Grade 9
Michelle and Felicia at Lord Byng Secondary School, 1990-1991.

Michelle taught me how to take photos

In high school, Michelle and I took classes with Bix Milanich where we learned about typography, rub-on type, and Aldus Pagemaker. The graphics classroom in the basement of Byng also held a full darkroom where student had access to learn photography. I took the graphics classes and became enamoured with the shape of letterforms and the idea of publishing. Michelle took the photography classes and was often toting around a small, black and metal Pentax SLR camera during lunch time.

I remember that we wanted to get more involved with working on the yearbook and spent a ton of time in that basement, piecing together stories and pages. I worked on the page layouts, manually cutting titles and text, glueing them down on the spreads. Michelle took the photos around the school that we included in the yearbook. I remember being bewildered at the settings on the camera. Apertures and f-stops were completely incomprehensible to me, but Michelle was able to explain to me how they worked and the relationship between exposure, shutter speed, and ISO. To me, it was magic and I would often be in awe of how she could juggle the settings to get the shot that she wanted.

After we left high school and Michelle began her studies and travel, I remember her enjoying photography and being able to share her adventure photos with us… carrying her camera with her as she traveled the world. And later, just seeing her capture images of her walks in the neighbourhood, I knew she could find beauty in even the smallest thing.

She inspired me to learn more about photography and really figure out the mechanics of how it worked. She appreciated the beauty of blur and bokeh and inspired me to slow down, savour what you see, and how images didn’t need to be perfect to be beautiful.