As a child I absolutely adored Life Magazine, National Geographic and any publication or book with photographs.
The impact of seeing children my age running naked in terror from bombs in Vietnam touched my young soul. My social conscience and concern for the natural world and humanity grew from those images. A photo truly is worth 1000 words!
When I was 16-years-old I began working part-time for the Times-Colonist daily newspaper – a natural fit considering my early love of photojournalism. By age 19, I was working in the editorial department as a junior reporter, rewrite person and became the Special Sections Editor in my late 20’s.
By working a night shift in the editorial department, I was able to put myself through university, complete formal education and training in photography, and take on freelance photography assignments for numerous clients and publications.
What started off simply as a desire to learn enough about photography to go into an interview with a camera, turned into a full-time career. I’ve been self-employed as a professional photographer for more than two decades and wake up every day with an attitude of gratitude and lust for life. I’m truly honoured to capture the best in everyone and every situation I am given.
1990 – Present
Freelance professional photographer, writer/editor, video producer, photo adjudicator, photography and multi-media workshop facilitator.
2012 – 2017
Co-ordinate and manage Creatively United for the Planet annual community Earth Week Festival. Responsible for website, newsletter, communication, assembling volunteer team, exhibitors, sponsors, speakers, artists, musicians and overall design, look and execution of event and related marketing.
2010 – 2012
Developed vision and mandate for Creatively United for the Planet, organized and launched first free community Earth Week Festival. Register as a not-for-profit society in 2012.
1978 – 1994
Times-Colonist Daily Newspaper
1978/1979 part-time clerk; 1980-1989 editorial office assistant, junior reporter, editor; 1990-1994 Special Sections Coordinator, plus section writer, editor and photographer; 2012-2014 Freelance Photographer/House Beautiful.
Career & Community Highlights
- 2017 Victoria Community Leadership Award Winner.
- Coordinated 30+ interviews and produced three half-hour shows to air on SHAW, YouTube and Creatively United late fall showcasing local change makers and grassroots solutions for a better world.
- Launched SolutionsHub.ca as part of Creatively United for the Planet Society.
- Conceived, wrote and produced first television pilot for This Is Leadership, featuring Reliable Controls, one of Victoria’s leading tech and greenest employers.
- Hosted a gala fundraiser for Creatively United featuring the photography of one of Canada’s preeminent landscape photographers, Courtney Milne at the Robert Bateman Centre.
- Organized an art show with a recycle/upcycle theme at the Robert Bateman Centre as part of Creatively United for the Planet Earth Week activities.
- Coordinated 6th Annual Creatively United for the Planet Earth Day festival and sustainability showcase at the Royal BC Museum, including Vancouver Island’s largest electric vehicle show.
- Led a photo tour to Iceland.
- Artist/exhibitor Township of Esquimalt Art Show exhibitor.
- Artist/exhibitor Sidney Fine Arts Show exhibitor.
- Organized a group art show and exhibited at the Creatively United Earth Week Festival, plus coordinated and managed a local, organic Farm-to-Table Dinner and live concert for 150 guests at Royal Bay Secondary for opening night, April 15th.
- Coordinated 120 exhibitors, eight artists, 20 musicians, an electric bike and electric vehicle showcase, plus 22 presentations and workshops April 16 at Royal Bay Secondary School.
- Coordinated 18 musicians, 8 artists, filmmakers, storytellers and international speakers for April 22+23 at the Royal BC Museum.
- Solo show in gallery at the Robert Bateman Centre (April/May 2016).
- Organized a group art show and exhibited at the Royal BC Museum (April 2016).
- Artist/exhibitor at the Sooke Fine Arts Show.
- Artist/exhibitor at Township Community Arts Council Show.
- Federal Green Party of Canada candidate for Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke riding.
- Coordinated Creatively United for the Planet Festival both at St. Ann’s Academy in 2014 and at the English Inn in 2015. Both festivals were similar in size and scope as noted above with dinners, art shows, music, presentations and displays as noted above. Celebrated artists Robert Bateman, Nick Bantock and David Goatley were among the featured speakers/guests in 2014.
