Meet Ava Naraghi, a 4th year McGill student with a passion for photography and – as you will all see – a talent for it too! As VP Internal of McGill University Photography Student Society (try saying that 10 times fast or just call it MUPSS for short), Ava’s knack for snapping sweet shots goes beyond a hobby; it’s become a full-on responsibility, and one that she is entirely suited for. “As VP Internal, I am mostly in charge of communications and general internal organization,” she tells me. “I usually respond to emails and Facebook messages, keep our website up-to-date, take minutes during our exec meetings, host office hours each week, and help out in any other way that I can.” So if you have a photog question that needs answering stat, Ava’s your girl, and a loyal one at that. “I’ve been a member of MUPSS since my first year at McGill and I wanted to get more involved with the club for a long time. When I saw the advertisement, I knew this position was particularly suited to my skill set and the perfect opportunity to help the club grow.”
So what is MUPSS all about? According to Ava, it means sick photography equipment hookups and even cooler people. “Being a member of MUPSS means being a part of an interactive community and having access to a variety of resources that can help you grow as photographer.” These resources include a variety of monthly workshops that pertain to both digital and film photography, as well as photo discussions where students can submit their work anonymously and receive helpful feedback from other members. If you still aren’t convinced (how are you not???), MUPSS also grants you “the use of our darkroom, a number of photography outings, rent out any equipment you need, and an annual exhibit at the end of the Winter semester!”
So when did Ava fall in love with photography? “I’ve been interested in photography for as long I can remember. My mom is an artist, so she always took me along with her to all of these incredible galleries and museums.” For all of those (myself included) who groan upon recalling being dragged out of the house for long, boring – “educational” and “enlightening” – days spent shuffling our feet along shiny museum floors: see guys? Museums can be fun, as long as you be like Ava and pick the ones that interest you.
Like many of us young adults, Ava started honing her hobby in high school, and built upon it more in university. “In high school, I saved up for my first digital SLR and bought the Canon Rebel T4i… I think my parents realized pretty quickly that I fell in love with photography and that my camera was limiting me. They were kind enough to buy me a Canon 6D, which is more of a semi-professional camera, as a Christmas present during my first year of University and I have been using it ever since.” So work those puppy-dog eyes, boys and girls, and work on perfecting your hobbies as hard as Ava does. “When I got my first camera, I took the Canon workshop offered at my local Henry’s to learn the basics of an SLR. It taught me how to use my camera, but not necessarily how to be a photographer. I ended up reading countless blogs and watching as many YouTube videos as I could.” These are great pieces of advice for those who are working on refining their skills, but what does Ava also recommend for beginners? “I would suggest looking for articles and videos that talk about and use the same camera you own. If you want to really develop your photography skills and take more powerful shots, there are a ton of great blogs and channels out there. I personally enjoy two YouTube channels: Mike Browne and The Slanted Lens.”
Of course, every artist needs their inspiration, and Ava has no shortage of creative muses. “Books, museums, and galleries are all awesome sources of inspiration, but my favourite is simply going through Flickr’s Explore page. I also find it inspiring to look through different photographers’ portfolios, such as David du Chemin (http://portfolio.davidduchemin.com/), whose work I recently came across.”
Want to meet Ava, learn more about MUPSS and how you can become a member, or participate in upcoming events like their recent photo submission contests? “You can like our page on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/MUPSSMcGill/) to get more information about MUPSS and get notified about all of our upcoming events. The information is also available on our website (http://www.mupss.ca/). Lastly, you can join our group on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/groups/PhotogMcgill/) where we post updates and announcements, and where other community members post their own announcements regarding paid/volunteer opportunities, equipment for sale, and more!
Cover photo obtained from interviewee
Article photos obtained from interviewee