As previously chatted about, I had put a call-out for mentoring and chose Elicia for this run. I knew her work previously – she’s been involved with SheNative and Helen Oro, as well as some great work with aspiring Indigenous Youth models – and I saw her development throughout the year. Elicia has a good eye – she understands framing and composition without really having to think about it, and that’s a hard talent to teach. So then when I creeped on her social media, I saw some things she needed to work on – a consistent look and brand was something we chatted about – but mainly, I saw her ability to capture a moment, her willingness to work on multiple styles as she develops her look, and her ability to laugh and embrace the moment. During our session, we laughed so much and she was so open to the experience of learning, which was great. I hope some of the stuff we talked about resonated with her, and I’m thankful we had this chance to connect.
Now, meet Elicia:
My name is Elicia Munro-Sutherland. I’m a Cree/Saulteaux woman from Beardy’s and Okemasis First Nations currently residing in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. I’ve lived in many towns, reserves and cities throughout my life. I’m a 22-year-old mother, to two beautiful little girls. They are 7 months and 18 months old. Yes, I had them very close together but it happens and I believe that the creator doesn’t give you anything you cannot handle. It’s my job to be that positive role model for them and to teach them the things that I wasn’t taught when I was younger that I wish I did. I wanted to be more than just a mom. I wanted to show my girls that your dreams can come true and that opportunities are endless. That if you can see it you can achieve it.
When I was a little girl, my parents would buy me disposable cameras on special holidays and on family trips to capture anything that caught my eye that I wanted to keep forever. They let my creativity fly all over. They would then take me to Wal-Mart to drop off my film once it was all used. It was the overnight wait that got me excited. Wondering how they did it. Did they go in little dark rooms with the red lights to develop them like I seen on TV or did they do it another way? It was my imagination that made my mind go wild and that sparked my new interest for photography.
I was telling my love about my passion for photography one day and the next day, he comes home with a Nikon camera wrapped up in a cute little bag. He’s very supportive and surprising like that. So in April of 2015 is when it all begun and I started shooting. I wanted my photography to mean and to stand for something.
That’s when I came up with the Ignite Your Spirit Project. I wanted to surround my work with Indigenous culture and people. To show our power. To put down all those ugly stereotypes and show others who we really are – warriors.
As this year went on though, I was feeling stuck and like I lost my enjoyment for photography. I didn’t want to give up but the thought was crossing my mind. I just wanted my inspiration back. It was then and there that the universe spoke to me. I was scrolling on Facebook and saw sweetmoon’s post about mentoring other Indigenous photographers. Tenille’s a big inspiration to me so I applied, waited and I ended up getting it.
For the session itself, we met up at Collective Coffee on 20th Street for our one-hour-turned-into-three mentoring session. Tenille had previously asked me what I would like to focus on at the session, and I asked that we look into Lightroom. Before we even got into that though, we were comparing how our images looked on both our screens and both our phones. I then realized I needed to start investing into a new computer because mine was not fit for photography. First tip: do not go for the cheapest thing you see. Use that money to save and invest into something better. My lighting on my computer is totally off and that was the biggest thing I was having a problem with because I would see my pictures on other devices and was not satisfied (1).
The second tip is to get organized. Her work was put in all the right places and easy to find. She sent me a screen shot to show:
As opposed to this, my photos are all over and a total mess. Being organized helps you save time and that’s a good place to start. Even if you have a shoot booked in for the future, make them a folder right now – it helps. Also, get yourself an external hard drive. This is something else I need to invest in, both for personal and professional reasons. My computer is slow and I’m forever waiting on things to load. By keeping my images on an external hard drive, my computer will process faster and my images will be safe in case my computer ever just freezes or breaks or shuts down.
After that discussion and finishing my first amazing Vanilla Latte from the shop, I was learning the most easiest and quickest ways to edit in Lightroom. I asked Tenille to show me her workflow and would ask questions as we went, and I had a lot of questions. I learned how to properly size my photos for web and print. I learned how to use the adjustment brushes. I learned how to use presets and tweak them to suit my images. Before I used to just go with the flow and hope it all worked out for the best. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. There are so much people out there who are willing to help and push you to be better.
During this discussion, Tenille and I discussed what my brand is. What I will represent. What my style of images is. She told me to start a Pinterest board and pick images that inspire me. Pretty soon, a theme will emerge. She also told me to pick one image from each session that I photograph and keep it in a separate folder.
Pick an image that you love, that makes you gasp, and keep a copy in a personal folder and keep doing that over the year with different sessions, putting all the images into the same folder. Pretty soon, you will see your brand emerge. You will see where your strengths are. – Tenille Campbell, sweetmoon photography
I am now looking for my brand. What I want my work to say about me. I learned so much in those three hours and I am forever grateful. I still have so much to learn but it’s a start and it helped push me into the right direction.
I hope to someday give back to the community the way Tenille and Tea&Bannock is doing. We were laughing like crazy and she helped me more than she knows. I had such a good day and it was exactly what I needed to raise my own spirit up.
Elicia Munro- Sutherland
- Colour Calibration can be done with this little beast, but the big problem with Elicia’s laptop was that the colour wasn’t just off, it was uneven, making me think the screen itself is damaged.
- Selfie Trio: Elicia is hella tall and was wearing platforms to boot, then she hunkered down real low to try and make me feel better, and I couldn’t stop laughing. We finally got it right.