Wonderland talks shop with the Toronto based photographer.
Despite what an internet thread titled ’62 Toronto Spots To Take Really Cool Instagram Photos’ might insinuate, the Canadian city isn’t exactly synonymous with photography, at least not in the same way say New York, Melbourne or London are. Not that it doesn’t happen there, obviously, it’s just not as prominent to a wider audience. Making good on changing all that though is image maker photo taker Steph Verschuren, whose Instagram page alone boasts over 12,000 fans, a steady stream of wish-you-were-there imagery, and the appropriately titled moniker, Visual Disco.
Not precious of his medium, Verschuren shoots both digital and analogue (though we suspect a preference for the latter), while primary subjects include random cars he finds parked on the sidewalk, and his friends. For new photo series SKRT, a Wonderland exclusive pictured here, the photographer spent a day hanging out with long time model pal Devon Owens, revisiting a previous life.
So what were you doing before you took up photography?
I was making videos and was a truck driver. I slowly took up photography between all the video editing I was doing because I needed to get out of the house.
And who or what are your biggest influences?
Harmony Korine, Quentin Dupieux, Tarantino – mostly filmmakers.
You’re based in Toronto. How, if at all, does the city inspire your work?
My friends here are the real influencers, they’re all artists, they’re all really good at making things and they all back what I do – for me, moral support from people I respect goes a long way.
Your lens seems to focus predominantly on women. Is this something you’re particularly conscious of?
Honestly, I shot one girl like a year and a half ago and now I shoot women all the time, it’s sort of like a domino effect but at first it was just for sport – I didn’t take it seriously. If you were a model and you wanted your picture taken by me I wasn’t going to say no. Now it’s different – I’m expressing my energy through all my photos and the women I capture do a good job channeling that. I’ve learned a lot about my craft from shooting women that has leaked into other areas of art I do, whether its video making or whatever the creative endeavour – shooting women has shaped how I approach art.
Is there any image, famous or otherwise, that you wish was yours?
Not really, there’s a lot of shit in my head I wish to photograph eventually, that’s about it though.
What are the biggest changes you’ve noticed within the industry since you started shooting?
Toronto’s fashion industry above the surface is tiny, I used to test a lot for agencies but now find myself making the majority of my income essentially working for the internet – branding and editorial for companies, artists, etc. It feels like the industry here is turning inside out because of the internet, and the people that have been doing it for so long are having a hard time catching up.
So your shoot for Wonderland, can you talk us through it?
The photos are a mix of 35mm and digital, we shot on the streets, a monster truck derby and at home. Devon (the model) and I never really look for inspo before shooting, we just go with the flow. Keeping the process organic is something that’s kept consistent about our photos, they in turn do a good job of illustrating our relationship.
Devon’s a friend, right? When did you first meet, and when did you begin shooting together?
Dev’s a homie, I met her in my first year of college before I pursued the arts. Right away we hit it off, I was 18 she was 17 and had just got scouted as a model, so our initial friendship was short lived as she dropped out of school to travel and stuff. Just over a year ago we shot for the first time and since have taken thousands and thousands of photos – she’s become one of my muses and I think this is our fourth (published) story together.
Do you have a favourite image from the set?
Not really, out of all the photos I share with people I never have a favourite. In this case I think the photos play off each other well, they’re all candid and I think being together is what makes them the strongest.
So finally, what does 2017 have in store for Steph Verschuren?
I’m working on a zine called Dad Ass, I’m currently finishing my first short script I hope to produce, direct and edit this summer, and towards the end of 2017 I’ll launch my own studio, Visual Disco. Around those goals, this year is me shooting every day, continuing to build with clients and future clients as well as continuing to distribute my own creative adventures.
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