We're proud to partner with Exposure Toronto on this new series of artist features. Exposure Toronto was founded in 2020 as a not-for-profit organization focusing on the amplification of Black creatives within the photography industry. Their community and studio are built to provide a safe and accessible space as well as financial, physical resources and opportunities.
We want to get to know these talented artists involved and support Exposure Toronto in highlighting the artists' work and thoughts. We've sent Exposure Toronto some Lomography films and Art Lenses for their photographers to play with. For this feature, we present portrait photographer Myles Maximme. A goal-setter and go-getter, Myles is no stranger to challenging his creative journey. Equipped with the Mamiya RB67 and our Berlin Kino 400 film, he delivers an engaging collection of black and white portraits that "force[s] [us] to find the story in other aspects."
Hey Myles! Could you please introduce yourself to our readers?
Somebody once called me “a man of many merits”, and that’s how I’d like to introduce myself here. The driving force in my life, the thing that keeps me going each day, is the desire to do all of the things that my mind can conjure. Photos, films, music, graffiti, acting, concert production, creative direction, poetry - if I can imagine it, I believe I can do it and do it well. The “process” that we all speak about falling in love with, that part to me is finding out to what degree I can do all the things I’ve imagined. This sort of mindset leaves me with endless challenges, and I love it.
What was your introduction to analogue photography like?
My introduction to analogue photography was quite welcoming and easygoing. I believe it was with a Minolta AF Tele that I thrifted in 2017. In those times I’d shoot the random everyday happenings in my life, hangouts with my friends, and do a whole lot of partying. It was a lot of fun, and really interesting being the person with the film camera at all the functions. Most people in those environments want to be captured having fun, so it makes for a lot of good photos and great memories.
My next analogue camera was one that a friend let me use. I was at her house and I noticed that she had a shelf with a bunch of old cameras from her grandfather. I either asked or she offered, and I ended up leaving that night with an Olympus Trip 35. My analogue photos then became more intentional, more intimate. I’d still shoot my friends a lot, I even created an Instagram account to honor them and our relationships with the photos I’ve taken over the years. I still have the Olympus and use it somewhat regularly. It even came with me to Barbados. On that trip, every single shot held a significant meaning to me, and so they were taken with a lot of love and intention. My favorite photo of mine was actually taken there.
What does Exposure Toronto mean to you? How has it influenced your creative journey?
There’s nothing that young Black folks want more than to feel welcomed and safe to express themselves, explore ideas, and be free from judgment. To me, Exposure represents that desire truly. They’ve done something that I and a whole lot of other people haven’t seen before, and they've done so selflessly. It’s influenced my creative journey by giving me a space to be the artist that I believe myself to be, which is more than I could ever ask for. I can only hope that the people they've reached, including myself, can do the same for others.
Why did you choose to do B&W for this photo series?
For this series, I chose B&W because without color you’re forced to find the story in other aspects of the image. Colour says a whole lot, so how well are you able to articulate yourself when color isn't present? Is this still an accurate representation of the story you aim to tell?
How did our Berlin Kino 400 B&W complement your style?
The Berlin Kino roll really helped me achieve the level of intimacy I want to see in my photos. When I look at my photos I want to feel like I’m inside of the image. I want to be there. The Berlin Kino 400 did just that for me.
Do you normally do portraits or have you explored many genres?
Portraits are where it’s at for me. I think I’ve always been more interested in people than anything else.
"I see a vision of a person, and while shooting my goal is to have the person on the other side of the camera embody the role that I’ve imagined for them. Or maybe I already see it in them and I want them to step into it. Regardless, I believe whatever the role is that each person can find it and be in it for a moment. Portraits help me to make those visions live outside of my head."
What’s your secret in directing your models to pose the way they do?
I don’t know that there’s a secret to it. I mostly let them find it in themselves, and by observing where they naturally go I can guide them to the place that I see for them. It does take some clear communication though. Sometimes as clear as me doing the poses myself so that they have an idea of what I’m seeing in my head. As well as giving them a mood or feeling and asking them to tap into that.
Is there a feeling you wish to convey through your photography?
The feeling that I wish to convey through photography varies between shoots, and even between photos. But what’s usually consistent is intimacy.
What does a typical Saturday look like for you?
These days, a typical Saturday looks like me waking up and walking around downtown to jog my mind and people watch, then going to work to cook you and your date a delicious meal. At night is when I step out and get active. I like to be wherever the music is good and the people are good too.
Lastly, is there anything we can expect next from Myles Maximme? Where can we follow you!
What you can expect next from me is a full, open, uninhibited expression of self.
You can find me online at @isley.visuals and @photosof.myfriends, or somewhere around Spadina eating banh mi or racing cars on my bike. You can also find me somewhere with good music and good people just two-stepping my heart out.
Peace & Love,
See more of Myles' work through his Instagram!