Megan Wilson is a 20 year old photographer from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
She began to dabble in photography in 2008, and has been in love ever since. In terms of her knowledge of photography Megan has been self-taught up until recently when she decided to enroll at a photography school in her city. She graduated from post-secondary this year.
With her passion and drive Megan has created a whimsical world for herself through photography where she can express herself and emotions, and express the emotions of others through her works. With her amazing use of color, and attention to detail, Megan Wilson creates some of the most interestingly unique portraits I have ever seen.
Join us as we get to know Megan through this extensive interview.
We get to have a peak into Megan’s editing process with many before and after photos, she speaks of her experiences while in school, and she tells us about this one time her and her grandma dressed up as a nun for her school project.
Upon reading your Flickr profile, I discovered that you began to dabble in photography in 2008 and you have been in love ever since!
How did this interest spark? How did it all begin?
The interest started when I was playing around with my moms point and shoot kodak camera. I remember going out and taking photos of flowers and sunsets and really enjoying it. When I went on vacations I was always the one taking the photos and documenting everything. Eventually I started experimenting with self portraits and I realized that it was becoming more than a hobby for me. It became a passion.
You were mostly self-taught in photography until recently when you decided to enroll at a photography school in your city.
How has going to school helped you and your work progress? And so far, what is the most valuable lesson that you’ve taken from your classes and critiques?
Going to school helped me enormously. The main reason I wanted to go to photography school was because I wanted to be a better photographer. I registered at Prairie View Photography School here in Winnipeg last fall and did their year long diploma program. I didn’t realize how much more about photography there was to learn. I graduated just this past June so much more knowledgeable and confident, and with a portfolio of work I am proud of.
What advice do you have to offer to someone who is isn’t completely sure of whether or not they want to attend post-secondary school for photography. What questions would you get them to ask themselves?
I would get them to question their work ethic and commitment.
I personally am the type of person who enjoys a school environment with routine, a schedule and being able to learn from others in a group setting. Some people may think any form of art school is ‘easy’ or not really school. But its just as much work, or perhaps even more work than a standard university class. You have to want it enough, work hard and stay organized. If you do that you will succeed in a school setting.
Within your work you create many amazing self-portraits. Does this ever have it’s downfalls? Do you ever worry about “photographing yourself too much”?
Doing self portraiture definitely can have its downfalls. It can get frustrating because you’re not behind the camera and you’re constantly checking focus, crop. Its a lot of running back and forth. I sometimes get tired or bored of photographing myself. I think one of my main goals with my self portraiture is I’m photographing my face over and over again but I’m making each image different and unique from one another. You learn a lot about yourself by doing self portraiture, and it can be very therapeutic. I don’t worry about photographing myself too much. If I’m photographing myself, theres a reason behind it.
What inspires you?
Inspiration comes from so many places. It comes from my friends, music, lyrics, a book, a movie, a colour.
What’s your favourite photo that you’ve ever taken?
My favourite photo that I’ve taken is Growth. I feel like there is a lot of soul in that photo. It was taken at a time where I felt I was at a low. I had some personal things going on, I was feeling like what I was creating wasn’t good enough, and I didn’t know what to do next. But when I took that photo, and when I had finished processing it, I remember feeling really good about myself. I was proud, and I still am.
“Growth I on left, Growth II on right.
What’s currently on your gear list? (camera gear, editing software) And what’s the #1 thing on your “wish list” right now?
I shoot most of my work with my Canon Mark II. I often use my 50mm 1.4 but I also have a 24-105mm 4.0 that I love.
I would love to have a 35mm 1.4 and a 200mm 2.8.
Your first portrait in which you used water-colour paint is titled “Rainbow Veins”, which is just utterly amazing. Since then you’ve continued to take interesting portraits with water-colour paint as the main element of the photograph. Is there a significance behind using this material, or do you just like the aesthetic of it?
