Liz Twan with some of her work showing at Frame Creations by Bruce.

Liz Twan with some of her work showing at Frame Creations by Bruce.

Liz Twan: photographer with a heart for cowboys

Self-taught, — the words roll off Liz Twan’s tongue like a litany when she’s asked where she got her start as a photographer.

Self-taught, self-taught, self-taught — the words roll off Liz Twan’s tongue like a litany when she’s asked where she got her start as a photographer.

“I’ve always taken photos. As my boys got older, I had a few spare dollars to get better cameras and could devote more time to learn how to use them.”

Born and raised in Williams Lake, Twan recalls taking pictures of anything and everything, and as her sons — Willee and Jesse — grew older it was of the sports they were doing, mainly rugby and rodeo.

Her father Lee Skipp was a lawyer in Williams Lake. He arrived in Williams Lake to article and met Twan’s mom, Mary Latin.

“There’s a street in town named after my grandpa,” Twan says.

Unwilling to relocate when her parents moved away when she was in Grade 11, Twan remained in the lakecity to complete Grade 12 with friends rather than in the big city.

She attended university with the intent of becoming a teacher, studying English, Political Science, History and Fine Arts. However, during one summer, she had a  job with parks and recreation at a day camp.

The experience made her realize she might not have the patience to be stuck inside a classroom full time.

On one of her summers home, she met her future husband, Bronc Twan.

Today she and Bronc run the Alkali Lake Ranch, where Bronc has lived all his life.

As she’s evolved as a photographer, she’s noticed she sees things differently. A smaller scene within a bigger one, she explains.

“I look for something a little bit not normal. You can put five photographers in the same place and they’ll come up with something entirely different.

Now I see that with my eye before I take the picture whereas before I would take the picture and go, ‘oh, I never noticed that.’”

Besides, the cameras are so smart these days, she adds.

“I’ll be the first to admit I’ll never know what my camera can do and I’ll never figure it all out. They are mini computers and they’re way smarter than people.”

When people ask her for advice if they’ve purchased a new camera, she will tell them to let their camera do some of the thinking for them.

“That’s what it’s for.”

Last weekend Twan helped judge the 4-H photography contest in Williams Lake and admits it was a nightmare because there were so many good entries.

“The kids have taken such quality photographs and choosing between them was next to impossible.”

Twan figures she takes photographs almost every day, and seldom leaves home without her camera.

Even at home when she’s working on the ranch, she makes sure to bring it along.

“Every time I don’t bring it I see something and think I wish I had my camera.”

Her photography was first featured with her articles in the Williams Lake Tribune, and one garnered her the 2006 Ma Murray Community Newspaper Award Gold for featured colour photo, circulation under 10,000.

It was a photograph of a jet flying over the moon in a blue sky at noon, taken while attending a branding.

“My camera was hanging on the fence because I was waiting for the branding to start and thought that jet’s going to fly right over the moon in a dead blue sky. The moon was white of course and the jet looked white and the jet trail and I thought how stupid are you, your camera’s hanging on the fence. I ran and I just made it,” she chuckles, adding it was actually blind dumb luck, but she recognized the opportunity.

Her photographs have been selected for the Williams Lake Stampede poster in 2009, 2010 and 2011, and recently she was at the World Hereford Conference in Olds, Alta. in mid-July, where some of her photographs were exhibited in the international hospitality room.

“It was neat because visitors were from all over the world.”

Like most photographers, she’s progressed from simple point and shoot technology, up the line in SLRs and then from digital point and shoot to digital SLRs.

She admits to being frustrated when she felt the camera wasn’t taking the image she was seeing.

“It had already happened by the time you clicked. As soon as I could afford it I bought a camera that could shoot instantly. Point and shoot takes good pictures, but that delay when you actually put your finger down and it takes the pictures means you miss what you were aiming for.”

Her cameras are three different Nikons and she prefers her older one for her working cowboy pictures from long distances. It seems to work better with her bigger lens.

She normally has the three going at once so she can shoot whatever is there, and doesn’t miss things by having to change a lens.

Shooting Stampedes is an enjoyable challenge Twan suggests.

“I enjoy trying to get a good action rodeo shot. You’re always improving. Every year I go there and think I’ve done OK and then I get a little better the next year and realize I’m learning some new tricks.”

Over the years she’s learned vantage points for photographing at Stampedes. Lots of times location is everything, she adds.

