Looking back on my fourth year in the photography business I can only feel immense gratitude, yet again, for the opportunities my craft brought me in 2015. The migration to L.A. for the Summer months to try and make a name for myself in that sprawling city of dreams was a thrilling adventure into the unknown that proved to be fruitful in the end through my contracts with Viola Gardens, Digital 90210, and a smattering of talent shoots. My work in the opera world has continued in full force much to my delight, bringing me to Juilliard just last month to shoot the budding stars of the internationally renowned institution. Herself.com, which Caitlin Stasey and I launched around this time last year, is still making an impact and I am proud to be a part of such an important project. Continuing in the vain of Herself I am excited to announce The Goddess Array, a new project for the empowerment of women. That brings us to highlight #1.
After a full year of shooting for this project, I will be launching The Goddess Array with a one-night-only exhibition featuring a series of nudes depicting ancient Greek goddesses on Monday January 25th, 2016 at Only One Gallery (5 Brock Ave.) in Toronto from 6PM to 11PM.
The Goddess Array is a voice for the power of girls and women. The genesis of the project is the #bringbackourgirls campaign of April 2014 when Boko Haram kidnapped and terrorized 200 schoolgirls in Nigeria. The girls never came back. In response to the kidnapping and all other treatment of women as objects, The Goddess Array is resurrecting the many multifaceted goddess archetypes by presenting depictions of women fully free and celebrating their individuality. The aim of The Goddess Array is to encourage higher levels of respect between men and women, amongst women, and also self-respect.
In its final form The Goddess Array will be an ongoing, travelling exhibition dedicated to sharing my goddess photography with the world. The project has partnered with architect K. Mulla to design a portable structure created specifically to showcase the work. The structure will be lightweight and simple to set up and strike, packing into a single shipping container for smooth travel. With the nomadic museum these strong goddesses will exhibit in downtown city center spaces all over the world. The ultimate goal will be given the opportunity to safely exhibit in Nigeria.
“It is my hope that by inviting people into the space of The Goddess Array, where they will look up to these large, strong, iconic, womanly images, a seismic shift in the base mentality of misogyny will begin to become one of reverence and respect. This is a tall order, I know, but it is one I am willing to dedicate my life to.” – Jennifer Toole
There will be a silent auction of the works at the show between 6PM and 9PM. Limited editions of Goddess Array apparel will be available. Proceeds will support the travelling exhibition.
All are welcomed to bask in the strength and revel in the beauty of The Goddess Array.
2) Vogue Italia
Vogue Italia published three of my photos in 2015, an honor that still floors me. In November they published a soft black and white photo of singer Talvi Faustmann of Prince Innocence called ‘Sad Girls Club.’ Her melancholy expression and silvery locks make a very pretty picture. Then in December, Vogue published ‘Demeter Stands’ and ‘Aphrodite Stands,’ both works from The Goddess Array. Demeter is the goddess of grain and motherhood. My friend Demi posed as the goddess seven months pregnant in High Park in Toronto. The light was on our side that day. She looks golden. Aphrodite is the goddess of love and beauty who is rumored to have been birthed fully formed out of the foam of the sea. I caught my friend Chanele in shock from the cold splash of Lake Ontario and thought it was the perfect mood for just being born. Many thanks to the photo editors at Vogue Italia for not one, but three nods this year.
In the wake of the website’s launch on January 10th, 2015 over 3000 women from all over the world email us interested in participating in Herself.com. It is a heartfelt project with huge impact that I am proud to be a part of. Here is a bit more about it from founder Caitlin Stasey:
“Herself is a gesture to women for women by women; a chance to witness the female form in all its honesty without the burden of the male gaze, without the burden of appealing to anyone. These women are simply & courageously existing, immortalized within these photos. Within their words, their experiences and stories are offered on Herself in the hopes of encouraging solidarity – that maybe we as women will take comfort in the triumphs of others rather than revelling in each other’s defeats. Let us reclaim our bodies. Let us take them back from those who seek to profit from our insecurity.” -Caitlin Stasey
In April of 2015 I was invited to give a talk entitled NUDE: Object vs. Subject at The Museum in Kitchener as part of their Naked Dialogues Series. The experience was a milestone for me as it was my first booked job as a speaker. As nervous as I was I believe I managed to get my point across.
