He made a business out of his passion, and now, he's put that passion into a book
For years, Michael Winsor worked as a supervisor in information technology at Memorial University. But a trip to the Torngat Mountains in Labrador made the idea of sitting behind a computer and answering emails too mundane to continue.
He began focusing more on his photography and began travelling as much as possible looking for the perfect moment, or as he calls it, a “moment of silence,” to capture with his camera.
“I always took pictures all my life,” he said. “Ten years ago, I really got into it professionally.”
By making his passion his business, he has found his way into the tourism industry.
“I do photo tours (with) people from all over the world,” he said. “Last year, I had people from Sweden and the States… everywhere. I bring them around Newfoundland, show them how to take pictures, where to take pictures. It’s fun stuff.”
With the release of Winsor’s new photography book, Lost in Newfoundland, another milestone has been accomplished.
Winsor is pleased to have the book in his hands, but it’s success so far has him even happier.
“It’s selling extremely well,” he said. “It’s a bestseller on Amazon for travel photography and it’s a bestseller on Amazon for wildlife and nature photography as well.”
1. What is your full name?
Michael Cecil Winsor.
2. Where and when were you born?
1974 in Pool’s Island.
3. Where do you live today?
4. What’s your favourite place in the world?
Besides being with family, (my) favourite thing, for sure, is being out in a Zodiac at sunset (with) humpback whales around. It’s just magical. If they’re there and they’re playing, you see the tails, and if you’re really lucky enough, you’ll get a breech and the sun is in the back. It’s really something else. (I get a sense) of being in nature and peace, just a calm feeling. If they start jumping, then there’s a rush. You’ve got to contain yourself.
5. Who do you follow on social media?
Pretty much anything environmental, or photography, or nature (-related). Canadian Geographic or National Geographic or any photographers local or away … and hockey, too.
6. What would people be surprised to learn about you?
Funny enough, when I was in high school, I was in cadets and I learned how to play the bagpipes. I played at a few weddings and a few funerals, playing Amazing Grace. But I kind of got away from it. It’s really hard.
7. What’s been your favourite year and why?
There’s always a number of years, when you get married or when you have a child. (But) I went to the Torngat Mountains (in 2015) and that was really special. This year is probably my favourite because I finally got my book, (although with) the pandemic, and everything else going on, this is a really bad year. So, I’ll say 2019 because I signed the contract (then).
8. What is the hardest thing you’ve ever done?
Physically, when my dad and I hiked up to the top of Western Brook Gorge on the west coast in Gros Morne. It was hard because we brought all of our equipment with us. We took tents and our food, and I brought all the camera gear. And it was a rainy, warm day. And then there were flies everywhere, going up your nose. But when I got in there, the view from the top after, oh, it was just amazing.
9. Can you describe one experience that changed your life?
The Torngat Mountains, I think that changed my life, really. I worked at MUN and I really liked my job. I had a good job, but it’s a lot of (being) in the office, dealing with emails, the same office work over and over. So, midpoint of trying to be a more professional photographer, I ended up going (there) with Land & Sea. For the whole week, we were flying around, taking pictures and the things I saw blew my mind, man. After that was over, I got back, and I sat in my office and I looked at the computer, and (I thought) there got to be more to life than this, right?
10. What’s your greatest indulgence?
Besides buying camera gear, I’d say something simple, just vanilla ice cream in a waffle cone at Moo Moo’s. It’s delicious.
11. What is your favourite movie or book?
Of course, I have my own book now (laughs). When it comes to a movie, I always liked Gladiator with Russell Crowe and Scent of a Women, Al Pacino. Both of them are really stories where they’re down and they battle the elements and come back to win in the end.
12. How do you like to relax?
For me, I like to exercise more than anything. So, I play ice hockey. Anyone playing hockey knows when you step on the ice, it’s only what happens on the ice, that’s it. After you get back in the dressing room, it’s just the camaraderie with the other players.
13. What are you reading or watching right now?
I don’t really watch a lot of TV … Sometimes I’ll mistakenly turn on a Netflix show and it’s like probably six seasons. And then I’m here and I’m watching it. You turn it on at 8 p.m., then it’s like 1:30 in the morning, and it’s like (sighs). Anyway, I find after a while it’s a waste of time and I just can’t, I can’t do it. So, I just continue working on my pictures or listen to music or something.
14. What is your greatest fear?
I guess now, with this quarantine that’s on the go, not being able to explore. It’s only now, thank God, with the good work of the health care system here in Newfoundland that we’re allowed back out a bit again. Before, I was taking pictures of little birds in the backyard in the winter because I was starting to crack up in the house.
15. What music are you currently listening to?
I have different playlists, it depends on the mood. (I have) a homebrew sort of thing, Newfoundland stuff. I do have the Top 40, all the hits. I do have classical music, too, like Andrea Bocelli.
16. What is your most treasured possession?
Probably my book. I’ve put so much love and passion into the book over the number of years I spent travelling the island. Every picture that I put in here, I tried to develop a moment of silence … to the point where, it’s like your favourite piece of art, where you kind of get lost into the moment.
17. What physical or personality trait are you most grateful to a parent for?
My mom, she’s really warm-hearted and caring. So, I try to be like that. She cares about people all the time. I try to be honest and loyal. I’m hoping that’s what I got from my mom.
18. What three people would join you for your dream dinner party?
Cecil Janes, he’s my grandfather, he’s passed away. I find, when you’re growing up, around your teenage years, it’s who you’re with the most that kind of affects your character and who you’re going to be, and I think my grandfather did that. He was quite the man. So, him, and Ansel Adams, the landscape (photographer) from 100 years ago. And as a hockey fan, I’d probably pick Wayne Gretzky. I’m a Leafs fan, but I’d have to go with Wayne.
19. What is your best quality, and what is your worst quality?
Like I said earlier, I try to be honest, straight-forward and a loyal and friendly individual.
And (my worst) — my wife says I don’t listen.
20. What’s your biggest regret?
Everyone’s had heartache and joy. I guess the heartache and how you deal with it is what makes you into the individual you are. So even though … I’ve made mistakes, I’m happy where I’m now. The hard times and the good times both develop your character.