What started as a simple side hobby quickly turned into the beginnings of a business for one Collingwood-based youth.
Born in Petawawa, Nathan Bedard moved to South Georgian Bay with his family several years ago and fell in love with the area’s wildlife and natural landscapes. As part of the generation that grew up with a cell phone, Bedard always had a camera in hand.
During the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 15-year-old now stuck at home started to go for bike rides around town, taking pictures of anything he thought was interesting. Both Bedard’s great grandfather and his aunt are photographers, so he wanted to give the craft a try.
“It was just something to do,” said Bedard. “I thought I would try it out and it clicked… Now I really enjoy it.”
Bedard particularly likes taking pictures of landscapes and wildlife, especially the sunsets here in Collingwood. He started sharing his photos on Instagram in the spring of 2020, and they became popular.
For his 15th birthday, Bedard was given a Nikon camera and his professional business, Nathan Bedard Photography, was born. He has since gained a strong following on Instagram, and his photos have been published on CollingwoodToday.ca and used by various local organizations.
“I really enjoy it because you get to be out in the fresh air, and you also get to capture all of the cool things around Collingwood,” said Bedard. “I like to see stuff from a different perspective.”
It’s this different perspective that makes Bedard’s photography unique, and the skill that encouraged him to get involved with the Collingwood Youth Centre (CYC). The centre provides after school and weekend programming for youth from Grade 7 to age 18 in Collingwood, creating a safe and supportive environment for youth to socialize with peers and mentors. Bedard is currently undertaking a digital internship at the Youth Centre and is part of the youth council.
“I thought with my photography and my different perspective that I could help the CYC put ideas together,” he said. “I find that social media, and especially the Youth Centre, have been great ways to connect with all sorts of people here in Collingwood.”
Bedard uses his photography skills to help showcase different initiatives and opportunities available through the youth centre. He is currently helping with Project Butterfly, a food security initiative that is spearheaded by the CYC, the Environment Network and Elephant Thoughts.
“I think it’s really important because I know a lot of people, especially youth in Collingwood, are struggling right now,” he said.
Bedard hopes his photos will make a difference in the community and encourage other people to look at things from a different perspective. In the future, he hopes to attend post-secondary school for photography and continue to grow the business for years to come.
“It just started off as a small hobby and now it has turned into a business that I hope to do for a long time,” he said.