blurred lines: the soft focus of maya fuhr

Enter the imagined world of Canadian photographer Maya Fuhr.

Hey Maya! How long has your life revolved around photos?

Since I was a very young, from when I first started shooting and staging shoots as a child. All of my memories are associated with photos I have from my childhood, growing up in a small town in Victoria BC that has beautiful agriculture with lots of flowers, an ocean. A very peaceful, lavender scented childhood. Then later in high school I started to shoot with a little digital camera and continued to venture out into artistic expression when I got bored because I didn’t really like the school system. My dad bought me a film camera that he had had at my age, when I was 17, which was a Pentax k1000 camera from the 80s that I still use.

You shoot on 35mm film rather than digital, what about it do you prefer?

I don’t have any of the short films I used to make at college because I lost my hard drive, and that’s definitely part of the reason - I don’t really trust the digital age. I’ve had so many experiences where I’ve lost footage if they’re shot on digital or anything that has to rely on a computer. Having all of my photographs in actual film negatives that are tangible feels safe to me.

Since you shoot across most creative fields and extensively on your own personal work, do you have a favourite?

I’d definitely say my personal work where I have complete creative control. There’s always an element of fashion in it but it’s not associated with any brands. I don’t really wear brands myself, most of the clothes I wear are second-hand and vintage because I don’t necessarily feel apart of or believe in consumer culture so much.

Your personal images feel like stills from a weird and beautiful aesthetically pleasing film, how do you choose who stars in them? Are you just naturally documenting or is there a set formula you follow?

I do want each photo to tell a story but I don’t want the story to be obvious, not a set ‘this is correct’ but something that is open to interpretation. I want to leave a question mark in people’s minds. I have my camera with me everywhere I go and the way I choose who to shoot is really intuitive. It can go from shooting a stranger on the street, to models to my best friends. I'm drawn to pheromones in my subjects, i'm also drawn to the feelings of clothing oppose to the labels – things like that. It’s really varied but most of the people in my photographs are people i’m close with because I’m surrounded by people that really inspire me. Most of my best friends I’d call my muses because I constantly want to document what they’re doing and what they’re wearing.

Who are some of your main muses?

Stella, my grandma. Most are some of my best friends: Claire Milbrath, Madeline Glowicki, Christopher Levett, Nadia Gohar.  I love photographing Seashell Coker, Alexandra Marzella and Michele Nox as well. My main muse who I documented transitioning in 2013 changed her name and lives in Brazil now.

Tell us about a dream location that you’d love to shoot in.

My favourite place in the world is Hornby Island, my family vacation spot in the Gulf Islands. There’s something about the dusky lighting there and the magic hour which has the most beautiful golden color you’ve ever seen, so definitely there. I’m really drawn to nature in general, I guess because of my upbringing, so another spot I’d love to shoot in is a small cabin town called Parry Sound, Ontario. They have these natural dusty pink and grey toned rocks that feature a soft colour pallet that i'm drawn to and their jagged edges mixed with flat, creamy lines inspire movement in a photograph. The model's bodies and clothing could coexist smoothly with these formations.

Who are some of your female icons?

Tracy Emin for her self portraiture, Yayoi Kusama, Rose Hilton and Diane Arbus. Diana Vreeland and (similarly) my grandmother Stella. They both dress in such a unique, flawless, sophisticated way and have an undeniably positive outlook on life that makes them look youthful and highlights their colourful soul.  I really look up to optimism and positive energy - especially at the end of a person's life.  What more can I aspire to be than a cool, iconic grandma? ‘The only real elegance is in the mind; if you've got that, the rest really comes from it.’

Finally, not including your camera, what are three things you can’t live without?

Chocolate, coffee and sex.

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