I am from Pugwash, Nova Scotia – its beauty really makes up for its small size. I actually decided to take Psychology after high school. I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from Mount Saint Vincent University last year. During my third year, I came to the realization that Psychology really wasn’t for me – I was taking photos when I probably should have been studying!
Currently I am in my third quarter of the Digital Photography program. The program being only one year was a major attraction for me after just finishing 4 years of post secondary education. And they keep the classes fairly small which is a very good thing.
What have been some highlights of the program for you?
As students, we have been given many opportunities to be photographers at events around the city – all of which I’ve jumped at the chance to be involved with (in?). All of this killer hands-on experience gives us a better feel for the industry in our area. Also, this quarter my class and I are learning lighting techniques from one of our idols – Liam Hennessey – from Applehead Studios here in Halifax. The fact that we are able to learn under a number of different industry professionals is a definite highlight for me.
When did you decide you wanted to be a career photographer?
I got into Photography around the same time I stopped believing in Santa Claus. Now don’t assume I was very young – I was 12! I received a camera from Santa for Christmas that year, only Santa left a business card in the box thanking my mother for her business. You could say I was thrilled nonetheless. A few years later I got my first point-and-shoot, and that was it for me; I didn’t put that thing down. I decided to pursue a career in Photography when I finally listened to my heart instead of my head. Making the decision to pursue something I am passionate about rather than what I thought was the “thing to do” is the best decision I have ever made.
What do your future plans look like?
My plans for the future are a little scattered at this point. I’ve been doing a lot of people photography so far, which I love. However, I’m also really interested in pursuing the photojournalism area of photography, as well as music. As a student, I’ve been trying to get my feet wet in a lot of different avenues but those are the most compelling to me so far. So as you can see, my mind has yet to be made up.
It looks like you’ve been doing some cool projects – can you tell us about some of those?
Through the school I’ve been able to take photos for two fashion shows, a craft show, a web-series, and a fundraiser for Cystic Fibrosis.
Through my business, I’ve taken photos of children, families, engagements, businesses, city events, and a local band.
At this time, my projects include photographing the Atlantic Engineering Competition, the Canadian Cancer Society’s Metro Universities Relay For Life, WIFT’s Women Making Waves & the WAVE Awards, and I’m currently in the process of taking images for a calendar for Windsor Salt. I was asked to photograph all of these different events/projects through word of mouth. Having very public showcases like the popular social media sites are great for getting your work out there, and positive referrals never hurt. I always learn something every time I take a photo, whether it’s particular settings to use in certain situations, how to interact with people, and a lot of times what NOT to do. But that’s what learning photography is all about: recognizing your mistakes, investing the time to fix them, and taking something from every opportunity that you’re given.
What advice would you give someone considering a career as a photographer?
We all know professional photography, as with many other careers, is a very competitive field. I’m going to generalize here, but our goal is to be successful, full-time photographers. In order to be successful, we must stand out. In order to stand out, we have to be able to think outside the box, to do something that hasn’t been done before. And yes, sometimes that can seem impossible: but it is the challenge we all face.
I will always recommend professional training paired with hands-on experience, as there is much to be learned from both. Once you learn the “correct” process through training, you can then take it with a grain of salt once you start to build your brand. How you choose to build your brand is completely up to you, so experiment as much as possible while you’re a student and get a better feel for what you enjoy.
Above all, do what YOU want to do and what makes you happy. As photographers, we are lucky to have that freedom.
You seem to use social media a lot. Has social media helped you as a photographer?
Social media is obviously becoming very popular, and it reaches more people every day. As an aspiring photographer, the more people I reach the better my chances are of growing my business. You have to put yourself out there in order to be heard, and these days people are heard through social media sites. I currently blog, tweet, Facebook, and have my own website. It’s hard enough to keep those updated right now, but I’m also looking into Flickr and Tumblr, which are a couple other great sites we can use as photographers.