Local couple Rick and Mary Schmidt have been photographing Canadian landscapes together for more than 45 years, a pastime that has turned into their latest venture together: puzzle photo art.
Their company, Gifts from the Heart, recently began using Rick’s landscape photography as the subject matter of jigsaw puzzles, capturing scenes from Elmira all the way to beautiful Lake Louise in Alberta.
The efforts have been well received, with orders on the rise lately from stores looking for puzzle photography from the areas they serve. Local residents, for instance, can purchase one of Rick and Mary’s puzzles from Living Waters Book & Toy Store in Elmira. They recently purchased 400 puzzles of four different designs.
“What we enjoy most is the farming community. The horses, old barns, the people working the land with horses, that’s kind of what the nature of our area is,” said Rick Schmidt about his love for shooting in this area.
“We sell to a lot of stores that do sell cottage pictures – chairs, canoes and canoeing, so a lot of outdoorsy things, like a walk in the woods. Those kinds of pictures,” added Mary.
“When Rick started, he had been putting his photos on Facebook, and a lot of our friends, relatives were saying to him ‘Oh, that would make a nice puzzle,” said Mary of how the idea was formed.
Since Rick and Mary already owned a picture-framing business, it was easy for them to showcase their photos. Mary remembers Rick learning all the ins and outs of photo editing software on the computer, teaching himself late at night over the course of time.
“It took several years to develop the kind of look I want; some people call them paintings rather than photographs because it’s kind of the look that I liked,” said Rick.
Upon being asked what his favourite photograph so far, Rick points to ‘Canoe Reflections,’ taken at Moraine Lake, a stunning glacially-fed lake in Banff National Park, 14 kilometres outside the village of Lake Louise. The photograph has become a popular puzzle for fans to purchase.
“Thousands of people take pictures of these canoes and the mountains – but what made this unique, there was a huge log sitting, pointing towards the canoes that enabled me to walk out and put my camera in the water on a tripod, just above the water – it created a different perspective than when you’re looking down on it,” noted Rick, happy about his photograph’s ability to capture the reflection of the canoes and mountains in the lake.
The couple has been a supplier to Living Waters for the past 20 years, but this is the first time the two companies have partnered together. Rick and Mary were unable to reach stores in the U.S. without using Living Waters’ warehouse.