Nancy Forde has been enamoured with photography since age 10 when her father bought her an antique Brownie camera. Yet, it wasn’t until six years ago, the time her son was born, that she developed a serious commitment.
“I am a trained actor and couldn’t imagine time for rehearsals and performances with a new baby on my hip,” says Nancy. “I craved a creative outlet that would be conducive to single motherhood and picking up the camera proved an easy and attractive medium that wasn’t reliant on coordinating schedules with others.” Her camera has become an extra limb: these days she’s never without it.
She admits that she unconsciously frames images as she walks around. She laughs as she says, “It’s sometimes a challenge to lower the lens and just enjoy a scene on its own merit. I have to remind myself to do that. Actually, my son reminds me to do it, thankfully.”
While Nancy has yet to feel she’s found her own definitive style, she is drawn to rural landscapes; the stormier and moodier the better. “I lived in a farmhouse for a decade and after relocating to Uptown Waterloo, I missed the expanse of sky, the farmer fields and the intimacy of the change of seasons,” she says. “I kept being drawn back to the country to capture what I was missing.”
In the near future, she hopes to rise to the unique challenges of portrait photography but landscapes have been her primary focus so far. “The theatre major in me loves the drama of landscapes,” she says. “The solitude and spontaneity of what I might encounter driving out of the city, exploring backroads, is addictive. I prefer rain, fog, mist or snow over a picture-perfect, cloudless sky any day.” She attributes that melancholic nature to her Irish roots, and part of the reason she isn’t interested in capturing idyllic, pastoral scenes.
“The years I spent rurally were emotional ones for me: my ex-spouse and I spent them battling infertility. So my constant yearning to return and document the pastoral life ends up bittersweet, often coloured by the sorrow of that time,” she says.
But it seems she’s not the only one drawn to her moody, sometimes stark landscapes: she is receiving positive feedback about her first solo photography exhibit, Ruralgia, at Death Valley’s Little Brother (DVLB) in Waterloo.
With nine large-format photos on display, Nancy feels lucky and extremely grateful to Joel and Katherine Gingrich, owners of DVLB, for the opportunity.
“I was shocked when I one day received an email from Joel saying he had seen some of my photos online and wondered if I would be interested in a show at his cafe,” says Nancy. “His email kicked me off the artistic couch and I was challenged by this great opportunity to stretch and push myself artistically.”
Nancy also has a serious following on Instagram, where she posts not only her beautiful photographs but also snippets of poetry or lines from classic books that reflect the mood of her work. “I miss the leisure time I once had for reading so this is one way I can revisit passages and characters I love, words that still haunt me or are evoked by a scene I am framing,” she says.
P.S. Nancy’s favourite topic of conversation: her son, and her happy story of IVF that made him possible.
P.S.S. Nancy is also a contributor to the very cool book called Women in Clothes. You definitely need to pick up a copy.