- Stepping Into Nature published. This book is available from the Greater Victoria Public Library and documents a year-long collaborative project I conceived and carried out with Rockheights Middle School (School District 61) to inspire Grade 6+7 students to learn more about surrounding ecosystems so that they would take more care of a nearby Garry Oak forest and park, their community and adopt greener practices at home and at school. I did the writing, layout, design and photography for the book.
- Judge for Professional Photographers of Canada provincial print competition (Vancouver).
- Finalist for Victoria Leadership Award.
- Artist/exhibitor at the Sidney Fine Art Show (2014) and the Township Community Arts Council Shows (2014/2015).
- Led photo tour to India for Niche Travel.
- Published Higher Ground, an educational colouring book I conceived and worked collaboratively on with a professional illustrator to inspire children to make healthy choices.
- Received Torch-Bearer Award from Sri Chinmoy Institute for Creatively United.
- Received Maharishi Award for the Environment from Maharishi University of Management.
- Coordinated Creatively United for the Planet Festival at St. Ann’s Academy, including live concerts, music, speakers, exhibitors and an eco fashion show featuring local designers and up-cycled fashions, a Bring Your Own Teacup fairtrade tea party, featured more than 100 local musicians, introduced audiences to Living the New Economy and Idea Jam and held an outdoor all-candidates debate as part of this community event.
- Conceived, organized, wrote text and provided photography tips for Nature in the Heart of the City Nature Map, a collaborative project with the Robert Bateman Centre, incorporating Robert Bateman’s painting into a cartoon map that explains and shows where relevant species can be found in the city.
- Conceived, organized and co-created a rack card illustrating reasons not to idle, especially while texting.
- Finalist for Victoria Leadership Award.
- Led photo tour to Croatia for Departure’s Travel.
- Received (CRD) EcoStar Community Leadership Award for Creatively United for the Planet Society first community Earth Week celebration where more than 2,500 people attended. This event featured collaborative group concerts, the Getting Higher Choir, Ann Mortifee and Paul Horn, exhibits mostly by NGO’s, a youth art show and auction, a talk by Robert Bateman, local food and more.
- Conceived, organized and co-created two educational rack cards on Why Trees are Important and The Importance of Environmental NGO’s, plus created a colouring page illustrating the interconnectedness of nature and the importance of conservation.
- Photo/Multi Media Art Instructor at the Metchosin Summer School of the Arts (MISSA) at Pearson College of the Pacific.
- Nominated for Photographer of the Year by the Professional Photographers Association of BC.
- Judge international photography competition and Master class lecturer at SWPP @ the Societies in London, England.
- Awarded SWPP 2010 Press & News Photographer of the Year, UK.
- Judged at (WPPI) international photography convention at the MGM Grand Hotel, Las Vegas.
- Chosen to be part of the Be the Change campaign by the Land Conservancy of BC (TLC).
- Led photo tour to Italy for Blaney’s Travel.
2010 – 1990
- Was one of the first accredited female Canadian photo adjudicators to be chosen and repeatedly invited to attend, adjudicate, lecture and provide Master classes at North America’s largest annual international photography convention in Las Vegas for almost a decade with more than 10,000 delegates in attendance.
- Accredited photo adjudicator, print show jury chairperson and speaker for Professional Photographers of Canada (PPOC) and Professional Photographers Association of British Columbia (PPABC), travelling from coast to coast.
- Published in Professional Imagemaker Magazine (Europe) June/July and October/November 2010 editions.
- Published in The Societies Collection (UK) 2010 hardcover book of award-winning imagery, plus numerous books, including The Best of Children’s Photography and The Best of Wedding Photography (Amherst Press/USA).
- Received International Photographic Award of Excellence, Las Vegas (2009).
- Received Order of Fellowship, the highest designation possible from the Professional Photographers Association of Canada (PPOC) (2008);
- Images chosen for cross country exhibition and PPOC National Loan Collection.
- Nominated three times for Photographer of the Year by the Professional Photographers Association of BC and the
- Professional Photographers Association of Canada.
- Received three prestigious Kodak Gallery Awards, FujiFilm, plus two FujiFilm Merit Awards (1999+2000). I was the first female Canadian photographer to have won these FujiFilm awards.
- Received Master of Photographic Art (MPA) from the Professional Photographers Association of Canada (PPOC) in 2001.
- Received Accolade of Outstanding Photographic Achievement, Las Vegas, (WPPI/1999).
