This month, Studio67 is very pleased to welcome Alex Nirta and his stunning photography. Alex is 34 years old and the proud owner of three annoying cats. He loves old movie posters, gardening and Star Wars.
He’s also entirely self-taught.
I took a minute to sit down and ask him a few questions about how he came to creative expression through photographs. Here’s what I learned...
To me, photography is a way of showcasing the beauty in the world around us. Something that, in the age of screens, we tend not to notice anymore. We’re distracted. We don’t take a minute to even notice where we are and what surrounds us. I think that’s why I’m drawn to landscapes.
The beauty of nature is disarming.
I was first exposed to photography when my cousin showed me some of his own work. I was just blown away but what you could do with a camera. This was before digital, of course, I was a teenager. My first camera was an Olympus OM-1 that my Dad gave me.
I really got into landscape photography because of him and really admired other Canadian photographers, like Daryl Benson, Richard Martin and Freeman Patterson. I took all their techniques and applied them to my own techniques. Through trial and error, I discovered my own style.
I was always drawn most to water and waterscapes. I’ve also been exploring more black and white lately. Photographers like Michael Levin really opened my eyes with black and white images. I was always a colour kind of guy (which I still am) but he made me appreciate black and white more. I feel it has a bit of more of an impact and more of a dreamy sequence.
Is photography your full time job?
I’m currently working towards making it my full time but right now I work at Henry's Photo. I've worked there for almost 10 years but I have been selling cameras for about 14 years. My cameras always come on vacation with me and when I travel make sure to shoot all the time. In the last two years, I've really pushed myself to shoot more and more, and the more I do, the more I realize how much I absolutely love it. I can't get enough of it. The problem when you work 40 hours a week and live in Toronto, there’s only so much you can shoot. I try to capture the areas I have access to and showcase different waterscapes around the city like the Bluffs or Beaches.
What's inspiring your latest work?
Well I’m very drawn to nature, primarily waterscapes, and my work is pretty focused on that. I’ve never really enjoyed portraits or photographing people, but I’ve grown to enjoy it more once I began photographing loved ones.
I’ve recently started playing around with my childhood obsession with insects and bugs. When I was a kid I always wondered how they work and what their purpose in life is. I’ve begun doing macro portraiture with them in a new series called Backyard Dwellers. I’m not just shooting them outside the way most insects are shot. I’m actually bringing them into the studio and shooting them like I would people; using different lighting and gels. It’s really challenging! I plan on releasing a book for this series and I’m toying with the idea of shooting a small documentary on native Ontario insects. We’ll see.
Which photography do you love the most and why?
That's a tough question. Like most artists, I'm the hardest critic when it comes to my own work. If I had to pick and choose, it would be the Icy Rocks of the Toronto Beaches. I love the color palette I managed to capture there and I love the fact that it was taken in Toronto. When I tell people where I shot it they’re usually surprised, which is the entire point of my work. Show people what already surrounds them that they don’t see.
Beauty is right in front of you and you don't even know it. That’s what my photographs show.
Join us tomorrow, Thursday, May 12th form 8pm - 11pm at Studio67 as we give a warm welcome to Alex and his exhibition Waterscapes.
There will be wine.