PhotoED Magazine – SPRING/SUMMER 2022 PRINT EDITION

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SPRING /SUMMER 2022

SPECIAL EDITION! CURATED BY DJENABÉ

FASHION, CULTURA L IDENTITY, STORYTELLING AN D IMAGINING THE FU TURE.


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ISABELLE GERARD Montreal, QC

RAISING THE CURTAIN ON EVERYDAY LIFE “ This image features an artist from Montreal’s drag burlesque scene, Heaven Genderfck (@itsheavengenderfck) off stage, in their daily life. W hen an artist leaves the stage and takes off their costume, it would be wrong to believe that their character disappears until the next curtain rise. This character continues to be alive and is inspired and nourished by the daily life of the artist.”

IG: @pixzabelle

IN THIS ISSUE... 8 RESOURCES WE LOVE By Alan Bulley 11 THE BIPOC PHOTO MENTORSHIP PROGRAM By Heather Morton 15

THE FUTURE OF PHOTOGRAPHY EMERGING PHOTOGRAPHERS FROM ACROSS CANADA

22 CONVERGENCE By Christopher Schmitt 24 STYLE, SET, + STORY: AN INTERVIEW WITH PHOTO DUO SATY NAMVAR AND PRATHA SAMYRAJAH By Djenabé

28 1 1 THINGS YOU NEED IN YOUR STUDIO KIT By Djenabé 29 THE INTERACTIVE IMAGE By Djenabé 32 QUEBEC’S FASHION BOOM By Djenabé 35 FASHION FORWARD FRAMES Djenabé, Patricia Ellah, and Zahara Siddiqi in conversation. 40 THE MODERN MUSE By Richard Bernardin 44 THE GALLERY SUBMISSIONS BY OUR READERS



CURATOR’S NOTE

THE UTTER EXCITEMENT I am experiencing

while writing this letter simply cannot be contained into words! Curating this issue has been one of the most liberating labours of love I’ve indulged in to date. In this issue, I was keen to share futurefocused stories, make space for imagination, and explore the two-headed entity that has influenced all of my creative inclinations: fashion and the future.

“The distinction between the past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.” — Albert Einstein

Fashion photographs saturated my world at an early age, and my fascination with their role in shaping culture and visualizing the future has only grown. My fashion-model mother kept a surplus of portfolio photographs and fashion magazines around for my curious eyes. My parents owned a clothing store on Queen Street West in Toronto in the early 2000s. I vividly remember my mother dressing the mannequins, walking runways, and posing for photographs. Inevitably, I became a photographer. But curation is a new niche for me: one that draws on my penchant for looking at images,

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examining Afro-Caribbean culture, and writing about art. I was excited to collaborate with photographers from across Canada, and discuss the evolution of a photograph, the relationship fashion has with cultural identity, and photography’s role in the future. It is with joy and gratitude to all the creative collaborators who shared their time, artwork, and future visions with me that I present this very special edition. I hope this collection of stories and outstanding photography continues to spark conversations about the future of photography and the cultural significance of the fashion image. Your issue curator, Djenabé

Follow me into the future: @visionsofdjenabe www.aquariusmood.com

MAGAZINE

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SPRING/SUMMER 2022 ISSUE #64 ISSN 1708-282X EDITOR/PUBLISHER

Rita Godlevskis /rita@photoed.ca

Ruth Alves Richard Bernardin Alan Bulley Djenabé Heather Morton Christopher Schmitt ART DIRECTOR

PhotoED Magazine is published 3x/year, SPRING, FALL, & WINTER See www.photoed.ca for subscription and advertising information. Publications Mail Agreement No. 40634032 PhotoED Magazine 2100 Bloor St. West, Suite 6218 Toronto, ON M6S 5A5 This issue was made possible with the assistance of the Ontario Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts.

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS

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COVER IMAGE : Photography and Art Direction: Saty + Pratha

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FASHION FORWARD Resources for future reference BY ALAN BULLEY

WATCH THIS. THE NEXT BLACK: A FILM ABOUT THE FUTURE OF CLOTHING

Directed by David Dworsky and Victor Kohler

THE POWER OF STYLE: HOW FASHION AND BEAUTY ARE BEING USED TO RECLAIM CULTURES By Christian Allaire

Did you know that textile production is one of the most resource-intensive industries on the planet and that our consumption of textiles is exploding? Resisting the temptation to paint an end-of-the-world scenario, The Next Black highlights industry pioneers working at the intersections of fashion, digital technology, environmental concerns, and biological engineering. From Lady Gaga’s bubble-blowing harness, to a dress grown as bacteria in a vat of liquid, to biotech wearables for athletes, the clothes we wear are becoming more innovative, sustainable, and interactive.

Dedicated to “all the kids who feel like they aren’t seen or heard,” The Power of Style takes seriously how what we wear speaks loudly about our cultures, politics, and economics. This is a kids book that adults need to read. Christian Allaire, a fashion writer for Vogue and an Ojibwe, understands the complex interplay of style, power, and self-expression in our daily lives. He gives young readers a wealth of well-illustrated examples of how diverse groups are using fashion to express themselves and to strengthen their communities.

2014; 46 minutes Find it FREE on YouTube

Softcover, 2021, 96 pages $15. + shipping Annick Press

BLACK FUTURES Edited by Kimberly Drew and Jenna Wortham What does it mean to be Black and alive right now? That’s the question behind this rich diving board of a book that invites readers to get their feet wet in contemporary Black experience and then to jump into imagining — and creating — Black futures. The book does not claim to be comprehensive, but there is so much content here that the book’s signposts are welcome: a simple set of colour codes and thematic sections with names such as Black Lives Matter, Joy, Power, and Memory. A multilayered resource to consult, rather than read from start to finish. Hardcover, 2020, 544 pages $54 + shipping

youtube.com/watch?v=XCsGLWrfE4Y

GREY AREA Written, directed, and produced by Keesha Chung Keesha Chung’s first short film is a glimpse into the life of an aspiring model in the fashion industry. Keesha aims to highlight the work and stories of creatives of colour. Her film premiered in November 2021 and draws on the skills of an all-Toronto crew on both sides of the camera and showcases the city itself. 2020; 14 minutes For more information, including up-coming screenings, visit greyareamovie.com 8 photo ED