- Received Accolade of Photographic Mastery, Las Vegas (WPPI/1997).
- Finalist for YMCA/YWCA Women of Distinction Award.
- Received more than 25 top awards in various professional competitions (PPABC, WPPI & PPOC) (1990-1997).
1994 – 1978
I enjoyed a long history with the Times-Colonist Daily Newspaper, starting when I was 16 years-old and worked my way into the editorial department before I was twenty as a junior reporter/rewrite person/editorial assistant and was the Special Sections Editor by the time I left in 1994 to pursue my own freelance writing and photography business.
As the Special Sections Editor I was responsible for coordinating, interviewing, writing all the editorial content, including headlines and cut lines in each special section, including photography, and laying out the section.
I was also the Managing Editor of Where Magazine Publishing for a short time.
Graduated from Reynolds Secondary School.
1982 – 1988
Completed two years university transfer credits, plus first year of Camosun College’s Applied Communications Program, and graduated with a Bachelor’s in Business Administration from Camosun College in 1988 while working a night shift at the Times-Colonist.
1989 – 1990
Graduated with Best Student Portfolio from the Western Academy of Photography
1990 – Present
Attended more than 100 art, photography and community-making workshops and conferences.
I’m honoured to have been interviewed by Bonney King
and featured on Warrior Girl Productions.
Today we raise our fists high and put our hands together in celebration our Feature Girl Warrior, award winning accredited Master photographer, Frances Litman, a passionate crusader for the environment, an international speaker, community connector, and founder and managing director of the Creatively United for the Planet Society. Frances also teaches photography, leads international photo tours with travel agencies; and her work is regularly accepted into adjudicated art shows. She was the Special Sections Editor at the Times-Colonist where she had a 15-year career, mostly in the newsroom, resigning as the Special Sections Editor in 1994 to pursue her growing photography business full-time. In her 24-year professional photography career, Frances has seen the world through both wide angle and telephoto lenses and everything in between, resulting in her awakening to the big picture need for environmental protection through community connection.
What makes you a Girl Warrior?
I came into this world as an orphan and spent most of my youth in foster care with inadequate financial and emotional support, however, I didn’t let my circumstances define me. My determination and an attitude of gratitude have helped me in everything I do.
I worked for the Times-Colonist at night, completed a post-secondary education by day, and built a thriving writing, photography and marketing business on the side. I was the Special Sections Editor when I left the Times-Colonist 16 years later and was replaced by a department of three people.
For two decades, I was one of Vancouver Island’s most awarded photographers and bought my first house at age 30. I’ve travelled the world as a photographer, photo educator and contest adjudicator, travel host and have overcome major obstacles that have never stopped me from pursuing my passions.
You founded Creatively United for the Planet in 2010. What inspired you to start this non-profit collective and why?
I have captured the world through many different lenses, from a close up/macro perspective to telephoto and every focal length in between. Having done this for so many years I really began to piece together an appreciation for the bigger picture.
As an artist, I’m a lover of beauty. Although I tend to photograph people, the natural world is where I find boundless beauty. When I became aware of how little of our environment is protected and how social justice issues are often directly related to land/water and resource issues, I became seriously concerned.
My own backyard taught me to appreciate the variety of species that exist in one tree alone and having seen city after city, I really came to realize how special our natural environment is and how we need to care for it and not take it for granted.
I could see that those organizations doing the hero work in saving our trees, water, salmon, lifestyle and democracy needed more support so I decided to create one of the first Earth Day/Week long arts and cultural celebrations to bring attention to these groups and issues that face us all but few people seemed to be aware of.
Share some of the society’s accomplishments and highlights since 2010.
More than 10,000 people have attended Creatively United for the Planet events since 2012. In 2012, I was awarded a CRD EcoStar Community Leadership Award, was a finalist twice for a Leadership Victoria Community Leadership Award (2013, 2015) and won it this year on behalf of Creatively United.
I led projects that also resulted in Creatively United publishing two books in the past three years – one that documents a project we created with Rockheights Middle School called Stepping Into Nature (available in the public library), and the other is an educational cartoon colour book called Higher Ground that creatively explores the importance of happy and healthy lifestyles in harmony with nature.
