One visit to the Okanagan convinced Travis Oleniak to move his life, wife and photography business to Peachland last summer.
“As soon as we got here I had the feeling I wanted to be in Peachland,” he recalls. “When we drove through the first time, we came down the mountain, saw the beach houses on the hill, I thought ‘this is where I want to be.’”
This place is perfect for an ambitious photographer.
“We’re an hour to a desert, an hour to giant mountains and five hours to ocean,” he said. “There’s every opportunity for photos here.”
His brother lives here in the Okanagan, and after paying a visit in June 2016, Oleniak and his wife Jenn Clute took two months to pack their belongings from Barrie, Ontario and venture out west. Moving thousands of kilometres to start fresh with no clients and no contacts comes with major challenges of course, but “Peachland’s been more than supportive.”
Oleniak and Clute are both campers, though they moved to the mountains right before hibernation, so their search for B.C.’s most serene landscapes and majestic wildlife still lays ahead.
“I would love to get some wildlife shots of all the local bears.”
Beyond the obvious eye candy that the province is loaded with, Oleniak sees past the camouflage of the unexciting where many of nature’s hidden patterns lay.
“He can always find something other photographers wouldn’t find,” said Clute.
“I can find beauty in the strangest environments,” says Oleniak.
And strange environments aren’t always confined to the limits of nature.
“If I have an idea that’s not there in the scene I make it in Photoshop.”
Through Photoshop, the infinite possibilities of visual artistry are taken exponentially further.
Many Peachlanders are familiar with a timeless image he made for the Canada’s 150th celebration, which blends together the old Peachland Historical School with each side depicting a different era of the building.
Photo manipulation doesn’t always have to be taken seriously, which Oleniak demonstrates though surreal creations like the paradox of his two-legged horse.
When he’s not being commissioned as an artist, he just follows the path towards bewilderment.
“I don’t have a set image in my head – I’ll start playing around and, ‘oh that looks good.’ See what it looks like to add some components and colour.”
It’s much more encouraging to experiment in British Columbia where the public seems to have a greater appreciation for the arts than where they grew up.
And both seem to be fitting right in as Peachlanders. Clute volunteers as a Visitor Information Counsellor at the Visitor Centre; she recently became a board member of the Bat Education and Ecological Protection Society (BEEPS); she’s on the Peachland Rubber Ducky Race committee; and she’s also on the Canada 150 Historic Scavenger Hunt committee (an initiative of Boys and Girls Club, the Peachland Community Arts Council, BEEPS and Visitor Centre).
Oleniak is picking up clientele, his work has been featured in the Peachland View on numerous occasions (including this week’s coverage of Ambassador Day on Page 15) and has already been featured in a fine art exhibit called Captured Images. The exhibit’s third year is currently underway, where Travis is one of 26 photographer from the Southern Interior whose works are being showcased at the Peachland Art Gallery.
“Images range from large scale landscapes to smaller experimental as well as award winning pieces,” said gallery co-ordinator Janet Hornseth.
Travis also offers video and website design services. He even owns a camera-equipped drone which allows him to offer new and unique aerial services. Find him on the web at travisoleniak.com and @travisoleniak.