Photo: Jake Scott

Q&A with photographer Dylan McArthur

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By Zeinab Saidoun

The Eyeopener sat down with fourth-year photography student Dylan McArthur to talk about his passion for photography, his experience studying at Ryerson and his photo exhibit “Life and Shadow” being featured at the Ryerson Artspace from March 10 to April 3. You can check out the full interview on

Q: How did you get into photography?

At first I had no interest in the arts. I went away, lived in Italy for a year where I picked up the habit of photography for the sake of tourism. I was hooked in the sense of being fascinated with images and seeing the result. I decided to pursue that because it seemed like the right thing to do. I saw myself progressing with photography, so I Iooked at OCAD and Ryerson, got accepted to both but Ryerson was more suited for me because it was more targeted to photography.

Q: What is “Life and Shadow” about?

“Life and Shadow” is a three-year, almost four-year, body of work. It’s been taken mainly in Toronto in the financial district [and] is not about the big questions in life, like life and death. I am interested in photography as a medium and the possibility photography presents itself.

The images decide how photography acts as a transformative tool by nature. The world doesn’t look like that, it’s about ways of seeing ideas around representations with the use of photography.

My livelihood is predestined with duties attuned to going forward with the day: from waking up, to getting ready to leave the apartment, to walking, to commuting, to working, to learning, to experiencing — to experience in order to live, and to live in order to experience.

Q: Where did your idea for “Life and Shadow” come from?

I wander around the streets and photograph strangers so things come naturally. I was fascinated, not by the financial district, but it is coined as a place of big business, which it is, at certain hours of the day. But at 5 o’clock, most people commuting from different parts of the GTA all get together.

Q: Why did the process take so long?

The shortest thing I’ve done has taken eight months. It’s because of the way I work, it’s all really by chance. I can go out one day and not get anything, and the next I’ll get a great picture. I don’t think the project is complete, I think it’s one of those things I’ll always continue work on.

Q: How do you feel about being featured at the Ryerson Artspace?

I’m very excited about it. Happy to have all my work in one space, usually it’s been single images. The images by themselves are a different context than when you see them all together in one space.

In the statement I want to achieve, it’s important to see them all together. This is the first time they are being shown all together.

Q: How has your experience been at Ryerson for photography?

It’s been a very good experience.The most important thing about Ryerson is having the ability to connect with different professionals from different fields who are critiquing you and viewing your portfolio.

Q: How has the university helped you achieve your goals?

It has helped me in my progress of my bodies of work, the guidance of the professors and the opportunities that opened up through artspace. It’s all in the professors and how much motivation they have and they’ve all been very motivated and helpful.

Q: What advice would you give to those who are passionate about photography?

Just go out and take pictures. Shoot a lot and work hard. It’s that simple. I shoot every single day, I go out. Having a good working method and knowing the history goes a long way. Look at other photographers, study them and go from there. Treat it like any other profession you’re involved [in].

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story stated that the photo series is concerned with the big questions in life, like life and death, but the photographer contacted The Eyeopener to clarify that the series is not concerned with life and death. The Eyeopener regrets this error.

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