The Air I Breathe

The Air I Breathe

TheAirIBreathe

So here is a fact I just discovered….

“According to the 2014 World Health Organization report, air pollution in 2012 caused the deaths of around 7 million people worldwide.”

I knew from the start that my environmental series had to include a photo that dealt with air pollution but I had no idea the severity of it until I started researching information for my blog.

What is it exactly? In a nutshell, it’s the introduction of harmful materials into the earth’s atmosphere that have an adverse effect on humans and the ecosystem. That brown cloud you see hovering over large urban areas like Los Angeles and Rome is created by either natural or man-made pollutants.

The list of pollutants seems almost endless and the sources that they come from even longer. Here are just a few of the manmade sources -
power plants, factories, incinerators, furnaces, motor vehicles, aircraft, hair spray, paint, landfills, nuclear weapons.

And a few of the natural sorces -
dust, methane emitted by animals (eg. cattle), radon, smoke, some vegetation, volcanic activity.

It’s a little overwhelming to say the least. I’m fortunate that I don’t live in one of the world’s “hot spots” for air pollution like India or China but for how long am I the lucky one? How long until the spread continues into rural areas in all corners of the earth? In Canada we have something called the Air Quality Health Index that measures the safety of doing physical activity outside. Higher numbers are no longer something that just occur in the big cities.

My photo depicts a girl, donning a mask, trying to block out some of the harmful particles created by motor vehicles. I chose to target this area first in my series because in Canada (my country), transportation is one of the largest sources of air pollution. After learning what I’ve learned I’m sure you’ll see further photos in the series dealing with air pollution.

Next time I’ll be taking my bike….

For more information you can visit -

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Air_pollution

Thanks again to my amazing model, Sarah Ruest.

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Honeybee, honeybee, where can you be?

Honeybee, honeybee, where can you be?Imagine a world where the honeybee doesn’t exist. It doesn’t seem like a big deal does it…..you can live without honey if you have to, right?
Now think about a world with no fruits, nuts or vegetables and the problem suddenly becomes drastically more serious.
The majority of our flowered crops are pollinated by the busy honeybee but the population of those bees has been on a dangerous decline, to the point that it joins the list of the world’s top ecological emergencies. Without pollination the cost of produce will skyrocket and I mean skyrocket. Already in certain parts of the world crops are being hand pollinated with feather dusters. Imagine the labour it would take to pollinate all of our crops this way? A single bee colony can pollinate 300 million flowers a day!

The vanishing of the bees, which is sometimes referred to as Colony Collapse Disorder, isn’t really the mystery it’s made out to be. Pesticides, habitat loss, drought, nutrition deficit, global warming, etc all contribute to the plight of the honeybee with the first two being the most prominent reasons.

In North America we’re once again behind Europe and other countries in banning certain pesticides. We should all take the lead of Bhutan for example, which has adopted a 100% organic farming policy.

There is much to be discussed and learned about this important issue but again, as in other posts for my series “Footprints”, I’m not an expert. I’m teaching myself as I go and I am so grateful for the process. It’s making me a much more aware and awake human being and my hope with this series is to evoke the same feeling in others. Our actions do have consequences.
So…..if you’d like to read more on the topic I have found some great information on this site (although there are many sites that can be visited to learn more about the honeybees) -

http://ecowatch.com/2013/06/11/worldwide-honey-bee-collapse-a-lesson-in-ecology/

This photo was taken at a local bee farm called Pioneer Brand and I was so impressed with the passion, awareness, love and knowledge that this family has for their livelihood. I felt priviliged to be part of it for even the briefest of moments.

On a funny note, neither the model or myself was stung by a bee in the making of this photo (lol) despite the absolute certainty by the model that she would be!

Deforestation

Saving Them One At A Time

My theme of deforestation is the next one in my environmental series Footprints.

With my previous photo “Leaving the Grid Behind”,
Leaving the Grid Behind
I discussed an individual’s carbon footprint. I wasn’t trying to be preachy, just trying to make someone stop and think twice even for a moment.

