Life is short, Capture it!!!

Life is short, Capture it!!!

Interview with photographer Robert MacNeil (R.M) by Salomeh Ahmadi (S.A)

Toronto born Robert MacNeil has been in magazines around the world, including Australia, Scotland, England and Greece among others. The latest article about his work was published on November 15 in TUCK magazine in London, UK. He is a regular contributor to New York art scene and those in Canada.

S.A: When did you start photography?

R.M: First I trained to become a euro pro cyclist. I had everything in place to win until I was hit by a car in the late 80’s. I was left with many scars, physically and mentally as I have to let go of my dreams and learn to walk again. I am fine now but as a teen, my heart was broken. I was always creative, so art school was the logical next step in a new career.

I started taking photographs 30 years ago. After many years, I went to school to become a graphic designer but really fell in love with the photo program. I remember fighting nonstop with my teachers about the rules of photography. As an art student, I laughed and would say art has no rules. She would continually fail me until she saw my passion for shooting my way, my rules and when the mid-year art/photography show finished I had sold everything and set records for the highest prices paid.

Chimney from Wastelands series, 2012

S.A: What drew you to this medium?

R.M: I have always been drawn to creative outlets but using a camera really helped me express best, that artistic being that is inside of me. A camera, passion and a willingness to explore just collided and motivate me to capture life one photo at a time.

S.A: Who did inspire or influence you?

R. M: Without a doubt Ansel Adams first captured my imagination as to what can be done with a camera. To see his works and realize that he took these photos with film, a very basic camera, no Photoshop…really nothing except his eye and his passion simply humbles me as a photographer.

Steel bridge from Dark Passages series, 2012

S.A: What is your method – when you shoot, or perhaps more specifically with a series or exhibit?

R.M: I set out on every assignment for a magazine, gallery or for my personal enjoyment with one simple idea. Be open to what is around me. I try to see the world as an 8 x 10 photograph. I feel the energy of the day and as it continues I feel a theme building based on where I am shooting that day. This motivates me to spend more time at a site and to explore several concepts that are always present in my photographs: Light, Texture, Fluidity, Shape and the exploration of Free Flowing photography.

Night Prowl Series, #2, 2012

S.A: Why focus on ‘free-flowing and fluidity’ in your images above other aspects?

R.M: I have always been attracted to fluidity in photography. I love the shapes, colours, textures and feel of fluids in photos. This photo can never be recreated; will never be the same ever so each is a one of a kind moment to never be repeated. Free Flowing basically means nature simply making that photo even better, be it a gentle breeze, the angle of the sun, the movement of the clouds that just make that photograph even better. Water is the perfect example as you watch it trickle down a rock, one second it looks like a horse, the next you are reflected in it and become part of the photo.

Heavy Rain from Aquos series, 2012

S.A: Are there any other messages you try to convey in your images?

R.M: I simply shoot what brings me pleasure. I don’t shoot for others or their artistic view. I simply shoot for me. I feel my photographs represent the moments in life we miss or simply just don’t notice as we are so busy with our hectic lives. Life is short, look around you and see the beauty that surrounds us.

S.A: What’s the best and worst thing about being an artist?

R.M: The best is honestly watching the smile of someone looking at your work, that’s all I want. The worst: Photography can be very addicting. I want to shoot all the time which I can’t always do.

S.A: How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

R.M: Passionate, Creative and Sarcastic.

Cement city from Cityscenes series, 2012

S.A: Any words of advice to aspiring photographers?

R.M: Relax, don’t put any pressure on yourself and look around. I know so many photographers who obsess about the perfect shot; they will go to a site the day before and plan their shots then shoot 500 photos of the same thing. They haul all their gear around and it becomes a mission to capture that photo while missing hundreds of others. Relax and don’t worry. Snap away and don’t let the camera rule you, it’s just a tool to help you put your views on a canvas.

Zahra, Goddess of Dance, 2012

S.A: What are you working on it now and where can we see more of your work?

R.M: I am working on several series right now along with several projects for Bold Magazine in Toronto, Twohundredx200 Magazine in Scotland and a series I am pushing on Vogue Magazine. There are a few other projects on the go for other magazines but I am not quite where I want to be visually and spiritually with my photograpic visions. I am always working on my Aquos and water series as it is my favourite subject.

Continuum 9 from Aquos series, 2012

You can go to or visit the Hashtag Gallery November 29 – December 1, 2012 as I am part of the Chroma show at the gallery.

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