Local Photographer Glenn Gervais
Captures the Emerald Isle
Story by Michael Seguin
Photography by Glenn Gervais
When local photographer Glenn Gervais stares down his lens, he isn’t necessarily looking for the obvious.
In his own words, he’s looking for untold stories.
“When you take a picture, you want to draw the viewer in,” Glenn explains. “I hate taking photos where people all stand together and pose. A better picture says something. A better picture tells a story.”
For Glenn, what truly makes a photo three-dimensional is those splashes of emotion.
“Sometimes instead of taking a photo of a bonfire, you want to turn around and capture the faces watching the flames,” Glenn states. “What’s the reaction? What are people saying with their faces? Sometimes I’ll go to weddings and shoot photos from off to the side. And people often end up liking those pictures more than the official wedding photographer’s. I’ll shoot closeups of people laughing or taking a drink of wine with a strange expression on their face. It’s all about that human element.”
Glenn is a retired Detective with the Windsor Police Service. He started dabbling in photography in the eighties as a way of escaping his demanding profession. And since then, the industry has only exploded around him—with new technology available to consumers and the boom of digital media.
But through it all, Glenn’s focus has not wavered—letting little escape his unblinking eye.
“I wouldn’t call myself a professional, because I don’t think I’m ever done learning,” Glenn explains. “It’s a constant journey. And lots of people have great cameras but take lousy pictures. I teach wildlife photography courses, and I tell my students all the time that the hardest thing to develop is your eye. If you don’t have a good eye, your photos won’t work.”
Or, in other words: “Think of your grandmother!” Glenn states. “Give her the right ingredients and she can make an excellent cake. Give me the same ingredients and I’ll just make a mess!”
Glenn has travelled all around the world, capturing both expansive landscapes and small, intimate moments. He’s photographed places like Yosemite Park, the Grand Canyon, Mount Fuji, Switzerland, Italy and more.
And now, Glenn has added Ireland to his list.
The trip was motivated by four specific things: First, a revelation about Glenn’s legacy.
“Even though my last name is Gervais, my mother’s side of the family is Irish,” Glenn explains. “And when I did my 23andMe DNA test, it turned out I was 72% Irish! That planted the seed. I started thinking about how much I’ve always wanted to travel to the country.”
Second, a few months ago Glenn saw the Oscar-nominated The Banshees of Inisherin, a period-piece set on a fictional Irish island.
“The movie was so beautiful!” Glenn states. “As soon as the credits rolled, I thought, ‘Okay, we’re going!’”
Third, the trip was a way for Glenn to celebrate his 35th wedding anniversary with his wife, Vinka.
Fourth, and perhaps most importantly, was anxiety surrounding a certain number.
“I couldn’t stand the fact that I’d been to 13 countries in the last year,” Glenn jokes. “I needed to get a 14th one booked to avoid the bad luck.”
Glenn and his wife spent a couple weeks in Ireland, travelling around the countryside, making memories and capturing moments.
“My wife and I always travel with very little plans,” Glenn explains. “We get off the plane, rent a car and we’re off. We have a general idea of where we’re going, but wherever we end up at the end of the day, that’s where we stay. And if we happen across a place we like, we just decide to spend the rest of the day there. Sometimes we stay in a hotel, sometimes an Airbnb. And sometimes we sleep above a pub. There’s no pressure to reach that next destination.”
That said, the trip presented Glenn with some small challenges.
“It was a big learning curve when it came to driving on the left side of the road,” Glenn laughs. “And having a steering wheel on the right side of the car. It took me a couple days to get used to that. I can’t tell you how many times I opened my wife’s door thinking I was climbing into the driver’s seat. She’d laugh and I’d have to take the Walk of Shame back around the vehicle.”
Glenn and Vinka discovered some incredible beauty on the Emerald Isle. But perhaps what dazzled them the most was the rustic scenery outside the cities.
“I loved taking pictures of the farms,” Glenn states. “Everything there was just so green. There was all this natural beauty that we sometimes take for granted here. Everything here is big, expansive. But everything in Ireland is small. And there’s more sheep than people there!”
But perhaps what inspired Glenn the most about Ireland was the sheer sense of history written across everything.
“That scale was so intriguing to me,” Glenn explains. “It’s amazing—you’ll be driving down stone roads that were built a thousand year ago. You’ll find old Viking ruins looming over the hills. It was so fascinating, seeing all these places that haven’t been touched for hundreds of years. All those little Irish towns still look the same as they do decades ago. There’s a pub in Dublin that’s over a thousand years old.”
As well, Glenn discovered some hidden talents that stretched beyond his lens.
“My Irish accent kicked back in while I was there!” Glenn laughs. “Everywhere I went, I started picking up the voice. I started saying to people, ‘Oh bejesus, that’s a crack.’ I just grew up hearing so much of that from relatives that it never really left me.”
In the end, Glenn and Vinka had an incredible time in Ireland. They encourage everyone interested to make the trip.
“There are some amazing places there,” Glenn explains. “I really enjoyed visiting towns like Killarney, Kilkenny and Cobh. Cobh in particular was a fun little town. They had a Titanic Exhibit there on the last place the ship left. Seventy-five passengers climbed aboard there. It’s a sobering thought, knowing that all these people got on that ship and never returned. And what’s even stranger are the stories of the people who got off the Titanic there. You can only imagine what they thought, knowing that the boat sank three days later.”
Glenn and Vinka are currently back in Tecumseh, relaxing and enjoying the warm summer weather. But we can all rest easy knowing that they won’t sit on their hands for long.
Any minute now Glenn will be off on another adventure, squinting down his lens and capturing those untold stories.