Traveling Photographer Meghan Greenlay: From India to New Orleans

Meghan Kinita

Meghan Greenlay on the banks on the Ganges in Rishikesh.

Meghan Greenlay is a photographer from Winnipeg, Manitoba. Working a day job in the industry of high fashion, Meghan is constantly surrounded by bright lights and artistic muse. But her fine print photography reveals another side of this talented woman: the world-traveler.

What impacts the viewer when searching through Meghan’s work is not only the variety of locations she has captured, but the life and color she has had opportunity to witness and share.  At GTH, we are unanimously envious of her opportunity and simultaneously excited to be able to share her with our readers for a bit of insight into the life and inspiration of this traveling photographer.

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GT: Meghan, your work displays images from all over the world: from Shanghai to Amsterdam, India to New Orleans. Traveling is a much-desired hobby of many artists. What enables you to travel?

MK: As a child, I grew up with travel enthusiast parents. My father did much traveling in his twenties right up until he met my mother (in his mid 30’s) and they continued to travel with me in tow all over North America/Mexico. I grew up hearing stories and seeing pictures of far away places and I believe that set the future wheels in motion.

Back in 2006/07 I was posted overseas to work in India for a year as a stylist. I had already been doing quite a bit of traveling as a hairstylist in Canada and the U.S. for nearly a decade but the picture-taking opportunities were few and far between.

Screen Shot 2013-08-12 at 2.30.44 PM

Being overseas had put me in a position to be closer to places I had always wanted to visit, so I made the trips

happen. Traveling is costly but I have always seen it as productive debt. I am completely hooked now and I hope to travel as long as possible. I usually have a list of locations that interest me and I just try to keep crossing places off that list. I have a job that lets me communicate with clients as to when I want to be gone and I can usually negotiate the timing.

GT: What camera equipment do you use? Is it easy to travel with? 

MK: I grew up using point and shoots and Polaroid in the 80’s. Then I graduated to a manual Japanese camera that was my father’s for my first photography course in the mid 90’s. I finally bought myself a nice digital camera about 5-6 years ago with the intention of starting to do more fashion shoots (which does happen from time to time) but it’s my all-the-time camera now… I just sling it across my chest and go.

GT: What tips do you recommend for traveling photographers?

MK: Ha ha. I recommend not being too attached to your camera. Last year my husband and I were on our honeymoon in India and we were about a week into our trip and I fell into the ditch of a rice paddy field and wrecked my camera. Long story short, I had to purchase another camera and lucky for me it was even nicer then the one I had. Within three hours I was up and running again but it was an unexpected expense and a learning curve.

Camera weight and equipment is important. If you’re pulling long days then I would say less is more.

From an artistic stance… I would say practice makes perfect. I’ve shot a silly amount of photos in the last 6 or 7 years but I’ve tried to start to dissect my styles and pick up of glitches while editing.

I try to edit as little as possible with the exception of cropping and some minor tints and conversions. I like most of my shots the way they are.

Meghan Kinita marie leaveau's tomb new orleans 2013

New Orleans, 2013 “Marie Leaveau’s Tomb”

GT: Your photographs feature human subjects, animals, and architecture. Where do you find your inspiration? Are there particular things you look for in a photo subject?

I have a tendency to photograph life that is the opposite of what i do. I’ve been in the fashion industry for about fifteen years(I work in a fairly glamorous environment… lighting, photo-touching and amazing hair, make-up, clothes and models).

I look for texture and colour. I want people to lean in and see the details of something they may have never seen before. I want to take them somewhere…. I love taking pictures of life: people and places being themselves, how regular life is to be marveled at and appreciated in it’s raw and un-tampered form.

I have pictures of deserted places, traffic jams in India, bikes… it’s a mash-up of everything that I love and cherish and every image has it’s own energy… I am just lucky enough to be there at the right time.

