Kent MacDonald

Kent MacDonaldKent is a conceptual artist and photographer from Nanaimo. His work came recommended to me by a friend who gave me a link to his Instagram, where I became fascinated by his dreamlike, abstract photos and curious about the inspiration and process behind them.

“When I got into photography, I found myself stuck,” Kent recalls. “I didn’t want to shoot the same things everyone else was. This led me to conceptual/fine art photography. From there, the environment here on Vancouver Island helped me tell the stories I was creating.”

Those stories are surrealistic and sometimes mysterious, from disembodied limbs and hands floating in darkness, to figures walking through a spinning vortex, to a body lying underneath the forest floor. But they are also highly personal. “The conceptual aspect of my work is my form of self-care,” Kent says. “Everyone has their ups and downs, and I choose to share mine through photography.”

That’s the most intriguing part about this style of whimsical, dreamlike content: At first glance, the images might be confusing or feel unapproachable, but those are often the ones that represent the artist in his most vulnerable state. They often unveil the rawest truths. “Some of my photos tell a very clear story about me,” Kent notes. “Others are a little more ambiguous.”

While he is in no way a conventional nature photographer, his work is entirely shot outdoors, and Vancouver Island’s landscapes become part of its emotional content. “My goal is to make people feel something,” Kent says, “to get lost in my work the way I lose myself while shooting. The background is just as important as the subject, which is why I love shooting outside.

“The Island has been a foundation for my work – I think as a photographer the Island is filled with gold.”

Many local conceptual artists have inspired Kent along the way. Talents and imaginations like these are exciting to experience for the first time because it’s like discovering a brand new world. Suddenly, you have fresh new perspectives and find unique experiences that you can relate to, but haven’t yet processed through art. Kent recommends Ben Giesbrecht, Richard Kelly, and Shayd Johnson, and adds that the work of Lizzy Gadd has influenced him the most.

As for himself, the journey continues. “I’m not really sure what anyone can expect from me,” Kent says. “I’m still trying to figure that out myself. I look forward to dipping my toes into photography more seriously than I have in the past and see where it takes me.”

Boy sits curled up in field beneath moon and clouds.

Kent comments: “A boy sits alone in a drying up fantasy.”


Whitened woman sits in white foliage.

“A girl who is one with nature. She sees and feels everything around her, but no one knows she is there.”


Young man approaches lighted door in field at night.

“A boy is surrounded in a dark oasis but moves forward in life. A door with a light on provides hope.”

Follow Kent on Instagram

Caleb Harding | Jessica Nwabuike