Aesthetics and Experience by William Lalonde

Aesthetics, like language, have outgrown their original primary role as a mediator of subjectivity and instead have become subjectivity itself. Rather than lived experience dictating aesthetics, aesthetics now dictate lived experiences. Our current state of contemporary photography can sometimes feel like every potentiality has been tried, and sometimes the best inspiration comes from digging through revolutionary ideas of the past to create new artifices for the future. It is in reflexivity to this that I have defined and grown my own style and body of work.

mom at barn.jpg

mom at the barn (2016)

Documenting the experience of everyday life in the most honest way has always been my fundamental approach to making images. The majority of my work comes from moments of unexpectedness whether it be with a friend, walking to work, how light falls onto a certain building or the ground creating unique textures. I tend to explore the stuff that is always in front of our face in the primary realms of our social and intimate lives. As photographers, we constantly observe and analyze the scene or subject we want to create the image of in order to provide for our future viewers. An important thing to consider is imbuing the pictures with an equally meaningful impact for the subject as they have for yourself. It is difficult for the viewer to feel natural and view something sincerely where the presence of a high-pressured setting took place, as has been dominant in the world of high-pace disposable image making. The value and foundation of what the pictures meant in the experience has been lost in the high speed age of digitalism due to the nature of our increasingly shortened attention span and demand for new in every aspect of our culture. Turning the camera on my life long friends and documenting what is nostalgic to me is what drives my creativity but also hinders the speed at which it is made.

jeff and franco

jeff and franco (2015)

Lived experiences is everything, and I like work that can be appreciated more and more with time passed. A large source of inspiration for my work are my close long time friends, and the new friends I make along the way. As an introvert I truly cherish the smaller amount of friends I have and document them as much as I can. I find the best way to make work is with a small and easy camera so that there is less attention to the camera and more to whatever is going on in the moment. The biggest hindrance can be forgetting about photos you’ve taken long ago, so it’s important to keep your archive organized. Fortunately with negatives that is a very simple task. With this being said, I tend to sit on work whether it remain undeveloped or unscanned for long periods of time because as important as I feel photography and the image is, nothing should be rushed and feel contrived.

rush hour

rush hour (2013)

Having been cursed with an absolutely terrible short term memory, photography has helped me remember lots of stuff that otherwise would have only been appreciated in the moments happening. Shooting lots of film over a 4-6 month period and mass developing it all at once plays a roll in what I find important about experience and aesthetics. I take pictures purely out of the natural desire to document, and relating back to how experience is dictated by aesthetics, I tend to contrast that notion by never taking more than I can get. If something is passed and done with, It’s never going to be recreated as you experienced it, so why try to recreate it? I use this idea as motivation for whenever I feel no inspiration for making photos. If a moment has passed and you missed it, there is a high chance that in the near future, if you look, there will be an equally beautiful moment unfolding in front of you. It’s all about being vigilant to your surroundings and never being intrusive. There’s usually an acceptance with the crowd I’m with that I’ll have a camera, and it’s never used to stop what is happening, which relates back to the trust required with your subjects.

bank street

bank street (2014)

It is my belief that my current view of image making, which is always being refined and  as a constant work in progress is constantly producing through its own contradictions its next actuality, is a subconscious result of my foundation in photography. I started off shooting in the streets everyday, wanting to make photos of candid everyday life. But in order for my results to satisfy me, I didn’t want to seem like I was getting something out of people for a selfish reason. The symbol of a camera in the streets can be nerve wracking for people, so it became important to establish trust and judge the person’s mood before approaching them. It’s very specific – people can’t be in a rush, seem angry or preoccupied, and you as the photographer have to be honest about why you approach the individual. In the case of the photo above, titled “bank street” (2013), I was approached out of curiosity for in my camera, and the individual pictured explained he owned the same one. The enthusiasm in his face and questioning remark of the partner he was with reinforces what I try to see in people which is their honest self.

jordan (2016)

jordan (2017)

With all things considered, the primary focus of my work at the end of the day has to be the honest approach. There’s a fine difference between the rush of commercial work that feels slightly more impersonal in which aesthetic is the primary function of an image and then with personal work in which aesthetic and feeling must balance equally and however much of such determines its impact on the viewer. Creating a body of work that is a reflection of who you are, of your subject matter, of your stylistic choices that come afterward such as format and general feeling of the image is what makes up an impactful photo is what defines us as image makers.

local in prague (2017)

local in prague (2017)

north iceland 2016

north iceland (2016)

aerial 01 (2013)

aerial (2013)


csis hq

CSIS HQ (2017)

lou (2014)

lou (2014)

outside general hospital

outside the general hospital, (2017)


Kira is an avid enthusiast of photography, poetry and the arts in general. She holds a degree in Communications and English Literature at the University of Ottawa.

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