“The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera” - Dorothea Lange
Maybe it was because I was born in the space between the symbolic peak of the hippie movement, Woodstock, and its end, Altamont, but for as long as I can remember I’ve had a love/hate relationship with pop culture and its media. I am awed by its beauty and its power to move; I am appalled by its ubiquitous call to compete and consume. It is a monologue that makes little good noise. With my photography I hope to challenge this.
Growing up, film, TV, and music had a profound impact on me. I remember spending many hours making short videos using two ancient top loading VCR’s patched together with RCA cables, mixing countless tapes (remember those), and plastering images of rock stars and pin-up girls on everything I owned. The media shaped the way I saw the world with little concern from me.
Then something changed. In my last year of University in London, Ontario, a film theory course made me re-evaluate a medium I loved. And then in 1993, while attending University in Glasgow, Scotland, a media studies course shifted my thinking again. Finally, I started to understand the enormous role media play in our lives.
Around the same time another serendipitous thing happened – my parents returned from a visit with my brother in Germany with a hand-me-down SLR camera for me. Although I had no photography training, I started taking numerous lousy, but important pictures. With camera in hand, my interest in film-making slowly morphed into a love of the still image. And my appreciation for the medium as an art form grew.
In 2001, one of my photos – of my daughter, Tyya – won the Toronto Sun photo contest; the prize was a 2-megapixel digital camera. The ability to take photos at little cost encouraged more experimentation. This, combined with lessons learned while teaching English Media, a course that allowed me to pass on both my awe and understanding of the media, saw a dramatic improvement in my photography skills as I practised while at home with my second daughter, Taegan.
In 2004, I purchased a Digital SLR and started taking my photography a little more seriously. In 2006, after years of encouragement, I shared my art for the first time to many positive comments. Since then, my photography has been featured in art shows and books, promotional campaigns and on living room walls. It has opened doors that I never thought possible including an invitation to photograph the 2010 Vancouver Olympics for the Globe and Mail. I am grateful for the opportunities it has provided.
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Leith, Ontario, Canada