AFTER PHOTOGRAPHY By Fred Ritchin For many photographers, the choice between digital and analogue can break down to a question of aesthetics. Fred Ritchin, Dean Emeritus of the International Center of Photography, draws readers into a much deeper discussion of the challenges and opportunities of digital media and the way they affect how we perceive and engage with the world around us. A provocative book for those of us who want to reflect on the images we make and the images we consume. Hardcover, 2008, 160 pages $33 + shipping

Make Room By Trevor Twells Make Room is an artistic and social venture to help “empower marginalized and emerging artists with the resources and means to reach broader audiences.” So far, site founder Trevor Twells has connected more than 300 artists with Toronto businesses and organizations willing to make display and window space available. Given how difficult and costly it can be for new visual artists to get their work into physical venues, this is an interesting proof of concept that could be spread to other cities, whatever their size. One to watch! More information available at makeroom.me

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Sage Szkabarnicki-Stuart, “Nope,” 2018.

curated. is an exciting, new, online fine arts hub celebrating Canadian artists from Victoria to St. John’s, and Windsor to Iqaluit. The COVERT Collective is a gathering of curators sharing the work of artists they love and the art that inspires them. We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts

BackLight Elite 45L Photo Credit: Dan Carr


A virtual village raising fresh photo talent BY HEATHER MORTON

THE BIPOC PHOTO MENTORSHIP PROGRAM (BPM) began in Toronto in 2020 as a way to address systematic barriers that face Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour entering into professional photographic practice. There is significant lack of diversity in all areas of the industry but, through mentorship opportunities, BPM can help to fast track inclusion, and offer crucial support to emerging photographers. The premise is simple: connecting established professionals with emerging talent. Mentors offer what they can and mentees comb through the master list to find a fit that is right for them. Since the program began over 200 mentorships have been facilitated, connecting more than 100 mentors from all parts of the industry with mentees from Canada, the United States, and all over the world.

Unlike many structured mentorship programs, it’s up to the mentor to think about what they can offer, and for mentees to determine what would be most beneficial to them. Mentee’s reach out according to their particular interest. Our master list of mentors includes professionals who work in all areas of photography, sharing their experience in commercial work, fashion, documentary, photojournalism, and fine art. The program has helped emerging photographers receive grants, gain access to photography studios for the first time, and feel inspired to start new projects or continue projects that have stalled due to a lack of guidance or support. Both mentees and mentors report being invigorated by working with each other. Since the inception of BPM, we’ve heard many stories about how life changing these mentorships have been. Sumi Siddiqa and her mentor Mark Binks.

Sumi Siddiqa is a young fashion photographer and director from Toronto who joined the program in late 2020. She landed a mentorship with Toronto-based fashion photographer Mark Binks, who recalls seeing photo ED 11


her application for the first time. He says, “The minute I read her email and had a look at her portfolio, I knew she was the right mentee for me. I was absolutely floored (and perhaps a little jealous?!) at her level of creativity and the quality of her work, especially for someone just starting out.” After Mark and Sumi committed to the mentorship, Mark invited her to visit him at his studio. Sumi recalls how eager she was and states that this gave her the opportunity “to network and it provided on-set experience assisting, which allowed me to learn proper set etiquette and Capture One software.” As someone who did not study photography formally, Sumi valued the ability to bridge the gap between what she learned on her own, and the professional practices and protocols of commercial fashion work. She explains, “Being a photographer can be an isolating experience, especially when you are starting out and trying to figure out your business, aesthetics, and the fashion world. It’s nice to have someone show you the ropes and introduce you to working creatives. [The mentorship] gave me access to a community, which at the time seemed very out of reach.” Sumi’s mentor Mark can relate and expresses that this is what drove him, in part, to offer multiple mentorships through BPM. He says, “As someone who never had much mentorship myself, I can tell you that it can be a pretty lonely place emotionally trying to get started, to plug away, to wonder if what you’re doing is even any good.” As is the case with most mentorships in the BPM program, Sumi and Mark quickly become mutually supportive and beneficial colleagues. Mark recalls, “I found our conversations with respect to [Sumi’s] work and her process profoundly inspiring. I think mentoring someone regarding things you’ve spent years trying to perfect certainly requires some considerable self-examination; recalling my past experiences, my successes and my failures, was something I found to be incredibly rewarding for myself, and it’s been wonderful to watch Sumi really start taking control of her career and her future.” Sumi feels that the mentorship helped her hone in on the type of media she wants to create and it gave her confidence in her abilities. Furthermore, she states that the program “is a step in the right direction, especially when it comes to diversifying the production sets we work on.” For more information about this program, please visit: www.bipocphotomentorship.com IG: @bipocphotomentorship

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Image by Hailley Fayle

THE FUTURE OF PHOTOGRAPHY We asked emerging photographers from across Canada for their thoughts on the future of photography. Each photographer responded to these questions:

If the first wave of commercially available photographic technology was film cameras, and the second was digital imaging (digital cameras and phones), what is your prediction for the next wave? How will people in the future make, display, and reflect on our world through a lens? We received some very interesting responses and predictions! > photo ED 15


HAILLEY FAYLE NEW BRUNSWICK COLLEGE OF CRAFT & DESIGN Fredericton, NB The first wave of photography brought us intentionality, ageless anticipation, tangible relief, and carbon-copy recollections. The second wave of photography provided us with choice, instant gratification, pixel-perfect idealism, and vicarious visual dialogue. The next wave will be about pushing the boundaries of hybridization: crossbreeding traditional, modern, and unconventional technologies, processes, and creative effects to achieve a new level of individuality through a lens. Although this hinges on our willingness to experiment, fail, and repeat as necessary. @hailley.hailley

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“ THE NEXT WAVE WILL BE ABOUT PUSHING THE BOUNDARIES OF HYBRIDIZATION...”


“ I THINK SOME CREATIVES WILL WANT TO MOVE TOWARDS A MORE THOUGHTFUL PROCESS OF CONSUMING AND CREATING IMAGES...”

OLIVIA MACDONALD NSCAD Halifax, NS I think the next wave for photography as fine art will see more, new, and different digital platforms emerge for sharing work, while some artists may find they stop posting work online and focus on the exculsivity of in-person gallery settings.

while others will continue to be drawn to online spaces. I find, at times, online content can be overwhelming, with an endless amount of creativity, content, and noise. Simultaneously, digital realms positively offer accessibility to new creative tools and reach to new audiences.

