James Stalker has always been intrigued by the big questions. That’s why for almost as long as he’s been ripping down mountains, he’s been looking up to the starry skies.
And it’s reflected in his art. Stalker has been using the backdrop of Sun Peaks to create nighttime images that capture the deep mystery and beauty of dark nights. He’s been honing his skills for the past three years and learned much about his craft as well as himself.
In a world where people are constantly digitally distracted, the solitude allows him time for introspection that the daily grind doesn’t really provide.
“It’s nice to have the alone time, right? When you’re staring up at the sky there’s no other influence, no one is there influencing your thoughts. It’s good to get some perspective and some time to reflect.”
He rarely shoots during the day, preferring the adventure of exploring during the night. When he’s not working his job as a miner in Kamloops, he’s scouting locations and logging roads that provide interesting views, angles and compositions and using Instagram as inspiration for new photos.
Wanting to spend as much time snowboarding as possible, Stalker focused on building his skill set to snag a job at one of the regional mines. The seven-day rotation is perfect, allowing him to afford his home in the resort and spend his free time on his passions; photography, drone filming, snowboarding and recently, downhill mountain biking.
“I just got into downhill this year because I’m living up here and you have to take advantage,” he said, adding it was scary but also a ton of fun. “I think I crashed twice on my first day but I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face. I can’t believe I didn’t start sooner.”
Stalker, 31, is originally from Kamloops and has been skiing Harper and Sun Peaks since the age of three. He’s never felt the need to stray too far from home.
“It’s the quality of the riding, compared to the busyness. It’s kind of a best kept secret I think. It’s like Kamloops, it’s a perfect medium. It’s not a big city, but it’s also not a small town. There’s always something to do, but it’s not congested.
“Sun Peaks is like that. There’s dead times, like now (October), which is nice. Some people don’t like it, but I do. I like the quiet, a lot.”
It’s also a great location for photographing stars. The valley and forest combined with minimal light pollution is the perfect environment for shooting the milky way, the planets and the northern lights.
“It’s so beautiful here…and it has such dark skies. I just have to go literally steps out my front door (to shoot). In Kamloops, you have to drive for about a half hour to 45 minutes to where you get some good dark skies.”
He was always interested in photography but started to get into it seriously while recovering from knee surgery. In fact, he purchased his first camera while still coming out of sedation.
“It was definitely the right decision, I’ve upgraded a few times since then.”
The first print he sold was to a Sun Peaks’ condo owner whose building was included in one of Stalker’s Instagram photos. While it’s not the driving force of his art, he said it’s nice to see people buying his photos for their homes, as well as having people from around the world connect with him through his online profile.
“I get interesting conversations in the DMs about people who never get to see the night skies because they live in cities…I meet a lot of really cool people around the world who I’ll probably never really meet but it’s cool to just connect with people like that.”
Right now he’s enjoying the shoulder season and the quieter pace of life in the resort while looking forward to riding his favorite secret spots and playing in the Sun Peaks Hockey League.
While he originally planned to live in his Sun Peaks property for only a few years, he’s now finding it harder to think of leaving as he’s enjoying living in the community so much.
“I feel like there’s lots of people doing lots of interesting stuff up here, it’s cool, and maybe more so than before. It’s kind of like the generational change.”
He’ll be planning his holidays around the lunar cycle, looking for the next new moon to provide the black canvas for his long exposure shots, that hopefully coincide with a few powder days.
Follow Stalker at @matildaface and search #MySunPeaks for his @sunpeaksnews