Meaghan Ogilvie | Artist & Underwater Photographer
Meaghan is a visual artist who uses photography, video and mixed media to explore the connection between people and nature. By capturing images of seascapes, landscapes and portraits, she wants people to explore their own role in these interactions. She has collaborated with many ocean conservation organizations and believes photography can be a powerful tool to give a positive message about our oceans and waterways.
In the past decade, Meaghan has had incredible opportunities such as collaborating with Indigenous women on the Great Lakes in Ontario, to shooting in Palau, an archipelago of islands in Micronesia. Her work has been shown in galleries across Canada, USA, France, England and Denmark, gaining her several acclaimed awards, including being shortlisted for the Sony World Award, where her work was selected from 62,654 photographs from around the globe. Meaghan has also been the recipient of highly competitive residencies such as the School of Visual Arts in New York City and the Tahsis Art Gallery in Vancouver.
Through her work she aims to travel to some of the most remote areas of the world to help build a greater understanding and awareness of our responsibility as humans to the earth.
We spent some time getting to know Meaghan and her motivations behind why she does what she does.
Where are you from?
What's a typical day like for you?
I don’t really have typical days, but everyday I’m hustling to work on my career in some kind of capacity. For the most part I’m working on new projects, researching grants, potential opportunities, shooting or learning new skills. I’ve learned the hard way that being kinder and taking care of myself is just as important as working hard. I make sure to take time every day to be active and I try to meditate.
What are the fondest memories from your upbringing that you feel impacted your life choices and lifestyle today?
My family really loves animals and nature. There were always dogs and cats around to play with because we would take in strays and abandoned animals. I loved helping and taking care of them. We’d visit my uncle for March break and he’d take my sister and I ice fishing and for walks in the woods. I used to love walking in the ravine near my house alone with my dogs. I spent a lot of time outside in nature alone and with friends. From day one I was taught to appreciate and respect it. It was a huge part of where my happiness came from while growing up. This impacted my choice of using photography as a way to communicate our connection with nature today. I’ve based my lifestyle around being closer to water by learning how to scuba dive and now freedive. The same goes for when I travel. I’d much rather be in the ocean or hiking through the jungle than in a big city shopping.
What/who currently inspires you?
Being in and around the ocean inspires me. I learned pretty quickly that I connect better with the ocean lifestyle and people. Thankfully my work has given me the opportunity to travel and spend time in the sea. Most recently I spent two weeks on a sailboat in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines aboard Diatomée https://www.laroutesalee.com/?fbclid=IwAR07D8Dc3YhiOOIMO930KO6isrlU0KT6rhB6XwV9TcMB1Qo0M5hnBablHTQ with some incredible underwater photographers. I learned so much from them and about the ocean. They inspired me to make a big change in my life and move to the ocean. It has always been a dream of mine, but they showed me that it’s possible and vital for my happiness and creativity.
What path did you choose after leaving school?
I knew I wanted to be a photographer since I was ten, so after leaving school I continued on that path. I started with fashion and beauty photography briefly, but quickly realized it wasn’t for me and then concentrated more on experimenting with art photography.
What have been the biggest challenges you've had to overcome?
The biggest challenge has been myself and getting out of my own way. To not fight against what's not working and learn to listen to my gut and go with the flow. It’s been challenging going against society’s expectations and boundaries to stay true to myself and my work. My path has been unique and exciting, but my biggest and hardest lessons have come from failing and having to pick myself up and continuing. I try and remember that moving forward and towards my goals won’t happen in a smooth straight line. As an artist, I’ve had to change my mindset from being a starving artist to being an entrepreneur, leader and business woman. Changing this mindset and that of others has been very challenging, but very rewarding!
What would you most like to change in the world/environment today?
I would like to replace some of our current governments and political leaders with more capable and environmentally conscious leaders.
What do you value most in life?
Freedom, nature, my family and friends and the opportunity to live life through creativity .
Are there any books/documentaries that have guided your thinking?
From the beginning National Geographic Magazine was the reason I became a photographer. Growing up, my family didn’t have money to travel, so I lived vicariously through the stories and images. They were so inspiring and had a huge impact on me. The articles about oil spills and environmental issues guided me to be very conscious of the environment. Most of my school projects were about saving dolphins and whales and I recently found one in storage written in french about sharks. I remember thinking they were the underdogs because they looked like villains and I wanted to change that perception. Many years later I still hold these same values and it’s because of being exposed to those articles as a child. Since I was so influenced by the images I saw, I understood the power photography and writing had to educate and inspire.
What brings you the most joy?
Travelling and creating, being in water and nature and sharing and collaborating with other like-minded people.
What legacy do you hope to leave?
One that supports other people that dedicate their lives to protecting the earth.