When I was thirteen, my mother, Barb Everett, bought me my first professional camera, a Canon T3i. I was living in Stanley Mission, SK and had four best friends I was very close to. I was getting interested in photography and would gather my friends and do their hair and makeup and we’d wander into the wilderness and take pictures. We’d go for a walk around town and just take silly photos. I wasn’t trying to create the most amazing pictures; I just wanted to have fun with it.
To this day, that’s the same camera I use; I love it, it’s my pride and joy. As I got older and continued to work with my camera, my mother noticed I had a real passion for photography, so she had bought me lenses that I’ve always wanted. I’m very grateful for that. This gift really stepped up my photography game. I would ask my cousin Cheyenne (who was always willing to get in front of the camera) if I could practice with her. She was my go-to model. I’d glam her up and snap a million photos. We’d take pictures inside, playing around with light using a lamp. Then we’d go outside and use natural lighting, which is what I always prefer these days. We’d run around our little Rez and find a location to snap a few pictures, then when Cheyenne got her license, we went searching for places to shoot. I really enjoyed those days. Taking pictures of somebody made me feel like a “professional,” and it was fun. I loved telling Cheyenne what to do, be it stepping in deep snow, laying in the tall grass or getting a little wet, and she was always willing to do it.
This practice led to me building up the courage to ask other people if I could take their pictures, or people asking if I could take them. I was always glad to.
It was such a nice feeling knowing somebody wanted ME to take their pictures.
I was often very insecure about my photography skills because I wasn’t a professional or anything, but it was something I thoroughly enjoyed doing. I really enjoyed the whole process behind the scenes. I enjoyed seeing people shy in front of the camera then slowly becoming more comfortable, seeing friends laugh together and cracking jokes. And of course, bossing people around (kidding).
I always do my photo shoots outside. I like that I could go anywhere, if that’s deep in the woods, or on the side of the road. It always has the best lighting anyways, and the most amazing views.
Years went by and I started experimenting taking photos of northern lights. It wasn’t easy, it took me a lot of researching and practicing getting it right. And when I finally captured a photo that I was proud of, it made me feel very accomplished, learning how to do something new in photography is a great feeling. But capturing the northern lights is my absolute favorite thing to do, as they are something I adore dearly. I would wander into the night and find the best location to capture these dancing lights. It made me feel free going out into my little Rez and seeing these lights in the sky, so peaceful and vibrant. I would often think about my grandfather saying, “don’t whistle, they’ll grab you,” and giggle to myself.
I’m still no professional but photography is something I absolutely love doing, I love getting behind the camera and capturing the beauty of life. Capturing memories and those special little moments. I was very honored to get asked to capture graduates on their big days, capture mothers who were growing a bundle of joy, capture couples who were madly in love. And just capturing my life, what surrounded me, what interested me. I love that images speak a thousand words, I love that you could look back at a memory and reminisce, kind of like you’re reliving it. I love how creative you could get with photography and make images your own.
I bring my camera everywhere with me because I never know when I want to capture something I could look back on and cherish forever.
– brandee everett
Brandee Everett is Dënesųłiné from English River First Nation. She graduated from Valley View School in 2017 then attended the Aboriginal Police Preparation Program at Sask Polytechnic and earned her certificate in crisis intervention and de-escalation among other things like the SIGMA and PISGA exams. She’s currently working as a cashier in her hometown of Beauval, SK and plans on enrolling in school again, to attend a Practical Nursing Program. To keep in touch, connect with her on her Instagram: @brandee_everett