I think some creatives will want to move towards a more thoughtful process of consuming and creating images, stepping away from their phones and the Internet,

I shoot film whenever I can because I love the process from start to finish. I struggle with needing instant gratification and impulsiveness. This is

exacerbated by what I see and consume online. When I use film to shoot, I have to really concentrate and there is less room for error. The creative process can be fleeting, which is frustrating but also rewarding. Film photography is not considered practical because there are easier ways to take a photo, but there is a unique thrill to it for me. IG: @begoniaboliviensis

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“ THE BOUNDARY BETWEEN REAL AND DIGITALLY CREATED IMAGES WILL BLUR MORE AND MORE.”

CLARA NA RAE CHIN NORTHERN ALBERTA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY Edmonton, AB As the world of digital photography has unfolded over the past few decades, we now live in an unprecedented era of accessibility to photographic tools and extraordinary image-making potential. I wonder if Joseph Nicéphore Niépce in 1826 could have imagined what the advancement of photography would be like in 2022. Like him, we can only vaguely imagine what photographic technology will be like in 200 years. I predict that the technology of digitally

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created imaging is going to expand tremendously. We see countless digitally processed photographs and computer graphics everywhere in our daily lives. With advances in technology, I think the boundary between real and digitally created images will blur more and more. The composite photography we are creating now uses or combines multiple images to create a new one, either realistic or surrealistic. I would like to imagine a future where technology allows you to

take a surreal image, something beyond what you see in front of you, directly from your camera. I imagine an evolution of lenses in photography — a lens that could capture the smallest nano measurements of an object that is millions of light metres away in the universe. Whatever the next step is coming upon us in the technology of photography, it is exciting just to imagine what it would be. IG: @cnrc_photography


JOY

This statement appears published un-edited and is wholly the opinion of Joy, as a creative contributor.

RYERSON UNIVERSITY Toronto, ON The next wave of expression and human evolution will be VR, AR, and computer intelligence. Whenever people think of computer intelligence or technological machines, they might immediately think of artificial intelligence (AI). Nevertheless, that is not the only form of algorithmic evolution. Have you ever heard of IA? This stands for intelligence amplifications. IA seeks to supply a spark of interest in conveying a person’s expression, rather than trying to imitate the autonomy of human beings. Algorithmic intelligence does not always threaten our existence as humans. In my humble opinion, intelligent augmentation will be a main part of our evolution as a species. However, we must remember our responsibilities and roles as artists in the construction of the technological world.

“Good Morning, Computer” We can manipulate the machine’s perception of us. By doing that, we can further how machines and computers serve rather than imitate us. A conversation between a machine and a human is just as valuable and complex as a conversation between two humans. To have a fluid conversation with any human, a stranger or a friend, one must allow active listening, then time for thinking followed by speaking. Similarly, a conversation with a computer works the same way: input, processing, and output. Humans can control how much of our human abilities we want to expose to the algorithms.

phobia can be broken as soon as one realizes that humans are smarter than computers.

Role as artists There is a lot of fear and misconception around AI/IA. However, that

IG: @experimentaljoy

One can argue that we do not necessarily need AI or IA in our future. That is quite a contradictory statement. Especially, considering how the majority of our world is heavily involved in social media on a daily basis: the most toxic and unhealthy form of algorithms. However, if we can understand, manipulate, and use physical computing to our advantage, we will evolve even smarter and faster. We built these “smart” machines to serve us, so let them serve us.

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“ FINDING AND SPEAKING WITH A UNIQUE VOICE IS THE ULTIMATE GOAL FOR PHOTOGRAPHERS, NOW AND IN THE FUTURE.”

LUCAS TRONG LANGARA COLLEGE Vancouver, BC I think photography and art are both mediums of communication that are paradoxically repetitive and evolving. Although film photography has largely been replaced by digital technology, traditional methods have become a niche and trending new option. New ways to create images such as taking video screenshots, using AI models, or creating images in virtual reality have come further into common practice as pandemic restrictions challenged in-person image-making.

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In the future, I think there will be many new tools to create images. However, I don’t think that when a new visual form is created, it will eliminate the previous one. Creating new waves in the future is not so distant. No one knows what the future holds. Yesterday’s predictions are often today’s bad jokes. As we are starting to see technologies emerge in 3D and AI, vintage cameras and processes are simultaneously back in vogue. DSLRs are looking a bit shaky, while compacts

don’t look like they’ll last the night. Photography is an art medium that expresses artistic statements. I believe that pictures are language for a photographer. Finding and speaking with a unique voice is the ultimate goal for photographers, now and in the future. I think the future of photography is assured. www.lucatrong.com IG: @lucas.trong


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“THERE’S A ONE IN BILLIONS CHANCE THAT THIS IS BASE REALITY.” – ELON MUSK

CONV ERGENCE

A (VIRTUAL) PERCEPTION OF REALITY BY CHRISTOPHER SCHMITT I’M A COMPUTER GEEK BY NATURE. I hardwired my first computer from microchips when I was 16, before there was such a thing as a personal computer. By the time I was 18, I held a job in the telecom industry.

that “There’s a one in billions chance that this is base reality.” What he meant was that the likelihood that we are living in a real world, which he referred to as ‘base reality’, is incredibly slim. Influential astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson puts the odds that we’re living in a simulation at 50-50.

In the spring of 2017, I began to lose my sense of reality. My company had undergone dramatic changes and my new responsibilities did not align with my values and strengths. Placed under these sustained pressures for too long a period of time, my mental health deteriorated, preventing me from continuing to work. I applied for short-term disability, but my claims were repeatedly denied.

The photographic works I’ve created for this portfolio mimic our increasingly virtual world and challenges one’s perception of reality. My inspiration flows from a deep connection with science and technology, with each image representing my vision of a current or future state of the world.