Humans, us, in our most natural of states, somewhere along the line became ashamed of our bodies. The way naked bodies are treated publically in contemporary western culture is with shame or as commodity. The female nude is made constant use of in art, sensationalist advertising & pornography and is almost always filtered through and presented in light of the male gaze. Indeed, the only public spaces where nudity is deemed acceptable are in the worlds of Internet porn, ‘sex sells’ advertising, and on the walls of art galleries. Through these few heavily curated nude-friendly public spaces the female nude is being systematically objectified and in turn seriously bolstering the epidemic of insecurity ravaging generations x,y and z. We have become a culture of hypocrites regarding our naked selves and I want to know why. How did we become so conflicted? Why are we so ashamed of the female nude while simultaneously obsessed? Why can’t we just be? – Jennifer Toole from NUDE: Object vs. Subject
Give the whole transcript a read HERE.
5) Opera Stars
The opera world has been very good to me this past year. I got to shoot two of Opera Atelier’s big stars, Peggy Kriha Dye & Meghan Lindsay, at the Elgin who both went on to perform in the company’s production of Armide at the Palace of Versailles immediately following the Paris terrorist attacks. The show went on admirably and the healing power of art prevailed. I was flown to New York to shoot two of Juilliard’s most exciting graduates, Miles Mykkanen & Avery Amereau, at the famous school which was such a delight. And wonderful coloratura soprano Ms. Ambur Braid had me out for the second time to capture her striking beauty. I do hope this trend continues into 2016.
My talent shoots this past year took me from Toronto to L.A. to Carmel. I had a blast breathing fresh life into often stiff in style string quartet photography for the Diderot Quartet. Psychedelic rock band Brombones had me in the Hollywood Hills shooting off coloured smoke bombs and getting my feet wet with surreal photography. Toronto concert series Stereo Live had a totally sold out season following our photo shoot and I wish them similar success this coming year. And last but not least, a portrait session with singer Talvi Faustmann of Prince Innocence produced some very classic portraits of the classic beauty.
7) Body Studies
When working with dancers and yoga instructors I get out the body oil, turn down the lights, and focus on the extraordinary lines of the human body. This kind of work is among my favourite, so please don’t hesitate to request it from me if your body is a big part of your work. Pictured here are dancer Pastel Supernova and yogis Erika Abrahamian and Tom Morley.
I had the incredible opportunity to shoot for Viola Gardens in 2015. The work took me to estates all over L.A. to shoot the company’s permaculture-inspired, drought tolerant, California Native landscape designs. In addition to the photography I was also given the opportunity to build www.violagardens.com, contribute to the social media presence, and design a new logo for the brand. Top to bottom brand development is another job I adore and I do hope for more of it in 2016.
9) Corporate Work
Corporate jobs are the bread and butter of most photographers starting out. This year a number of contracts for Rogers Communications kept me very busy and I am immensely grateful for the opportunity. My work with the Incubator Program for The Magenta Foundation, which assists high school kids in the arts kickstart their careers, was also very rewarding.
10) Digital 90210
I got hired on at www.digital90210.com as a writer and photographer in L.A. for a few months. They had me writing cutting edge tech articles. I learned quite a bit about the Dark Web and Injectable Tech among other incredible inventions due to change the world this year. The research was thorough. Click through and have a read.
What a stellar year! My goal for 2016 is to take The Goddess Array on a tour. Please do join me at Only One Gallery on Monday January 25th at 6PM for the project launch. I can’t wait to see you all.
Much love and Happy New Year!