I also set up a collaborative partnership with the Robert Bateman Centre on two projects, an educational map showcasing Nature In the Heart of the City and the other an exhibition of artwork using discarded beach plastics and various castoffs that helped launch a young Saltspring Island artist.
This year, my vision for a free online community portal that celebrates and showcases Vancouver Island grassroots leadership, resources and community events was launched. Thisisleadership.org is a hub of community goodness to keep conversations going and growing that start at our many festivals and allows them to continue year-round.
Was running as a Federal Candidate for the Green Party of Canada in 2015 the natural/logical next step for you?
I never had any aspirations to be a politician. However, I was asked to run by several people who I admire and respect greatly for their integrity and vision who knew I was passionate to see environmental and social justice issues be brought to the forefront and saw this as a way to catalyze those conversations and give people something to vote for.
After reading the Green Party platform, I was honoured to be asked to be a candidate. It was a contested candidacy, which meant I had to win the support of the party and its members first. It was nerve wracking from the moment I said yes. I had to learn a lot of information exceptionally quickly and deal with new situations every day.
What did you learn from that experience?
This was “warrior training” at its best. It was my version of climbing Mount Everest.
The 2015 federal election was the longest in Canadian history and I gave it my all every day, seven days a week for nine solid months. It was truly grueling, yet exhilarating.
It taught me how much I was capable of doing as I had to overcome new fears every day.
I was completely out of my comfort zone. I was comfortable being behind the camera not in front of it. My private life was no longer private and my well-established career was put on hold. It was a big gamble. I had to learn how the political system worked, plus digest 176-pages of Green Party policy immediately and be prepared to talk about it on a moment’s notice. It certainly gave me an appreciation for how much more knowledgeable and involved we need to be to ensure we don’t loose everything to apathy and how much work Elizabeth May does for Canada and our community.
What has been the biggest challenge running your photography business?
Initially it was managing the success I created. I was working seven days a week constantly for more than 15 years and loving every minute of it but not taking enough time off to enjoy other things. Since the advent of digital photography, it’s been extremely challenging to have people value professional photography like they used to when it was a learned craft that blended art and science. Fortunately, those 15 years of working seven days a week paid off as I don’t have to work as hard now and can invest my free time into pursuing my other interests and passions.
What obstacles have you overcome and walls have you broken down?
I’ve learned to let go of perfection, say no to things I don’t really want to do and surrender to the moment more. I’m much happier as a result. I also used to feel really lonely because of my lack of family but have come to realize the world is my family and my destiny is completely my own. I have a really rich, delicious and much more expansive life now.
How do you keep your creative juices flowing?
Easy, they are always flowing. Controlling my creative urges is the hardest as I always have new ideas and things I want to try. I’m never bored! Two of the best things I now do for myself is to spend more time in nature and meditate.
In May you hosted the Niche Women’s Tour in Iceland. What was that like?
Amazing, I love working with Cathy Scott and Colleen Johnson at Departures Travel/Niche. They know how to package amazing trips for women who want to just show up, see and do fabulous things and let someone else take care of the details.
Iceland is one of the most naturally beautiful countries I’ve ever seen and experienced. It’s a photographer’s dream.
Over the years, you’ve taken some risks and courageously put yourself out there. Looking back on the journey, what would you tell your younger Girl Warrior?
Don’t waste time on worrying. Put your energy where your passion is and trust it will all work out. And… ask for help if you need it.
What would you say to the next generation of Girl Warriors looking for inspiration?
You can do anything you set your mind to, it may take lots of work but stay true to what you want and you will achieve it. Don’t let negative people or self-talk get in your way. Remain true to yourself, don’t do things to try and please everyone else. If something isn’t working, move on. You are beautiful just as you are. Be aware of all the ways we are conditioned to operate from a place of not being good enough, to be fearful, etc. It’s not necessary to be like everyone else or follow trends. Set them instead. And last but not least, be grateful for everything, including the hard lessons, as everything is a learning experience.
Who is/are your Girl Warrior hero(s)?
Girls and women who stand up for social justice, equality, human and environmental rights and lead by example. There are so many, but one of them is Marlene Lewis, who I do writing, marketing and media work for to help raise awareness of her passion to end dyslexia so that people can live to their highest potential. Marlene is truly remarkable as she could retire, but instead she is donating her time and energy to share new information about brain science and methods to end dyslexia, as well as she is a volunteer facilitator with Landmark Education and helps people transform their lives, plus she recently became a co-owner in a 69-acre farm where she has planted hundreds of trees to help offset global warming.