I was stuck in an endless loop and my debts mounted. To recover from the impact of the trauma, I sought professional help, exercised, and meditated; but, the financial stress and my diminishing sense of self-worth made my condition worse. I lost faith in the “system.” Then one day, my brain re-booted. Initially, it felt like an awakening: I experienced great joy and a newfound creativity. I became obsessed with trying to figure out how my brain worked. After watching a TED Talk hosted by a neuroscientist and a surgeon that explained that the brain is like a biological supercomputer, I started to wonder: if my brain is a computer, then how do I know that I’m real? I found this thought intriguing because computers don’t have emotions; they aren’t affected by sorrow, anger, or fear, and they never feel anxious or depressed. A computer simply does what it’s programmed to do. I concluded that my emotional state was not real and that perhaps it was simply a bug in my software. Through thought experiments I proved, at least in my mind, that my hypothesis was correct: we are living in a computer simulation. It’s not that crazy of an idea. At Code Conference 2016, when responding to a question that asked if we are living in a computer simulation, Elon Musk answered unequivocally 22 photo ED

While technology can benefit society, there’s often a dark side, and so people are often pessimistic or anxious about the future. Fake news, identity theft, invasion of privacy, cyberattacks, and environmental disaster seem to be unintended consequences of technological advancements. I expect that some of those viewing my images may recognize in them the marvels of technology, while others will see a more dystopian future. Ultimately, thanks to family and friends, I recovered from my illness and talking about my experience seems to gradually ease the pain and embarrassment I continue to feel. Photography provides me with a creative outlet that grounds me to the present. Regarding whether or not we are living in a computer simulation, it’s still something I often think about. On the one hand, if we are in a simulation, wouldn’t that mean that we could create our own reality by simply playing the game? On the other hand, how is living in the real world any different? Christopher Schmitt is a lens-based artist located in Ottawa. His practice explores disruptive technologies and the impact they have on the networks of our minds, and on our land. Before graduating from the School of the Photographic Arts: Ottawa, he worked in high-tech. His work is held in the City of Ottawa’s Art Collection.

www.christopherschmittphoto.com


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STYLE, SET, + STORY International, award-winning, Toronto-based photo duo Saty Namvar and Pratha Samyrajah draw their inspiration from their diverse backgrounds and life experiences to champion an optimistic, modern, and inclusive concept of beauty. BY DJENABÉ

SATY AND PRATHA have worked with commercial clients such as Christian Louboutin, Hudson’s Bay, i-D, inStyle, Mercedes-Benz, Uniqlo, Vice, and Vogue, as well as their own personal projects. So of course, we’re excited to share a few of their images and to ask them some questions about their process. Djenabé: When did you realize your photographic eyes were compatible? How did the magical S+P duo form? S+P: Before we started working together, we were a couple: that in itself requires compatibility. We first met in university, so the bulk of our visual reference points and leanings have been discovered and established as we’ve grown up together. Although we have our own voices and viewpoints, the Venn diagram of how we see things and what makes our brains fire up largely overlaps.

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Djenabé: How does your still life creative work influence your commercial set design?

Djenabé: Do your muses arrive knowing what character they are playing or does the story unfold on set?

S+P: You’d be surprised how often clients pull references from something completely unrelated for a commercial project. We’ve had the most esoteric references from our personal and editorial work make their way to commercial mood boards. The beauty of still life personal work is that we can really experiment and play in a way that we can’t with human subjects: taking up an inanimate object’s time is not an issue. We can work out lighting and compositional ideas in advance and apply them to a bigger set later. Incidentally, this is how we taught ourselves lighting when we first started shooting!

S+P: We cast with a character in mind. It’s very rare that we do a personal project (or even a commercial one) with a subject we haven’t first met, so a subject’s personality or look often inherently means they are already partially in character. Although we hash out and plan as much as we can in advance of a shoot and direct the subject through it, ultimately the subject is what brings the final story to life and casting is key to starting off right.

Djenabé: Where do the conceptual blueprints for each project begin? Do you choose the muse and wardrobe first, or does the lighting and set design guide your stylistic decisions? S+P: Each project starts and ends in its own way, so it’s hard to give a general answer. Sometimes we build an idea around someone we’ve met or are drawn to. Other times we have an idea of what we want to do with a story and cast someone to fit that narrative. It can go both ways. We like to give our collaborators space, so while we might have clear thoughts on styling or makeup or hair, we’re always looking for the team to take an idea and run with it. The lighting, mood, set, and practical or technical aspects are really the only firmed up parts of a shoot we start with. We decide those elements before we get to set. 26 photo ED

It’s imperative to leave things open just enough for that persona to inhabit the space and experiment. We are wholly uninspired with situations where all the goals for imagery have been solidified in advance and we’re really just there to get pictures in the can. It’s way more fulfilling when we get something we hadn’t planned for. Our subject is key to making that happen. Djenabé: What are your favourite lenses to work with? S+P: We both love an 85mm. It’s a very expected portrait photographer’s length, but there’s a “don’t fix it if it ain’t broke”ness to that.

We shoot with prime lenses, and that is not because we are masochists and dislike the ease of using zoom lenses. We just prefer it when the lens dictates where you stand as the photographer. With a zoom we can stand anywhere and get to a reasonably okay


composition; but with primes we have to earn it more and actually have to reposition and reorient ourselves. We find that physicality tremendously helpful in shaking things up and a necessary part of the image-making process.

The idea of there being a beauty standard feels a bit laughable, but overall, yes absolutely, any and all evolution that leads to the understanding that beautiful people don’t necessarily have to be tall and thin and white is welcome music to our ears.

If we had to list others, Saty likes a macro 100mm because you can get really stuck in and Pratha likes a 16mm wide because it’s a little more unexpected in a fashion or beauty context.

Djenabé: I absolutely love your New Day calendar project. What prompted this push towards creating art for a cause?

Djenabé: As photographers focused on developing inclusive concepts of beauty, how would you describe the evolution of beauty standards? How does your work elevate or dismantle them? S+P: Casting has always been a central component of our work and we cast for diversity from the start, but that probably has something to do with who we are and where we come from. We’re both first generation immigrants and we both grew up in diverse and people of colour–centric neighbourhoods, both in Canada and the United Kingdom. So our aesthetic naturally veers towards being interested and inspired by a wide array of people.

Having said that, we are well aware and have witnessed certain systemic issues that make us personally champion a conscious and accountable push for diverse casting. We think casting in a diverse way shouldn’t mean casting “X” people to tick off a box. It should mean being open to casting as wide an array of people for the role of a muse or subject as are reflected in society.

