By Lindsay Sganga
Stephanie Noritz, a Ryerson graduate, walked into The Image Arts Building for the first time in eight years on March 3. She was there to give a lecture on her life after school working in the world of photography.
With a variety of portrait, commercial, and editorial experience under her belt at a young age, Noritz’s experience is a light at the end of the tunnel for most students. In a business where it’s difficult to survive and stand out as an artist, she has succeeded. As someone who took advantage of the tools offered to her during her academic career, and wasn’t afraid to market herself in a highly competitive industry, Noritz’s footsteps are ones to follow.
She spoke with The Ryersonian about her unique approach to her craft, her transition from student to professional photographer, and how current students can take similar actions towards success.
Ryersonian: What sparked your interest in photography?
Stephanie Noritz: I grew up loving drawing and painting. But it was really when I came to Ryerson’s fine arts program that I really honed that skill and explored it more. It was the first I’d ever even been in a dark room when I came here. I was completely inspired by my peers and by the work that I was seeing. It moved me and showed me how powerful images can be.
R: How has Ryerson aided your accomplishments?
S.N.: If it weren’t for Ryerson, I wouldn’t be a photographer. I actually took a photo business course at Ryerson as a continuing education study on the side, and it helped a lot. I learned how to be a freelancer, quote jobs, and market myself. The professors were incredible; they pushed us to explore our artistry. It was a place I was really able to grow as an artist with the support of my peers and professors.
R: What were your first steps out of university like?
S.N: I got my first commission that summer with the company Winkreative, that was my first big job, and then I got work with Maclean’s and the Globe and Mail. I saved up enough money doing assisting jobs and my own jobs, so I moved to New York a year later. I did a few internships in New York, one actually with fellow Canadian and Ryerson grad Chris Buck, because I didn’t know anyone there and I wanted to learn more about the editorial and advertising world.
R: How would you describe your style and the way you document subjects?
S.N.: A lot of my focus is on youth and documenting young people transitioning through adolescence. I try and have the subject open up to me, share something that’s intimate, like vulnerability, awkwardness, sometimes tension or sensuality. What I love about portraiture is the connection with people. They’re sharing something with me, and we’re sharing this moment together. A portrait that stands out to me is the one of my cousin Catherine in my parents’ backyard. To me she was always the runt that we used to boss around, but in this picture you can just see so much attitude and confidence. That was the moment it hit me that it was amazing as to how much a single image could portray and tell about a person. I also enjoy shooting such images in film, because it really slows me down and I can concentrate on making a wonderful image.
R: Why do you think lectures such as these are necessary for Ryerson to have?
If I was in school I would’ve loved to hear someone who had graduated from the same program, and hear about his or her experiences in the real world. We didn’t know anything about what it was going to take to make it as a photographer; everyone was graduating as a fine artist. I really encourage students to take a business course, do an internship, and reach out to publications. Putting yourself out there is very important.