Portrait photography by Kayla Chobotiuk.
Landscape shots from Arden's Golden Lonesome exhibit.We first came across Toronto-based photographer Arden Wray when scouring the Internet for beautiful Instagram accounts to follow and were immediately taken by her honest and captivating portrait photography. Serendipitously, a collection of her photos documenting her trip across the American South were being shown at her exhibit Golden Lonesome at the Likely General in Roncesvalles, a hip, west-end Toronto neighborhood. Her dreamy, ethereal landscape photos formed the backdrop for where we caught up with Arden, a 20-something whose past work has been featured in big names like British Vogue, Condé Nast Traveler and Anthropologie. Despite her young age, her trajectory has already transcended up-and-comer status, planting her firmly in one-to-watch territory. Who or what - be it a feeling, person, place or movement - inspires your aesthetic? I'm consistently interested in capturing moments that feel honest, intimate and insightful—be that in a portrait of a person or a photograph of a particular place. I'm inspired by the places I travel and the feeling of seeing something for the first time. The majority of your subjects are female, and you cite in your artist's statement that you find communities of women, especially, can become a transient family. What draws you to the female form or spirit? I've always been surrounded by strong, supportive, wonderful women. Those relationships have been one of the most consistent and important facets of my life. I find it very easy to connect with women quickly. I don't know why that is. What was the inspiration behind the Golden Lonesome exhibit? Golden Lonesome is a collection of images from the past two years of travel across the American South—Texas, Louisiana, and Florida mostly. There's a real romance about those landscapes for me. The images are from three recent excursions. In the winter of 2015, a close friend and I drove across America and back in a pick-up truck for most of the season. This past December, I spent the month with the same friend in West Texas. Then I went back, and deeper out into the Big Bend borderlands in February for love. The images are representative of the magic of not only that landscape and region, in the way I see it, but of the feeling of being in transit and exploring and seeing new people and places with fresh, generous eyes. What does your process look like? I'm an extremely low-maintenance photographer. I use one body, one lens for 99.9% of everything I shoot. My camera goes in my purse or, when I'm in the truck, lives in my lap between my legs. I use only natural or available light. More often than not, on a long road trip, I'm editing images on my laptop in the truck with a hotspot from my iPhone. Young female artists have more visibility than ever before. Why do you think that is? A whole cultural stew of factors I'm sure, but I'll just pluck one out and say the great democratizing power of the Internet. I love the Internet.