GT: Some of your most interesting photos are of animals, such as “Pig” from Goa, India and “Monkey” from Rishikesh, India. Two of your animal prints feature a dead black bird, “Bird” (location unknown). The composition of these photos is absolutely stunning. Not very many artists display dead animals. How did come to take pictures of these subjects?

Screen Shot 2013-08-12 at 2.37.49 PMMK: I love animals! Animals are unapologetic. The chance to be close to one is a gift. The photos of the deceased bird were taken on my in-laws farm a few years back. The bird had fallen in the chimney and died from exhaustion.

I took it out to the farm as a present for our barn cats. In the process I realized how pretty the colours were and decided to snap a quick series before the cats ate it. I love that bird… I always consider him quite handsome and his markings are quite formal.

As far as dead animals go… I’ve been collecting taxidermy, teeth and strange memoirs for a while. It’s my creepy side, I guess. I’ve always had a personal relationship with death and loss and sometimes the opportunity to prolong something’s existence makes its way into my craft.

GT: The photo “VACANCY” from Shanghai, China, has a very strong emotional appeal. Is there a story behind this photo?

MK: This was taken in 2007. I stumbled upon this site on my second last day in China.I remember being completely shocked and frozen by my surroundings… like it was a bad dream. From what I could tell… this had been a residential area that was being cleared for more high-rises or development (based on the skyline in the background).

I saw a man picking through rubble and some humble traces of human life still. I quietly took about a dozen photos and left feeling as though I had witnessed something horrific. It was sad seeing these lone, old-fashioned homes nearing the end of their existence. To this day, I still feel affected every time I look at the images.

Shanghai China 2007 VACANCY

Shanghai, China 2007 “Vacancy Zine”

GT: Your photographs are available for sale on Society 6 . Have you had prints displayed in any other locations? Are you available to provide prints as a freelancer or are you strictly a personal fine print artist?

MK: I’ve done a few small artist shows in my city and am hoping to have another show this fall with a few friends. I am open to any opportunity to share with admirers and provide them with art that they can enjoy for a long time. I’m still pretty new to Society 6, It’s a really cool site that I started purchasing from a few years ago to support other artists and I decided to put some of my own work up for sale just over a month ago. I’m loving being a part of their site.

GT: Thank you so much for your insight as a traveling photographer. If you don’t mind answering in your own words, what is the difference between a snap-shot and a fine print artistic photograph? Is there one?

MK: Ha ha…this is actually a hard question to answer, for me. I would say that a snap shot is a more accessible and common/mainstream form of photography that consumes the majority of the market nowadays. Many of us have a nice camera (or an iPhone on us at all times) in this day and age and many of us want to belong to the idea of being able to take and share a nice image, right? The desire of being a professional photographer is still very attractive and we have a longing to be part of it.

Think of how many people use Instagram, or other apps, and share them online. The images are very pretty, fun, and popular.

When I think of fine art photography that I really admire I usually place it into three personal categories:

The first category is that the photo is of something that I’ve never seen before. This is hard to achieve because the world has become a smaller place! i’m a huge lover of National Geographic. I have a vast collection that I inherited from my father that dates back almost a hundred years. Imagine traveling overseas to an exotic location a century ago without any of our current resources and being one of the first people to photograph a site? This is so much harder to do now.

The second category is story telling and strong emotions. Sometimes, an image will just grip you. It can be raw and stripped–when you stare at it, it screams in your face or it whispers a secret into your soul. I find portrait photography or darker macabre photography affects me this way.

The third category is high fashion photography.  The time and dedication to the details, set and location, seamless silhouettes and dreamy lighting give way to a fantasy we could only dream about.

GT: Wonderful answers, Meghan. It is always insightful to see how photographers are interpreting the accessible snap-shot trend. Thank you for taking the time to share with our GTH readers. Please keep us updated on future shows and exhibits!

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Follow Meghan Kinita on WordPress at foreveryouforeverme.wordpress.com.

Shop Meghan Kinita fine prints on Society6.

Interview by Jeremy M Reynolds.

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