Life by Selena Photography
Montreal portrait & wedding photographer

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The official blog of Montreal portrait and wedding photographer Selena Phillips-Boyle. Explore her signature photojournalistic style and stay up to date on her latest wedding and portrait photography projects here.

68 : International Women's Day 2019

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Fun fact #1 : The domain of photography is dominated with male photographers. Each year that I continue working as a photographer is a stance against the gendered norms of my industry.

Fun fact #2 : The majority of the subjects I photograph identify as non-dudes.

Sitting here at my desk, these facts on each side of the table, I think it is causation not correlation that connects these two ideas. To celebrate International Women's Day 2019, I've decided to profile some of the inspiring women I've recently had the opportunity to photograph. From writers to musicians to UPS drivers, these women each bring a unique strength and beauty to this world.

This portrait photography blog post featuring a crew of inspiring women was compiled by Montreal portrait photographer Selena Phillips-Boyle of Life by Selena Photography. Thanks to all the women who participated by sending in their answers! Here you can see some of the women that were profiled on International Women's Day 2016.

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Lila
musicienne et basketteuse

Q: Quel est un obstacle pour les femmes travaillant dans ton domaine? Comment pouvons-nous travailler ensemble pour y trouver une solution?
A: En tant qu'artiste country/folk, il y a une sous-représentation de femmes en général, à part de quelques grands noms comme Dolly Parton. Le country en général est assez misogyne (comme plein de styles musicaux) et c'est quelque chose qu'on essaie de changer dans notre band, en changeant les paroles des vieilles chansons qu'on reprend, et dans les nouvelles tounes qu'on écrit. Je pense que prêts pas prêts, les gens voient et entendent le changement qui se passent autour d'eux et quelque uns se surprennent à aimer ça! On a des fans de tous les âges et background même si on est deux femmes queer.

Q: Raconte-moi une de tes réussites personnelles de cette année dont tu es fier.ère.
A: Je suis super fière cette année d'avoir établi une ligue de basketball qui vise l'inclusion de personnes queer, trans, non-binaire, dans un environnement qui focus sur le queer positif plutôt que sur la compétition. Ça s'appelle Queer Hoops Montréal et environ 20 personnes y sont présents.es à chaque semaine. C'est hot que les gens veuillent jouer au basket autant que moi!


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Tranna Wintour
writer, performer, and producer

Q: What’s an obstacle faced by women in your field? How can we work together to overcome it?
A: I don't even know where to begin. Comedy, despite the many new, diverse, brilliant voices that are slowly changing the game, remains a very cis hetero male dominated world. Women in comedy are generally paid less than men, and given less opportunities. The biggest way to overcome it is for people to support independent artists, in my case, comedians. I can't stress it enough. If an artist is not going to receive support from their industry gatekeepers because they're too gay, too black, too different, too feminist, etc. that artist becomes entirely dependent on their audience's support to make a living. So I can't stress enough how important it is to financially support local, independent artists.

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Q: Tell me about a personal achievement from the past year that you’re proud of.
A: I performed my first concert, showcasing songs from my upcoming debut album. Music album, not comedy! It felt amazing because it's been a lifelong dream to do that, and I really never thought it would ever happen. It felt really good, on so many levels, to experience that and to see that even the dreams we think will never materialize sometimes do. Sometimes you just have to let go of trying and hoping, and let things happen as they will, in their own time.

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Emily
freelance translator, writer, and storyteller

Q: What’s an obstacle faced by women in your field? How can we work together to overcome it?
A: Despite about 70% of translators being women, the well-known people in our field are disproportionately men. From what I've seen in meetings, men are more successful because they often speak their opinions as facts, while women have a tendency to say "This is just my opinion, but..." or "I have to double check this, but I heard..." etc. I'm not faulting women here; through the professional space we occupy between cultures, translators know more than most that there's a whole universe of subjective realities out there and that what we know from our personal experience can therefore never be complete or absolute. As a consequence, this kind of self-consciousness about our own subjectivity can come through in how we communicate our ideas. For a lot of complex reasons, this affects men less, and from the client's perspective, who are you going to go with, the professional who sounds sure of himself (because it's often a himself) or the one who doesn't? Now that I've taken a page out of Overly Confident Man book and started acting a bit cockier and less apologetic, my business has never been better. You can't know everything all the time, but it's important to have confidence in what you can figure out and still convey to clients that you are the best person to find them a solution. Sure, it's something that comes with experience, but women need to be less afraid to say, yeah, I know what I'm doing and I'm fucking good at it. People respect that and are willing to pay for it.