S+P: 2020 was an excruciating year in so many ways. It felt like we — the collective we — lived a few lifetimes within that set of 365 days and New Day was our way of processing that year. We knew shelters and aid organizations were being stretched incredibly thin in Toronto, so we wanted to help any way we could. We also wanted to make something that was hopeful.

All those ideas percolated to make the New Day calendar, which is sold through our website (www.newdayproject.ca) and our retail partners. The Red Door family shelter receives 100 percent of the money collected. This is an absolutely incredible organization whose work we’ve long admired. They help families in crisis situations: women fleeing domestic violence and refugees with nowhere else to turn. The fundraiser was a success, raising $10 000 for the charity last year and we’re pushing even harder to do it again this year. See more by Saty and Pratha: www.satyandpratha.org IG: @satyandpratha.com photo ED 27


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THINGS YOU’LL BE GLAD YOU PACKED IN YOUR STUDIO KIT BY DJENABÉ

1. Fishing line (nylon/acrylic thread): If you enjoy designing elaborate sets for still life objects or products, then thread is your best friend! Acrylic string contains the power of invisibility and optical illusion. With the right lighting and post-production techniques, it can make things appear as if they are magically floating in the air. 2. Magnets: Fashion designers often use them to pick up stray pins and needles, but on set they can be used to hold up metal jewellery and fasten lightweight props onto upright surfaces. 3. Sticky tack and bubble gum: This one’s for you improvisers and MacGyvers out there! When all else fails, these two adhesives are the most reliable. Imagine trying to photograph an upright pencil without string or tape. Chewing gum will solve that problem real quick.

6. Bristol board: Whether you’re on a budget or on the go, buying some black and white bristol board from a dollar store will never fail you. This versatile paper board can become a reflector, flag, or even a backdrop. The options are limitless! 7. Binder clips: Nowadays these nifty little things come in all kinds of colours and sizes, and they are perfect for fitting clothing to a model, attaching fabric backdrops to each other, or fashioning a bristol board flag to a stand. 8. Plastic wrap: Another optically illusive tool, this kitchen staple can act as a protective lens barrier for spittakes, wet dogs, or any situations where the camera can be exposed to splashes. Plastic wrap can also create some glaring effects, so you may need to use a polarizing lens filter to avoid those.

4. Lucky socks: “Dude, where’s my lens cap!?” is the age-old internal dialogue of a photographer. Critics may disagree, but I always bring a pair of socks with me on set in case I lose a lens cover or need to cushion it on a hard surface. Think about socks like a lens-cozy. Fuzzy socks or slippers can also be a great substitute for dirty sneakers on light-coloured, seamless backdrops.

9. Mounting tape: Regular tape does most jobs, but mounting tape has the added bonus of being double-sided and super strong!

5. Party horn (noise-makers): Not your conventional studio tool, but these can come in super handy when you’re trying to get toddlers and pets to focus on the lens.

11. Water: A friendly reminder to stay hydrated! But it’s also good to keep spray bottles of water handy for adding a dewy effect to products or to quickly wipe down surfaces.

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10. Beaded jewellery: Not a necessity, but definitely a surefire way of simulating lovely lens flares and beautiful bokehs when you’re feeling creative.


the interactive image BY DJENABÉ

Photography’s destiny has been a topic of discussion since the digital photography boom began. A camera is now widely accessible and incorporated into every mobile device, and reaching for it is second nature. Image making is a communication activity that has bred a new language of implicit metaphors and memes alike.

Of course, pop culture has naturally found new ways of remixing and reinterpreting images, but where does that position photography’s role in the art space of the future? I wonder if we will ever outgrow the presentation of a flat-framed image on a white wall. As deadpan and clinical as the white walls are, they still work; the art awaits eyes. But beyond galleries, billboards, and magazines, how else can photographs be exhibited? How will the display of photographic art evolve? This question revisits my brain often and has prompted my own work and connected me with other local boundary-pushing visual artists making interactive imagery. photo ED 29


arming by clara

Fixations “Fixations” is a tactile artwork centred on peculiar beauty. My project features a series of puzzles that prompts viewers to actively participate in the construction of a pleasure creature. The tangram is a dissection puzzle originating from the Chinese Song dynasty. It has also been called the “earliest psychological test in the world.” By pairing images of the organic forms of human anatomy with the rigid geometric shapes of the tangram puzzle, I’ve established a methodical strategy for interacting with anatomical ambiguity. For this project, I approached nude portraiture quite anecdotally. While photographing my muses, I fixate on unique contortions, marks, and body parts. I do not aim to reproduce the likeness of each person, but rather the distinct features, shapes, textures, and eccentricities that trigger the magnetism of their physical presence. Picasso spoke of Cubism as an art concerned with the realization of forms that live their own life, a concept which has drawn me to a Cubist approach of instinct and transformation. The visual experimentations of this movement have fuelled my constant urge to bend photographic boundaries and create new ways of consuming and interacting with images.

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“arming by clara” is a 12-foot sculptural monument and self-portrait commemorating the life of Clara Ford and the lives of Black bodies, whose survival is often read as threatening or encoded in a grammar of militancy. “arming by clara’ is inspired by the story of Clara Ford, a Black, Toronto-born person accused in 1895 of murdering a wealthy White man who assaulted her. Known for wearing men’s clothing and carrying a loaded revolver, Clara appeared in court in a Victorian dress, ultimately leading to her acquittal. In my conversations with artist Anique Jordan about the process of creating these sculptural monuments, she noted that she developed the shape of the figures by creating and working from a self-portrait image. This detail really fascinated me, as I was delighted at the thought of photography being the integral tool in recreating a visual emblem of a distant memory. Photography plays a further role in the activation of this work. Viewers are invited to stand with the figures and document their stance with this narrative.


FAR LEFT: Djenabé, “Fixations,” Plexiglass puzzle (matte double sided print in plexi). LEFT: Anique Jordan, “arming by clara,” 12ft self-portrait sculpture. Part of the Kingsbrea Sculpture Garden collection. THIS PAGE: William Ukoh, “Sunday in the Strand of 4C,” 10 x 10 ft mirrored box installation. Video crew: Stylist: Sarah Vonditsianou (Sarah Vee) Makeup Artist: Mila Victoria Hair Stylist: Aisha Ebony Model: Peace Haje Installation Crew: Curator: Ashley Mckenzie-Barnes, Architect/Designer: Raquel Da Silva Set build: Dwayne Mcleod Audio/Visual: Gideon Ayesu Agency: Rodeo Prod Inc.

