Meaghan Ogilvie is a photographer from Toronto. Her concepts focus on our relationship to nature and where we find ourselves within that relationship during a period of rapid ecological change.
Recognised for her ethereal underwater images in the 2013 Sony World Photography Awards Professional Fashion category, Meaghan is the recipient of many other awards and recognitions from across North America and internationally.
After earning her diploma in photography at Sheridan College (2003), Ogilvie interned at Toronto Life Magazine, worked as a Photo Editor for Wire and Getty Images at both the Sundance and Toronto Film Festivals and managed a commercial photography studio in Toronto. Ogilvie continued her studies after she was selected for an art residency with the School of Visual Arts in New York City for the Still and Moving Imaging Program (2011).
Her most recent accomplishment was a commission awarded to her by the Toronto 2015 Arts and Culture Festival of the Pan Am/Parapan Am Games. With this opportunity, she created a large-scale public exhibition, Requiem of Water that had its world premiere in Toronto during the summer of 2015.
Hi Meaghan. Nature and fashion play a distinctive role in your photography, tell us more about when and why you decided to employ these themes in your photography
My fascination with nature has always remained at the forefront of my work. Growing up, my longing to travel fed my attraction to be a photographer. It combined my love for nature and ambition to explore. When I was able to start travelling, it was a natural transition to incorporate nature into my work. I'm most interested in where our relationship with nature is headed during this time of rapid ecological change. I don't currently shoot fashion, but I started out of school and love the creativity it allows you to work with.
Your works appear to be linked together with the water transparency. Is it simply a familiar setting or a symbol to enhance your investigation about nature and humanity?
Water started out as a familiar setting and has now led me on a path of investigation to understand the importance of it spiritually, psychologically and physically. My current body of work, ‘Requiem of Water’ embodies our relationship and journey back towards honouring the waters. By exploring Indigenous cultures and bodies of water around the world, the intent of the exhibition is to heighten public awareness and encourage thoughtful responsibility towards our precious water sources.
Nature and fashion photography might ask for different approaches. How do you combine them successfully?
I've grown away from shooting fashion at the moment and am concentrating on the natural world. So, to be honest, I have yet to successfully combine them. My work has become more simplistic in its styling over the past couple of years and that has been the influence of nature. However, I've been visualising a shoot in Iceland that uses the landscape and wardrobe to combine colour palettes and shapes for a striking image. I think it's a matter of finding elements that compliment each other to combine them successfully.
‘Succumbed’ was shortlisted for the 2013 Sony World Photography Awards Professional Fashion category. Tell us why you started this project?
The project began from having seen the effects of my father's degenerative neurological disorder, Multiple Systems Atrophy. It's a rare disease that aggressively shuts down all motor skills in a body leaving the person with little to no mobility. It was a difficult time for my family, so it was natural to immerse myself into a project for distraction. The idea of shooting underwater really appealed to me for a few reasons. I could connect my dad's love for water, I could create in a challenging environment and observe mobility free of gravity and restrictions.
Your ethereal series were already recognised in North America. Did the success in #SWPA give you new opportunities on the other side of the Ocean?
The opportunities didn't come immediately, but it did give me new confidence both personally and professionally. The added exposure helped my online audience grow exponentially and put my work at a new level by having international recognition from a prestigious organisation. I believe it also played an important role in qualifying me as a commissioned artist of the Toronto 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games.
What is your advice for photographers taking part in #SWPA or other competitions?
The Sony World Photography Awards is such a great competition because of the exposure. Unlike many other competitions it's free to enter. If you are having trouble choosing which images to submit, print small ones and put them up on a wall. Leave them up there for a couple of days or hours. Look at them and walk away. Keep coming back to them and see which ones stand out the most and which ones work well together.
What’s next for you?
Being awarded the commission to represent Canada as an artist for the Toronto 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games this past July has been my biggest accomplishment to date. From here, I will be working on having the exhibition, ‘Requiem of Water’ travel across North America and internationally in Copenhagen in May 2016. I would like to expand the exhibition further by documenting different bodies of water around the world and the communities that rely on them for survival. Aside from this, I will be developing my skills as an underwater photographer and working on smaller projects.
Interview by Valentina De Vincenti