I have been working as a storyteller for all of my adult life. I obtained a journalism graduate degree in 2004 from Concordia University with the aim to be a print journalist. However, while I love writing and research, the journalism industry was quickly changing and moving from print to an online platform. This diluted job opportunities and it became increasingly difficult to secure full-time employment in the field of print journalism. I then turned to documentary filmmaking which was a good fit for me creatively. I worked for two years as a production assistant with a successful documentary film production company in Montreal and then in 2008 I founded my own company, Safran Films Inc., and produced and directed my first feature TV documentary. That project spanned 3 years of full time work during which time I secured numerous Canadian and Quebec government artist arts grants, including a broadcast license with TV 5 Quebec.
The documentary that I made was called Taxi Casablanca and it was about the first female taxi driver in Casablanca, Morocco. Through making of this film I became aware of my life mission as an artist and journalist to: “Shed a light on dark corners, lend strength to quiet voices, and illuminate beauty.”
So many stories do not see the light of day because they are overpowered by the louder more conventional stories. And I soon recognized my goal as both an artist and a journalist is to seek out these stories. The world is changed through stories and grows and expands according to what is given attention. Too many stories are untold.
Upon completion of my first film I quickly realized that there is little security in the documentary industry. Film projects depend on competitive grant applications and there are no guarantees. In 2008 Canada’s Conservative Government made massive cuts to arts funding, forcing many documentary film companies to close or be put on hold. As the years passed, I saw my dreams of supporting myself through documentary film were dwindling and I decided to close my company and move to back the West coast where I was born and raised and explore other avenues.
In Vancouver, I continued to write for various publications and supplemented my income through an airbnb rental I ran in my home. In 2016 I applied and was accepted to work as a CUSO volunteer in Kingston Jamaica where I continued to explore little known corners of the world and to tell the stories of the people I met there. I completed three volunteer placements in Kingston over two years, working with inner city youth in one of the most dangerous cities in the world. The murder rate in Kingston is the 9thhighest per capita in the world and the country is plagued with complex social problems. It was here that I decided to start using the medium of photography to tell stories. For those two years I developed an extensive portfolio, exploring themes such as teen pregnancy, and music-for-social-change organizations that help youth transcend the challenges of growing up in the inner city that is awash in guns, poverty and gang activities.
It was here in Kingston that I also broadened my scope artistically and became obsessed with street photography, riding for hours alone on the local busses, grabbing shots of dynamic street scenes where I never could have walked with a camera
Since then I have not looked back. I have continued to advance as a photographer through extensive self-study.
I have returned to Kingston three times since 2018 on organized photography trips. On my last trip I coordinated a series of artistic portraits of the youth I had worked with, all taken at the majestic Kingston Waterfront. I hired youth I had previously worked with to help me as assistants and second photographers. It is my dream to continue to involve youth in my business goals, and, once I have established a viable commercial business in Vancouver, Canada, to expand to the Jamaica market, offering my services in the wedding and portrait photography industry in Jamaica and providing youth with mentorship, skills training, equipment, and work opportunities.
My focus for the time being is on the Vancouver, Vancouver Island, and Gulf Island’s markets. The aim of my business is to draw from my extensive history and expertise in storytelling towards a commercial purpose, offering photography services to paying customers and fulfilling for them a variety of traditional photographic needs, such as weddings, portraiture, and event photography, as well as those that perhaps lie outside the box: garden, home, and pet photography are just a few examples.
The over-arching vision of my business remains the same as it was when I first started out as young ambitious journalist in 2004: to shine a light on worthy stories, to illuminate beauty, and to give a voice to the quiet voices that the world needs to hear more of. Real Life Photography beautifully blends the worlds of fine art (cinematic style, and a love of colour and composition) with journalism (attention to detail, thorough, professional and intelligent), resulting in a poetic and unique form of storytelling with a distinct visual style that will bring to life the beauty, depth and meaning of any occasion.