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Coffee with...Alberni becomes home for French photographer
How does a photographer from France end up in Port Alberni by way of Calgary?
Because of the water.
“I love it here because I love to be near the ocean. And Port Alberni has great surroundings,” says Laurence Subra-Bieusses, owner of Alberni Photography. “I’m just starting to get outdoors more and I love what I’m finding.”
Subra-Bieusses has lived in Port Alberni for more than a year and operates her own photography business — Alberni Photography.
The married mother of two’s journey to the Alberni Valley began in Toulouse, France, where Subra-Bieusses was born in 1972. She is one of three siblings and is the middle child between two brothers. “My favourite memory is building pretend houses out of wood in the woods at our grandfather’s house in the Pyrenees,” she said. “Growing up with two brothers was, well, it was interesting.”
Subra-Bieusses attended Saint Joseph Catholic School in Toulouse. While she excelled at language arts and economics she was drawn to a subject that she didn’t always like — science.
“The teacher was fantastic and he made science interesting and engaging. I liked science, at least for that one year,” she said.
All the while she was in school Subra-Bieusses knew that she wanted to be an artist. “I was very creative minded and I knew that I wanted to find a way to create something.”
She was getting a lesson in the art form that would eventually give her creativity an outlet — photography. Her father, Jean-Claude was a hobby photographer, and tutored his daughter without her realizing it at the time.
“I always remember him with a camera in his hand,” she said.
Her first camera was an early model Canon that used film.
Subra-Bieusses graduated from high school in 1991 and pursued post-secondary studies in economics and accounting at Universite Toulouse No. 2.
She worked a series of jobs after graduating and also met her husband Fred. The couple have since had two children: Thomas, 17, and Gauthier, 11.
While living in Dax, France, she learned the finer points of photography from a friend who was a landscape photographer. She furthered her interest by taking workshops, poring over books and honing her craft.
Meanwhile, her husband was involved in the oil and gas industry and jumped on an opportunity in the industry in Calgary in 2006.
Subra-Bieusses found and started taking courses in photography at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology and started her own business there in 2009.
Life was good in Calgary but Subra-Bieusses missed being by the ocean.
“I wanted to live in a small town near the ocean so we chose Alberni,” she said. “We looked at Nanaimo but it was too big so we chose here.”
The family moved here in May 2013 and has been here since.
Subra-Bieusses is busy with her two boys and with her business, which is slowly but surely gaining traction.
She’s busy enough in fact that she doesn’t have time to watch television, go to movies or even read. “My favourite book though is The Birds by Alfred Hitchcock’”, she said.
Running her own business is a non-stop vocation that has its ups and downs. “You can’t rest on your laurels and you have to work at it to develop it,” she said.
“But it’s the kind of business where you can get involved with the community and with people and their lives.”
France, meanwhile, has become more the place where she was born. “This is home.”