By Annie Arnone
The first time I looked through the viewfinder of my first camera, a tiny Canon T5, everything I saw became a photograph.
Since then, every interaction I have with another person I frame in my head as a portrait. Every walk to the grocery store is my own personal five minute interlude of landscape shot opportunities—a man dropping a penny on Dalhousie Street, a little girl kicking around a cigarette butt on the ground. And then there’s editing. People’s moods correlate with either extreme on my colour balance bar, which is when my style becomes visible. These decisions—the way I choose to see the world—have been criticized. Once, someone told me my work was “unmarketable.”
I was eating mashed potatoes at the dinner table when the topic of my photography came up. “Over saturated” and “burnt” were the words used to describe my work. And I loved it.
I smiled in response to those remarks because they were exactly the kind of comments I wanted to hear. The minute a woman smiles into my lens, I see beams of colour radiating off of her—so I gravitate towards my saturation bar and I make her cheeks as rosy as I see them, her eyes as bright as I see them. When my subject is sad, my lens goes grey. The colour in their face fades, but the redness in their teary eyes is the only thing I see. My saturation bar acts accordingly.
My relationship with my subjects, or the out-of-place object on the ground, are the most important things in the world to me. What I see in my subject is mine and theirs. No one else’s.
For so long people have been critical of my work, but it truly makes me want to produce more. I want to continue to be different—more “burnt,” more “overexposed.”
Every photographer has their own connection with a person or a photo, and their eyes see things differently. I’m sure you’ve heard of the experiment where several people shoot the same object. Every time, no photo is the same.
In the next several pages, you’ll see work from several Ryerson photographers whose styles vary—one photographer shoots ethnographic portraits in Ghana, while another covers her subject’s faces with pillowcases. You’ll read about why they shoot this way, and about what motivates them to create.
My motivation to create will always be that conversation at the dinner table. Look back at your work and be proud of it, and be different.
So, without further ado, The Eyeopener presents the photography issue.
Be sure to vote for your favourite photographer from this issue here!