Its a bit of both. Each of my water colour photos are essentially the same thing, an up close portrait of a face. I use the water colours to tell the story. The colours that I choose are what help evoke the mood and emotion of the photograph. I also love working with them because you never know what you’re going to get, its always going to be something different. I love working with colour combinations, and the way the water flows across the face is a beautiful thing. I also like using simple materials in my portraits. Things you could pick up at a dollar store. Which is exactly what I do. You don’t have to have a huge budget to create something beautiful and unique.
Within your work I see that the make-up and styling is always so super considered. On average how long does it take you to “prep yourself’ (in the case of a self-portrait) for a shoot?
On average I would say about 45min max.
On average, how long does it take you to create a piece of work? (conceptualize, shoot, and edit)
I would say a couple of days. Sometimes I can come up with an idea, shoot and have it up for everyone to see all in the same day. But now, I find I’m much more picky and my process isn’t becoming slower but I’m questioning myself a lot more and taking my time to make it exactly what I want it to be.
I would love to have a look into your editing process. Do you have any before and after photos that you would like to share with us?
What is your proudest moment as a photographer?
This past summer when I got to meet some of the most amazing photographers and friends in the world. Meeting them made me realize how proud I am of them and of myself for pursuing my dream.
Who are some of your favourite photographers and/or artists?
Annie Leibovitz, Kirsty Mitchell
How do you combat a creative block?
I’ll try and take a moment out of my day to sit and not think. Have a cup of tea at a cafe somewhere by myself. I’ll listen to some music, and if something comes to mind I’ll write it down. Other times its just good to ride it out. Eventually I’ll come up with something and get out of my ‘funk’.
When planning a photograph do you usually sketch your ideas?
I rarely ever sketch out anything, it’s really all up in my head. Sometimes I’ll write down words, or phrases. But really when I think of something, I trust my mind to recall it.
What do you do in your free time when you’re not behind the camera or editing?
I spend a lot of time with my friends and family. They’re a really important part of my life, and I love them all too pieces. When I’m not with them I often ride my bike, go for walks, and watch movies.
Do you shoot film? If so, what is the main purpose or intent when creating these images? How different is the mindset from film to digital?
I love shooting film. Shooting film for me is always something that is very casually and experimental. Sometimes I’ll go out with my Yashica or my Canon 1 and walk around downtown and shoot whatever interests me. I really see more of my film work as street photography. When I travel I always shoot quite a bit of film too. My mind set is very different from digital to film. I find with film I’m much more laid back and in the moment. With digital everything is much more planned out with more reasoning behind it. I love them both dearly.
What’s the craziest thing you’ve done for a photograph?
div class=”answer”>Thats hard to say, because what some people consider ‘crazy’ I consider pretty tame. These days I’m either covering myself in paint, silver make-up, or flowers. Perhaps one of the more crazier things I did was rent a nuns costume in the middle of winter. Not only did I take a self portrait in it in the middle of the road where all my neighbours were watching. But my Nan agreed to wear it and let me take a photo of her holding a bottle of tequila and smoking a joint. We shot it outside, and it was a Sunday, and there was a funeral at the church down the road. So there were plenty of cars parked on my street. We got a lot of strange looks, and some people stopped to ask what were were doing. It was completely worth offending and scaring some people. I took the photo for a school assignment and I did very well!
I know this question can be a scary one, but what would you like to see yourself doing in 5 years time? Or, a different way to word it, what is your dream job?
I never thought photography would take me this far so I really have no idea. I could definitely see myself working as a freelance photographer for a fashion magazine. Or being able to support myself off of my own work. That would the ideal situation. As long as 5 years down the road I’m happy, that’s all that matters.
What are you currently working on?
I’m currently having creative block, haha. I’m in the midst of figuring out my next step. I may have a few ideas bouncing around in my head, but I can’t say what just yet. However a goal of mine is to have my own show, which hopefully will be happening in the next month or so. I’m fortunate enough to have been offered a space to have one, I just need to get everything organized and planned out!
Any big plans in the future?
My plans are to travel, as much as I can, and eventually move away. I love being able to see new things, and meet new people. Thats something thats really important to me.
And finally, do you have any advice to offer aspiring photographers?
Do what makes you happy, and don’t look back.
Interviewed By: Angela Butler