Q: Tell me about a personal achievement from the past year that you’re proud of.
A: I recently taught a workshop on the business side of freelance translation. Formal academic settings teach the mechanics of translation but no one really tells you about the business side, as evidenced by the large turnout at my workshop. It's weird to suddenly realize you're something of a veteran and have a lot to share (where does the time go??), but the time has gone by this quickly because ultimately I find my job a lot of fun. I think I answered a lot of burning questions and some of the attendees still email me for advice. It felt great to help the next generation of freelance translators better equip themselves for the business world and also to recognize that I'm at a stage in my career that I never would have imagined when I was starting out.

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Perrine
designer de sous vêtement Bunny and Claude

Q: Quels sont tes premiers souvenirs de la Journée internationale de la femme?
A: Je me souviens qu'à l'école on nous en avait parlé mais la pertinence de cette journée m'a souvent questionné jusqu'à ce qu'on se mette à parler de la journée des femmes et non de la femme. J'ai vu alors l'opportunité de donner de la visibilité aux injustices et inégalités. Même s'il faut en parler plus qu'une journée dans l'année, cette journée permet de concentrer l'attention et créer des mouvements comme la marche des femmes.

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Q: Raconte-moi une de tes réussites personnelles de cette année dont tu es fier.ère.
A: J'ai essayé plusieurs fois de quitter mon boulot alimentaire afin de mettre plus d'énergie dans ma compagnie, je l'ai fait et je suis sortie de l'atelier que j'ai à la maison pour prendre un espace dans un atelier partagé avec d'autres designers. C'est un risque et des sacrifices financiers que j'avais du mal à prendre mais c'est une excellente décision, très motivant et enrichissant.

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Christelle
writer and musician

Q: What’s an obstacle faced by women in your field? How can we work together to overcome it?
A: Women writers are given less recognition than men. Women musicians have a hard time being hired and taken seriously. We get harsher critics. We are given less opportunities. I believe that that parity standards should be enforced at every level to overturn this reality.

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Lauren
UPS driver

Q: What’s an obstacle faced by women in your field? How can we work together to overcome it?
A: An obstacle that I face is that people don't think women can physically handle the job and can't drive well enough. We can work together to overcome it by giving pointers to new drivers, mentoring them and supporting/encouraging them to improve every day.

Q: Tell me about a personal achievement from the past year that you’re proud of.
A: A non-work personal achievement that I have accomplished is that I have been in 2 agility trials with my dogs. I do not like to put myself on display plus I never thought we were good enough to do it. In the end we did not win any ribbons but we got a lot of compliments from other competitors saying that we did very well for our first few times out and it meant a lot coming from people that I did not know before that date.

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Tessa J. Brown
freelance writer and editor

Q: What’s the first International Women’s Day you remember celebrating?
A: I guess the first time I really remember engaging with International Women's Day as a thing would be in high school, when I was kind of the lone feminist at my school. In March there would generally be some attempt to cover "women's history" in our social studies class, before we got back to the REAL (i.e. white men's) history that we studied for the rest of the semester. But where I started really engaging with International Women's Day and becoming more involved with activism was when I was at university and finally found myself surrounded by other people who were worried about not just gender-based oppression, but oppression based on race, sexuality, disability, etc., and the intersections of those oppressions as well.

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Q: I think that you’re a talented person. What do you think has brought you here?
A: I have a tendency to just throw myself at things—if I see something that looks fun or interesting I'll just sort of freefall into it face first. It doesn't always work out, but I end up trying a lot of interesting things, and I never really regret having tried something new, even if it's a fucking disaster. My writing is always sort of at the forefront in my mind, and I feel like the more experiences I've had, the more versatility and strength I have as a writer, even if some of those experiences are kind of bullshit. And a lot of them do turn out to be really fun! There are a lot of things that I do, but none of them are central to my identity the way writing is—it's the first and only thing I remember really wanting to do with my life (given that "mermaid" and "literally a seal" turned out to be non-viable career paths).

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Adèle Clapperton-Richard
historienne et dessinatrice

Q: Raconte-moi une de tes réussites personnelles de cette année dont tu es fier.ère.
A: Un des accomplissements qui m’a rendue le plus fière dans la dernière année, c’est la réalisation d’une affiche d’histoire graphique pour le Graphic History Collective, un collectif qui fait de l’histoire illustrée dans des perspectives sociales, féministes, décoloniales, etc. En faisant cette affiche (qui portait sur les librairies radicales à Montréal dans les années 1930) j’ai pu concilier mon domaine d’étude, l’histoire, avec ma pratique du dessin, pour la rendre sociale, critique et éducative. En plus, j’ai collaboré sur ce projet avec Andrée Lévesque, dont les travaux en histoire ouvrière et en histoire des mouvements sociaux de gauche m’ont marquée et intéressée au bac. Faire ce projet m’a au final donné confiance en ma volonté et mes capacités d’inscrire la manière dont je fais et pense l’histoire hors du cadre académique, à travers l’art.

