West Ed — An Exposition.

Google+ Pinterest LinkedIn Tumblr +

The West Edmonton Mall – the largest mall in North America – is more than just a place to shop. Among its hundreds of stores and services, it’s home to the world’s largest indoor waterpark, world’s largest indoor amusement park, a life-size replica of a Spanish galleon, and an NHL-size skating rink. It’s a city within a city, with a workforce of roughly 24,000 people.

No question, the West Ed is a spectacle in itself. And for that reason, local Edmonton photographers Owen Murray and Tom Young decided to team up to properly showcase “The Mall”, which is currently on display at Vistek’s Calgary stores. We recently arranged in-depth interviews with both photographers.

West Edmonton Mall_Tom Young-3814

An interview with Tom Young

What is your background/education?

Masters of Architecture (Urban Planning), University of Manitoba, 2007.

How did you get your start as a photographer, did you have a special mentor?

My father, a graphic designer and amateur photographer, was my first inspiration to pick up a camera as was a way to try to connect with his interests. Over time I started gravitating towards urban subjects, with street photography and urban scenes becoming my primary focus.

What/who (where?) inspires you to shoot?

My photography is very much an outgrowth of my professional interest as an urban planner. I love documenting and exploring the state of urban life, whether at home or on my travels. Urban culture seems to be changing so quickly. I think the photos we take of life in cities today are likely to be very different from what we see 30 years from now.

Who are your favourite photographers?

Alex Webb, Saul Leiter, Helen Levitt, Robert Frank, Vivian Maier, Bruce Davidson, Trent Parke, Edward Burtynsky. To name just a few.

What has been your most memorable (crazy, interesting, amazing or inspiring) photography experience?

Taking photos on numerous occasions in the overflowing streets of New York, the spiritual home of street photography, has been a highlight. A trip to Mardi Gras in New Orleans in 2011 was also a mind-blowing photographic experience.

What has your greatest career accomplishment been to-date?

Becoming part of the Observe Collective, an international street photography collective, which I was proud to help form in the summer of 2013. Our first group exhibition will be in Germany this coming June. Being a part of photographic communities is invigorating, and I’ve been lucky to have found camaraderie and encouragement both in Edmonton and abroad.

What are some of your biggest challenges?  How do you overcome them?

Overcoming a fear of taking candid photos of strangers in public was the biggest challenge for me to overcome. Being able to take photos without first asking permission is the key to reflecting public life as it actually happens, rather than how people present themselves when they are aware of the camera. It was a slow process involving lots of practice, sharing with other photographers, and a growing conviction that there is value to taking photos of society that are minimally influenced by the photographer.

Is there anything you would have done differently in your own career?

I am lucky to have a day job that allows me to take photographs without feeling pressure to make money from it. But if I were to have done anything differently, I would have started taking photos seriously earlier in my life.

Do you have any advice for photographers starting out?

Shoot, shoot, shoot. Look at the work of others and learn from it, but take note of what it is that excites you, what keeps you interested to go out and shoot again and again. Shoot for yourself first and foremost and I think it will reward you for the rest of your life.

Tell us a little about some of your favourite photo gear.  A short list with your fav camera, lighting equipment, lens, modifiers. How does travel affect what you bring?

I never shoot in a studio, and am usually trying to adapt quickly to whatever I find in front of me, so keeping things simple is best, no matter where I find myself. I shoot with a Canon 5D Mk III and a variety of lenses, usually somewhere between 24 mm and 50 mm. A handheld flash on a tether is often part of my method indoors or once the sun goes down.

What is your favourite photo accessory, other than your camera?

My ONA camera bag, which is comfortable and has kept my camera dry and my stuff organized on innumerable photo outings and trips, despite my ongoing abuse of it.

If you had to choose just a single camera and lens would it be and why?

For the type of subjects I shoot, it has to be a fairly wide lens. Likely a 24 mm on my 5D.

Can you share with us anything that you’re working on right now?

I have an ongoing project documenting Whyte Avenue night life, and more generally photography documenting public life in Edmonton, wherever I can find it. This is a project that I expect (hope!) may never end.

Where else can people see your work?

Online at: flickr.com/yotung, observecollective.com, and this June through August with the rest of the Observe Collective at the Staedtische Galerie in Iserlohn, Germany, should anyone be in the neighbourhood.

Canada, Edmonton. July/26/2014. West Edmonton Mall (WEM)

An interview with Owen Murray

What is your background/education?

B.Design ACAD 2001, major in Visual Communications.

How did you get your start as a photographer, did you have a special mentor?

The summer before attending ACAD and during my first year, Lachlin MacKinnon really encouraged my photographic pursuits. In the Visual Communications program I was always using a 35mm SLR to shoot reference for illustration projects and it just sort of evolved from there as a quicker way of communicating and telling stories. After graduating a camera was with me anywhere I went.

What/who (where?) inspires you to shoot?

In one word: light. It’s a way of being, seeing and interacting with the world. It’s about presence and being present.

Who are your favourite photographers?

Sebastiao Salgado, Saul Leiter, Harry Burton, Lee Miller, Boogie, Freeman Paterson, Cartier-Bresson, Michio Hoshino, Minor White, and others.

What has been your most memorable (crazy, interesting, amazing or inspiring) photography experience?

Working as a photographer in Egypt  — it’s all of the above, all rolled into one…

What has your greatest career accomplishment been to-date?

Pushing the limits of the current technology while photographing Egyptian monuments.

What are some of your biggest challenges?  How do you overcome them?

Creating time to shoot personal projects. I’m working on it, though have realized this may come later in my career rather than sooner.

Is there anything you would have done differently in your own career?

Not much, for me it’s been a very organic process, though there were certain points where having a mentor or peer group would have been helpful.

Do you have any advice for photographers starting out?

If you want to be a photographer, take pictures, and don’t stop. It’s not about your gear, it’s about how you see.

Tell us a little about some of your favourite photo gear.  A short list with your fav camera, lighting equipment, lens, modifiers. How does travel affect what you bring?

Cameras: I’m a Nikon guy and have been that way since 2004. I love the feel of the old FM2, though use a D800 in the field. Lighting equipment: The sun, and huge pieces of frosted plastic 😉 I also use Elinchroms (500 ELCs) with snoots, soft-boxes, reflectors and anything I find lying around. Lens: 17-35mm 2.8, 28-70mm 2.8, 80-200 2.8. Though I also use a 45mm Tilt Shift PC-E and 60mm AFS Macro a fair bit. Travel makes me pack lighter, choosing just one or two lenses. Recently I’ve gone back to shooting primes, and only bringing one or two.

What is your favourite photo accessory, other than your camera?

This nifty Yeti camera strap from Black Rapid.

If you had to choose just a single camera and lens would it be and why?

D800 and the AFS 60mm 2.8 Macro, because it forces you to move, but at the same has great versatility and is tack sharp.

Can you share with us anything that you’re working on right now?

Currently on contract in Luxor, Egypt for the University of Memphis photographing all of the scenes on the small columns in the hypostyle hall at Karnak Temple.

Where else can people see your work?

Online at: ommphoto.ca in print via blurb books and hopefully soon enough in galleries.

Share.

About Author