I must start by saying that I am as surprised at writing this article, as you, my friends and family, are at reading it. Who would have thought that this secret and quiet passion of mine would amount to anything, let alone, THIS? Thousands of photos later, I am choosing the ones that changed my life, to share with you my journey that brought me here.
I remember clearly posting this picture. It was my first Instagram shot. I had been staring, so transfixed in the moment, blue ripples hypnotizing me. It was during this time that I needed creative release more than I ever did. We all have those moments, for sure, and with the uniqueness that makes us human, we all express them differently.
I didn’t know it then, but I started my journey. My photo diary. My freedom to be creative, personal, artistic and private. Nobody even knew it was me when I posted under, scubagal, in Instagram. I fell wholly in love with this amazing creative freedom, and it was a secret passion that I didn’t share for several years. This is why some of my family and friends might be a wee surprised by all this now.
I started snapping photos ferociously. A few weeks after my original posting, I found myself in one of my most favourite cities in the world, Montreal. It truly is a remarkable place; the bagels, the jazz festival; the metro; the “dep”. Oh yes, those familiar with Montreal will know these terms very well. If you don’t, put it on your bucket list because it definitely needs to be experienced!
Here I am enjoying an amazing summer day, when I looked up to see this image. I burst out into a huge fit of the giggles! Little did I know that I happened to bump into Montreal’s, Under Pressure Graffiti Festival. All that I knew was that I loved this little Popeye, and his message! How often did we all wish for our favourite cartoon characters to actually say something with a bit of, “punch”? At the time, I too wished I could say the exact same message! So instead, I posted it into my Instagram. My diary would host this incredible piece, surrounded by my favourite colour of brilliant blue sky. I loved the graffiti, and I admired the thought that went into it creating it.
This would be my first picture of street art, and it was my introduction into the world of graffiti. It was here that I decided to keep snapping these colourful urban landscapes.
I really started having so much fun taking pictures in the strangest (and often most dirtiest places) that I have ever seen! By day, I work in a very public venue, usually dressed with a little funk, and appropriate for the masses. This was my freedom, far away from my usual world, and I was rejuvenated by the stark contrast.
I started trying to focus on playing with light and shadows in my pictures. In this photo, I tried to go as deep as possible to capture the varying archways. I was stunned when The Montreal Gazette asked me for its location. I told them I could take them there, as I had no idea of the street names. They refused to hire me! No surprise there, but I was happy. It would be the first time my work was noticed and appreciated by an established brand.
My understanding of graffiti grew with the aid of many local artists in both Montreal and Toronto, helping me to identify the pieces I was sharing. Funny enough, I did my undergraduate degree in both political science and poetry. Somehow, it works, doesn’t? I soon would find that my street photography skills would push me to start snapping the more avert political scenery.
I adored capturing any image, as I discovered that my love for photography was actually just the building blocks for my love for editing! It made sense, actually, that this one-time painter, turned photographer, would fall for editing. It is so very much like painting, only on a digital screen.
As you can see, in my earlier days, I textured and colour exploded, learning how to edit my pieces. These exaggerated pictures that I share, are still some of my all-time faves.
It was very easy for me to keep snapping street art. It’s already on my favourite medium, paint, and editing made me feel somehow reconnected to my first love. Walking down College Street in Toronto, I bumped into an Omen 514 piece. Didn’t know the artist at the time, but that didn’t stop me from posting it in Instagram.
Was I ever stunned when the artist contacted me! He actually thanked me for posting his piece. It bewildered me greatly for it was I, that was grateful for him, for letting me play with his art through my editing.
I started identifying the street artists in my work, more and more…
As time moved on, it seemed I also captured the attention of many of the artists. They liked my work and invited me to watch them paint.
Somewhere, somehow, finding these amazing pieces and meeting these incredible artists, I clearly fell head over heels, in love with photography.
As with most passions, it started to seep into my real world. I began to share with those in my life what I was doing with my time while away from others. It was truly an awakening. I really owe so much thanks, to so many people that helped to encourage me. I feel still quite humbled by their incredible enthusiasm. There are really too many to list, and I don’t want to miss anyone out, but they know I carry them in my heart…
Then there came a day that someone sent me the link to an online magazine. I was completely blown away by the team’s amazing acceptance of my work. I felt instantly a warm and loyal belonging, and was flattered by their invitation to join the magazine. This gave me all the confidence I needed to launch my own, and recreate my vision of the amazing artists and work I see around me. It is nothing short of a dream come true for me.
I admit, I have edged slowly along my own continuum, and am learning to appreciate the amazing work of artists and photographers globally. . Looking ahead, I am so excited to be sharing my adventures with all of you.
Stay tuned for amazing photos, some of far off places, or even your home town. All meant to inspire the beat of our times.
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4 thoughts on “Introduction of ScubaGal – Meet Me”
Where can I see more of James Buffins work in Winnipeg?
Thank you for your interest! You can see James Buffin’s work through any of the links in this article. Alternatively, you can make purchases of both his DVDs and photographs. He lives in Toronto, so your best bet would be to come on out and visit 🙂
This work you do is so beautiful. Eye catching and moving. You have a good creative eye. Love what you do but I think this is just the tip of the iceberg.
Thank you so much for your kind words. I am completely flattered and honoured to have had our paths cross. I truly look forward to the journey ahead.