Don’t we all dream of packing up a van with our best friend and roaming the country?

If we lived in beautiful Ottawa, Canada, as our featured photographer Kaja Tirrul does, there’d be no stopping us! This shoot is a love letter to friendship, the nomadic lifestyle, and a truly stunning natural setting.

Kaja’s models are styled in an eclectic mix of vintage and contemporary designs from local boutique Copious Fashions. The girls wear voluminous florals, earth tones, velvet and embroidery, like trophies collected on a grand adventure, each piece with a different story to tell.

Kaja uses the breathtaking natural lighting and a puff or two of coloured smoke to set a magical scene – the kind of magic that you only find when best friends set off on a road trip.

Keep reading for an exclusive interview with the talented photographer herself!

Q: How did you become a photographer?

A: I feel like I have always been a photographer. As a child, after being intrigued by some black and white photos my uncle had taken, he took me down to his basement and showed me his darkroom. I was mesmerized by the ability to create an image of the world around me.

For my tenth birthday I received my first camera, and old Kodak 110. From there, I never stopped taking pictures! All of my allowance went into film development until I got my first job, then my paycheck went into film development. I was fortunate to have a darkroom in my high school where I could work on making my own prints, furthering my passion to shoot and to learn about photography.

I was accepted into Ryerson University’s four-year program in Toronto when I was seventeen, and graduated with my Bachelor of Fine Arts, majoring in Photography in 2008. Since then, I have been a freelance photographer, working full-time for myself since 2013.

Q: How do you find Canada as an inspiring place for creatives to live and work?

A: This is a difficult question for me to answer as it varies from city to city. For myself, I find Canada inspiring because, much like Australia, it is an ever-changing, young country. Canadians are constantly critiquing and challenging the world we live in, new ideas are always being discussed and sought out. With the advent of mass communication through the internet, the world is much closer than ever before. Canada is in an interesting place within this interesting time, having more of an international voice than ever before.

In any given city or town there is always something going on – workshops, lectures, openings – however you do have to actively seek them out. Living and working in Canada as a creative has it’s challenges, of course. Being recognized as a professional who deserves a proper wage is probably the biggest uphill battle at the moment. Being asked to work for less than the gas to get to a location, or worse, “for exposure,” is so common that on a bad day it sometimes feels like it’s the go-to method of payment. I do believe creatives as a whole are working well to educate others about this challenge and what the very real costs are to bring professional images and products to market.

Q: How important is storytelling for you as a photographer?

A: Storytelling is extremely important, but it doesn’t always have to be literal. As long as the viewer creates a narrative within their own mind, the photographer or artist is doing their job. Fashion Photography specifically is fun because it is not documentary; it’s an indulgent treat for the eyes. There are no rules with what story you want to tell, or how you want to tell it. I love to hear how viewers interpret my images, what their mind tells them is happening, what it is they feel and see. What I love about art is the visceral reaction that happens when one looks at something they feel moved by, for reasons that can’t be described.

Q: What’s your favourite thing about working with vintage clothing?

A: With the collective homogeneity of big labels and fast fashion, vintage clothing offers a much-needed diversity for the wearer. It’s that unique garment that no one else has. To constantly chase trends creates a hungry consumer, never satisfied with their wardrobe, always buying, always discarding, a revolving door of poorly made garments ending up in the landfill. A truly great vintage piece will never go out of style. It sits in the closet for years, pulled out when the time and outfit is just right. For this project, our stylist May Mustapha sourced items from many places around the world; Lebanon, China, Vancouver, Texas; each coming with a story of it’s own, each having lived a life we can only imagine. It may sound contradictory but vintage, to me, is fresh.

Q: What attracts you to a project?

For a project such as this shoot, I know we have landed on an inspiring idea when my mind is instantly flooded with images during the planning stage. Working with designer Carissa McCaig of Copious Fashions is always inspiring as we seem to bounce back and forth, coming up with concepts and themes, always building off of each others’ ideas. Within fashion photography, working with a creative team where each individual is left with the autonomy to do what they do best always inspires me. I love to see how visionaries in their respective fields interpret a concept – make-up artists, set-designers, stylists – when it all comes together it’s pure magic and I couldn’t be happier to be a part of the wonderful chaos.

For more of Kaja’s wonderful work, visit her online, like her on Facebook or follow her on instagram (@kajaphoto).

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Full credits: Photographer: Kaja Tirrul | Stylist: May Mustapha | Set Stylist: Britt West of Gloss Events & Décor | Hair Stylist: Stephanie Richardson | Makeup Artist: Megan Roberts | Models: Leyla D. & Jana G. of Angie’s Models & Talent International | Assistants: Kamara Morozuk & Emma Jonas | Clothing Provided by: Copious Fashions | Airstream Trailer provided by: Cellar 82

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Cecile Blackmore is a writer from Brisbane, Australia. She writes and edits at The Creative Issue and hoards vintage clothing – follow her adventures on Instagram at @saintcecile.

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