I’m working on creating a series of interviews in partnership with Shaw TV on local grassroots leaders in our community – mostly the unsung heroes who are doing incredible things not many people know about, but should. As well, I’m creating an arts-based educational program for middle to high school students and launching a series of fun play shops for adults to bring out their creative genie.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I hope to be delivering inspiring and information talks and fun workshops and sharing the millions of images in my collection in impactful ways.
What message would you put on a t-shirt?
If It’s Going to Be, It’s Up to Me
WHEN EXPERIENCE MATTERS
Frances Litman is a passionate artist, photographer and crusader for environmental causes. She has supported herself and numerous charities for her entire working life from her creativity. Her photography has graced book covers, magazines, newspapers, and can be found on websites and in homes far and wide.
In addition to being a full-time professional photographer for more than two decades, Frances also teaches photography and creativity classes with a childlike enthusiasm that brings out the artistic genie in everyone.
“I am truly dedicated to excellence and in doing so, I strive to not only meet but exceed my client’s expectations with excellent service and eye-catching photography finished to the highest standards in the industry.
When photographing people, it’s crucial for me to quickly put everyone at ease so that they look as relaxed and natural as possible. I make my sessions a fun and pleasurable experience to ensure no one looks stiff or posed.
I love to come up with fresh angles and to find the art in everyone and everything.
I conduct my business with professionalism, integrity and honesty. I value my clients and respect and honour their needs.”
Frances’ love and concern for the natural world has seen her grow into a champion of environmental causes that directly affect all of us from the food we eat to the air we breathe.
This passion has led Frances to found the Creatively United for the Planet Society and put on very successful community Earth Week festivals where more than 10,000 people have come out in support since 2012. Frances was awarded a 2012 CRD EcoStar Community Leadership Award for her efforts.
For more information and to see videos and photographs, please visit the Creatively United website.
TRAINED TO NOTICE THE DETAILS THAT OTHERS MISS
Frances is one of only a handful of western Canadian female photographers that has received both Master and Craftsman of Photographic Arts designations (CPA and MPA) and print judging certification from the Professional Photographers Association of Canada (PPOC) and is frequently asked to speak and judge at photography conventions and competitions in Canada, the US, and overseas. In 2008, she received the Order of Fellowship from the Professional Photographers Association of Canada, the highest designation possible.
Frances has also received both an Accolade of Photographic Mastery (APM) and an Accolade of Outstanding Photographic Achievement (AOPA) from Wedding and Portrait Photographers International (WPPI). Until recently, Frances was one of the only female Canadian photographers to have been invited to adjudicate at WPPI’s annual photography competition/convention in Las Vegas.
A VICTORIA PHOTOGRAPHER WITH A CONVENIENT, FULLY-EQUIPPED STUDIO AND ON-LOCATION FLEXIBILITY
Frances has a beautiful studio with a wide variety of one-of-a-kind, hand-painted backgrounds, a multitude of props and sumptuous furniture to meet any need, plus full on-location flexibility.
Conveniently located just 10 minutes from downtown Victoria, British Columbia, Frances has plenty of free parking and operates her business and personal life with a positive, earth-friendly attitude that is green-based and community-minded.
AWARD WINNING PHOTOGRAPHY ANYWHERE YOU WANT IT
If you have a particular location in mind, Frances is happy to travel to meet your needs although she also has a lovely outdoor garden studio and beach areas just steps away from her studio door.
INTERNATIONAL PHOTO TOURS & LESSONS
At the invitation of travel companies, Frances has led boutique tours to France, Italy, Croatia and Santa Fe and welcomes the opportunity to teach photography to groups of all sizes both locally and internationally. Beginner to intermediate photographers are her specialty.
“I love to show people the short cuts that I wish I had learned and get them using their cameras in more creative ways so they can greatly improve the quality of the images they take. It’s really important to me that people have fun while they are learning.”
