Catch Up with Arden Wray
CUS: Has your location changed since your interview in 2009? If so, tell us about where you are currently situated.
Arden Wray: As of June of last year, I now share my time between Brooklyn and Toronto.
CUS: Has this change in location had an affect on your photographic work and practice?
AW: It's been wonderful for me. I'm really inspired by my environment in New York and by the incredibly creative, talented folks I am surrounded by daily.
CUS: How, in general, has your photographic practice changed since you were last on the CUS blog?
AW: When I was last on CUS, I was just a baby! Still in university and a teenager. So, since then, I've transitioned to doing more professional commissions - mostly fashion and portraiture work. I also used to never shoot digital, but now primarily shoot digi. My good ol' Pentax K1000 is a rare and special treat for me. The possibility of fast turn-around time with digital and the cost of film developing has pushed me in this direction. I really enjoy it now though.
CUS: What is your favorite subject to shoot?
AW: I love to photograph women. I always have. I really love women and I find them endlessly fascinating to look at.
CUS: Which camera do you enjoy shooting the most?
AW: Now I shoot primarily on a Canon 5D, but I have a real soft spot for my Pentax K1000 - now and forever. It feels very special to me and very different. My digital camera is wonderful and can do great things, but there is something so quiet and intimate about my old, dinged up 35mm SLR. Half the leather is missing off the front, it's forever dusty. It's just definitely not an impressive camera. And I think that changes what I can do with it. There are situations, especially when I'm traveling or shooting people I encounter and don't personally know, that I would not necessarily feel comfortable photographing with my big digital camera. My little dirty one doesn't intimidate anybody.
CUS: Can you tell us about your project Boots & Pine?
AW: I started Boots & Pine in 2012 as an extension of my love of portraiture and entrepreneurialism. Supporting small designers and business-owners has long been of huge personal importance to me. I pitched what was basically a tiny version of Boots & Pine - profiling interesting female small business-owners and independent designers - to a magazine who didn't run with it. I couldn't let go of the idea, so eventually I decided to do it anyhow on my own. That's how the website was born. I also initially really wanted to shine a light on all the wonderful things that were happening around me in Toronto. I love that city and I felt strongly that it would be a good thing to show others why. Now, the project has evolved and moved down to New York with me, and I am happily showcasing the members of my community down here.
CUS: How did studying photography at a post-secondary institution have an affect on your work?
AW: It was good for me. It taught me technical skills that would have been very difficult to pick up on my own, and made me think critically about the work I was producing and why. I wish that I had come to it later, but that's how it goes, I suppose. There were many technical learning opportunities and resources available to me that in my arrogance at the time I decided weren't relevant to the work I was so sure I was going to be making forever, so I didn't take advantage of them. I am now trying to pick up some of those skills on my own out in the world and it's much harder than it would have been then. But hindsight is 20/20.
CUS: Back in 2009 you mentioned that women played an important role in your photographic work. Is this still true today?
AW: Always. I can't imagine that ever changing.
CUS: If you could go anywhere in the world to take photographs, where would you go?
AW: I recently came home from a road trip across the South and I was smitten. I'd love to spend more time in West Virginia and Northern Georgia - I found those areas totally intoxicating in terms of image-making.