Well, the same goes for this topic. I sometimes just feel so sad as I drive along a familiar route to oneday find it has been clearcut in preparation for a new subdivision. Urban sprawl has been happening for hundreds of years for varying reasons but again with our exploding population we are at an alltime high. The effects of it are devastating to our planet. Imagine, 36 football fields of forest are lost to us every minute around the globe. That is a staggering number!

It’s not just development that has our forests being destroyed. It’s agriculture, unsustainable logging and degradation due to climate change. There is something called carbon sink which is basically the forest soaking up the carbon dioxide that would normally stay in our atmosphere and cause further climate change. They estimate that 15% of greenhouse gas emissions are the result of deforestation.
In addition to this, there is a disruption of water cycles, increased soil erosion and disrupted biodiversity and livelihoods.

If you’d like to read more you can check out http://www.worldwildlife.org/threats/deforestation

On a creative note, I loved shooting this photo. I had found this field that had recently been clearcut and I knew I had to get back there quickly to get the shot. I have an amazing new model that I have been working with, Sarah Ruest, and she was more than willing to get really muddy with me. Thanks Sarah!

Take the time to do something green today no matter how big or little!

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Leaving the Grid Behind

Leaving the Grid Behind

How big is your carbon footprint?

It’s a question that gets thrown around pretty flippantly these days but the fact remains it is an important one.
Our carbon footprint is the net amount of carbon dioxide that an individual emits into the environment over the course of a year. Many of us don’t even come close to a low number.

When I created this photograph I had to take a really good look at what I was doing as a participant of the human race. My answer …. I can do better. Much better.
Sure my family and I do make efforts – we recycle, we eat organically, I’d say 90% vegetarian (my husband will stray from time to time), low flush toilets, energy efficient lightbulbs and appliances, (some) bamboo flooring, linens and clothing, phosphate free detergents, we plant trees and we try to buy locally. Not bad but room for improvement.
I don’t drive a Prius or any energy efficient car for that matter, I drive my daughter to school more often than I should, my water heater is probably set higher than it should be, I don’t always shut my computer off at night, I don’t frequent second hand stores for myself, I keep putting off that garden I always mean to grow every year and although I try not to, I do buy things that come from foreign manufacturers (hard to buy camera equipment made in Canada!).
I’m sure my list could extend several pages if I really took a hard look but what matters is that I’m going to try a little bit harder every day to make my footprint a little bit smaller.

I had read somewhere that many people believe “the grid” won’t always be around and in truth it won’t be. Maybe not in my lifetime but our fossil fuels are being depleted at a rapid pace while we try to keep up with our bursting population. It’s an enormous problem to solve and we’re all apart of the equation.

So again I ask, how big is your carbon footprint?

This site has some great tips -
www.davidsuzuki.org/what-you-can-do/reduce-your-carbon-fo…

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Looking Back At 2013

2013

It’s amazing what can happen in a year. It’s also amazing how short a year becomes as you get older. I remember this time of year as a kid and thinking the next Christmas seemed like an eternity away and it felt like it. Nowadays, every moment flies into the next and before you know it you’re in a mall lined up with the masses again purchasing Christmas gifts for 2014!

As a mother and a photographer I do have some stand out moments this year that did seem to make their way out of the blur and come into sharper focus. From the motherhood side of things (and as a breast cancer survivor) I was grateful to see my five year old daughter grow and transform before my eyes. She’s no longer a toddler relying on me for everything. She’s her own person with amazingly creative thoughts and sometimes stubborn opinions. She draws, takes photographs, plays guitar, reads, writes and dances. She’s my inspiration each and every day. One of my stand out moments with her this year was going out on the shores of Lake Huron one breezy evening to take this shot.

I Dreamed I Could Fly

My husband was standing nearby and it was a rare family moment with just the three of us surrounded by the rhythm of the waves and the rhythm of each other. I live for moments like those.

