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Local photographers take London by storm


Three local photographers discuss why they believe London is a prime location for pursuing photography.

Amy Scott | Interrobang | News | March 26th, 2018

When considering key photography spots in Ontario, many options may go through someone's head. The misty Niagara Falls, the bubbling urban centre that is Toronto and the surrounding area or one of the many peaceful provincial parks. Our very own Forest City tends to be often overlooked. However, a group of London photographers are challenging this idea by using both the rural and urban parts of the city to showcase it through photography.

Interrobang sat down with London photographers Avery Schaffer, 19, Braden Dam, 20, and Keith Tanner, 22, to discuss their background and thoughts on the ongoing photography movement in London.

Schaffer and Dam were raised in Chatham, Ont, while Schaffer made the move to London last June.

Schaffer first got into photography after attending a mission trip to Honduras, where he snapped many photos on his phone. After the trip, he bought his first camera and has been shooting nonstop since. The countless forest areas are what attracted him to London.

“I go downtown and there are little pockets of nature all around the Thames [River]. I find these areas to shoot and make it seem like I am actually in a forest,” Schaffer said.

Schaffer now works a full-time photography job at Campus Creative located in downtown London.

Dam moved to London to attend Fanshawe College for business marketing and has been shooting within the city ever since. He has been pursuing photography since the beginning of high school.

“I was just doing simple shooting. Just messing around with my friends with the camera whenever I could. Throughout high school, I found that I kind of had an eye for it and became very passionate about it,” Dam said.

Tanner also moved to London to attend Fanshawe initially for the avionics program, but transferred into photography after the [Ontario College wide] strike.

“All throughout first semester [in Avionics], we were just taking photos, and I was loving it,” Tanner explained. “I decided to switch my [photography] hobby into a career.” He explains that while he has always owned a camera, he has only been taking it seriously for about four to five months.

The trio enjoys shooting in London because of the variety of scenery that the city has to offer for photoshoots.

“We have access to really cool urban spots to shoot, but if you get in your car and drive ten minutes, you will end up in the outskirts of London, where you have these beautiful lakes and incredible forests,” Dam said. “If you were in downtown Toronto, you have no option to go shoot in nature. This city is really set up for many options as far as settings go.”

Tanner noted that it is always incredibly easy to meet other creatives to work with because of London's size.

“Braden and I discover a new photographer every single day. We will go to community photography events and it will be new people every single time. It's easy to build a relationship with these people because of the city's size,” Tanner said.

Tanner and Dam claimed that due to the art student population from Western University and Fanshawe College, London has a booming and yet low-key art scene.

“[The art scene] is the type of thing where if you look for it, you can easily find it,” Tanner said. “But if you aren't looking for it, it will be a little harder to stumble upon just because the art scene in London tends to be in very specific areas.”

The three use Instagram as their main platform to promote and showcase their work. With a combined total of nearly twenty thousand Instagram followers from all over the world, the photographers are making a name for themselves in the photography community. Fans often leave encouraging comments or message the photographers asking where they shoot.

“Every time I post a photo, I get about 10 messages asking where it was shot.” Schaffer said. “A lot of people follow me on Instagram, and they also want to follow in my footsteps.”

Although they are delighted with the feedback, the trio tends to shy away from the questions asking about locations of photos.

“It's an interesting dynamic when people ask us where we shoot, because as photographers, one of our jobs when going out to shoot is finding locations,” Dam said. “We put a decent amount of time into finding unique and compatible locations, it's like half the job. When we have people ask us where we shoot, we struggle between the pressure to tell everyone and to not give our spots away.”

Tanner shared similar sentiments. “You don't want to oversaturate where you're shooting, because then it turns into the base of the CN Tower or something,” Tanner said.

When asked what their advice was for up and coming photographers, their replies were all very similar.

“Shoot every day, just always be shooting,” Schaffer suggested. “It's like singing; you always have to be practicing. It's not something that you can just pick up and know how to do.”

Tanner chimed in with more advice.

“Just always be creating content,” Tanner said. “You don't always have to be shooting for money.”

Dam shared a final piece of advice to give to inspiring photographers

“If you're just focused on working as hard as you possibly can to create the best content you can possibly create, the people will come,” Dam said. “Be patient, the followers will come, the jobs will come, just focus on where you are right now.”

You can follow Avery, Braden, and Keith on Instagram at @averyschaffer, @bradendam, and @keithtanman.
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