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‘The most phenomenal Aurora I’ve seen’: northern photographer captures and exudes positive energy

Updated: Feb 11, 2022

It has been one of the most dazzling winter and spring times in years for observing the Northern Lights, and a man in northern Saskatchewan is getting plenty of traction with his exceptional photography. His work is also making an impression well beyond the camera lens.

For the past six years since he came to town, Dre Erwin, a primary care nurse in the community of Pinehouse, has been focusing his spare time—and some very late nights—on taking breathtaking images, including of the skies in one the best places on earth to capture the Aurora Borealis. He also runs a photography club for youth. Last month a video he took even made it onto a popular internet viral video show in the U.S. “People thought we were nuts going out in minus 50 degrees, but nothing stops us from getting a good light show,” Erwin told paNOW, noting he and some of the more intrepid younger adults he’s helped mentor through his photo club accompany him for nature’s late night visual extravaganzas. “In the years I’ve been here, that was probably the most phenomenal Aurora display I’ve seen. To get it on live video was pretty amazing.”

Erwin’s website and Facebook page offer an array of captivating images and has offered some live Facebook streams for people to follow.

Given his professional background as a nurse, it’s not surprising he takes a philosophical approach to his art and its healing properties, labelling his work with the youth ‘therapeutic photography.’

“After going through personal turmoil six years ago, I moved up here and I started to realize so many people—including myself—have a tendency to focus on the negative and what’s bad in life, and that draws a lot of negative emotions,” he explained. “When we go out to take pictures of the Northern Lights then we’re focusing on what’s good in life.”

He said the sharing of still and video images and the feedback they all get from the broader online community is special.

“It changes your perception on the world. If you’re focusing on the beauty in life that seems to be what you start to attract in life.”

Erwin said, during his work at the local health clinic, he would notice youth coming in with mental health problems, not dissimilar to challenges in other communities, and asked himself what more could he do? Now, the photography club has 200 members and offers thousands of dollars in quality equipment to youth to rent out for free.

“The photography is a means of youth getting out, connecting with nature, having positive role models, and focusing on what’s good in life. And when you start focusing on what’s good in life with the camera lens, soon enough you start seeing it on a day-to-day basis and that brings joy and happiness to me and others.”

Erwin calls the initiative a ‘good addiction.’

It’s hard to imagine a better distraction and more mesmerizing pastime than training your eyes and your camera on the extraordinary dancing lights that illuminate northern Saskatchewan’s own back yard.

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Dre Erwin
Dre Erwin
Dec 22, 2021

Mountain Cliff Hiker with Dre Erwin

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