We had the good fortune of connecting with Shira Gold and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Shira, what principle do you value most?
I have always led with my heart wide open. Sometimes that can be a painful, exciting and messy, but no matter what it makes the journey beautiful and adventurous. I can be exceptionally shy and am terrible with small talk, but I would like to think that being open with my life stories and sharing them freely through my work allows me to connect more easily with others and intern it may encourage them to share too.
Please tell us more about your work. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
I would consider myself an emotive rather than a technical photographer. Capturing the essence of fleeting moments is what inspires me.
After spending my teen years learning photography I made a U turn into fashion working in active sportswear design in Montreal. It was an interesting and character building diversion but definitely not the right industry for me. When my Mom became ill with a reoccurrence of cancer I left my work immediately and moved back to Vancouver to become her caregiver.
The time spent with my Mom as we navigated the extreme challenges of her illness was the most profound experience of my life. After her passing I was completely decimated physically and emotionally. We had become so intertwined that I really had lost my sense of identity (something that I came to understand was very common with caregivers). To begin to learn how to live for myself again was something that did not come naturally. With time and space I started the process but it was several years later that I learnt what I needed to do find myself again and move forward. CBT, DBT, tap therapy, yoga, mediation – all were explored with limited success. It was however when I picked back up the camera after so many years that my life changed and healing began.
From that point forward photography became my applied therapy – the lens through which I viewed the world and my experiences. With each frame I began to learn more about myself as well as deconstructing and digesting the experiences that shaped the person I had become.
To make the leap from photo-based art into photography as a career would not have happened so organically if it weren’t for my community. My work may be a solitary pursuit but everything that follows is bettered by my peers and fellow creatives. Having a community of likeminded people who are creating art to share with others was essential to the evolution of my practice and my business.
If I have one thing that I would want to share with others it would be that resilience can be achieved in many ways and that art as a form of healing is an incredible tool.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Vancouver is in my biased opinion an incredible place to call home and to visit. It is a city surrounded by temperate rainforest where one can waterski in the morning and downhill ski by the afternoon. Creating an organized itinerary is not a strength of mine but I am happy to share with you some of my favourite spots.
One of my favourite go-to’s in the city is actually where I have my studio. Granville Island is a gem of a place. Home to a wide variety of artists, small businesses and incredible food. It has a large market with local produce, pastries and chocolates. There is an aqua bus that runs between the island, the Olympic Village and downtown Vancouver and is a fun way to tour around. It is a must visit place and a great way to spend an afternoon.
The Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia is a must visit. Across from the museum there is also the Nitobe memorial gardens which is a gorgeous, tranquil space. UBC is also home to the Beaty Biodiversity Museum, UBC Botanical Gardens and Pacific Spirit Park (home to some of the best casual hiking and biking trails). A short distance from there are some of the best beaches in our area Jericho, Spanish Banks and Kits Beach where you can rent sailboats, paddle boards and walk way out in low tide.
Vancouver is home to some of the best sushi. I would hesitate to guess that there are more sushi spots than fast food restaurants and they range from little holes in the wall that are perfect for take out to some of the finest and most celebrated sushi around like Miku and Minami. We also have a fantastic food truck scene in downtown Vancouver.
Our cities crown jewel is Stanley Park. It is a massive forested area just off of downtown. It is an amazing day outing to do on a bike. There are many restaurants and a brewery, amazing ponds, a spray park and an incredible outdoor amphitheatre which hosts outdoor theatre and concerts. Stanley Park is right on the water and has fabulous views to take in.
We have several local mountains that are a half hour drive from downtown. Grouse mountain has an gondola ride to the top or if your feeling ambitious, a hike to the top known as the Grouse Grid. Grouse has restaurants and entertainment as well as a skating rink and downhill day and nighttime skiing/sledding in the winter.
An hour and a half outside of Vancouver is Whistler BC. Whistler is a world famous ski town jam-packed with all season activities. Whistler hosts a variety of swimming lakes, golf courses and plenty of organized adventure tours. Flanked on either side of Whistler is Squamish and Pemberton. They are situated in tranquil valleys with farms, great little restaurants…. I could go on and on…
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I would like to dedicate my shoutout to Arts Umbrella. Arts Umbrella is a visual and performing art school for youth in Vancouver, Canada. It is a one of a kind non-profit organization that has provided me with the most enriched foundation in the arts. I picked up my first camera at 12 and spent the majority of my high school years in the darkroom there. They taught me so much more than the fundamentals of art, they taught me the value of personal expression, how to create visual narratives and about the importance finding a creative community.
Facebook: Shira Gold Photography