Sunday in the Strand of 4C William Ukoh’s installation, “Sunday in the Strand of 4C” extended the world of a 2D video into a 3D experience. William’s video explores the Afro-Caribbean cultural practice of tending to one’s hair on a Sunday, an age-old routine that has now been given a name in pop culture, “Self-Care Sundays.” William and an extended creative team developed the photo series and paired the images with the poetic anecdotes of Black women from his community. But the story didn’t end there, Ashley Mckenzie-Barnes (curator), Raquel Da Silva (architectural designer), Dwayne Mcleod (set builder), and Gideon Ayesu (audio/ visual engineer) came together to construct a public art installation exhibited in Toronto at the Harbourfront Centre for a week in the Summer of 2021. William says, “People from various walks of life came by to interact with the piece in different ways. Some were intrigued by the scale, some made use of the mirrored exterior for selfies, some sat around and took in the calming sounds emanating from the box. Children were intrigued by the fantasy nature of the display. The installation did what I hoped it would; provide a calming environment where you could sit, escape, and simply enjoy a peaceful summer day or night.”

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Quebec’s Underground Fashion Boom Canadian fashion has always been an elusive subject. Despite our booming multicultural cities brimming with creative talent and ingenuity, we continue to be excluded from the global Fashion Capital conversation. I spoke to a couple of Quebec-based creatives about their thoughts on local fashion and what is stopping Canada from being a fashion focal point. BY DJENABÉ

HADI Montreal | Photographer Hadi Mourad is a Lebanese-Canadian, self-taught fashion photographer who grew up in Montreal. Hadi is inspired by nature and beauty in its organic state. He highlights rather than alters his subject. He has gained prominence in the Canadian fashion scene, working for several national and international clients. He says, “Since I was young, I’ve always been drawn to the photography in fashion magazines. Compared to the rest of Canada, I think the fashion scene in Quebec is quite advanced. Montrealers especially are not afraid to take risks when it comes to fashion imagery and design. I think the fact that we are so geographically close to New York City puts us behind in becoming a Fashion Capital. www.hadimourad.com IG: @hadimourad

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ÉLÉONORE CÔTARD Quebec City | Stylist, Photographer, Creative Director I started taking pictures when I was pretty young. I went to school in human sciences until I stopped at 19 years old. I started a Facebook page and Instagram account where I posted my photos of different creative concepts. I just pushed it in a way nobody else thought I could, and I gained credibility with time. I’m now 24 years old and I am making a living off my work. AMEN! What drew me to the fashion world really is my passion for photography and clothes. I’m driven by the different auras and energies that people project through the clothes they wear. I love to experiment and see people feeling confident even though I’m bringing them in a different direction. There are a lot of talented designers and fashion stylists in Montréal. I think that fashion and the music industry are growing together. What this city needs is more exposure from outside of Canada and more Canadian celebrities and influencers representing the city by wearing Canadianmade clothing. Quebec is a small place and people get to know one another really quickly. I feel like we should encourage each other and work together instead of competing. I think there isn’t enough government funding for fashion brands here. Fashion and the arts in general could really be a boost for the economy. People with big dreams and big ambitions tend to leave and go to the United States or European countries. www.eleala.com IG: @eleonorecs

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FASHION FORWARD FRAMES The photography of PATRICIA ELLAH

A conversation hosted by photoED Magazine issue curator DJENABÉ, photographer PATRICIA ELLAH, and curator ZAHARA SIDDIQI that examines the significance of fashion photography as an art form and a vehicle for cultural identity.

‘Artist Ehiko Odeh,’ “The keeper of the wardrobe,” Makeup by Tamar Ellah. Toronto, Ontario, 2021. photo ED 35


“Godly,” 4x5 manipulated film, Toronto, Ontario, 2020.

Patricia Ellah is a Nigerian-Canadian fine art photographer with a female gaze and a fashion forward lens. Zahara Siddiqi is a curator and social justice artist whose work celebrates Black, Indigenous, People of Colour, 2SLGBTQ+ communities, and those who live along the margins of society. as commercial work instead of being considered a fine art practice?

for example, I think it’s art because people aren’t thinking only about commerce, they begin to feel emotions from the images. I think that is when you can say “that’s fine art” and not just about selling a product. It’s easy to dismiss commercial fashion images as “quick work.” After working on set at Hearst [Magazines], I can feel that emotion. That is when I have more respect for simple images, because no well-crafted image is really THAT simple.

PATRICIA: I think the easiest response would be to say because

DJENABÉ: Especially the execution! I also think back to our days

DJENABÉ: Why do you think fashion photography gets cast aside

you’re trying to sell something. And when you’re trying to make somebody buy something, the most important part about the work is that something sells. But when I look at Tom Ford’s Gucci ads, 36 photo ED

studying at Parsons where if you said you were shooting fashion, professors would comment, “No, you’re not! Because fashion photography requires a set and crew, and what goes into the


fashion image is yada this, and yada that…” and it really deterred us from going that route as freshmen. I considered our work as very fashion forward. But, because of that push away from calling it fashion photography, it led me to look at my work from a fine art lens. PATRICIA: I think the professors were not ready to understand

the work. I realized that these people don’t want to understand, and that’s okay. I had one of my favourite professors say, “Patricia, your work is so beautiful, but I just think people aren’t going to understand it.” I’ve struggled with that. Seeing my image “Godly” on large screens on an office tower in Toronto for the Building Space show curated by Make Room and ArtWorxTO was my reminder that every image matters and can be understood: it just needs the right audience. Commentary can be negative (especially for a Black, woman photographer) in this very elitist industry. ZAHRA: Is there a fashion photographer you admire whose work

reflects a commercial and editorial aesthetic, but you see it as fine art? Why?

