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Views from Rocky Harbour, Newfoundland and Labrador


Retired businessman Stan Collins is tweeting beauty and common sense to the world

The intense short bursts of news and negativity on Twitter can be overwhelming, but retired businessman Stan Collins - @Stan_sdcollins - has built a worldwide following by steadfastly ignoring that trend. He offers a ray of light and a breath of fresh air.

His respect for nature was fed by his upbringing in Colorado Springs on the edge of the southern Rocky Mountains of the U.S. His love of nature and the land is reflected in the place he chose to retire — Rocky Harbour in Gros Morne National Park.

“I have always lived for the moment,” Collins says. “Life is like my Twitter photos. They have a brief life and then they are gone.”

Collins’ photos and comments encompass everyday things but seen through the lens of his cameras and his experience, they are balm to a sometimes terrifying or simply annoying Twitterverse.

“I fully intend to continue my account for as long as possible. It has now become somewhat of a responsibility, so I don’t want to disappoint anybody,” he says.

Beginnings

Collins was born in Ottawa, Ont., but raised in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Throughout his time in Colorado on weekends and summer holidays he lived on a quarter horse ranch, so there’s a cowboy lurking in his heart.

He says much of his appreciation of wildlife and the outdoors came from the ranch foreman, a man of the Cherokee Nation born in the late 1800s. Collins’ father was also an avid outdoorsman. Collins credits both men with teaching him to understand nature and animal behaviour.

At a very early age Collins learned the wisdom of taking only what you need, and he’s lived by that creed all of his life. He maintains that had many of the people he has known over the years been given the same early insights there would still be salmon in our rivers and cod in the sea.

Business career

As a young man Collins studied business and hotel administration and landed in Newfoundland in 1966 to establish four Holiday Inns here. After a side trip to Halifax to establish another inn, he was hired by the Lundrigan Group in Corner Brook. Over the next 17 years he was a senior executive of its commercial real estate company, and responsible for many of the shopping centres and office buildings the company developed throughout Atlantic Canada. When the Lundrigan Group was sold to Fortis Properties Corp. in St. John’s Collins was recruited for an executive position there. He retired as vice-president of operations at Fortis about 15 years ago.

Along with his business career, Collins spent time in the Royal Canadian Air Force Reserve, first as a flying instructor when he was a young man, and then as an instructor at the Regional Cadet Instructors School (Atlantic) headquartered in Halifax. After his military retirement he served as the national chairman of Cadets  Caring for Canada, a program designed to promote good stewardship of the environment to young people. He says he’s always had an interest in mentoring youth and youth programs, and actively promoting flying to young cadets.

Tweets from Rocky Harbour

Collins now resides with his wife Marlene and three dogs —Scooter, Jersey, and Luci — in Rocky Harbour, and says he practises living in the moment. He celebrates that gift with simple tweets and beautiful photos of his surroundings in Gros Morne National Park.

At present he has more than 12,000 followers around the world who appreciate his serene, nature-inspired tweets, which are accompanied by often-spectacular photos.

His photos of sunsets and sunrises in Rocky Harbour first caught the eye of his followers, who have grown exponentially since Collins created his Twitter account several years ago at the urging of his sister.

“My sister did not do too much. She simply introduced me to Twitter and suggested that it would be a good place to showcase my pictures, so I gave it a try. Before that I simply e-mailed family and friends pictures once a week,” he says.

“A stranger came to my house not long ago … he simply wanted to tell me that he had recently lost his wife to cancer. In the months she was in palliative care he told me she took great pleasure in receiving my pictures and looked for them every day. He just wanted to thank me for making her so happy in her final months. I was both shocked and really touched.”
Stan Collins

His regular followers look for his pictures every day. Collins attributes this to having selected a theme for his Twitter account and sticking with it.

He posts 10 pictures each day, seven days a week, and responds to anyone who contacts him.

It’s a bit of work.

“I am a bit flattered with my following,” he says. “I never expected that more than 100 people would ever be interested in my pictures. There are a lot of very good photographers out there.

“Every now and again some nitwit gives me a hard time, but I just laugh them off. There are critics and experts in every crowd I suppose, and Twitter is no different,” he says.

Collins spends around two hours a day maintaining his Twitter account and says he’s taking pictures everywhere he goes all day long. He is sometimes amazed by how much his photos have touched people’s lives.

“A stranger came to my house not long ago looking for me. He simply wanted to tell me that he had recently lost his wife to cancer. In the months she was in palliative care he told me she took great pleasure in receiving my pictures and looked for them every day. He just wanted to thank me for making her so happy in her final months. I was both shocked and really touched. You sometimes never know what responsibilities you have or who you are influencing out there.”

Photography history and methods

He’s had a long-standing interest in taking pictures. In 1970 he purchased his first 35 mm camera. He studied photography at Memorial University in St. John’s before his retirement. When he stepped back from the business community, he found he had enough extra time on his hands to take photography more seriously. He seems proud that many of his instructors now follow his Twitter account.

When asked if people share their photos with him he says, “Periodically some followers send me photos but not as often as you think. I wish I had more time to visit their sites but that is difficult with over 12,000 followers.”

He’s selective about who he follows on Twitter.
“I tend to follow accounts very similar to mine of amateur photographers posting pictures, and just normal people living the life. I make every effort to avoid politics, religion, news, and sites with porn or profanity,” he says.

“My family are like me and do not get too excited about my Twitter account. Realistically, Twitter will probably never verify my account, and it will never buy me a bus ticket downtown, or a coffee once I get there,” he jokes.

Collins currently uses a variety of micro 4/3 cameras with image-stabilized lenses because they are small and easy to carry. He usually travels with two at a time — one with a close-up lens, and one with a telephoto lens. He uses an Apple MacBook Pro to process his images.

“I really don’t have any favourite photos,” he says. With so many photos on hand, trying to pick favourites might be difficult. He’s content to enjoy photos of his daily moments while hiking a trail or walking one or two of his dogs.

“I just do it because it interests me and gives me something to do. Like my business and military accomplishments, I often ponder at how an old cowboy from Colorado ever got here anyway. I just follow my nose where it takes me in whatever I do.”

If you like a positive Twitter experience, follow Stan Collins’ Twitter account @stan_sdcollins

deborah.squires@thetelegram.com

@TelyDeb

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