Q&A: Victoria Wojtan
What’s the best thing about photography?
The ability to capture a feeling, idea or image you saw in your head and have it come alive through another medium, so that others may see it and hopefully, have some emotion evoked by viewing it.
How do you know a photo is good?
When it catches your eye and it makes you feel something.
Do you think gear is important?
I think gear helps in certain circumstances — like when it comes to lighting in lower lit areas or shooting during a certain time in the day. But when it comes down to it, to me, having a good eye is key and gear comes second.
How did you get started?
In my last year of high school, I had ideas of what I wanted to be, but no clear picture. I’m a visual person, but I wasn't good at painting and I loved acting but had stage fright. So, I decided to buy a camera (a Canon Rebel XSI) and explore what I could do with it. I had no idea what shutter speed was or aperture, but I knew I had a new found love of image making. I spent the next two years playing around with photography with the goal of building a portfolio and applying to photo school (spoiler alert: that’s when I fell in love with film photography).
What motivates you?
Creating images that have a sense of whimsy. Golden light, walking through alleyways and productive hangs with friends. I’m also lucky to have a good network of friends and a supportive girlfriend who pushes me to pursue building a career in something that I love and that is so creatively fulfilling to me. Another huge personal motivator has been getting my mental health in check and getting medicated - antidepressants have helped bring back a better balance in my life.
What’s one thing you learned by being a photographer?
You need to find a way to manage your time and push yourself. I’m still learning this. Also, don’t be afraid to promote yourself.
How do you get people to feel comfortable in front of the camera?
I'm one of the least intimidating people, ever. I’m kooky and ridiculous, and I use that to my advantage when photographing people. I love asking my subjects questions while shooting to put them at ease and to get to know them better. It’s also critical to always ask your subjects for permission before physically directing them.
Who are your favourite photographers?
And all of the Instagram accounts I follow for inspiration!
What advice do you have for aspiring photographers?
Ask for advice! Have people critique your work, but also know what you love and stand up for your work, if necessary.
Network! Follow people on Instagram. Go to talks at galleries or studios. Seek mentorship. Learn from people who are further in their careers than you.
Don’t let the fear of being too young or too old stop you from creating and knowing your worth. A creative career path is never a straight line, so enjoy the ride.
Oh! And shoot as much as you can in the warmer weather. If you’re anything like me, you won't want to shoot as much (even if you think you will) when it gets cold outside.
Victoria Wojtan is a Toronto-based photographer. She graduated from OCAD University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree specializing in Photography.