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Q: Qu’est-ce qui t’as amené.e ici, selon toi?
A: C’est une question difficile, dans le sens où ça m’amène à réfléchir à ma posture, ma situation, de femme blanche ayant grandie en région (au Saguenay) et issue d’une famille de classe moyenne, très éduquée, qui m’a toujours encouragée à poursuivre mes études, mes projets. J’en suis consciente, du fait que je ne suis pas où je suis « par magie » ou « par pur hasard ». Je poursuis des recherches universitaires dans le cadre desquelles j’obtiens des reconnaissances et des appuis (à la fois symboliques et matériels, financiers). Après, rendue là, je veux que ces recherches aient un impact social, politique, pas juste académique.

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Pauline
quality assurance tester

Q: What’s an obstacle faced by women in your field? How can we work together to overcome it?
A: Being a woman in a tech field (video game QA), I think one of my biggest obstacle is being taken seriously. I'm a trans woman who started transitioning 3 years ago and it puts me in a unique situation. While I've worked a lot to change my appearance, my personality and methods have not changed. Yet, after I started presenting as a woman, I started noticing I was taken less seriously at work. I would be called in 1 on 1 meetings regularly to discuss my attitude towards superiors. I would also observe a lot of male coworkers with generally negative attitude towards their work being put under much less scrutiny.

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Q: Tell me about a personal achievement from the past year that you’re proud of.
A: Last year I stood up against an abusive work environment and lost my job for it. I can't talk about specifics, however I will say that I didn't let that injustice go by. I fought against it and I won. I encourage everyone working in an abusive work environment to research their rights and fight for them because your employer will always look for ways to exploit you a bit more than the law allows.

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Laura Buchanan
comedian, writer, and comic artist

Q: What’s an obstacle faced by women in your field? How can we work together to overcome it?
A: I would say one of the biggest obstacles for women in comedy, specifically in improv, is that men often invade your scenes in an effort to "save the scene". Often times I will be in a show where the cast is split 50 percent women and 50 percent cis men, and without fail each time two women are in a scene together a cis guy will blunder out on stage to make an appearance. I've spoken to so many of these cis guys after shows and in rehearsals about this issue and the apologies pour out. Unfortunately as soon as there's an audience sitting in front of them the counseling goes right out the window. It's disappointing. I think a way to work towards changing this is requesting there be more women/non-binary folks added to the bill on shows you are performing in, or alternatively to produce your own shows that feature more female/non-binary talent.

Q: Tell me about a personal achievement from the past year that you’re proud of.
A: This year I took on the challenge to produce my own original cartoon and it has been a whirlwind of challenges! So far my team is exclusively women and I am very proud of that. Since I started working in the animation industry I have seen a lot of men wielding the creative positions of power in comparison to women, hearing the stats is one thing but actually seeing it is an experience in itself. It's a real pleasure to be working on a project which is written about two young women and is now being curated by a team of very talented and powerful women. There were a lot of male colleagues who I would have loved to work with but I thought creating a team of just women would be an experience I might not get again for a while. I'm very excited to share it with the public whenever it may be done!

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Morgane
trainer et fighter en Muay Thai

Q: Quels sont tes premiers souvenirs de la Journée internationale de la femme?
A: De mes souvenirs je devais avoir 8-10 ans, je me souviens pas exactement. Dans tous les cas chez moi le jour de la femme a toujours été célébré d’une façon ou d’une autre vu le background féministe des femmes de ma famille, surtout du côté de ma mère. Je me souviendrai toujours de comment ma mère me l’avait présenté, c’est LE jour de l’année où on peut prendre un break et souligner aux hommes tout ce qu’on fait pour eux, c’est notre journée off. Maintenant que je suis un peu plus vieille je pense que c’est pas nécessairement ça qu’elle voulait dire, mais du haut de mes huits pommes j’ai assumé que c’est la journée de l’année qui était juste pour moi et où mes petits frères devaient faire ce que je leur demandait. Je me suis aussi demandé plus vieille pourquoi un seul jour par année, ça devrait l’être tous les jours, pourquoi seulement une fois par année devons nous faire comme si on se souciait du sort des femmes alors qu’on devrait le faire à tous les jours!

