My good friend Ashley “Colours” Perez, an amazing dancer that’s a part of the Mix Mix Dance Collective, invited me to come film a brilliant week of workshops put on by legendary vogue dancer José Gutierrez, also known as Father José Xtravaganza.
My first introduction to Montréal occurred in 2013 and that is when I met the amazing Cree/Métis performer Moe Clark.
I had chatted with Moe in the past about potential collaborations, and after a brief reunion in Vancouver for the 2018 Verses Festival of Words, I knew for a fact that I had to come back to Montréal to see Moe.
My first day was jam-packed, right off the train and into my first shoot documenting performances at the Sisters in Motion event in the Mile End, followed by attending the Tomson Highway opera, which Moe was performing in. I was unprepared for how amazing this evening was going to be, I had never been to an opera before, and to have the Montréal Symphony Orchestra accompany an opera performed in both Cree and Inuktitut was just brilliant.
The rest of the week includes meeting many amazing people and shooting photos and band promo videos. My time here is coming to an end and by tomorrow I’ll be back in Toronto, but I am definitely moving here soon!
Hullaballoo is an amazing 3-day event that happens every year on unceded Coast Salish territory (Vancouver) and brings together 16 high school poetry teams from across the lower province to compete and celebrate youth poetry.
I’ve been so fortunate for many many years to come in, brand the festival, and photograph every performance.
These young people are amazing, and if you ever get the chance, do not miss out on next year’s event.
In 2012 I was dating a barista in East Vancouver, long story short it did not work out, but I did make a wonderful friend (who was also dating a barista at the same café) and we ended up commiserating over our relationships – fast forward 6 years and we finally meet up again, and many conversations revolved around her brother who was (in my eyes) a brilliant artist that I knew I had to meet.
I’m in Amsterdam now, waiting one week to fly back to Canada, and guess what, the brother (Andre) just happened to be living in Brussels, Belgium. Within a few hours we had met up for the first time and had become such fast friends – in just one afternoon we had created a music video and this photo series.
Andre started out as a cartoonist but transitioned into a physical performance and musical artist that really pushes the boundaries of his mediums and society as a whole.
Andre’s music persona is Zachary Airhorn, and he is as beautifully weird and transcendent as you might expect with a name like that. You can often tell a person’s character by the quality of people that they surround themselves with, and Andre’s crew is amongst the most loving and wonderful souls that I have had the pleasure to meet on my adventures; thankfully I was able to take photos with many of them as well.
Oh, and Brussels is so dope. Belgium is like a better and friendlier France, just sayin’ 😉
I am from Haida Gwaii, a small chain of islands in the North Pacific off the coast of Canada and despite the distance I am still able to bump my neighbours around the word; this time it was one of my most favourite people Winnie Tsai, who had just come off of a few-weeks adventure through Egypt. Turns out we were both en route back to Canada and had a bit of overlap in Amsterdam, so we did what any reasonable young person would do, buy ridiculous outfits from H&M and do a photo shoot in the Netherlands.
While in Egypt Winnie had met Renzo, a very handsome Dutch boi from Rotterdam, and after a yummy breakfast went for a romp around town as first-time models.
Edra and I had met up again for one last photoshoot before I leave Albania on Sunday and per usual it was a fun romp around the centre of Tirana. This time Edra’s wardrobe had two very fun pieces, a sheep’s hair vest and a striking red coat which felt straight out of the movie Paris Je T’aime.
Two years ago in Berlin, I was lucky enough to meet Azzura, a wonderful new friend from the Tuscany region of Italy. We had kept in touch over this period and knew that we would reconnect somewhere in the world, and thankfully it was her home country!
Without an itinerary or plan, I had packed my bag and hopped a plane from Tirana to Pisa for a weekend of fun and new friends. My first day I was taken out to Livorno (on the coast) and was introduced to Daniele, a brilliant and very charming friend of Azzura; after a night out on the town, we had known that a photo shoot was in the cards!
The next day was taken up by some adventures with Olga in Florence, but my last afternoon we made the shoot happen. Daniele had never modelled before, but you definitely could not tell by his H&M style and good looks. Our time was short, but it’s the quality that counts, and I definitely count Daniele as a friend that I will have for a long time!
If you want to follow more of Daniele’s life, you can check him out on Instagram @lumoru_90.
I love Instagram, it is such a wonderful tool for connecting creatives, and Edra is I’ve of those people that I was so fortunate to meet and collaborate with.
Edra is an accounting student and developing creative currently working on an online lifestyle magazine/blog based out of Tirana. I came across Edra’s work through the copious use of Albanian themed hashtags, right away I noticed her fantastic style and eye for engaging content and I knew that I wanted to shoot with her.
The first stop was a construction barrier that I spotted on one of my first days in Tirana, it was covered with a large canvas covered in tropical plants and animals and I was desperate to do a shoot with it as our backdrop.
