Elaine Green thought she would end up working in business, but the self-taught photographer turned her passion into a career.
Green graduated from the University of Alberta’s School of Business in 2003 and then worked in corporate marketing for a few years. However, it left her feeling unfulfilled.
Starting as a hobby from her mother's love of photography, Green’s passion for capturing moments was born.
“She was always taking pictures, and then I took pictures, then I started to do more events,” Green explains. “When I did weddings, it was a whole new world. It was capturing people at their happiest.”
Green transitioned her photography to be full-time in 2007.
Her experience in marketing is where she learned the importance of the business side of photography is, rather than just capturing images of her subjects.
“You can't just take pictures and expect anything to come from it. There's marketing, accounting, sales, client account management and advertising,” Green explains.
“All of that is the biggest part of being a photographer; shooting pictures is really just 10 per cent of the time, the other 90 per cent is just all that business work.”
Duane Cheung, Green’s associate photographer, discusses Green’s detail-orientated organization of her photoshoots.
“She'll break down the whole day down to the details of it that you can tell they haven't thought about...it's those things, she pays attention to her details.”
Green’s clients choose her as their photographer because they want her unique style of photography.
“If you're comfortable with what you're doing, you'll find the type of clients that you want,” says Green. “And the clients that you want, they're seeking out your style. They're not seeking out someone else's style.”
Through her unique style, Green was in the top five per cent of photographers in WeddingWire, the top three photographers in the Professional Wedding Photographers of Canada, the top 25 wedding photographers by Wedding Bells Magazine and the top 50 photojournalists by the Wedding Photojournalist Association (WPJA).
“All of that is the biggest part of being a photographer; shooting pictures is really just 10 per cent of the time, the other 90 per cent is just all that business work.” - Elaine Green
“I just try my best to be ready and capture it from a different way so that it's not the standard shot like standing, everyone knows how to do that,” says Green.
“I think it's like having a weird lens or weird angle, that's what captures the attention. Or even having interesting lighting.”
Green believes comparing yourself to other artists will influence your work and can lead to the loss of originality.
“If you keep comparing yourself with others... your work will be influenced by others and that… you can't differentiate yourself,” Green explains. “You need to forge your own way and stick to it. Do your own thing and don’t… be worried about what others are doing.”
Trisha Zook, health consultant and make-up artist, is a client of Green, and explains her unique style of photography.
“Elaine knows what she is doing. She'll often have you in an uncomfortable pose, but it looks amazing in the end. For candid photos, she knows how to be a fly on the wall and still capture flattering angles,” Zook explains.
Despite her success in photography, Green decided to head back to the University of Alberta – this time, to study nursing.
With Green’s busy schedule of being a piano teacher, photographer and registered nurse, it’s hard for her to find balance. However, she still manages to power through.
“I try my best to balance, but I don't think that anyone has a perfect balance,” says Green.
When it comes to the future, she explains the importance of learning new things and growing as the years go on.
“I don't think you graduate, then you just stop learning... I'm not going to be just a photographer forever. I'm probably going to go into something else, I'm probably going to go into another field of nursing, or something new… I’m going to keep learning.”
Carla MacLeod’s love for hockey began at the age of two and eventually grew into a national career and two Olympic medals. However, MacLeod says she finds more fulfillment in her retirement as a coach at Edge School for Athletes in southwest Calgary.
Playwrights, performers and best friends, Bianca Miranda and Keshia Cheesman met in the school of creative and performing arts at the University of Calgary in 2016 and since then they’ve just clicked.
The pair quickly became friends, and when they compared their childhood stories, they realized they connected on even greater parallels around weight and growing up as women of colour. With that, it unintentionally sparked the beginning of their success as playwrights.
“Bianca and my goal has never been to become playwrights, all we knew was that we wanted to create and perform our own work,” says Cheesman.
“Usually our creative process involves us up on our feet, doing something movement based with text, which is how ‘The F Word’ started.”
The F Word
The F Word is a play currently still in development, written and performed by Miranda, 26, and Cheesman, 25. It began two years ago as a part of another play with Handsome Alice Theatre entitled, inVISIBLE.
“We did a 10-minute piece focusing mainly on the word ‘fat,’ and why and how it led to its negative connotation,” Miranda explains.
“It ended with us chanting and singing, ‘we’re fat and awesome and beautiful’ and we encouraged the audience to join us and sing along.”
A story of joy, hilarity and hardship, The F Word, tells the lives of the two writers in a real and unapologetic way.
“When I think about this play, I wouldn’t consider it a play on body positivity, but a play about our lives and the journey we are on together to accept ourselves as fat women of colour,” states Cheesman.
Societal stigma on weight
The play focuses on standards in society about weight and race; the pair’s stories showcase how this stigma occurs everywhere.
“Weight stigma, or weight-based discrimination, also happens everywhere — at school, at work, in your own home, from your closest family members, and especially at the doctor’s office,” Miranda says.
She adds that one of the main issues is that people don’t always recognize the behaviour.
“It’s more common for someone to be ignorant of or complicit to this type of discrimination because after all, thinness is idealized, diet culture is deeply engrained.”
Although the media is getting better at being inclusive, Cheesman believes it’s not reaching far enough.
“My dream for our society would be for us to see a fat woman of colour — and I mean fat everywhere — be a model, be an actor, be a positive force in the world without her existence being a bold statement that makes certain people uncomfortable.”
Miranda and Cheesman not only focus on the societal perception around weight but also on race as well.
“Her body is just neutral. The same neutrality a thin white body receives. And if that happens, that’s when I know we are all moving in a positive direction.”
Growing success on the stage
From their 10-minute piece, their success continued to build. They were contacted to remount the piece for different platforms, then obtained a week-long residency at Arts Commons’ Pre-Amp Program.
Later on, their work was commissioned by Theatre Calgary to write the full-length, one-act play. With this commission, they had the chance to meet with Nina Lee Aquino, artistic director of Factory Theatre in Toronto. This led to an opportunity of attending another workshop by her, as well as the chance to present a reading for the Factory Wired program.
“Since university, it has always been our dream to create a show and tour it, whatever that show may be,” Cheesman states.
“And now that we have a show that has a bright future, it is so exciting that the universe has led us in this direction, and our dreams don’t seem so far out of reach.”
For more information and updates on The F Word, follow @thefword_show.
Jade Dykstra cared for horses at a local horse rescue and was surprised at how the horses supported her with her mental health struggles. This led to her starting Lasting Strides Equine Assisted Learning.