One of the best things about Spring, aside from the potentially gorgeous weather, is discovering new things you’ll love or get passionate about. For one Ottawa-based artist/photographer, that particular Spring was in 2005, when life as she knew it, changed forever.
With the number on this disease staggering to 176 million women world wide, Endometriosis is a disease that is still being debated for what is it exactly by specialists in the field. Although it affects 1 in 10 women, the awareness and education for this debilitating disease that could also cause infertility, is still not as its prime. In fact, it takes a woman 7.5 years to be diagnosed on average globally. This disease is also plagued with all kinds of old wives tales, stories of other people who had it but were never fully understood.
This is where Laurie Haughton makes a difference.
As the Canadian host a Blog Talk Radio Show called The Pelvic Messenger, Laurie knows first hand about Endometriosis and she helps spread the word about it by moderating a large international online support group on Facebook and co-facilitating the Ottawa Endometriosis Support Association. March may be the Endometriosis Awareness Month globally and unofficially in Canada but the efforts to spread the awareness about it shouldn’t just stop at the end of the month. Twenty York Street interviews Laurie to help take away the taboo in talking about Endometriosis and in the hope that anyone reading this would at least learn about what it is, because with odds like 1 in 10, chances are someone you know has it.
Did we mention that in addition to spreading awareness about Endometriosis, we’re also sharing with you Laurie’s journey on fashion, glamour and Equine Photography?
Read on my friends, read on.
Qs and As with LAURIE HAUGHTON
aka The @REDHEADUNRAVEL
HORSES AND PHOTOGRAPHY
Why Photography? Specifically, Equine Photography, was this always something you wanted to do?
I always wanted to be an artist growing up, but because I lacked drawing skills I never considered all the creative things I did as art. I also grew up showing horses and needed a job to help pay for my horse showing but the hours I put in at the barn did not work well with keeping a part time job. So at age 15, I started my first business – designing & making jewellery that was popular in the horse industry at the time, then after university, I started designing websites and magazine ads also for the horse industry. I was creative and always the one who had a camera with me, but never considered what I did as art!
Then about seven years ago my photos started to get published in equine trade magazines and my friends started to tell me I needed to take my photography more seriously. I started dreaming about creating a portfolio but at that time my health had a lot to do with me not going after that dream. In January of last year, I had a significant break through with my health and I decided it was time that I started directing my ambition towards photography. I sought out a mentor to teach me about studio lighting and the more technical side of photography and thankfully a wonderfully talented Ottawa photographer by the name of Fernado Farfan took me under his wing. The first day in the studio, I fell in love and knew the direction I wanted to head in which was to combine fashion & glamour photography with equine photography.
What’s your dream gig – any events, designers, models, artists that you would love to collaborate with?
When you think of fashion and horses, Ralph Lauren is obviously the name that comes to mind To one day be able to shoot for that label would be a total dream come true.
INSPIRATION AND CREATIVE PROCESS
Where do you get your inspiration? What are you most passionate about?
I am a total retro-inspired girl! My TV is an early 1970’s model I inherited as a teen from my Great Grandfather, which I painted with zebra stripes in my university days. I watch I Love Lucy, Bewitched, & Wonder Woman on a regular basis, I love classic Hollywood movies, read novels by the authors of the ‘beat generation’, and thrift shop when ever I get the chance. It’s no surprise that there is always a little ‘throw back’ in my work, personal fashion, and life style!
Tell us about your creative process, how you decide on a shoot concept, location, mood, etc.
The concept for the work that I want to become known for is very simple, beautiful women with pretty horses! However sometimes when half my subject is a horse, the horse will sometimes dictate the actual mood of the shoot, we will start off with one idea but the horse will have another one, they are quite independent & intelligent animals but the great thing about it is that it makes me think fast on my feet and just go with the flow. One way or the other we make it work. With my non-horse shoots I take a lot of inspiration from fashion magazines my favorite being Vanity Fair.
What are some of the hottest trends for photography these days and what are you dying to try?
Most of the people that ask me to photograph them love the editorial style. They want their images to look like something from a magazine and I can’t say I blame them as I also love that look and aspire to produce work that fits that niche but going back to my love for everything vintage & retro, I am dying to figure out a digital photography style of my own that closely resembles the works of George Hurrell. He was famous for the Hollywood Head shots he did for the stars in the 30’s 40’s and 50’s although I do own vintage cameras and lighting gear I am determined to achieve something using modern lighting and editing processes that will appease my longing to create something that is a tribute to Hurrell’s work and those famous faces of yesteryear.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve ever had to face and how did you overcome it?
In April of 2005 my life suddenly changed. Out of the blue one-day I was struck with sever lower abdominal pain that would just not subside. Ten months later through exploratory surgery I was diagnosed with Endometriosis. (This is a Canadian site that has the most accurate description of the disease: http://www.endometriosisnetwork.ca/)
For me basically Endometriosis had turned me into a chronic pain patient and although I tried many different treatments with doctors here in Ottawa, there was either very little relief or further complications caused by the side effects of those medications.
During this time it felt like someone had pressed a pause button on my life, my days were always dictated by pain, the activities I chose to do had to be chosen wisely and in many ways I felt like my body had betrayed me. Instead of giving up hope when doctors here in Ottawa told me they had exhausted treatment options, I sought out a specialist in Toronto. Dr. Lie of Woman’s College Hospital met with me in October of 2010, I had explained that Endometriosis had stolen five years of my life already at that point, and although I accepted that there was no cure and I would never be 100% pain-free, I needed a medical team that would help me find a new kind of normal so I could move on with my life.
I spent all of 2011 on trial and error medications, and at the end of that, it was determined that the first thing that could be addressed was the constant nerve pain that I was saddled with after a side effect of one of the medications had caused permanent nerve damage. So on January 30th 2012, I saw Dr. Morgan, a chronic pain specialist in Toronto who determined that I was a good candidate for analgesia nerve blocks, it was the light at the end of the tunnel that I had been wishing for.
Today more than a year later I am on a new medication for Endometriosis that was just released here in Canada last year, it so far has further improved my quality of life and allowed me to come to a place where finally my pain free days out number the pain days which means finally I can look forward to my future and chase down my dreams. Although this disease has drastically changed the course of my life, it has taught me a lot about myself, made me very thankful for my friends and family who have supported me, made me make the best of every good day I am granted, and allowed me to network with women all over the world who are either coming to terms with their diagnosis or trying to find their way in coping with it.
Any advice for up and coming photographer who wants to work in your industry?
The photography industry is a competitive one and is constantly changing, but if photography is something you are really passionate about, do not be afraid to go after it. Be open to criticism, keep your ego in check, be willing to learn and grow, have faith in your vision and put your personal determination out there into the universe. You’ll never know how far you can go unless you push yourself to go after it!
FAST AND FURIOUS
3 Things I can’t live without:
1. My pets
2. My camera
Fill in the blanks:
Whenever I’m bored I usually watch a classic black & white movie.
Don’t tell my Mom but I love – honestly, my mom is my best friend there isn’t anything about me that I haven’t told her or she hasn’t figured out!
This spring, I want submit some of my non-equine work for publication to a non-horse magazine and see how it fares.
If I had superpowers, it would be – is time travel a super power? I’d love to go back to the old Hollywood days!
I wished Twenty York Street asked me about my pride & joy! a vintage faux fur cheetah coat I snagged in university at a vintage shop, some day they will bury me in that coat.