One of the best things about Instagram is the way it helps you look through the eyes of someone else and find beauty in the most unexpected places. Two Instagramers in particular, @markiatsu and @a.chea, have changed the way I look at Winnipeg.
I had the pleasure of teaching high school English to both Mark and Amanda and reconnected with them at Winnipeg's Instameet a month or so back. Their passion and energy is catching, and I quickly reached out to them to learn more about their photography.
Tell me a little about how you got into photography.
Mark: It goes all the way back to Tumblr in 2009. It was all the hype back then: reposting and liking photos. Occasionally I would get inspired by certain photographs and it motivated me to go out and shoot. I remember stumbling across this long exposure shot of car lights, and that really propelled me into the excitement of photography. After watching a YouTube video on how to capture similar shots, I borrowed my parents camera and tripod and sat on my front porch waiting for cars to paint their light on the road.
Amanda: I think now that I've grown up a little and looked back I'm pretty sure I was born with it. Even when I was a kid, I'd always find a camera in my hand: not a fancy one, but like a small, normal point and shoot. I took pictures of everything and anything really. But I guess ever since the summer before high school, and all the media courses I took, I started to take it a bit more seriously. My friend took me to a car meet; a group called TopTier imports organized meets during the summer. Throughout the years, I've gotten to know a lot of people in that whole car scene, and I'm glad to say most of them are now good friends of mine. A handful of them are professional car photographers. I'd say they've taught me a lot about photography and videography.
What do you like about photographing in Winnipeg?
Mark: You often hear a "nothing special" stigma around Winnipeg. Some people fail to see the beauty. With modern advances, Winnipeg is shaping up into a sophisticated metropolitan while showcasing its classic architecture. Winnipeg is full of diversity; and because of the fact that this city can resemble many other places, photographing Winnipeg is like capturing different corners of the world.
Amanda: What I like about photographing in Winnipeg is that we do live in a beautiful city with beautiful people and places, and some people don't see that. Instagram has been where most of my inspiration comes from; seeing all these talented individuals and learning what they have to offer is so amazing. I've met a handful of new people from it too. I love making new friends that have the same interests as me. But I'd give all the credit to Mark, because he was the one who showed me how to have an adventure in your own city, opening my eyes and noticing the art in everyday things.
Have you had any crazy/scary experiences while shooting?
Mark: My friends and I usually like to go out where no one's really been to capture sights yet to be photographed. Recently, after Winnipeg's first Instameet, a group of us decided to shoot on the top level of a building under construction. As we were leaving, we were spotted by a cop. We saw an opportunity to take off, but we played it smart and just turned ourselves in. It was definitely one of the most nerve-wracking moments of my life. Seeing that I'm trying to get myself through school, I don't know what I would have done if I had landed in jail. It's probably an exaggeration of the outcome, but running into authorities really isn't my cup of tea.
Amanda: Crazy and scary experiences are what I live for. One time Mark and I went to Pinawa for the first time, just because. We got to the other side of the suspension bridge and he says, "Let's go walk this way, and if there's nothing interesting a minute in, we'll come back." So we head into the woods/forest, whatever you wanna call it, and a good 5 minutes pass. We were already lost and off trail. We came across a baby bear and the first thing we did was run. I wasn't planning to be killed by a mother bear that day. There were these high rock mountain cliff things we climbed to get away; I slipped on my way up, and almost busted my head, but I didn't, thank God.
At night sometimes, 10ish to midnight, we like to find buildings with fire escapes and climb them up to the rooftop for a better view of the city. Once you're up there, it's pretty relaxing. Michael (@305ivemm) was terrified of heights, so when we got him to climb, he stopped half way and kind of caused a scene in the middle of the night. Some lady from the street yelled, "Either jump or keep climbing!!" I found that funny, because while the rest of us were already at the top, there were people encouraging him from down below. He made it up safely 20 minutes later... haha.
What are some of your goals? Where do you hope your camera takes you?
Mark: Although Winnipeg is an amazing background for many shots, I have this thrill for photographing at heights. One day, I hope to get enough money from either my photography or work to travel to cities with massive high rises. If you look at my Instagram feed, it's basically full of people with nifty kicks sitting on the edge of a skyscraper.
Amanda: Photography is great and all but video and film have my heart. I'm just saving up for video equipment stuff, and photography is there just helping me grow into it. I'd like to help produce a movie one day. I recently got asked to be the director of photography in a short film here in Winnipeg, so I'm pretty excited about it. My camera has opened up so many doors and opportunities for me already. I'm grateful for that and I can't wait for more. I'd love to travel outside of Canada but I know that's not going to happen anytime soon. #brokelife
What advice would you give to people who are playing around with photography?
Mark: Keep on shooting. Know the power of photography. Photography is a hearth. It's the foundation to the fire you want to ignite the world with. Every flame starts with a little ember, and every time you go out there and shoot, you feed that fire. Keep that passion burning and pretty soon, your photographs are no longer just pictures, they become tinder that will spark others' flames.
Amanda: My advice to anyone honestly, is to do what makes you happy. You shouldn't beat yourself up because someone's better than you at what you do, because there's always that someone. Do you and stay inspired because that will inspire others around you. Don't worry about people that doubt you, cut 'em, you don't need that kind of negativity in your life. Have fun!
Thanks you two for showing us all what a truly beautiful place we live in :)