As a photographer it has been a fantastic year of growth. I was fortunate enough to have my first solo exhibition in Toronto, Ontario in May. It was nerve wracking and a great deal of work but worth every minute of it. After that I was asked to speak at several different venues, one even being the University of Toronto! It took a great deal of strength to fight off the usual emergence of “am I a good enough photographer?” but I turned my back on that fading voice and gave my first hour and a half lecture about my work.

I haven’t been doing photography for very long but I always find I have to remind myself that I have been leading up to this career for a very, very long time through my fine art degree and my background in film. Speaking of which I also branched out just recently and shot my first music video which should be released early 2014.

This year I didn’t enter too many competitions but I did have some success with Vogue Italia having five “Best of” photos and one “Picture of the Day.” Considering the volume of photographers they represent and the degree of talent I was very honoured. I was also lucky enough to receive two honourable mentions in the International Photography Awards 2013.

So, just when I thought I couldn’t love photography anymore I discovered the world of underwater photography. It was love at first click. I spent the majority of time this summer underwater and the time since thinking about what I want to shoot when the warm weather comes back next summer. I feel so drawn to the photography/water combination that I am more excited for this year of creating than I have ever been.

As, always with my end of year blog I have to thank the ones who have inspired me along the way. Again I’ll be picking my top 10 photographers that have moved me in some way this year and pushed me to new levels. Art is so subjective so just remember that there are hundreds, thousands of amazing photographers out there, many which I haven’t even discovered yet but for now these are the ones that have delivered a message to my creative juices.

I wanted to try to pick 10 new photographers this year so before I do that I want to mention that I get continued inspiration from some of the conceptual greats that I mentioned last year – Patty Maher, Brooke Shaden, Oleg Oprisco and Kirsty Mitchell.

So here we go……

A Step Through Shame – Kylii Sparre

A step through shame

Most people know this photographer from Estonia as Sparrek. She has an extraordinary story telling ability and her execution of it is mesmerizing. This photo is the first fine art photography print I had ever purchased. It is hanging in my office as a reminder of how much I want to try to support my fellow fine art photographers. It’s not easy to try to make a living from this path we’re on so if we can support each other I think it is a wonderful thing. I love Kylii’s work so it was hard for me to narrow it down to this one but I think having never seen anything like it before is what won me over.

“Vestige” Faerieland – Ashley Lebedev

I LOVE ASHLEY LEBEDEV (Bottle Bell Photography)! I find I “study” her photographs more than anyone else’s. Her attention to detail and her post processing are things that ignite a fire in my belly to go out and create. She has such subtle tones and a softness that is uniquely hers. The photo I have chosen of hers (and again like Kylii there were many to choose from) is the one of her Grandmother. I have thought about this photo often and also about the person behind it. I was very sad to hear of her passing in November but this photograph will always be a beautiful reminder to cherish what we have while we have it.

she walks these hills – Heather

she walks these hills

A fellow Canadian is one of my top picks this year. Heather has a very unique style continually framing herself in interesting vistas. Her photos are often soft and feminine. The photo below is probably my most favourite photo of the year (if I had to pick just one!)

Hung out to dry – Ellie Ellis

Hung out to dry

A photographer from the UK, Ellie has lured me into her world of creative set-ups and interesting models. I don’t know Ellie personally but she seems to have no fear of getting out there and setting a scene. The picture below was hands down my favourite of Ellie’s from this year. It still amazes me how so many great artists get overlooked on Flickr – this only had 8 favourites last time I looked!

this living hands – Christine Coral

this living hands

I actually didn’t discover Christine on Flickr but through PhotoVogue as she had received one of the 25 coveted spots for Glimpse At PhotoVogue held in Italy this past spring. Christine and I share a passion for working with water but Christine takes her artwork further by working with beautifully textured wallpaper and furniture as her backdrop to simple gestures with her hands and body. This photo is an example of the elegance she achieves when working with water.

Anka Zhuravleva

***

I don’t typically like to compare photographers but I was originally drawn to Anka’s work because it reminded me so much of Oleg Oprisco’s work…and that’s not a bad thing btw….but once I delved in further I discovered an individual who had carved her own niche in conceptual portraits. Another photographer I had difficulty choosing just one from but I settled on this as it was the most memorable for me.