PATRICIA: I would say I’m more influenced by what I’ve seen in

books and magazines. Annie Leibovitz’s early works for Vanity Fair and Rolling Stone were the first images I saw in high school that impacted me. Robert Mapplethorpe and Annie Leibovtiz’s books were the first ones I took home with me to explore. I feel Annie’s work was really pivotal. It had something to say. Everybody will always talk about how that era of her work was pivotal in photography. I also think about George Pitts’ work as the photo director for Vibe magazine, because he centred what he did on Black culture. Images of Jay-Z and DMX especially. When I took a class he taught, he said, “I chose the photographer so that you could see a different side of Jay-Z.” It’s a moment for many other Black photographers to pull from as well.

LEFT: “Lady Donli,” For Teeth Magazine, Makeup by Tamar Ellah, Toronto, Ontario, 2019.

RIGHT: “Tamar,” for “The Keeper of The Wardrobe,” Makeup by Tamar Ellah. Creative Direction by Michelle Ellah, Toronto, Ontario, 2021.

ZAHRA: How do you embed parts of your culture into your

vision?

PATRICIA: When I got my first camera, the first people I

photographed were my family. I was shooting my mom and my two sisters. I was obsessed with it. I took my camera everywhere! When I was taking those photos, I was not thinking about culture. I was just thinking about what I wanted to photograph. Now, when I look back, I see my culture. That’s how I developed my eye towards making the work that I want to see now. I develop my photographs around my family and what matters to me. I’ve slowed down a little bit from when I was taking my camera everywhere. I now realize my culture is my family. That is something that we have returned to recently, my sisters and I working together. Which is really amazing and a part of my artistic journey. When I was younger, I took a photo of my sister Tamar (@tamarellah), a makeup artist and painter, that my eldest sister Michelle (@thekeeperofthewardrobe), a fashion designer, styled for me. We shot a series in our childhood home in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, and I posted it on Tumblr. The image went viral! I started to feel a strong sense of culture after seeing it shared internationally. DJENABÉ: Do you think that “slow down” you’re experiencing is

you reflecting and trying to intentionally approach work with the representation that you want it to have?

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fashion industry, you need them to dive into your vision so you can successfully sell a product. DJENABÉ: Would you regard fashion photography as an archival

system for the preservation of cultural identity?

PATRICIA: Definitely. Black people move fashion and culture, and

they have done so much, just in the streets. I believe that fashion can be and should be archived for conversations around culture. Which is why I really appreciate what Anna Wintour did with the Met Gala, even if she’s also accused of exclusivity. The moment where people can take a deep look at fashion is key because that opens up conversations for more people to understand that fashion drives culture. Even though some fashion labels closed down during COVID, spending on fashion didn’t actually stop. People kept shopping for clothes. The way people present themselves is important and that’s not going to change. DJENABÉ: Absolutely! Fashion has been a key identifier of social

status, but in a contemporary world of fast fashion and copycat trends, do you think future art historians will use it in the same way that they have to identify social status and cultural values in the past? LEFT: “Yeelen” Brooklyn, New York, 2016

RIGHT: “Tamar” for “The Keeper of The Wardrobe,” 35mm film, Toronto, Ontario, 2020.

PATRICIA: Yes! I spend a lot of time thinking about photography.

I thought about creating the photograph “Godly” for almost a year. DJENABÉ: And it’s amazing. Truly stunning! PATRICIA: I feel that what I want to embody is authenticity. Also,

importantly, beauty and love, care, and power. I really want my work to speak power. It’s important that when you look at it, it makes you feel esteemed. That’s something that I can directly attribute to influence from George Pitts’ Vibe magazine era. ZAHRA: I noticed that many of your subjects have stoic and regal

expressions, and I was wondering if this was intentional? If so how does this play a part in your desired final image? PATRICIA: I would say that people are regal in front of a camera

and that’s something that they want to perform — their excellence. That’s something that shines through with me especially. But, I don’t think they are entirely stoic, because there are subtle emotions here, whether it’s a slight seduction in the eyes or a hint of a smile. It’s up to the viewer to take that deep dive with the subject. That’s where the commercial aspect comes in when we think about a good fashion or beauty image as commercial work. You need people to take that dive with you. And, if you’re in the

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PATRICIA: I think fashion will always be used to determine status,

values, and beauty because we will always be very visual people. I’m not so pressed about copycats; for example, Dapper Dan’s claim to fame came from duping. And it’s not a bad thing. I think that’s serious art.


time in the world, what the focus was, and what the style was. When you are no longer on this planet in a physical form, what type of impact or message are you hoping your work leaves or exudes for viewers of the future? PATRICIA: I think that I already have a sense of what that looks

like. I’ll never know for certain. But when I saw “Godly” go up on display, I felt that people translated that power. I made that image as a reminder of home, lineage, and energy. I wanted to capture an energy, one that would strengthen me to move forward. I feel that viewers will connect to the message and find their own strength in resilience, which is the real foundation of being able to think big. The image says “the world is hers, and no one can take it from her.” DJENABÉ: That’s what I feel like makes a lot of visual work so

special and so profound. Everybody has a different eye and a different way of seeing the world. What you’re leaving behind or creating in the moment is how you’re seeing the world now. To see more of Patricia’s work, visit: patriciaellah.com IG: @partriciaellah

“Marita” Brooklyn, New York, 2016.

DJENABÉ: Almost like an echo! PATRICIA: Yeah, you think it’s easy to make a bag? Okay, now go

try and make a Chanel bag. They’re using top-notch equipment that has been made for them. But there’s also the people like Dapper Dan who do it at home. A good outfit, even if it’s from Shein, H&M, or Zara, can still make a statement. I’m definitely not pressed about duping. ZAHRA: I really love this image! (“Marita”) What is that border

image? Where was that taken?

PATRICIA: Thank you! I made this on my rooftop in Brooklyn.

She styled herself. I put the backdrop up, and we made this image. It was this moment where I wanted to capture the details of my day. I really love this image because it reminds me of a day of shooting in New York. It gives me the feeling that everything is literally fashionable. They would always open the fire hydrant on our street. It was such fun vibes. The kids went wild in the water. I was trying to push my digital work further, and I was loving layered images. Sometimes the edge of an image is also just as amazing as the image itself. ZAHRA: I often say that art speaks to the consciousness of a

civilization. You can look at art from before we were even alive, and it can tell you something about what was happening at that Note: This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

“Gabby” Brooklyn, New York, 2016.

