Last week, Vancouver Mom kicked off its 50 Essential Vancouver Portrait Photographers series. We’re specifically looking for photographers who demonstrate a high calibre of talent, as well as cover family, maternity, baby or kids – along with other subjects. If you know anyone who might be a fit, please email contact [at] vancouvermom.ca.
This week we connected with Christine McAvoy, a Vancouver-based freelance photographer who received her BFA in Photography from Ryerson University. Her work has been published locally and nationally across Canada in magazines, newspapers and online. In the very little spare time, Christine can be found photographing the local indie music scene and enjoying the beautiful landscapes of Vancouver.
Why did you get into photography?
I got my first camera when I was nine on a family trip to Disneyland. My brother and I were allowed one souvenir and that’s what I picked – a small camera with images of Mickey Mouse running all over it and it took 110mm film to boot…I still have it. After that I remember it being a conscious decision around grade seven – that photography was what I wanted to do. I realized that I enjoyed photographing the school sports and events much more than participating in them. From there, I took the only thing offered at my high school that was close to photography: yearbook class. My mom managed to get me into the continuing education night courses at Niagara College where I was able to actually learn darkroom techniques and after all that I was accepted into, and graduated from, Ryerson’s photo program with a BFA.
Tell us a bit about your company.
After I graduated I continued assisting photographers in Toronto until I was offered an internship at Toronto Life Magazine. In working for them I gained a great deal of experience, shooting interiors, people, places and food; I credit this job with giving me some very creative portfolio pieces. Now I’m a freelance photographer, and I am lucky enough to support myself with this. I still shoot a wide range of subjects, many for Vancouver publications, and I am one half of a wedding photography company as well (I’ve been shooting weddings for 5 years now). I do private portrait and profile work, events and parties, weddings and engagements, and creative sessions. Basically, everything.
How would you characterize your style of photography?
I’m a chameleon. I don’t think I fit into a distinct documentary or commercial or photojournalist category, but I am all of those photographers. I am exactly what my client needs me to be, with my own creative input. I’ve tried to narrow myself down before, but my interests are so broad that I realized that that is just the photographer I am. However, my style of photography has much to do with my personality. It starts with how comfortable and friendly my clients are with me – instantly – even if they’re complete strangers. It quickly builds a sense of trust, and I’m able to just photograph. I come out with shots of intimate moments. People even forget I’m there, which is great!
Who are your clients?
There are my commercial/publication clients like Vancouver Magazine, Xtra West, Ion Magazine or The Georgia Straight, and there are my personal clients that find me via word of mouth or my website. I do promotional photography for bands, as well as photograph their live shows, and many of those photos are published on music review websites. I’ve also worked with non-profit organizations, most recently Free The Children, photographing We Day this past September. My wonderful partner in crime Jonathan Taggart and I have had some amazing wedding clientele in the past from all over Canada and many of our bookings come from recommendations from our former brides and grooms. My private work tends to start with photographing family and friends for myself; then I end up photographing their family and friends and so on. I have a pretty amazing job.
What should your mom clients expect when working with you?
If I’m shooting in your home: creativity; if we’re out on location: spontaneity. That and that your kids and I will be best friends by the time we’re done – they pretty much love me instantly and this helps me keep their attention for an extended period of time, which is great for photos. I don’t enjoy putting you in overly posed or hokey positions; I am there to capture who you are and who your family is in a comfortable and loving setting. My goal is to basically be background noise and let you do your thing. It’s surprising how beautiful you are when you’re doing almost nothing at all.
All photos are © Christine McAvoy. (Portrait of C. McAvoy by Jonathan Taggart.)