We proceeded to walk around the centre of Tirana, stopping at many locations that many people wouldn’t think twice about, but Edra was game for anything and that fun energy resulted in some fabric photographs!
You can follow more of Edra’s work on her Instagram @edra.bala
My friend Kibela had told me so many stories about Ani, which had me very excited when we finally met after a few days of me arriving in Tirana. Right away I could feel the love and kind energy that she put out into the world. Ani’s look reminded me of a classic French model, so classic yet unique. Kibela had stated right away that the both of us MUST do a photo shoot, and a couple of weeks later it finally happened.
I had just come off of another wonderful photo shoot that afternoon and was definitely feeling tired, but we decided to give it a go anyways and the results speak for themselves. Ani approached the shoot like a seasoned professional, but with zero prevention and a willingness to try anything. Even though our shoot lasted less than two hours I am so happy with the number of quality images that we were able to capture together!
If you would like to see more of Ani, you can follow her on Instagram @anima8891
If I were asked what one of the most amazing experiences of my life was, I would quickly reply with my time at the Salzburg Global Seminar (SGS) in Austria.
I’m the autumn of 2017, myself and 49 other Young Cultural Innovators from around the world were all brought together to attend a 5-day intensive social innovation intensive at the Schloss Leopoldskron. It was a brilliant experience which lit a fire in my belly to push even harder to create positive social change in the world.
Fast forward 5 months, I’m in Tirana, Albania at the invitation of my friend Kibela (whom I had met at Salzburg), and she tells me that Peter, Shelagh, and Susanne from the SGS were coming to town and hosting a social innovation workshop in partnership with the Albanian-American Development Foundation… I could not believe it.
The night before, several of us alumni and organizers from the SGS got together for drinks and could not believe that all of us from around the world are all together in Albania!
The following day was filled with shaking conversation and a brilliant workshop (no surprise) hosted by Peter and Shelagh. We ended our day with rekindled passion in our personal missions, and several bottles of wine at Tëduktu, overall an amazing success.
You can learn more about the Salzburg Global Seminar at their website.
“Why Albania?!” Many people back home have asked since I arrived here 2 weeks ago. I can blame it on one thing, getting schlossed with Kibela Nasufi every night in the basement bierstube (German beer house) last October while attending the Salzburg Global Seminar.
Kibela and I had become great friends after just a few days, and she offered for me to come visit her in Tirana (capital city of Albania) – little did she know that I’m the kind of person who will take people up on their invitations 😉.
One of the first people I was introduced to was Vivienne (Vivi), Kibela’s best friend and all-around wonderful person. For weeks we had talked about taking photos one day, but busy schedules stopped us, until one hungover afternoon…
Where I am staying in the centre of Tirana we are quite close to a beautiful lake that Kibela always said that she would take me to, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to check that experience off the list. We had our coffees, our muffins, and once we had fully awoken, I pulled out my camera and beauty and fun unfolded from there.
You can follow Vivi on Instagram @vivienne_pitarka and Kibela @kibelanasufi
Before my first week in Tirana has come to a close, my “manager” Kibela had organized a photo shoot with a very talented model based in Albania; it was my first photo shoot in the city and I was very excited, to say the least.
Kibela and I met up with Cindy at the Tirana pyramid, though the sun was so intense that we were only able to get a few photographs before needing to find the shade of many beautiful buildings. The buildings that we found, though beautiful, also happened to be too “important” to take photos in front of, at least that’s what the security guard was yelling at us as we were chased away several times.
Our next stop was a plaza which had perfect lighting, but also came with its own balcony section as dozens of onlookers gathered to see what was going on – apparently, we were quite the attraction.
We ended the long day at a fantastic restaurant called Tëduktu, where after a delicious meal proceeded to take one last series of photos. We were very inspired by the cacti, green neon lights, and intimidating literature.
If you would like to see more of Cindy, you can follow her on Instagram @cindykokomeci, and Kibela @kibelanasufi.
During my 2 months in Toronto, I was introduced to Ashley Colours Perez, a fantastic dancer who is also part of the MixMix Dance Collective. After a hot cup of coffee on a cold Canadian afternoon, the seed was planted to shoot something together. A few weeks later MixMix invited me to their rehearsal space in North Toronto to film a portion of their recent show LIPSTIQUE.
The full video itself won’t be released online, but there is a trailer to share!
Special thanks to Pete Moore who assisted on the initial cut of this trailer.
I was so fortunate While passing through Vancouver to be contacted by my good friend and powerhouse indigenous fashion hero Joleen Mitton. She was organizing a private show featuring the new clothing line by designer Ellena Neel @ellenaneel.
Ellena’s beautiful and diverse clothing line was complemented by the stunning and talented indigenous models Gillian Thomson, Cody Kearsley, Alexis Battle, Monday Blues, and Ellena herself, with MUA Alyssia Requena.