In the outdoor workshop of Rural Roots

Barry Gilles growing Rural Roots in the valley

Photographer and framer Barry Gillies has earned acclaim for his original prints in frames he makes by hand from weathered wood

Through his home-based business Rural Roots, photographer and framer Barry Gillies from Windermere has earned acclaim for his original prints in frames he makes by hand from  weathered wood.

Barry captures a wide range of subjects with his camera, but they all share aging and decaying features — and are almost all taken in the Prairies.

“It’s part of me and part of my roots – I kind of get a buzz out of it,” said Barry.

He said  the more run down the barn, the more tempting it is to photograph it — both as an artist and historian.

“Because once it’s completely fallen apart, it’s gone forever.”

While he fully appreciates the immeasurable beauty offered in the mountains, Barry grew up in southern Saskatchewan and said his strengths lie in Prairie photography.

“There are a lot of people doing photography around here coming up with beautiful stuff, and I don’t even want to begin to compete,” he said.

But with intimate knowledge of rural Saskatchewan, Barry has an eye for finding beauty in deteriorating aspects of the ever-changing agriculture industry. From retro derelict vehicles to fences that are nearing their final days, the subjects are most always surrounded by vast Prairie landscape.

But what really brings his photography to life is the art he builds around it, framing his canvased prints with authentically weathered wood.

“With a weathered frame it really jumps out at you,” Barry said.

The idea to produce rustic framing around his pictures came amid criticism.

“I was told photography doesn’t sell,” he said. “If I was going to get into photography and make it sell, I needed to create a unique presentation for the images.”

Rural Roots brings it all together for Barry, as he wanted to do well creating unique wall decor.

“Something nostalgic with some degree of beauty to it, and something you won’t see anywhere else.”

And the sales speak for his success, with Barry expecting his 1,000th sale in 2014, which is his tenth year in business.

Most photos purchased through Rural Roots were taken by Barry, but some of his inventory include pictures taken by other members of his family.

Both of his children, Cameron and Joanne, have interest in photography and were the original photographers for Rural Roots. Now, the creative content is almost exclusively Barry’s, after Cameron and Joanne encouraged him to take up photography eight years ago.

“They were my mentors,” he said.

Art from Rural Roots can be found at the La Galleria II and the Painted Porch in Invermere, as well as art shops in Banff, Calgary, Lethbridge, Moose Jaw, Regina, and Swift Current. And beginning in May, Rural Roots will also be sold at Home Hardware in Invermere.