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Q: Quel est un obstacle pour les femmes travaillant dans ton domaine? Comment pouvons-nous travailler ensemble pour y trouver une solution?
A: On va s'entendre que le Muay Thai, comme la MMA et la Boxe anglaise, est un sport dans lequel il y a très peu de femmes et qui est dominé par des hommes qui cadrent très bien dans le stéréotype de l'homme hyper masculin. Une bonne façon de renverser cette tendance est de faire comme à mon gym ; avoir des fighters et des coachs femmes amène d'autres femmes et les encourage à se lancer dans la compétition. C'est difficile s'imaginer pouvoir accomplir quelque chose quand on a pas d'exemple ou de personnes avec qui on peut relate et de qui on peut s'inspirer. Je travaille fort à pousser les filles qui s'entrainent à essayer un premier combat. Souvent les femmes qui s'entrainent veulent faire des combats, mais ont toujours l'impression qu'elles ont besoin de perfectionner davantage leur technique et ne veulent pas avoir l'air prétentieuse et de penser qu'elles sont meilleures qu'elles le sont, alors qu'elles ont souvent une meilleure technique et drive que bien des gars qui font des combats. Créer un sisterhood dans la communauté des sports de combat est important, ça aide à s'empower et à se dépasser.

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Ashley Thiebaud
certified massage therapist

Q: What’s an obstacle faced by women in your field? How can we work together to overcome it?
A: I think it goes without saying that the word “masseuse” can have a sexual connotation. Especially in Montreal, where there’s a happy ending place on every corner. I fully support sex workers and respect what they do, but I think it’s really important to differentiate what we do as massage therapists, because we take our work very seriously. Fortunately, our profession is starting to garner more respect and it’s becoming more mainstream to see a massage therapist on a regular basis. I think by expressing more and more how important our work can be, we’ve been able to break through the stigma attached to our profession.

Q: I think that you’re a talented person. What do you think has brought you here?
A: I give a lot of credit to the fact that I work well with people. Working in the restaurant and bar industry helped me with that, but it also made me lose my patience with people very easily. Doing what I do now, makes me have to have a lot more compassion and it’s calmed me down as a person for sure. I’ve been told I have a very nurturing nature, and I think that comes through in my practice

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Flavie
freelance journalist

Q: Quel est un obstacle pour les femmes travaillant dans ton domaine? Comment pouvons-nous travailler ensemble pour y trouver une solution?
A: Les femmes journalistes font face à des défis très tôt dans leur carrière. La majorité des étudiant.e.s dans les écoles de journalisme canadiennes sont des femmes, mais elles sont moins représentées dans les salles de presse. J'ai remarqué que beaucoup d'étudiant.e.s choisissent d'autres carrières après l'obtention de leur diplôme, souvent par simple manque de confiance en elles. Le journalisme est un métier qui peut être très compétitif, difficile et précaire, et je pense qu'en tant que femmes nous sommes socialisées pour choisir des trajectoires plus stables et prendre moins de risques.
J'ai fait toute ma carrière en journalisme international et j'ai presque toujours travaillé seule sur le terrain. Cela veut dire que je suis plus à risque de me faire agresser. Par conséquent, je dois faire certains choix pour assurer ma sécurité que des journalistes hommes n'ont pas à faire (par exemple se rendre sur certains lieux) et cela influence directement le contenu de mes reportages. Les risques sont réels à l'étranger comme ici.
Les femmes journalistes et celles qui aspirent à l'être ont besoin de soutien pour augmenter leur confiance en elles, et de formation pour les aider à se protéger, comme des cours d'auto-défense. Les écoles de journalisme ne préparent pas du tout leurs élèves au défis qu'elles pourraient rencontrer à cause de leur genre. Elles ont besoin de mentorat, d'entraide, de formation...

Q: Qu’est-ce qui t’as amené.e ici, selon toi?
A: J'ai gradué en 2009, en pleine récession, et il n'y avait pas beaucoup de postes intéressants. Je sentais que ça me prendrait des années avant de peut-être pouvoir faire ce que je voulais, c'est-à-dire faire des reportages à l'étranger. Alors j'ai décidé de cours-circuiter le processus et bâtir mon propre emploi. Au début j'ai travaillé dans d'autres secteurs comme en cinéma documentaire, en marketing et en production web pour gagner de l'argent et acquérir des compétences que je n'avais pas apprises à l'école (par exemple gérer un projet, un budget, travailler en web). J'ai économisé pour pouvoir financer mes propres reportages. J'ai été patiente, j'ai développé des projets sur plusieurs années, je savais que ça prendrai du temps. 

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Merci à tout le monde qui à contribuer pour cet article de blogue pour célébrer la Journée internationale de la femme. Cet article de blogue sur la photographie de portrait par Life by Selena Photography est écrit et photographié par Selena Phillips-Boyle, photographe montréalaise.

Thanks to everyone who took the time to contribute to this blog post celebrating International Women’s Day. This Life by Selena Photography blog post about portrait photography was produced by Montreal photographer Selena Phillips-Boyle.