Aside from the rodeo events, paying attention to what’s going on around the rodeo is also fun.

All photography is a huge challenge she muses.

“Sometimes you cannot always make your camera get what you see because you don’t have the skills to operate that silly computer in there.”

Photoshop is something she uses, however, with her working cowboy photography she takes pride in “as is” results. She might make a slight adjustment to the colour if it has to be endorsed somewhere, or for sun being in the wrong place to lighten something to make a face more visible, but those cases are rare.

“I do a lot of cropping though. Lots of times you have to shoot something you don’t like because with live cattle and horses you cannot get close enough to get exactly what you want without other things getting in the way. Cropping is used a lot in my working cowboy photos, other wise I wouldn’t be allowed back.”

Twan’s 2012 Artwalk and Sale exhibit is at Frame Creations by Bruce until Sept. 8.


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A health worker holds a vial of AstraZeneca vaccine to be administered to members of the police at a COVID-19 vaccination center in Mainz, Germany, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. (Andreas Arnold/dpa via AP)
43 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health

368 cases in the region remain active

Cariboo Memorial Hospital emergency doctor Sarah Dressler comes off a night shift on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Our Hometown: The doctor is in the house

Cariboo Memorial Hospital emergency doctor Sarah Dressler was born and raised in Williams Lake

The Williams Lake Trail Riders Arena is slated to have a new roof installed this spring after funding from the province’s Community Economic Recovery Infrastructure Program. (Greg Sabatino photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Trail Riders Arena, stable stalls, to get new roof at Stampede Grounds

Some of the stalls currently aren’t able to be rented out due to leaks in the roof

A sign is seen this past summer outside Yunesit’in Government office west of Williams Lake reminding visitors and members to stay safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Rebecca Dyok photo)
Yunesit’in First Nation completes second round of vaccinations

A total of 26 people have since recovered from COVID-19 after having tested positive

A 100 Mile RCMP officer stands watch at the intersction of Highway 97 and Horse Lake Road. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
Volunteers, police search Highway 97 for articles related to high-speed chase

Search will stretch from Canco Gas Station in Lac La Hache to 150 Mile House.

Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Dr. Bonnie Henry pauses for a moment as she gives her daily media briefing regarding COVID-19 for British Columbia in Victoria, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
7 additional deaths and 542 new COVID-19 cases in B.C.

Provincial health officials reported 18 new COVID-19 cases linked to variants of concern

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The City of Vancouver estimates there are 3,500 Canada geese in the city right now, and that number is growing. (Bruce Hogarth)
Help tame Vancouver’s Canada goose population by reporting nests: park officials

The city is asking residents to be on the lookout so staff can remove nests or addle eggs

Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson (Office of the Chief Justice)
Judge questions whether B.C.’s top doctor appreciated right to religious freedom

Lawyer for province says Dr. Henry has outlined the reasons for her orders publicly

A sample of guns seized at the Pacific Highway border crossing from the U.S. into B.C. in 2014. Guns smuggled from the U.S. are used in criminal activity, often associated with drug gangs. (Canada Border Service Agency)
B.C. moves to seize vehicles transporting illegal firearms

Bill bans sale of imitation or BB guns to young people

BC Housing minister David Eby is concerned that Penticton council’s decision to close a local homeless shelter will result in a “tent city” similar to this one in Everett, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / Black Press file)
‘Disappointed and baffled’ B.C. housing minister warns of tent city in Penticton

Penticton council’s decision to close a local homeless shelter could create tent city, says David Eby

A recently published study out of UBC has found a link between life satisfaction levels and overall health. (Pixabay)
Satisfied with life? It’s likely you’re healthier for it: UBC study

UBC psychologists have found those more satisfied with their life have a 26% reduced risk of dying

A vial of some of the first 500,000 of the two million AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses that Canada has secured through a deal with the Serum Institute of India in partnership with Verity Pharma at a facility in Milton, Ont., on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Carlos Osorio - POOL
Federal panel recommends 4-month gap between COVID vaccine doses due to limited supply

The recommendation applies to all COVID-19 vaccines currently approved in Canada

A vial of Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a family doctor office, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021 in Paris. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP -Christophe Ena
Trudeau ‘optimistic’ that timeline for rollout of COVID vaccines can be accelerated

Canada set to receive more than 6M COVID-19 vaccine dose than initially expected, by end of March

Most Read