Photographer Maya Fuhr, whose work has appeared in Vice and Rookie, co-hosts Fido Mobile’s #GetCurious event in Toronto tonight, in which the wireless brand—owned by Rogers, FLARE’s parent company—will highlight the best of Canada’s artistic talent (including Fuhr herself, duh). In advance of #GetCurious, FLARE talked with the 25-year-old artist about personal style and the sisterhood of young female photogs.
The women in your photos have great style—do you style them yourself? Are you into fashion?
Usually I choose to photograph people that have their own unique style, but I am known to put my own clothes on most of the models. I’m really into fashion, but I wouldn’t say I’m into mainstream fashion or brand names. I’m into fabrics and colour palettes. Most of my clothes are vintage and secondhand.
How would you describe your own style in three words?
Comfy. Confident and a little sassy too.
How did you break into photography?
My dad bought me a film camera when I was about 16 or 17. I just started taking photos with my friends in Montreal, and I wondered around town and took random pictures. I decided to do a photo series for Vice (“Garbage Girls”) where I photographed girls in their messy rooms. That was my first paid job, and I realized I could be paid to do what I like to do.
Who were your influencers when you first started taking photos?
I really liked Cindy Sherman. I loved her self-portraits; she created this whole world that I’d get lost in. Juergen Teller is one of my favourite photographers now. He has the career path I’m going for. He mostly shoots in fashion but he’s created such a name for himself, he can get away with anything and have complete creative control.
Do you have any mentors who have been influential on your work? If so, who are they and how did you connect with them?
I met Christopher Wahl, a local Toronto photographer, through a friend and he asked me to start assisting him a couple years ago. I definitely learned about photography and the professional aspect. I saw him interact with his clients and be really fast-paced, which is different to how I work. I am a very slow and prodigal photographer, but I did learn how he paced himself and interacted with subjects in a kind of quick way but still engaging.
What advice do you have for fledgling female photogs?
It’s OK to say no. When I first started out, I would just do anything for anyone and I’ve realized that putting energy into things you’re not passionate about drains you. Only shoot things you are really passionate about, and always know that you’re in control.
Feminine culture tends to be a dominant theme in your work. What exactly are you interested in exploring?
There’s not much to it other than feeling very comfortable around women. I’ve always had a really, really strong group of female friends ever since elementary school. I’ve always had different groups of core females who are all creative minds and really empathetic towards each other. So women have been a really important part of my life since I was a kid. My mom is really powerful and really creative. So I really thrive off of womanhood and I am really inspired by how women dress. I love how women use style as self-expression.
You shoot everything: portrait, fashion, music, documentary. Which is closest to your heart?
Portraiture and fashion. But I really like mixing the two. If I’m doing editorial, I’d get some of my best portraits out of the model because I am working with them throughout the day and I really get to know them. I can create a whole fashion world and pick a brand that inspires me and work with the model and we create a bond and I’m comfortable creating art out of them. I could do an editorial and then at the end of the day have a beautiful portrait of them at the same time. Fashion is less conventional, so a portrait of someone wearing a beautiful outfit is just as good as a studio editorial these days.
How did your series with The Ardorous come about?
I met Petra Collins over the Internet when I was 18 or 19. We had a mutual friend, Claire Milbrath (also an artist featured on The Ardorous), and we just started chatting over email and she really liked my photos, so she would curate my work. Every time I came to Toronto, we’d hang out and I would take her portrait in Chinatown. Eventually, Claire and I went to a show that Petra curated in Los Angeles. We met a bunch of different female photographers from around the world. Petra really knows how to curate a bunch of people who have the same aesthetic, and we all really bonded. We message each other wherever we are around the world now.
Would you say there’s a real sisterhood among young female photographers?
Yeah, definitely. I think the Internet has made it really easy because we all love each other’s work. We’re girls, it’s easier to interact with each other. We’re all fans of each other’s work.
What can you tell us about Thursday night’s #GetCurious event for Fido? What can attendees expect to see?
We’re expecting 300 guests and it’s art by me, Christopher Levett and Michelle LeFade. Michelle does illustrations with a Japanese flair; her work is very comedic with voluptuous Japanese women. Christopher does digital videos; you never really know what to expect. They’re projected on a wall and they’re always really colourful. And I am showing 12 really grand-scale portraits [the series Lemonless]. All my subjects are wearing crazy outfits and I framed them with a graphic designer named Clay Hickson, so they look like they’re from the ’80s. With my portraits and our group of friends, it’s really going to create this whole art scene energy and the people in my portraits will be attending too. Everyone can meet and mingle.
#GetCurious events are running across Canada on Thursday, May 7. For tickets, DM @Fidomobile.