Interview with Dave MacVicar
#1 Please introduce yourself
My name is Dave MacVicar and I’m an architecture and landscape photographer from Toronto, Canada.
#2 How did you get interested in photography?
As a musician, I’ve always appreciated other art forms and visual art has been something I’ve had an interest in for as long as I can remember. The thought had crossed my mind many times to purchase a camera and give photography a try, but for some reason I never did. It was only a few years ago that I purchased a Canon T3i Rebel solely for the purpose of shooting some video to document the recording of an album with my band. Although it wasn’t the greatest camera, it was enough to pique my interest and learn the basics. I was hooked from that point on and I was really focused on learning and refining my style. I guess you could say I got into photography by complete accident.
#3 Do you have an artistic/photographic background?
I do not have a background in photography. I am self taught and I suppose I’m considered a late bloomer. However, I have been a musician for 37 years and I believe my approach to making photographs mirrors the process of writing, recording and mastering music. I see many similarities in taking a rough idea with a vision and manipulating and processing it into a finished product. Without a photographic background, I think my experience in music has helped me quite a bit when it comes to making photographs.
#4 Which artist/photographer inspired your art?
There are many artists who have inspired me and have contributed to the way I make photographs. As I evolve as a photographer, so do the individuals who I find inspiring. With that said, it’s quite obvious that I’m partial to black and white long exposure images. I likely would not have chosen that path if I had not stumbled upon Michael Levin’s work. I was becoming interested in long exposures and images that were leaning towards art rather than a documentary type photograph. Michael’s work definitely opened my eyes to the possibilities. Since that day, black and white long exposures have been a staple of mine.
#5 How much preparation do you put into taking a photograph?
My preparation differs depending on whether I’m close to home or if I’m travelling specifically to take photographs. When at home, I’ll make a mental note if I’m driving past something or somewhere that has photographic potential. I will then return with little expectation or preparation and see what I can frame up. When travelling out of town, I’ll spend a lot of hours researching the region I’m visiting and then fine tune specific locations that have potential. I’ll use online resources like Google street view and images to get a glimpse of a particular location. The irony is I always tend to capture better photos in nearby locations that I did not find when doing research. I believe you can only prepare so much and I find it exciting to not have everything too planned out. The itineraries that I prepare get me in the right parts of the world and that seems to be working out so far. As it goes with all outdoor photography, the weather and light are always a factor and I’m quite familiar with the weather and tide apps on my phone.
#6 Which places have been your favorite shooting sites so far and why?
I’ve recently been focused on and have made several trips to the west coast of the United States. California and Oregon have some of the most scenic shorelines in the world. There are endless photographic possibilities along this coast from interesting remnants of old canneries to the natural beauty of the rocky shoreline. This region also has a vast amount of desert landscape as well. Death Valley National Park is one of my favorite places that I’ve ever visited. It’s otherworldly and barren. It’s so silent there that your ears sometimes have to search for sound. I really enjoyed taking photographs in this type of environment. Most recently, I visited an agricultural region in southeast Washington State called The Palouse. This area is so beautiful with its green rolling hills that I’m currently working on a series of photographs in colour. This is definitely outside of my safety zone which is new and exciting for me.
#7 What do you do in your life besides photography?
As mentioned earlier, music is an important part of my life. It’s another creative outlet and unlike photography, which is a very solitary and personal experience, music is best enjoyed when playing with other musicians. I’m involved in the writing and playing drums on a new music project at the moment and I try to balance it with the time required for photography. Beyond that, I suppose I’m no different than anyone else in that I enjoy time with friends and family, a good pint of beer and supporting my local sports teams.
#8 What future plans do you have? What projects would you like to accomplish?
Currently, I’m in the early stages of research on Iceland. It looks like a place that would not only be great to photograph, but an interesting place to visit. I’m really drawn to uncluttered landscapes and Iceland appears to fall into that category. Also, since I live in Toronto, I’m within driving distance of Chicago and a visit to shoot some architecture is on my radar. It’s a city known for its fantastic architecture and I have never been there. Beyond travel in the next year, I’m looking to get involved in some local art fairs and I’m in the early stages of producing a book of my work.