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.


Just Posted

The first Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine dose in Canada is prepared at The Michener Institute in Toronto on Monday, Dec. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
One death, 39 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

There are 484 active cases of the virus in the region currently

Const. Dan Cohen is a member of the Williams Lake RCMP detachment. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Our Hometown: Serving the community

“Williams Lake is a good community to be involved with,” says RCMP Const. Dan Cohen

Central Mountain Air confirmed it does not plan to resume service to Williams Lake at this time. (Betsy Kline photo)
Central Mountain Air not resuming route to Williams Lake at this time

Scheduled CMA flights will return to Quesnel at the end of June

Gibraltar Mine has started calling back 34 workers laid off on April 27 because it has received its permit to reactive the Gibraltar East Pit. (Taseko Mines Ltd. photo)
Gibraltar Mine receives permit, calling back laid off employees

Mining has begun in the Gibraltar East pit

(RCMP logo)
RCMP investigating early morning assault in Williams Lake

An insecure firearm was located in a residence

B.C. Labour Minister Harry Bains in the B.C. legislature, May 13, 2019. (Hansard TV)
VIDEO: B.C. to provide 3 days of sick pay for COVID-19 absences

Province will support employers on cost, labour minister says

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

BC Housing minister David Eby. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito)
Eby jabs back against Penticton mayor’s ad urging BC Premier to intervene in shelter dispute

Eby writes that Penticton’s ‘serious’ social issues won’t improve under leadership of the mayor

What3words was first created in the U.K. in 2013 and is credited to saving the lives of outdoor enthusiasts around the world. (Contributed)
‘This is a life saving tool’: App helps paramedics find capsized canoeists near Revelstoke

What3words pinpoints the person’s phone location to a three-meter range

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, April 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 rate creeps up again, 600 new cases Wednesday

One more death, 423 people in hospital with virus

B.C. Agriculture Minister Lana Popham takes questions in the B.C. legislature in 2017. (Hansard TV)
UPDATE: B.C. will fund another year of fresh fruit, vegetables, milk in schools

John Horgan government working on school meal program

Surrey RCMP is releasing sketches of a suspect in an “indecent act” at the Coyote Creek Elementary playground on April 30, 2021. Police said the suspect was clean-shaven “during some interactions” and on “other occasions had stubble outlining a goatee and mustache.” (Images: Surrey RCMP handout)
Vancouver mayor-elect Kennedy Stewart addresses supporters in Vancouver on Sunday, Oct. 21, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver mayor says there’s no time to redo details of drug decriminalization plan

Kennedy Stewart says a federal election could see the small window of opportunity close on the city’s bid for an exemption from criminal provisions on simple possession of small amounts of drugs

Premier Mike Horgan received his first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. (Facebook/John Horgan)
More than 50% of people eligible in B.C. have received 1st vaccine dose

‘We’ve made extraordinary progress together over the past few weeks,’ says Premier Horgan

Most Read