Brand collaborations, classism within photography, and personal creative aspiration
By Alexis Zygan, Staff Writer
Some elitists within the photography community sneer at digital photographers who pursue film’s visual appeal through filters and editing.
At twenty-four, Yvonne Hanson ran for MP of Vancouver Granville. The campaign process necessitated planning outreach while also finding time for activism—such as attending climate rallies. Burnout and yearning artistic embodiment ensued the pursuit of politics. “Not having time for creative pursuits was very damaging to my sense of self and mental health,” said Hanson in a phone interview with the Other Press.
Once the campaign adjourned, Hanson committed herself to enliven visual ideas. Fortunately, a friend was pleased to sell her a Nikon D-7100.
“[Politics and photography] complement each other in unexpected ways,” explained Hanson. Both disciplines rely on an appreciation for individuals and humanity as a collective; misanthropy will not get you far.
Hanson admires Brandon Stanton, founder of Humans of New York, and his ability to depict portraits with integrity. “I also love people, which for me, comes out in activism; wanting to make the world the best it can be and [in photography] by depicting the world as best as it can be.”
In addition to unpaid projects—which allow for an informal approach to creativity, trial, and error—Hanson offers paid shoots to help spruce up her clients’ Instagram feeds. While high-quality visuals are vital for social media marketing, hiring a professional photographer is not financially accessible for many non-institutionalized groups and activism initiatives. Thus, she offers to capture promotional material at a reduced rate.
Hanson met the founders of up-and-coming political humour clothing brand Left-Merch while volunteering on a socialist political campaign. She reached out to the brand and scheduled an unpaid shoot with the owners to support their brand.
While Hanson shoots digital photography, she purchased a lens accessory from Prism Lens Fx that captures 35 mm film aesthetic without the high price. Some elitists within the photography community sneer at digital photographers who pursue film’s visual appeal through filters and editing. Hanson argues that there are classist barriers to all photography—especially film. A roll of economy Fujifilm Superia from London Drugs costs $14.99 for 36 shots, not to mention the price of developing and scanning rolls.
#Staybrokeshootfilm—a popular social media hashtag—pokes fun at how shooting with 35 mm film feeds into the starving artist cliche. Digital is more forgiving and predictable. Nothing is more disappointing than taking a roll for development only to have it return empty. For those who cannot justify spending $500+ on a camera, Beau Photo offers rental services.
“Some people have an over-reliance on the gear. If you have not spent $3000 on camera are you really a photographer? Well yeah, [photography] is an art and very much what you make it. If you make something you are proud of then you are doing the art properly. I used to be a purist and not photoshop. I feel like I have grown past that. [For me] it is about how the artist, not the audience, feels about the final product.”
Back when she collaged fashion magazines, she never studied the process of producing the perfect image. Since 2018, Hanson has learned to look twice at each photograph. Research is part of thriving as a creative. “I examine the crop, the colours, pose—all of this brings out a hidden genius that needs to be more appreciated, rather than an easily consumable image.” Hanson encourages readers to look deeper at the images they see on their Instagram feed.
Like most individuals, quarantine stifled creativity. “I only took 50 photos every two months, which is not a lot considering what I am taking now.”
Hanson works best when challenging herself with precise criteria and daily output. Over quarantine, she invested in a kaleidoscope and a prism lens. “When you are doing the same thing repeatedly it can be hard to get something new. Then you get upset that you are not getting anything new. You must push yourself to try out new techniques.”
Eventually, she would like to merge political activism with photography. “I want my photography to be meaningful to more than just a fashion or influencer community—meaning in a deeper way. Making money is not the driving force at this point.”
She encourages anybody with an itch for creative expression to “pick up the camera and shoot every day and put as much effort as you can into photography.”