Trend Hunter attended the She Does The City x Fujifilm's Photography Panel in Toronto to speak with Kael Rebick to find out how she’s grown with Instagram to adapt to changes within the industry, and turned her passion into a dream career. In addition to Rebick, the panel included Solana Cain, Becca Lemire, and Scarlett O'Neil. The discussion was moderated by author and CBC digital producer Liza Hicks. Together, the panelists offered their advice to others who are trying to expand their photography skills and share their work with the world.
Please introduce yourself and tell us a bit about your brand and what led you to become a Fujifilm X-Photographer.
I consider myself a photographer because I’ve been taking pictures and sharing them for so long, but I was never professionally trained or went to school for it. I originally picked it up as a hobby and started taking pictures with a little camera I had, and later switched to taking them on my phone.
After a while of just taking pictures for myself, I found Instagram, which inspired me to become more involved. Eventually I started to travel for work, and I decided it was time to really invest in a camera. When I was on my first trip, somebody with me had a little Fuji, and I loved how compact, lightweight, and easy to travel with it was. After seeing it in action, I got my first Fuji.
What originally drew you to She Does The City?
I’m always happy to work with an organization that’s focused around women. In the photography industry, I find that you’re at a bit of a disadvantage being a woman, as it’s always been a boys club in a lot of ways. I find that a lot of the women who use Instagram professionally, and who are very successful at it, tend to focus on lifestyle, fitness and nutrition, or just marketing their personal brand, but there’s not quite as many who do travel photography. In general, I’ve seen men receive a lot more respect for their work and their process when it comes to the kind of photography I do. People want to ask them about their gear and their process, and I think it’s important for women to share their perspectives on it more.
Do you find that Instagram has helped you to overcome that boundary at all?
I think that Instagram actually might contribute to the intimidation that a lot of women feel when entering the photography industry if anything. It’s getting better now, but Instagram is still very much about the "bros," especially because the men tend to support each other, and women support the men as well a lot of the time. It’s difficult to do the kind of photography that I do as a woman and get the amount of respect and support that some of the men around me receive. Although this can definitely be discouraging, the increase in women joining Instagram as photographers has helped, and inspired more of them to take part in it.
You have over 450 thousand followers on Instagram, what kind of advice would you give to other photographers who are trying to obtain that kind of platform?
I was very fortunate with my timing when I got started on Instagram because I created an account about four months after it launched. Back then, it was very different and the community was much smaller, which allowed me to grow my following organically over time. Now, it’s a lot more difficult to get recognized because there’s millions of users, but I think the key to establishing yourself on it is maintaining your genuity. My advice is to do it as authentically as you can, and to just create consistent content that you enjoy. I wouldn’t encourage people to go out with the intention of turning Instagram into a career for themselves. I believe it’s best to start out with no expectations and share content that’s genuine and important to you, rather than trying to copy the styles of popular accounts.
What do you hope people gain from the panel discussion today?
I hope that it’s encouraging to them, and inspires them to follow their passions. Although not everyone has the luxury to dedicate all of their time to following their passions, as most have to worry about maintaining a steady income and other responsibilities, I think it’s important to make a job out of what you love, and I believe that that’s a goal people should strive for. Everybody has their own journey and a different vision, so everybody usually goes about reaching their goals in different ways.
What’s your greatest passion when it comes to photography, and how do you express that in your work?
My greatest passion right now is travelling, and I hope that I’m able to translate what I see into a picture so that people can feel like they’re there, or that they want to go there themselves. I hope my work gives people a desire to see and experience more.
Do you a favorite place to photograph?
I’ve been to so many incredible places this year, but the city that stuck with me the most was Edinburough. I mostly spend my time in different countries around Europe and within Canada, and every place has a unique sense of character to it. You can find beauty everywhere, some places it’s a bit more obvious than in others, but it’s always there.
How do you think the industry is changing now? What do you think the industry will look like in 5-10 years time?
I think Instagram has changed photography so much already. Many of the more traditional photographers that I know were a bit down on the rise of Instagram, but those who’ve really embraced it have seen a lot of success. When the industry changes you have to decide if it’s something you want to continue to be a part of and then adapt with it. I think Instagram is one of the greatest things to happen to photography, and I don’t think that it’s going anywhere. In about 5 years time, I think Instagram will only continues to grow, and the new developments to the app and others like it will hopefully facilitate that growth among the photographers who use it.
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