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The Modern


REMEMBER THE FIRST TIME I went to Paris. It was over 20 years

ago. I was a burgeoning photographer and I was in awe. I mean, this was Paris … the City of Lights, the nexus of fashion and a mecca for the arts. I was staying in a tiny hotel in the 18th arrondissement, behind the Sacré-Cœur Basilica, and that first day I walked across the city to Le Jardin de Luxembourg and just soaked in everything: the architectural styles from every period in history, the grand boulevards, the intertwining streets, and iconic monuments, from the Eiffel Tower to Notre-Dame. I was spellbound and in sensory overload. The real game changer for me was the Louvre. I’d been to many museums before, but they all paled in comparison to the breadth and immensity of the Louvre and its collection. I was particularly drawn to large-scale paintings by Caravaggio and Géricault, and to the works of da Vinci and Michelangelo. I was mesmerized by the paintings by Rembrandt, Delacroix, Manet, and Vermeer, whose use of light and shadows in their nudes and portraits heightened my experience. It was through these works that I also discovered the concept of the Muse: a person or personified force who could be the source of inspiration for an artist. The concept of The Muse has stayed with me. I’ve had several, both male and female, who, in diverse and unique ways, have provided me with continued sources of inspiration. I never tire of my Muses when exploring my photographic thoughts and ideas. Inspiration is an intangible yet integral part of the creative process. Nearly all of my creative opportunities are linked and somehow associated to the Muses that inspire me. The ancient Greeks believed that all creation, whether artistic or scientific, was instigated by goddesses who served as literal embodiments of inspiration. These women were called Muses and were the patrons of the creative spark. I believe that we still depend on Muses to drive the creative process, perhaps in less divine manifestations, but they exist in sudden ideas, through people, movies, books, and details around us. Whether your Muse is figurative or a real person or a model, when we are “touched” by our Muses, we understand in a very visceral way, a need to create.

Muse

Although not referenced in every image in my body of work, the theme of the Muse recurs throughout it. What are the determining factors that characterize a Muse? How does one find or establish a Muse–artist collaboration? Because that’s exactly what it is: an artistic relationship that is not only mutually dependent but also mutually beneficial. Is such a concept relevant in today’s fast-paced, fast-food, mass-produced art landscape? I believe that a Muse, as a source of inspiration, is constant and unyielding. It enhances the artist’s experience and brings their endeavours to new heights through a process best described as osmosis. As the artist’s heightened sensibilities lead to greater awareness, insight, and imagination, the effect becomes reciprocal, where the Muse becomes, in turn, galvanized and inspirited. Such an

BY RICHARD BERNARDIN

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experience is rare, hence the reason why not every person who inspires an artist is or becomes a muse. Can one find or sculpt their perfect Muse? Speaking from personal experience, I would say yes to a certain degree. The sense of collaborative synergy that I develop with my Muses stems from multiple photoshoots done together, in which we built rapport, familiarity, and confidence. Additionally, trust is established while interacting before and after the shoot on a more personal level. The antithesis to this approach is the infamous French idiom of “Sois belle et tais-toi,” taken from a 1959 song written and composed by Serge Gainsbourg for a movie, which translates to Be Beautiful But Shut Up. This method was the unspoken “ordre du jour” for a long time in the fashion industry in regards to the extent of a model’s role on a shoot. This kind of disdain and outdated thinking is clearly unacceptable and the opposite of establishing a connection with your subject. So YES, this type of relationship can be built on but it requires personal investment and authenticity. And NO it cannot be assumed or fabricated because a fake connection creates unease, wariness, and the sense that something is amiss. On the contrary, when all the right components come together in just the right way, it kind of happens serendipitously. I also pose this question: Is this concept relevant in our fast-paced era where images 42 photo ED

are quickly consumed, redundant, and disposable? I think it depends on what your intentions are with your work. If you’re preoccupied with creating voluminous amounts of content (I vehemently dislike this word in this context and do NOT consider myself a content maker) for the “Gram” or for clients who just want the “look of the moment,” a Muse may be irrelevant to you. The concept of the Muse retains its relevance when the creator and the subject’s goal is to create work that is singular and not dictated by trends. Then the work has depth, identity, and purpose and it will undoubtedly stand the test of time. These are obviously goals to strive for and their efficacy will vary depending on the context and parameters of the shoot. The intent of the photographer inherently attracts like-minded collaborators, and when that happens, sparks can fly. If you want to experience a different kind of growth and depth in your interactions with your subjects, be real, talk with them, be present and truly listen, include them in your creative process, exchange ideas and ask for their feedback. Over time, the relationship with your subject will grow, shine, and flourish. Then maybe, just maybe, they’ll become a Muse, and if not, you’ll certainly have made a great friend. richardbernardin.com IG: @richardbernardinphoto


Business casual? Maybe we’re just casual. We’re keeping our fingers crossed for hosting North America’s popular photographic shows, fairs and auctions once again. Whether you dress cool or casual for our next event, we look forward to seeing you there. Check date, time and venue announcements in our free newsletter or on our website.

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THE GALLERY SUBMISSIONS BY OUR READERS

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THE GALLERY

APRIL WINTER Mayne Island, BC

“EXODUS TO EUROPA is a selfportrait series about a fictional expedition to colonize a new terrestrial place. I explore ideas about fashion, status, bias, and ideologies that we might bring with us from Earth and how they might change over time as we adapt to a new way of living. I n the year 2300, a handful of the world’s leaders and noble families gather to coordinate a mass departure from Earth. The voyagers plan to flee with some of civilization’s most prized possessions. They cling desperately to these heirlooms of a past human existence, the very objects that consumed the planet from which they fled. Their first destination was an icy

moon of Jupiter, Europa.”

IG: @aprilbluewinter

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HELP YOUR CAREER TAKE SHAPE Nitya Bellani, 2021 Student Awards Winner

Start it off right by winning an Applied Arts Student Award. Your winning work will be published in our Advertising & Student Awards Annual, online in the Winners Gallery and shared on our social media channels to our influential audience. Winners also receive a complimentary copy of the Annual, digital tear sheets featuring their work, and a signed certificate recognizing your achievement. Awarding Creativity since 1992

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