Ed Regan was first gifted a camera by his dad over 20 years ago and he says that’s where the passion began.
“I did a cycle tour and photography expedition in Ireland and when I came back, I decided that that is what I wanted to do.”
The North Bay-born Regan has developed a reputation for himself in the Gateway City as one of the area's premier photographers/cinematographers who works with still and moving imagery.
He is the owner and operator of Regan Pictures in North Bay but he says it didn’t just happen overnight when he returned from that trip to Ireland.
“I took a job at Cogeco to help buy more camera equipment and continued to study photography and start the business while I had a steady income,” says Regan.
“This allowed me to establish myself without the pressure of going full-time right away. It eventually reached a point where I was too busy to manage both so I made that leap of faith”
Regan says that risk paid off, but it wasn’t without its ups and downs.
“I dealt with some growing pains initially and learning about the business was steep but it drove me to work harder and continue to learn” says Regan.
“I remember wondering if I would continue to find work, especially with digital cameras emerging and how they were diluting the market. However, I’ve reached a point now where I’ve developed many skills and experience and I’m grateful for the opportunities and people I get to work with. 20 years later I’m still very passionate about what I do and continue to enjoy the process."
When Regan first started out, all his photography was done using film.
“I’ve been through the entire transition from film to digital and having to diversify within that time span,” he says.
He says diversifying allowed him to keep up with the client requests. “DSLR cameras started to include video features and the internet opened up channels for broadcasting content which resulted in more demand for multi-media. It was refreshing to learn something new and exciting to find more opportunities for work. It was a time when photographers were expected to stay in their lane and so this certainly put pressure on some work relationships but looking back now, it was a necessary decision” says Regan.
“At that time in the industry, everyone had their position and photographers were only expected to take photographs but technology changed everything and creating a different market. It’s common now for someone offer multiple services.”
“Just about everyone today has a camera and the device that was once reliant on expensive film and developing prints has turned into an instrument that can be practiced. Learning how to take photographs and create films is exponentially faster than every before and with the help of online tutorials, the potential is endless. I am certainly not a master at any skill yet but I feel like I do a pretty good job in each department and the people I work with recognize that and trust my sensibilities.”
Regan says learning to work with photography and multi-media is what he refers to as being a “commercial artist.”
“I’ve worked mostly creating content for marketing but I also discovered a passion for storytelling and creating music videos along the way.
Having a broad skill set has certainly maximized opportunities which has also been helpful working mostly in a smaller city. I also work internationally but I like living in the north so I never really felt the need to relocated to a big city. North Bay is a great place to live and I’m thankful I was able to stay and build a business here.” says Regan.
“It’s important to continue learning and, as a comparison, the equipment that I work with is like a musical instrument. You have to practice in order to develop and maintain skills especially in an industry that is changing exponentially fast. Passion projects with other artists is a good way to exercise your art."
Regan says that led to him shooting the film ‘About the Girl’ with Kevin Hoffman and Mike Humble which ended up winning a cinematography award.
“That definitely drew some attention to my business,” he says.
Regan says he discovered commercial photography by coincidence after filling in for a drummer at a gig with some people he didn’t know at the time, and during a conversation at the break, those people seemed interested that Regan could do photography on the side.
“They happened to be in the marketing industry and so the Monday after the show, Bernie Penney from Penney and Company called and we did a job together,” says Regan.
“That lead to other recommendations and the rest is history”
“I’ve learned that you’re only as good as your last job and that the effort put into one project will help the next. The work you produce is part of your resume and you always find new things to improve on the next time.”
Regan has also done a lot of work with the North Bay Regional Health Centre and the Health Centre Foundation.
“I’m thankful for the opportunity to work with the foundation and I’ve come to understand the important work they do by engaging the community to helping raise funds for new equipment,” says Regan.
“I recently helped produce a lab tour and I learned how lucky we are to have it here in North Bay. It’s such an important part of the health care system and we have the luxury of accessing immediate lab service instead of having it sent away and waiting longer for results.”
Regan says he enjoys the digital storytelling aspect of this partnership.
“I’m often inspired by the people I work with and I enjoy working with NBRHCF and helping them create awareness about they work they do. The filming process is a collaboration and I’m grateful to be a part of their storytelling projects,” says Regan. “We’ve worked together on the Cancer Care Close to home campaign with Tara Piersanti Blake and also featured family stories with Ron Button & the Pace Family."
Regan adds he’s also worked with other big contributors to the foundation and its his goal to amplify their story.
“It definitely feels good to be part of the team creating awareness on the importance of giving back to the hospital,” he says. “From my perspective, I’m just the person pushing buttons behind the equipment and a lot of the credit goes to the people like Tammy Morison (President and CEO at North Bay Regional Health Centre Foundation) and Kendra Clarke (Senior Development Officer - North Bay Regional Health Centre Foundation) who provide direction for these projects.”
Regan continues, “I also worked with Kimberley McElroy from NBRHC’s communications department on the awareness campaigns during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. Those were directed at helping the community understand where the Covid assessment centre was and other information they might need to know.”
Regan says he’s enjoyed a good working relationship with businesses, organizations and individuals from the area over the last two-plus decades and he hopes to continue being able to capture and tell the stories of people in and around North Bay.
“I work mostly on larger projects now and with people that understand what it takes to get quality results. The creative process is nonlinear so you can end up spending a lot of time getting things right. For me, it’s harder to compromise and then witness the potential afterwards so I’d rather over deliver and chalk it up to experience. I’ve earned my sensibilities and I take my job seriously because I understand it’s an important part of communications.”