Whose work do you admire?
Rosalind Fox Solomon is a true inspiration, and with that comes the works of Diane Arbus and Sally Mann. These female photographers produced photos that I couldn’t stop looking at when they were introduced to me by my high school photography teacher. I am still big fans of theirs as well as the classics; Tim Walker, Mary Ellen Mark and Erwin Olaf. More recently I’m loving work by Cass Bird, Emily Kai Bock and Geordie Wood. A series I want to point out that has encouraged my recent desire to shoot more documentary is the Prince Street Girls by Susan Meiselas, where she spent time shooting a group of young energetic girls in New York City’s Little Italy, during 1975.
What do you do when you're not working?
Walking. I set aside time every day to get outside, find a natural setting and connect to the city. It helps me reset and feel more creatively stimulated. I also watch live music, spend time near bodies of water, dance in public (or bedroom, time permitting) and experiment with cooking. All of these activities are different forms of expression and inspiration away from my photography work, where a lot of my days can be spent retouching indoors.
Angela Lewis is a Toronto based photographer who shot a beautiful portrait of writer Sheila Heti that featured in our fifth issue. She shoots emotive portraits and beautifully layered landscapes. We recently caught up with her to ask her a few questions about her approach to photography, her life lessons and other photographers she admires.
How did you get into photography?
Creative expression has always been present in my life as I was surrounded by my father & grandfather who both considered themselves amateur photographers. My grandmother as well was an artist in her own right, practicing an array of different mediums. In high school I started dressing up my friends and photographing them, which eventually lead me to taking a darkroom class. Once I realized that all I wanted to do was spend time developing and printing photos, it became clear to me it was something special I should pursue.
Did you have a mentor or someone who guided and helped you?
I mentioned my grandma earlier and would have to say she has been my mentor creatively. She taught me a lot of ways to express myself with painting, drawing, making jewelry, singing and playing piano - you name it, she did it all. In terms of a photo mentor, an older friend from my home town also pursued photography and once he found out I was interested in learning more about the medium, he guided me to a leading college and introduced me to a world I may not have initially discovered.
What do you focus on when you're shooting? What are you looking to capture?
A genuine experience. I got chills when I read this question because it means so much to me when I can connect to someone and get a shot of them experiencing a true moment. I’m usually not overly interested in my subjects being aware of me and can often guide their focus elsewhere while I’m shooting. I also really enjoy natural elements coming into play; such as wind, animals or a random person passing by us.
You shoot some amazing women, is this your focus?
I relate to women most with wanting to understand them and live through them while I shoot. Observing how she may connect to her surroundings, as well as how she reacts to being the focus is what motivates me. When seeking a subject, I tend to look for talented and independent women who have a voice, because at that point it becomes a collaboration in that we’re both making something together.
What are you working on at the minute?
I’ve spent the last year focusing heavily on documentary photography by spending time with two sisters, one at age 10 and other age 18, with a focus on their relationship involving mimicry and developmental behaviour, which has lead me to discovering a lot about myself and experiences throughout my youth. The series was shown during the CONTACT Photography festival in Toronto, along with work from my female photo collective, SOFIA (Society of Females In Art) under the theme “Bad Behaviour”. I’ve also been experimenting with motion by shooting music videos with a focus on dance and movement.
Do you have any life lessons that you come back to when things aren't going so well?
Its as simple as spending time outside during magic hour.. works every time!
What's the best thing you've seen in the last week?
My Nonna stood up from her chair and her skirt fell straight down to the floor. She yelled out for us to “come quick” and we ran to her standing there, laughing with her skirt around her ankles. Luckily she’s an 85 year-old Italian woman and wouldn’t be caught without a slip under that skirt.
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