Your passion for documenting street art is apparent through the creative approach you take in your photography style. Do you recall when your passion for street art began? Was there one particular piece you photographed that sparked this creative journey?
It was in 2013 and my interest developed pretty organically. I was working downtown and spending more time in the city. I started noticing how much art was out there – murals, graffiti, tags, wheat pastes (though I had no idea that’s what they were at the time – I thought they were giant stickers!). I’ve always had an avid interest in photography and in fact, I managed a photo lab for several years while simultaneously going to university full-time. It was a dream job in that I could take tons of photos and get half off on the development! It also helped me to develop an eye for composition, light and color balance. I worked with film and left the industry as digital was taking off. I don’t think that one particular piece peaked my interest, but rather, the quantity of ‘big’ walls that I felt like I was seeing for the first time. When I started taking photos, I had no purpose whatsoever. I didn’t intend to do anything with the photos – I was just enjoying the art. At one point, I just decided to use Instagram to share some of the photos I was taking. It was a way to share my city.
You live in Montreal in the midst of a very thriving street art culture. Has this inspired your creative process?
I feel very fortunate to live in a city where art thrives, and where so many people – locals and visitors alike, appreciate what Montreal artists (and international artists) do. More and more, I try to capture the ‘scene’ surrounding the art that I’m photographing. In a way, Montreal’s architecture has inspired me, especially in neighborhoods like the Plateau where the buildings are old-school and have so much character. I also find myself in conversation with people who just come up to me when I’m taking a photo (because let’s admit it, I often take 40 shots of the same wall – so there’s time to chat!) to talk about the art. For example, an elderly gentleman saw me photographing a recently completed wall by Mateo; he was blown away by this artist’s talent and process (he’d seen him working on the mural) and just wanted to share that with me. This happens a lot, no matter where I go, but especially in areas that are, or used to be impoverished and have been undergoing gentrification. Residents of such neighborhoods feel a tremendous sense of pride about the beautiful art that now adorns their walls. I always get the sense that some of the art initiatives that are out there, help to create a sense of unity. That said, not everyone is happy with gentrification so I also hear the flip side of things. All that inspires me.
Do you have a particular street artist that acts as your muse? Do you find yourself drawn to one particular artist’s work more than others?
I wouldn’t say that I have a muse per say because I tend to keep a low profile. I’m more of an observer – I don’t like to interrupt an artist while he/she is working, though I do love watching their process because each artist is different. I respect and admire many artists’ work so it’s tough to pick just one whose work I’m drawn to. I have a soft spot for Findac because I think he’s brilliant and his work is amazing. I also love Steep, Telmo Miel and Etam Cru (Bezt and Sainer), to name a few.
Art by @findac
Can you please tell me more about your creative process? Do you conduct your street art explorations in a very planned manner or do you simply explore without an agenda?
It depends on my mood, really. In general, I keep a running of list of Montreal art that I want to photograph and I break it down by neighborhood. Often, I have to figure out where something is and I usually like to do that before I go out. When I travel, I tend to do a lot of research. I use Google street view to figure out where walls are, and I sometimes reach out to locals to ask for help. The great thing about Instagram is that in general, fellow art hunters are usually open to sharing information. Finally, one key factor for me, is going out at the right time of day. Too early means my shots are too blue, too much sun means they might look too yellow – it’s a balancing act, really. I’m also a perfectionist so it can take a while to get a shot I’m happy with. There are days when I just wander aimlessly.
Art by @ronenglishart
You travel the world documenting street art. Where does your creative passion have you journeying to next? Why that location?
My next trip is to Paris and Lisbon. I’ve never been to Paris and I envision it as having a plethora of amazing photographic opportunities that have absolutely nothing to do with street art. The architecture, the people , the food – that all excites me. I want to immerse myself in the city. That said, I do plan to dedicate time to photographing art because I’d be a fool not to. Have you seen the murals in that city? Whoa! Lisbon is a city that I visited last Fall and I absolutely loved it. I felt like my time there was too short so when a fellow art photographer asked if I’d want to meet her there while I was in Europe, I said yes. That part of my trip will be evenly split between art and zero art.