Aleksandra Kirievskaya

***

The haunting and emotional portraits of Aleksandra’s are stirring, beautiful and artistic.  Each one is created in either black and white or old world tones giving you a sense that you are looking back in time. The one below is an example of a haunting image of a young girl that stayed with me.

Breach (from Duplicity) – Barbara Cole

As I mentioned before I have a newfound passion for underwater photography. So when I knew I was going to be a part of this world I found out who else had discovered its magic. Toronto based photographer Barbara Cole has been shooting underwater for 10 years now and you can tell. Her work, that includes lenticular lenses and no photoshopping, is mesmerizing, elegant, creative, liquid, powerful, soft, unique…I could go on and on. I was able to see a small exhibit of her work just recently and fell in love with her series “Duplicity.” I know I mentioned supporting fellow photographers but I couldn’t afford the hefty $30,000 price tag that went along with one of her photos – mindblowing creation!

Again I had to pick just one but I thought, “If I was able to put one of these on my walls, which one would it be?”……

Equilibrium – Mallory Morrison

Another underwater photographer who gives me plenty of inspiration. Her work can be conceptual, painterly, moving and ethereal. Similar to Barbara Cole, she utilizes the weightlessness of water to her advantage.

Let it Rain – Patty Maher

Let it Rain

I know I mentioned Patty Maher earlier and she isn’t new to my “favourites” list but I had to put her in again this year. I have been fortunate enough to get to know Patty over the year and I learn from her continually. I love that in this saturated world of ideas that are overused, she has created a recognizable world for herself. She is the “Faceless Woman” who keeps appearing and reappearing in wooded glens, earthy trails and harvesting meadows. I adore her style and her quiet passion for the craft. It’s no secret I’m not a fan of doing self portraits but when you have someone like Patty do one of you it’s a whole different story. This picture was taken while we were out shooting with another fantastic photographer Claire.

Thank you all for giving me endless inspiration! I look forward to seeing all of your new creations in 2014!

xo

Robin

 

 

The Making of Queen A

If you’ve been following my work you will have noticed my newborn passion for underwater photography. Living in Canada my ability to actually shoot underwater is limited to a few months every summer so getting this shot orchestrated before the end of the summer was a real push. I had to assemble my fantastic team of models and the very talented Maryellen Nault as my MUA as quickly as possible while creating the costume for Queen Amphritite in my spare time. One day in mid August all of our schedules came together and we had an amazing day shooting in the blazing heat of an Ontario summer. I fumbled my way around iMovie and put together a very short video of our BTS moments. As you will see we didn’t work with big fancy rigs or even fancy underwater gear. Just a very large backdrop, my husbands weights and a lot of manpower. It was a very rewarding experience for someone who tries to do everything on her own! Thanks to Renée, Nicole, Maryellen, Marilyn, Maria, Rob and Stephanie for all of your help!
The photos of Queen Amphritite that resulted are one of her in her Waterworld lair and then a close up. Unfortunately, not all of the gold make-up stayed despite Maryellen’s best efforts to waterproof everything. I still think she looks pretty amazing! Click here for BTS Video.The Queen's Lair

Queen Amphritite

 

Because We Are Living In A Digital World and I Am A Digital Girl……(now)

About three weeks ago I was cursing the digital world. Swore I was going back to film. Absolutely had it!

My brand new (well 5 month old) iMac desktop had crashed. The hard drive was gone.

As I sat at the genius bar at the back of the Apple store and had my emotional meltdown as discreetly as possible I could barely fathom the words.

“You’ve got everything backed up right?” was all I heard. Well of course I didn’t. As a photographer who should always be backing things up it was an embarrassing realisation. Previous to my new computer I had backed up everything thinking my old one would crash at any minute. I became lazy with my new one and only backed up about two times in the five months.

Pulling myself together, I managed to temporarily part with my computer with the promise of a hard drive extraction.

