My breakthrough photograph happened in 1994 when I took a picture of my nephew, Shawn at a car wash. He was driving his father’s old Caprice and I was in the back with my Olympus point-and-shoot. I noticed three red poppies his dad had stuck to the roof and two boyish eyes looking back at me in the rear-view mirror. Something about my nephew’s youth juxtaposed with the symbolic poppies created a story that transcended the image.
The picture had color, simplicity, metaphor and visual design; elements that came to define what I look for in my work.
So my love affair with photography began.
I had always loved storytelling. In my twenties, I published poetry, made films with a Super-8 camera and interviewed eccentrics on the west coast. When I moved to Toronto I earned my living as a radio and television producer and writer, seldom taking a camera on travels because I felt it separated me from “experience.” Instead, I kept diaries. Words were my snapshots.
On a trip to Rajasthan in the mid-1980s, I met a charming driver in Jodphur who referred to me, (joking, of course) as “Lady Without a Camera.” After my conversion, I returned to India and looked up Mr.Tak, who was relieved to see me with several Nikons and a tripod.
Mine is a documentary approach. I am attracted to content, ideas and beauty. Something intrigues me- a scene, a circumstance- I record it. I seldom interfere with what is happening, but place myself in a promising location and wait for surprises. I often break rules by dividing a picture down the middle or cropping to the essence in the viewfinder: mother’s smile, baby’s ear.
I am interested in layers and hidden meanings. A photograph should make you feel something and lead to new discoveries. A window contains themes in addition to what is written on its surface; it offers one thing, reveals another. A shoe display with reflections of streetscape, passersby, the interplay of light and shadow, gains mystery and personality.
I have taken workshops with photographers such as Bruce Davidson, Freeman Patterson, who have helped me refine my vision and trust my eye.
If asked what photography means in my life, I would say it has shown me worlds I had not seen.
If asked why I chose photography as my means of expression, I would say I didn’t. Others may have said this but l like to think I said it first.
Photography chose me.