AWARDS & RECOGNITION
Judge for Provincial Print Competition (Vancouver)
Led tour to India with Niche Travel
Torch-Bearer Award from Sri Chinmoy
Maharishi Award for the Environment
Finalist for Victoria Leadership Award 2013
2012 Capital Regional District (CRD) EcoStar Community Leadership Award for founding Creatively United for the Planet Society and launching an Earth Week Festival in support of more than two dozen NGO’s and charities.
Judged the 16×20 international photography competition and was invited to give a guest Master class lecture at SWPP @ theSocieties in London, England in January 2011.
Judged at Wedding & Portrait Photographers International (WPPI) international photography convention at the MGM Grand Hotel, Las Vegas.
Chosen to be part of the Be the Change campaign by the Land Conservancy of BC (TLC)
Photo/Art Instructor at the prestigious Metchosin Summer School of the Arts (MISSA) at Pearson College of the Pacific.
Winner of Best Portrait of a Lady and Best Wedding Group Portrait, plus nominated for Photographer of the Year by the Professional Photographers Association of BC.
Judge at international photography convention at MGM Grand Hotel, Las Vegas, with Wedding & Portrait Photographers International (WPPI) in the Premier and portrait division.
Received 2nd Bar from Professional Photographers of Canada (PPOC).
Published in Professional Imagemaker Magazine (Europe) June/July and October/November editions.
Published in The Societies Collection 2010 hardcover book of award-winning imagery.
SWPP 2010 Press & News Photographer of the Year, UK
Judge at international photography convention at MGM Grand Hotel, Las Vegas, with Wedding & Portrait Photographers International (WPPI) in the Premier and portrait division.
Judge at Professional Photographers Association of British Columbia (PPABC) annual convention in Richmond, BC.
International Award of Excellence in Wedding category, WPPI, Las Vegas.
Order of Fellowship, the highest designation possible from the Professional Photographers Association of Canada (PPOC).
Second place trophy in the prestigious 16×20 awards competition for Commercial/Illustration category presented in Las Vegas by Wedding & Portrait Photographers International (WPPI)
Judge at international photography convention at Bally’s & Paris, Las Vegas with Wedding & Portrait Photographers International (WPPI) in the Engagement & Premier division.
Best Unclassified Image and Judge’s Choice from Professional Photographers Association of BC (PPABC).
Images chosen for cross country exhibition and PPOC National Loan Collection.
Judge at international photography convention at Bally’s & Paris, Las Vegas with Wedding & Portrait Photographers International (WPPI) in Wedding Album, Portrait and Premier categories.
Judge at international photography convention at Bally’s & Paris, Las Vegas with Wedding & Portrait Photographers International (WPPI).
Speaker at the annual convention of the Professional Photographers of Canada (PPOC) in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Speaker and print show jury chairperson at the annual convention of the Professional Photographers Association of British Columbia (PPABC) in Victoria.
Photo leader/instructor in Italy.
Judge at international photography convention at Bally’s, Las Vegas with WPPI.
Plus, photo tour leader to west coast beaches with Wilson’s Travel.
Masterclass instructor and judge at Bally’s, Las Vegas for the international photographic convention WPPI. As well, upcoming speaker for the Canadian Camera Convention.
Vancouver Island Business Award of Excellence.
Featured in two new books The Best of Children’s Photography and The Best of Wedding Photography.
Wedding Album of the Year in Canada, top honour presented by the Professional Photographers Association of Canada.
Best Wedding Album, Top trophy Professional Photographers Association of British Columbia, also Fuji Masterpiece Award for Best Wedding Album.
Women of Distinction nominee. Nominated by Daphne Goode of SHAW Cable and Grania Litwin of the Times-Colonist Newspaper.
Kodak Gallery Award for Best Wedding / Couple Photography in BC;
Master of Photographic Art, Professional Photographers Association of Canada (PPOC)
Photographer of the Year, Professional Photographers Association of BC (PPABC)
Fujifilm Canadian Merit Award (1999 & 2000), FujiFilm (Frances is the only female Canadian photographer to have won these awards!)
Top BC Wedding Photographer (PPABC))
Kodak Gallery Award for Best Wedding Photojournalism;
Accolade of Outstanding Photographic Achievement, Wedding & Portrait Photographers International (WPPI)
Accolade of Photographic Mastery (WPPI)
Over 25 awards in various professional competitions (PPABC, WPPI & PPOC)