Fast forward to a week later and I got my first diagnostic on the hard drive. It was a “severe head crash” with scratches on the top plate. It was only going to cost me $2100 to possibly retrieve the files. Yikes!! Again, I was cursing the digital world but more and more I was cursing myself for not being responsible with my client photos. I was learning a very hard and expensive lesson.

This quote was too rich for my blood and I was so grateful to find another company that came in at less than half, retrieved all of my files and delivered them right to my doorstep.

Thank you Taking IT Mobile Data Solutions!

The whole experience got me thinking about the digital world though. If I had been working with negatives and there had been a spill or a fire they would be gone forever. Although it was costly I was able to at least get my files back. Something I couldn’t have done if negatives were destroyed. It’s really amazing what can be done digitally, far beyond my understanding. This thought process actually made me feel much better about the money I had just spent. As a photographer, I charge what some people would consider a high hourly rate. Nothing outrageous but industry standard because we are in a specialized field. Well same goes for my diagnostic team. Their hourly rate is high because their knowledge and experience is high. I am a grateful customer.

So the digital world is here to stay (like I have any say it!).

Anyway, a bit of a long story to remind anyone who doesn’t back up that you should because it CAN happen to you. I’m sure most people do but just in case…

On another note, this is also a long story so peope can understand why my second release in Waterworld is so late! It was one that I had been working on when I had the crash but now I have it back and here for posting.

In the previous photo we had a human enter into Waterworld but now she has to adjust her breathing. She is letting go of her last human breath of air and will then learn to breath the way the people of Waterworld do.

This is such an exciting series for me to be working on. I have been shooting some different charcters over the last few weeks so there will be more coming soon!

Waterworld #2: Adjust

 

Waterworld #2 - Adjust

Icefall

It’s been a wintery winter here in Canada and I must admit I’ve been unmotivated some days to go out and shoot in this cold weather. I did however go for a hike recently with my friend up at a place known as Muskoka (which is a cottage country area here in Ontario). We came across a never ending cliff covered with ice falls. I just knew I had to shoot it somehow so I threw out the idea of her falling off the face of it. She just gave me a dirty look as she always does when I ask her to something ridiculous but regardless proceeded to trudge her way through waist deep snow to get to the site. The reason I’m posting this blog (because I’m obviously not talking about any profound, life changing theme here) is to just show how much fun this was to shoot! I have great friends who I laugh with constantly. I am truly lucky!

Here is the final image from this Oh so fun shoot -

Looking Back On 2012

Looking Back At 2012

I have had catalystic moments in my life. If you’ve read the bio on my web site you’ll be aware of a few.  Some were hard, some were joyous, but just know that it is with gratitude that I accept every one of them as they have made me who I am today.

The year 2012 held another catalystic moment for me – a good one. It was in early spring that I was getting caught up on the news at cnn.com when a photo from the “CNN Photo Series” caught my eye. It was from a 16 year old girl named Masha Sardari and it changed the course of my life.

Up until that moment I had been working as a food photographer, an interiors photographer, a family photographer, and even a golf course photographer. Wherever I could make a buck is where I would be (although I drew the line on weddings!), liking what I was doing but never loving what I was doing.

This one photo was like opening Pandora’s Box. I had no idea the road it was about to lead me down. The world of conceptual fine art photography was opened and I embraced it with a passion that I thought was lost to me.

 

Here is that photo -

autumnal loss, Masha Sardari

autumnal loss

 

Photography is subjective. This photo that was so inspring to me may just be “whatever” to someone else. I don’t know why that is. Perhaps a childhood experience, a colour that calms us or alternately ignites us, a technical “rightness”, or the way our eyes move across the picture. There are probably countless reasons for having favourites but I guess that’s the beauty of art, we all interpret and process things in our own way.

This year has been such a learning curve and I can’t write this blog without thanking some photographers that have pushed me to grow as an artist.

Thank you to Mahsa for putting me on my road less travelled. To Brooke Shaden for teaching me how. To Havard, Trini, Eric, Laurie, Liat, Leo, Hailey, Kasia, Paul and Patty for the continual support of my work, your feedback means the world to me, and to the rest of my Flickr friends who send great comments or “favourite” my work, it boosts me every time!

