In 2014 eight women photographers from Toronto came together to form a collective that aimed to promote and support the work of its members. Since then, the tribe has evolved and opened in new directions, including it's first Mentorship 2017 program, open to women anywhere in the world.
SOFIA is a women-powered organization that works to inspire, educate, support and connect women working in photography. New plans are in the making and the collective is growing in alliance with other organizations and has plans to develop more outreach, education and resources for the photographic community.
SOFIA's inaugural exhibition, presented as part of 2016’s 20th Annual CONTACT Photography Festival in Toronto, Canada, features never-before-seen work of its 8 original founding members, each presenting unique interpretations of the theme “Bad Behaviour” (curated by Clare Vander Meersch), with visual explorations into the ideas of adolescence, social rebellion, cultural expectations, regret, fear, secrets and emotional catharsis.
Kerry Shaw is a still and moving image maker based out of Toronto & Los Angeles. With a highly conceptual and often mystical approach, she absorbs remembrance into her daily practice with a focus on colourful and detailed aesthetics. In 2001, the sudden loss of her brother Stuart inspired and started a life-long devotion to creating epic imagery to meditate on and consolidate her grief into tangible tributes. Her translation of longing into beauty emerge as large scale, illustrative and highly choreographed photographic prints.
Raina Kirn is a commercial photographer and director. Originally from Vancouver, she studied photography in Montreal before deciding to call Toronto home. She shoots for editorial and advertising clients such as Adidas, Dove, ESPN and Toronto Life and her work has been published in Flash Forward, American Photography, Communication Arts and PDN Awards Annuals. Raina received her first camera from her grandmother at the age of eight, a Kodak Pocket Instamatic. A subscription to National Geographic followed shortly thereafter and she has been obsessed with photos and the power of imagery ever since. She works in a commercial partnership and is one half of the team Raina+ Wilson. Bad Behaviour is her first large solo project.
Angela’s interest in photography started while watching her grandpa in his antique darkroom. Now based in Toronto, she focuses on documenting people in various environments with capturing intimate and true moments that feel natural to her subjects. In addition to portraiture, she also explores conceptual fashion photography with having her work recognized by leading publications such as The London Telegraph, Monocle, Nylon and The Fader. In her spare time, Angela can often be found photographing the fashionable figures that hang around Toronto's Trinity Bellwoods park, for her blog Woodies and Belles.
May Truong was born on a sinking ship in the middle of the South China Sea. She was almost thrown overboard, but was saved by her father - a kung fu fighter turned ballroom dancer. Based in Toronto, May works in both stills and motions. In her work she explores the themes of race, gender, and belonging. She has been exhibited in group shows in Canada, USA and Europe.
Michelle’s first exposure to photography was through her mom who was keen on taking a seemingly endless number of posed family photos, and never more so on epic summer road trips. It was during these times that a young Michelle would sometimes get in trouble for not smiling because she was probably napping in the backseat of the hot family stationwagon moments before, was cranky about being woken up and wanted to express her true self in that moment. It was her distaste of these forced and contrived “happy family” scenarios that informed and heavily influenced Michelle into creating work that delves into and explores personal histories and truths. Michelle Yee is a Canadian storytelling photographer, writer and collage artist. Born in Edmonton, Michelle studied photography in Victoria, and now both lives and works in Toronto.
Brooke is an emerging editorial and commercial shooter based out of Toronto. Brooke's love for photography was evident from an early age, always running around the suburbs where she grew up with a disposable camera documenting her family and friends. She loved the idea of capturing a memory and making it something tangible. Later in life a rare opportunity presented itself in high school where she was taught the fine art of processing photographs in a dark room, from there she was hooked. After studying Fine Art and Literature at Wilfrid Laurier University she later attended Sheridan College for Commercial Photography. After graduating Brooke entered the commercial world and won the Applied Arts Young Blood award in 2013. Brooke has always been fascinated with the relationship between herself and her subject. She chose to be a portrait photographer because she likes connecting with people. She finds herself constantly adapting to various people and places, always striving to create a positive experience for herself and her team. She continues to grow as a photographer and is forever determined to better her craft, her relationship with her subjects, and is in constant search for the perfect light.
Regina began her would-be lifelong romance with photography at the early age of fourteen when her father handed her her first camera. Relentlessly taking pictures of her younger brother and his friends soon thereafter, portraiture became the focal point of her obsession. Strangers who intrigued her were shyly asked to look into her lens, her camera becoming like an all-access pass into the new and interesting lives of others. After studying at the Alberta College of Art and Design she arrived in Toronto to begin a career in commercial photography and found her niche in portraiture, lifestyle and landscape. Her beautiful work, at once invitingly sunny yet as thoughtful as weather on the horizon, includes pure expressions of her subjects' personalities. Challenging herself to craft powerfully authentic imagery, Regina strips away the excess to reveal and capture something all too rare - easy, natural photography that elevates 'simple' to an enticing art form.
Anya was originally trained as a painter in Ontario College of Art and Design, but her love for photography and cinema persuaded her to move to Moscow, Russia to study film directing. Eight years of her life Anya dedicated to working various positions in film and advertising production in Canada and Russia. Twelve years ago Anya's career took a sharp turn into the world of editorial and advertising photography. In a short period of time she establishing herself as one of the most successful portrait and fashion photographers in Russia. Anya now splits her time between Los Angeles and Toronto. Photography is Anya's primary interest, although she also works as cinematographer and director on select projects.