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Spotlight: Meet photographer Meaghan Ogilvie
Meaghan Ogilvie is an award-winning Toronto photographer best known for her lovely underwater tableaux such as "Ascension" (above), which illustrates the "Water World" feature in the June 2012 issue of
ELLE Canada. Our associate art director Elena Viltovkaia chatted with Meaghan about creativity, inspiration and the thrill of rolling in the deep.
What inspired you to start taking pictures? My initial inspiration came from sitting in my grandparent’s basement flipping through old
National Geographic magazines in the ’80. My family didn’t have a lot of money, so vacations were non-existent. I’ve always been at my happiest around animals and nature. I promised myself that one day I would go on adventures to explore and document and then share my experiences to inspire others to do the same. I also used the camera as a means to express myself because I was so shy growing up. I hated being shy, but I feel very grateful for that experience now. It definitely made me more sensitive and intuitive.
What drives your creative process? The need to constantly learn, explore and evolve.
What are you inspired by? Anything from a song, a smell, an intimate exchange between people, nature, animals, a movie, something challenging, something violent, something gentle, something sad.
What are the main themes of your work? Bringing awareness to issues I believe are worth fighting for by using the human form to communicate experiences. My underwater work, for example, was inspired by seeing the effects of my father’s degenerative neurological disorder Multiple Systems Atrophy (MSA). The disease rapidly shuts down all motor skills and is similar to Parkinson’s, but progresses more quickly. The cause of MSA is unknown and currently there is no cure. It was a very difficult time and I was inspired to create images that celebrated freedom of mobility and weightlessness rather than focus on the negative effects of the disease.
How did that influence Ascension? I wanted the process of the shoot to be challenging and symbolic of change. I chose to work with dancers for their natural grace and have them explore movement free of gravity. I gave them some direction before they dove in, but it was more beautiful to let things unfold naturally below the surface.
Tell me about your new series, Symbiosis. With
Symbiosis, I hope to bring awareness to the beauty we may lose and support the ongoing efforts of many who work to preserve it. I’ve moulded my subjects within landscapes to create a harmonious relationship between man and nature. The landscapes were chosen because they are protected and serve as a means to preserve the area’s ecology.
What is your ultimate goal as a visual artist? To make a positive impact in our time by advocating for issues I believe in through my work. Also, making my work accessible to anybody regardless of their social status. Art is for everyone to share.
Meaghan recently won first place at Liquid Capture: Masters of Underwater Photography
at the Oceanside Museum of Art in California. Her photos will be on display until June 17.