To the talented Oleg Oprisco, Brooke Shaden and Kirsty Mitchell, every photo you put out is of the highest calibre and I aspire to reach that level.

And lastly to all the photographers out there that inspire me daily, your talent takes my breath away.

 

My Top 10 of 2012

 

I am always curious to know who other people find inspiring so I’m going back through all the photos I have “favourited” on Flickr this year and am going to try to narrow it down to my top 10 most inspiring (almost impossible but I’ll try). Again, these incredible photos just happen to move ME in some way……

 

In no particular order…..

 

the grass picker, Masha Sardari

the grass picker

The tones and face pulled me in immediately. Again a beautiful piece from Masha that I would happily hang on my wall.

 

Spirits In The Black Mist, Trini Schultz

Spirits In The Black Mist

Trini’s editing abilities paired with a great visual balance in her photos has made her an inspiring photographer to follow.

 

Echoes, Oleg Oprisco

Echoes

There is hardly a photograph of Oleg’s that I don’t love. He is one of my favourite photographers!

 

All I Need Now Is A Destination, Patty Maher

All I need now is a destination

Patty’s colour palette here is right up my alley. I thought about this photo for days after viewing it. As a side note, Patty was the first person to ever comment on one of my photos on Flickr, thanks Patty!

 

Spoken Silence, Laurie Maitem

Spoken Silence (115/366)

This photo was one of the first I ever marked as “favourite” on Flickr. I fell in love with its simplicity, composition and the silvery effect of the black and white.

 

Mantis, Leah Johnston

Mantis

The sheer primal vibe that screams from this photo was haunting. Again another photo that I thought of for days afterwards.

 

The Cold Bloom of a Torn Heart, Kirsty Mitchell

Wonderland "The Cold Bloom of a Torn Heart"

Kirsty’s attention to detail in ALL of her photographs pushes me to be better. This is just one of many outstanding photos by this gifted photographer and storyteller.

 

The Image you see in the Mirror, Benjamin Benchan

The Image you see in the Mirror

The tones of this photo are really speaking to me lately so expect to see some inspiration from this one in the new year.

 

chasing childhood, Brooke Shaden

chasing childhood

I can’t have a top ten without the unstoppable Brooke Shaden. To be in her presence is inspiration alone but when you add her work into the mix it actually lifts you up to a place where anything is possible.

 

He who were bound by lies, Havard Hole

http://www.flickr.com/photos/havrad/7304012244/in/faves-79162193@N04/

I can’t leave out Havard. A young kid from Norway who is working on his 365. It’s been fun watching him on his journey, trying new things, meeting new people along the way. I have never come across someone on Flickr who is so encouraging of other people’s work. I sometimes think, he probably doesn’t even like this but is finding something good to say about my photo anyway! He inspires me to be a better Flickr friend. This is my favourite photo of his.

 

Lastly

I also wanted to add two of my photos. One that has been the most popular photo of mine on Flickr and also my personal favourite from the year.

Most Popular – Portrait of a Broken Dream

Portrait of a Broken Dream

My Favourite – The Flight of Goldilocks

Affliction

Everyone at some point feels affliction. Whether it’s the loss of a pet, a grim diagnosis or illness, a death of a loved one or an end of a marriage. The reasons are countless as to why we at some point suffer in our lives. It can be a dark place. BUT, the key is to hang on for the next day and the next and the next. As a breast cancer survivor I know what it is to go through the affliction of diagnosis and treatment. If I had given up and succumbed to it, I wouldn’t be here to experience my passion for photography, see my little girl go to JK for the first time or simply just share a laugh with family and friends.
This photo is meant to show someone drowning in their grief, yet are hanging on for a better day that they know will come….

.

Intertwined With Affliction

Here are some behind the scenes shots -

My grubby looking self setting up for the shot.

My amazing model Helga, patiently waiting with me for the light to change….