The following interview by Jaclyn Truss of INSPADES Magazine was published in August 2017. Here, I tell my story of how I began to create art, what my creative process is like, what inspires me, and how I express my way of seeing and being through photography. Many thanks to INSPADES Magazine for this wonderful opportunity! xxx


Nestled in the quiet of Lake Huron lies Manitoulin Island, a place known as the heart and soul of the Canadian Great Lakes, its stunning sweet water glistening in the day’s sun, pristinely mirroring a clouded blue sky and creating an image that perfectly embodies the adage: “as above, so below”.

Along the water’s edge, you are apt to find photographer Guinevere Joy, who has put her heart and soul into capturing the unadulterated beauty of Manitoulin Island as part of her Light & Water series. This series, which Joy has been creating for the better part of decade, explores the interactions between light and water during long exposures. As the main setting for this body of work is Manitoulin Island, as well as the surrounding Lake Huron and inland lakes, many of the images feature water in its different forms: liquid, snow, mist and ice.

As an avid traveller, Joy is disposed to living abroad, and has expanded her series to reflect her personal journeys around the world. With her clean, elegant style and ability to incorporate different aspects of design into her compositions, Joy has accomplished a spectacular collection of pieces that calm the mind, warm the heart and touch the soul.

© Guinevere Joy

I think in life, we are always drawn to what we are meant to do. I have always gravitated towards photography, and looking back on how my artistic journey unfolded, photography was just always something that I did,” Joy reflects.

In an exclusive interview with INSPADES, Joy divulged her inspiration, process and creative journey:

Something that has always inspired me when creating art is the golden ratio, used by Leonardo da Vinci, as well as the Fibonacci sequence. This is a mathematical sequence made famous by the Italian mathematician Fibonacci in the early middle-ages (documented in ancient Sanskrit texts as well), that is basically the blueprint for all things natural.

© Guinevere Joy

This sequence is found in every living thing on earth from sunflowers to snowflakes, to the pattern of leaves on a tree to the divine matrix of the human body. This sequence is found in every living thing on earth from sunflowers to snowflakes, to the pattern of leaves on a tree to the divine matrix of the human body.

Aspect ratio is something I consider from the very start, often pre-visualizing which aspect ratio I will use in the final image while shooting. I’m fond of a 2:1 ratio, as is seen in my work, and also a 1:1 ratio.

After working in design for many years, I decided that I wanted to pursue photography professionally, as this was my true passion. My thirst for understanding technical aspects of photography was quenched by attending art school, learning everything from strobe lighting, to optics, to camera mechanics and so much more. I loved making prints using alternate processes such as Calotype and Cyanotype—I love the artistic process of printmaking.

Although I’ve been taking photos since I was a child, photography became a passion while I was living in Tanzania. It was the first time I’d ever left Canada and I instantly fell in love with Tanzania. I lived in the highlands in a village called Iringa. The pace of life, and the warmth and amiability of the people opened my eyes and my heart; this country will always have a very special place for me.

One of the things I would often do in Iringa is walk to the large, open-air market and buy fruit; rich, succulent mangos and pineapples. I would also visit the Maasai market, filled with the colourful beaded jewelry that the Maasai are known for, and visit the stall of a dear friend, Singai.

© Guinevere Joy

I would buy beautiful beaded jewelry—gorgeous creations made by his wife. The kindness and generosity of this man still resonates in my heart. Although we didn’t speak much of each other’s language, we would often sit and talk with the assistance of gestures and smiles. Often he would offer me tea, and we would sit in the shade of his stall, a welcome reprieve from the oppressive afternoon sun.

To this day, fifteen years later, the portrait I took of Singai is still one of my favourites; the mark of a strong image is the test of time. Although I focus now on fine art landscapes, I love portraiture, capturing the essence and energy of a person.

When I returned home from Tanzania, I had a photo exhibition at a local café with my images. I continued to shoot, take courses, and had an apprenticeship with a seasoned photographer, but my photography really started to gel once I graduated from Humber College.

© Guinevere Joy

My photography internship with Magnum photographer Larry Towell (one of Canada’s most famous and celebrated photojournalists), was one of the highlights of my time in college. I spent a week at his farmhouse, assisting him in a few different projects, which is intimately depicted in his book, The World From My Front Porch. Larry gave me invaluable feedback on my work, as well as a good sense of direction on how to be successful as a photographer and an artist. I’m so happy I chose a path in the arts, because in the end, it’s more important to do what you love than anything else.

When I lived in Bolivia, I had the important task of completing a second part to my Light & Water series in the Salar de Uyuni. I went on two separate occasions when the conditions of the salt flats were ideal, and was completely enchanted by the incredible experience of standing in a completely silent, immense plane surrounded by the brilliant colours of the sky reflected upon the water. There was a dreamlike beauty with the vividness of the colours and perfect clarity of the light, like standing in the middle of a mirror in the centre of a kaleidoscope.

When I write, as well as create and edit images, I can get lost in creativity, literally losing track of time. When I’m shooting, I often take a series of long exposures, and standing there with my tripod, waiting for the shutter to close, I often slip into a reverie, a different state of mind.

© Guinevere Joy

Where I live in Manitoulin, there is a very unique quality of light, as the island is surrounded by the light reflected upon the water. The light has a very special quality, it’s like sitting in the middle of a big bowl with the light mirrored inwards. This, combined with being located in the northern hemisphere means that long summer nights are always illuminated by a glow. When I’m out shooting at night, it never really gets truly dark near the water. However, the light isn’t from any artificial light source, like what one might experience in close proximity to an urban setting. It’s starlight, and moonlight, being reflected from the surrounding water, and illuminating the night.

© Guinevere Joy

Time of day, temperature, angle of the sun, as well as the depth of water, all impact the movement of the water and how the light interacts with it. I prefer to shoot at dawn because the water is much more still at dawn in comparison to dusk and the smooth glass-like quality of water is much more typical of this time of day. I also like to find forms and shapes in the rocky, fossilized shoreline of Manitoulin to use to anchor and give my images a sense of depth and scale.

© Guinevere Joy

I love the unpredictability of long exposures with water. It’s almost like seeing a much clearer version of a landscape after seeing the way the water flows over a length of time and the way the light interacts with it. Of course there are scores of variables that change this and this is what I love about my creative process. The locations I shoot are peaceful and quite conducive to daydreaming, and the more I dedicate myself to my dream, the more it becomes a reality.

© Guinevere Joy

Interview by Jaclyn Truss
Published in INSPADES Magazine, Issue Sei, August 2017
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