Chances are that if you are a fan of Niagara Falls photography, you have come across the works of Christine Hess Photography. Her watermark signature is practically a staple on many images of the Niagara Falls found on websites and social media pages, such as Niagara Falls Tourism, Niagara Parks, and Clifton Hill – Niagara Falls Fun.
Her growing popularity in the Niagara Region as a published Professional Photographer and outstanding and unique visual artist has garnered her some local fame.
I sat down with Christine and asked her a few questions about her talent with the camera, and her Niagara Falls Photography.
How long have you been doing photography and what influenced you to take it up?
“I have always enjoyed looking at great images, but only really “got into” photography about 6 1/2 years ago. After some complications from childbirth and a long recovery, I found that I needed some kind of release; almost a therapeutic type of release, and that’s basically how I started into it all.”
(The Niagara Falls Review recently wrote a story entitled “Birth, near death, and a photographer’s story” chronicling her amazing journey into photography. Click here to read that piece).
“It wasn’t long after I was out shooting a few times that I could feel the passion and took every opportunity I could to get out with my camera. I had been shooting on my own for about 6 months when I decided to enroll in the photography program at Niagara College and starting thinking of it more as a career.”
In addition to Niagara Falls Tourism, the Niagara Parks and Clifton Hill – Niagara Falls Fun (HOCO Fun by the Falls), Christine has done work for Hornblower, the Winter Festival of Lights, Scotiabank, TIAO, and the Tourism Partnership of Niagara. She is a member of the Professional Photographers of Canada, and has won awards with them. She has also participated in the World Photographic Cup Awards, and is a member with the Chamber of Commerce here in Niagara Falls. In the winter of 2015, she had a couple Niagara Falls images in the winter go viral, and they were picked up by CNN, CBS, and LA Times to name a few! Her images were seen world wide and they caused the “Frozen Falls” frenzy when tourism picked up immensely the weekend after her images went viral. She was even published in a German magazine later in the year because of the viral images.
Nature is a huge focal point of your pictures; do you also do any other types of photography?
“I first started shooting nature/landscape images and have also shot portraits, events, night photography, surprise engagements/proposals, and dabbled in newborn photography. Images have also been used for a “Wonder Woman” promo and on CBS for “Live with Kelly & Ryan” show. I have been published in various magazines such as Canadian Geographic, Canadian Running and several tourism magazines including Niagara Parks, Niagara Falls Tourism and Les Saisons. I was lucky enough to have one of my falls images on the front of a Shreddies 75th Anniversary cereal box!”
Niagara Falls is one of your primary subjects of photography. How does the region inspire you?
“I’m lucky that I live close to one of the most photographed natural wonders, and I take every opportunity to do so. It’s just a matter of jumping in my truck and driving 10 minutes down to the highway and I am there. Each time I go down, I try to look for different angles and shots that one doesn’t normally see with Niagara Falls pictures.”
When taking pictures of the Niagara Falls, do you have a particular time of day or season that you prefer, and why?
“It’s a vision I never tire of as each season brings new opportunity for beautiful photography. The Niagara Falls are picturesque year round, but my favourite seasons to shoot them are in the Autumn and Winter. Autumn brings on so many warm, beautiful tones of yellows, oranges and red as the foliage begins to change. In the Winter, the ever-changing ice sculpting by Mother Nature brings new beauty each day. My absolute favourite is when there is a lot of snow and the temperatures drop well below freezing. I find the area resembles a beautiful little snow globe. Mind you, there’s something to be said about the Spring with the fog and new blooms! The best time to capture its beauty, in my opinion, is in the early mornings or early evenings when the lighting is soft, but still bright enough to capture details. I’ve spent many mornings standing at the brink of the falls shooting the sunrise, waiting in anticipation as it rises over the falls. It’s the perfect spot for shooting and an even better way to start the day.”
What kind of camera would you suggest to photography lovers?
“I’ve always been a Nikon shooter. My first DSLR was a Nikon D7000 and it was a great camera; easy to learn and use. I’ve since upgraded, and I shoot with a couple different Nikon full frame bodies. With that being said, they say the best kind of camera is the one you have with you! My advice would be to start small and work your way up. There’s no need to spend a small fortune to get a great image. I’ve seen some really nice images come out of point and shoot camera’s. Basically, buy what you can afford!”
How can emerging travel photographers build a business in the photography industry?
“Being relatively new to this field myself, I’m still going through the learning process of having a business. All I can really say is that it took a lot of practice, patience, and perseverance to get to the point of where I am at today. If I didn’t get something or a particular shot the first time, I try, try, try again. Mistakes are how we learn. I’m lucky to have found my passion and I could say that I am even luckier to have been able to make a career change at this point and give it my all.”
You have taken some amazing photos of Clifton Hill. That must be vastly different from the quiet and stillness of photographing the Falls. What do you enjoy best about Clifton Hill?
“As much as I love going down to shoot the Niagara Falls, Clifton Hill is a great place to shoot as well! It’s often full of bright neon colours, action and people. There’s always something interesting to shoot. I loved going down at night and practicing long exposure photography and capturing the light trails from the cars, the moving SkyWheel, the arcades, and whatever else I could see. Clifton Hill makes for interesting subjects for photography! I especially can’t wait to shoot the Niagara Speedway when it opens this Spring 2018. You can do some interesting shots with movement and light — not to mention getting in the cart and burning up the track myself!”
List your favourite photographers and why you enjoy their work.
“I could sit for hours and look at great images by some even greater photographers. One of my favourite photographers is Ansel Adams. His black and white photography of the American west leaves me speechless. His ability to capture an image so perfect, with so much detail is truly inspirational. I can only imagine how great an experience it would have been to be mentored by such a great photographer. A few more of my favourite photographers are Brian Powers out of Montana, Art Wolfe, Chris Burke, and Edin Chavez of Miami. Not only are they all incredibly talented, but their beautiful images leave me in awe of their work. Each carries with it an incredible feeling and story. They all go above and beyond, and take that extra step just to get that perfect shot. Each one of them are truly inspiring in their own ways. I could go on with my favourites — this just names a few.”
What do you have lined up in the future and what do you hope to achieve 5 years down the road?
“I am happy to say I have become an accredited landscape photographer and have won awards with the PPOC (Professional Photographers of Canada). My business has expanded to include different genres of photography and my name is definitely getting out there after much hard work and dedication. After a recent very popular post on my Facebook Page (Christine Hess Photographer) featuring Niagara Falls winter images, I’m currently looking into publishing a book with my images after several requests were made. I’m still in the very early stages of this.
Unfortunately, I don’t have a studio, but I still hold that dream close to my heart and haven’t given up on it. I would like to have something where I can not only display my images of the Niagara area and beyond, but also perhaps have a small area set aside for teaching and shooting portraits. I feel that I have finally come to have a certain recognizable look to my work. I’ve had many compare it to the work of Thomas Kinkade, and while I shamefully admit that I had to look up his work because I wasn’t familiar with it, I also have become a fan, especially of his winter scenes — they remind me of times gone by and being a child in the Winter.
How does someone contact you if they are interested in your service? Do rates vary?
I can be contacted through my website at christinehess.com on my “contact” page. My work is available for prints or commercial use, and I am available for portrait, commercial, events, and landscape photography. Rates vary for prints and services, so the easiest way would be to contact me through the website for more information.
Christine currently resides in Niagara Falls with her husband Jim, her two sons Jaxson and Colton, and her two dogs.
Christine Hess Website: