10 Questions with Mason Neufeld.

10 Questions is our newest interview series—Different photographers. Different paths. Same 10 Questions. Today we welcome Mason Neufeld!

1. What are 3 things you take to every shoot?

  1. Pentax 645Nii and 3 film backs (Loaded with Portra 400, 800 and perhaps Cinestill 800T).
  2. An Olympus Stylus point-and-shoot camera (loaded with Kodak Gold 200 or Cinestill 800T).
  3. A Nikon Z6II and 50L digital set up (I shoot hybrid).

2. Tell us about how you got into photography:

This is the only job I’ve ever had as an adult and my story of discovering that I wanted to be an artist is short and simple: I just always knew. In little notes on school projects my mom has saved over the years, you’ll find “Natre Potogafer” scribbled under every “What I Want to Be When I Grow Up.” Developing the confidence to pursue my dream, however, wasn’t a simple process—despite my strong intrinsic knowing that it was the right path for me. I grew up in a small town, in a place where the minds given to creative pursuits or “alternative lifestyles” spanned even smaller than the populace. Now, I couldn’t imagine my life any other way. I feel absolutely liberated and free from the boundaries that many societies have built. What an immense privilege!

Portra 400 / Olympus Stylus / Frontier SP3000

3. What’s something about you that would surprise most people?

During the North American Summer season, I live out of a tiny van that I camper-ized myself in order to travel all over Western Canada from wedding to wedding. While doing so, I enjoy rock climbing, mountaineering and just being in nature in general. During the North American Winter season, I live atop a mountain in the middle of the jungle in Costa Rica, where my partner and I are building a home and spending our days on reforestation projects and teaching outdoor education programs to school-aged kids.

Cinestill 800T / Olympus Stylus / Frontier SP3000

4. Describe your creative process:

A creative brain is never not participating in its own creative process, from morning to night, in every moment.

As I write this, steam is rising off my morning coffee, illuminated by the rising golden sun. Perhaps I see it for the beauty it is—particles of steam bursting near the top of a ghostly, twirling shape. Then, maybe I take a sip and begin to look at it a bit deeper: the steam reminds me of long, flowing white dresses, and how they can be illuminated by golden light in a similar manner. If I were to have my film camera pointed toward such a light moment at a shoot, maybe I'd lower my shutter speed to make a dress a bit blurry, reminiscent of the steam I once saw rising off my morning coffee.

A huge part of my creative process is living a lifestyle in which I feel safe to let creative visions like this exist. I always write them down in my journals, like a little skit, so that when I find myself at a photoshoot or wedding and a new lighting moment presents itself, my memory can literally draw from my endless bank of personal inspiration. This way, in the heat of a shoot, I am empowered by all of the ideas I had in my decidedly calmer-than-wedding moments.

Of course, my "Creative Process" is much more complex than just feeling inspired, drawing little pictures and bringing them to life through an educated knowledge of analog and photographic processes. Creativity is a process itself—it’s an ongoing and infinite loop, ever refining and becoming more imaginative and exciting as I feed into it!

In order to feed the fire of my creative process more and more, I ALWAYS turn to non-photographic sources. I need ample time alone wandering through nature, reading books, doing yoga, meditating, experiencing romance and love and friendship—all of the incredible things in life that keep a human healthy and inspired! I think the creative process is much more about finding balance and being inspired by your own life and loving yourself.

Portra 400 rated at 200 ISO / Pentax 645NII / Frontier SP3000

5. What are you learning lately?

Lately, I've been focusing on teaching myself how to function during busy wedding seasons with a slow mindset. The pandemic has (thankfully) brought a wild surge of wedding work for me, but it has often left me feeling overworked and overwhelmed. Burn out is such a real and scary way to feel! I've been working on being excited and animated while shooting, but not allowing it to translate into feeling like stress. I've been doing this by taking moments to breathe and “smell the flowers” during shoots, knowing that it's more than OK to ask clients for moments of presence, to just look around and take in whatever scene we are in together, and search for those little lighting moments in a new way, too.

Portra 400 rated at 200 ISO / Pentax 645NII / Frontier SP3000

6. What is something you struggle with in your career?

Something that I struggle with in wedding photography is how transactional the industry can make the exchange of an art form feel. I really appreciate and enjoy when couples have put a lot of thought and intention into their celebrations of love, and have cut through the societal expectations, pressures and “must-have lists” of things that people "need" in order to validate their love to the world. Honestly, a lot of those expectations and pressures are bull sh*t and are meaningless to most people. I enjoy when intentional couples can see through those pressures and choose a celebration that feels like "them." Usually, this level of intentionality is coupled with choosing a photographer to document and archive their ceremonies and celebrations with artistry and thoughtfulness!

Cinestill 800T rated at 400 ISO / Nikon F100 / Frontier SP3000

7. If you could have dinner with one photographer (living or dead) who would it be and why? And what would you eat?

I'd want to eat bananas on top of a fig tree in the jungle with Lucus Landers and ask him how the heck he gets so close to wild creatures and captures their spirit WITH ANALOG CAMERAS HE BUILDS?!

Delta 3200 rated at 400 ISO / Nikon F5 / Frontier SP3000

8. What are 3 things you’re loving right now?

Cinestill 800T rated at 400 ISO / Nikon F100 / Frontier SP3000

9. What is one piece of game-changing advice—whether for business, art, film or life?

Be unapologetically yourself in every regard. If you create art that is an expression of yourself, that you actually love making, without fear of being accepted or turning away clients who might not “get it,” you'll love your job and portfolio (and maybe even yourself) a little more, all at once.

Portra 400 rated at 200 ISO / Pentax 645NII / Frontier SP3000

10. What is your favorite image from your portfolio? Why is this your favorite image?

I've had the privilege of documenting some really important moments for a lot of people. From a father-daughter first dance where the dad miraculously lifted his mind from Alzheimer's, remembered his daughter, and was able to realize the moment he was in, only while dancing—no moment before and no moment after—to photographing a bride with the golden sun setting over the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland, with the sun directly behind her in the spot where her heart is—making it look like her heart was glowing exactly one year after she was pronounced clinically dead on the operator’s table after heart surgery, but miraculously revived, and then married and standing in front of my lens one year later.

Honestly, there are countless other stories that would make you bawl your eyes out, so I truly cannot pick a favorite photo or a favorite moment. But I can say that I am really proud of my collective body of work, and am endlessly grateful to the people who have trusted me to tell their stories.

For the sake of choosing one, I'll pick a recent favorite (below) for no other reason than that I love the way the film turned out!

Cinestill 800T rated at 400 ISO / Pentax 645NII / Frontier SP3000

Mason captures weddings and love stories and is based in all of Western Canada and Costa Rica. You can find her at @masonneufeldphotography and masonneufeldphotography.com.