Though she’s based in Toronto, Meaghan Ogilvie has made an award-winning name for herself by capturing images from around the world. Or, more specifically, under it. After all, she’s best known for her eye-popping underwater photography, which pairs impressive technicality with artistic beauty.
More importantly, Ogilvie’s work goes beyond aesthetically pleasing as her work communicates the need for human beings to respect and preserve the environment. “I think it’s difficult to label what kind of photographer I am, but I can say that I use the beauty in my work to build an understanding of how humans and nature interact at this critical point,” she says.
Her focus being primarily on water for the past nine years – understanding both the beauty and plight of our relationship to it. This series reinforces the inherent bond between people and water through creative portraits.
What inspired this particular project?
This is an ongoing project that started four years ago. It was inspired by collaborating with Anishinaabe women in Ontario and learning about their relationship and responsibility to water. They completely changed my perspective on how I view water and the urgency to protect it. I felt there needed to be something ambitious done — imagery that went beyond traditional photojournalism and instead utilized documentary photography of humans and water that could flow towards a new way of discussing the topic.
Are you purely a photographer or do you have other creative pursuits?
I’ve always had ideas and ambitions for other creative pursuits, but have never acted on them until now. I still have so much learning to do as a photographer. I did this amazing artist residency this summer in Tahsis on Vancouver Island that had a huge impact on where I want to take my creativity. I experimented with mixed media by printing on wood and designed installations and sculptures for the forest. Working with my hands was so therapeutic and the opposite of the instant results of photography. I want to use other mediums like sculpture and projection mapping with photography to tell stories in a new way. It’s always been really important that I push the limits of my practice and I think that’s why I started shooting underwater nine years ago. I’m in a more mature place in my career now and am ready for new creative challenges.
I’ve also always been interested in the creative direction for large productions in theatre, film and live music. My ideas for photography usually start out big and I have to pull it back to make them more practical. To have the freedom to build and orchestrate complex ideas through set builds, choreography, lighting, music and projections for live performances is a dream of mine. I want to create ambitious projects experimenting with new technology and collaborate with other artists. Who knows? Maybe it will be a performance underwater or in the canopy of trees on the west coast.
Why did you choose photography over other creative mediums?
Photography was more than just imagery for me. It offered never-ending growth and an opportunity to travel the world. It was also perfectly suited for my shy personality and gave me the confidence to do things I never thought possible.
What camera did you shoot on?
I shot this project on the Canon 5D Mark II and 1Ds.
How does your gear help you be a better photographer?
I’ve been shooting with Canon since I began my career and it has never failed me. I’ve shot with it underwater up to 100 feet and higher than 5,000 feet in the air. Knowing I can rely on it while shooting in challenging climates allows me to solely concentrate on my shooting. This confidence makes me a better photographer.
If you could shoot any subject who would it be and why?
I’m currently working on sourcing funding to travel and shoot portraits of people in the Caribbean affected by hurricane Irma. I’m interested in their stories and learning about what it takes to rebuild their lives and islands.
If you could go anywhere to shoot where would it be and why?
I would go anywhere and everywhere if I could. I’d really like to go back to Vancouver Island and visit Haida Gwaii for the first time and Tahsis again. If you love nature you will understand. For me, that environment is the most inspiring because of the ocean, mountains and forest.
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