PIPEDA, ISO27002, AT 101 SOC 2 and SOC 3 Certification. As I will be offering web design services in the near future, some clients and disciplines demand this.
Canadian Pricing: I really love that my hosting price doesn’t fluctuate with the dollar exchange rate every month.
Service: From technical support on through to the social media team, I have experienced knowledgeable and very Canadian friendly assistance which has made my journey that much more enjoyable.
What type of hosting plan and services does your website use?
I use the Shared Cloud Hosting CPanel Pro plan for hosting my website(s). I use SSL (https) for every site. The IMAP email setup is ridiculously easy on my Mac with the downloaded automatic setup file. My website is WordPress based with Loginizer. The visual composer I use for creating websites within WordPress is more flexible and intuitive than other all-in-one SAAS solutions I tested in the past. I have added an online store component via subdomain CNAME assignment from Pixieset. For client galleries I use SmugMug. I utilize WP Super Cache to dramatically speed up requests.
Everything is HTML5, custom CSS or jQuery and definitely mobile friendly.
What is one thing you love about us?
I love that my site is always online and my editing experience is consistent. The VMware Shared Cloud with High Availability has been a great and flexible experience. It allows me to focus on my art instead of technical issues.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
Most of my spare time is consumed with raising our daughter. I also love photographic discovery outings with fellow pro photographer friend, Steve Hiebert. Photography is my Zen. Other leisure activities I love are golf, tennis, swimming, movies and geek sessions at our local coffee shops. What is the answer to what I do with the rest of my free time? Create art from what surrounds me. This was one image I created at my table while waiting for my food order. Patience is a virtue.
What’s your favourite tech gadget?
Professionally it is my Nikon D850. It is not often that a new model of camera is game-changing, but this is a beast that is allowing me to push my creativity further. Personally, my favourite tech gadget remains my Apple Watch. I am amazed at how connected I have become to it. It has changed my daily workflow, especially related to appointments and notifications. Paired with my iPhone and Mac, everything is seamless and just works. It disappears as I focus on what is important.
What’s a quote that resonates with you? Can you show us some of your favourite picture(s)?
The quote on my pop-up conference banner: Leave No Heart Unloved And No Rock Unturned
This image represents the rise and fall of emotions in humanity and how fragile the balance is and how easily it can be broken.
When the absence of light darkens the soul and the hardness of experience shapes our world, hope fills the hearts of those who hold on. In these moments, we need to protect the hurt and broken. They are our future. Live with love.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Several years ago, my mentor passed away just weeks before I had planned to do a small photo essay on him and his art. I kept making excuses and putting the project on the to-do-later list. Time stops for no one. It is never too late or early to make a difference in the life of another. Even a simple real smile can change the trajectory of someone’s life. Be kind. We need more of that on the pale blue dot we inhabit. I created this abstract image from the smoke of an incense candle as a tribute to Marcel at our local art gallery earlier this year.
Where else can others connect with you?
The best place to follow my photographic journey is on Instagram. My current suite of social media platforms is always found on my website where my next commercial and creative ventures will be found.
Would you like to be featured in our next spotlight? Email firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know!