By: Cassie Dresch
It started with a Pentax K1000 film camera and its broken light meter. Sixteen years later, Christina MacPherson is running her own successful photography business out of her home studio in Kanata.
The Pentax was a Christmas present. After expressing interest in taking pictures of her newborn daughter,MacPherson’s parents gave her the camera, along with a small roll of film. She didn’t know anyone who was gifted at photography and simply began shooting away.
Through trial and error, she learned how to adjust when her photos were overexposed, underexposed or not to her liking.
Photography became her hobby. On her first trip to Algonquin College, MacPherson graduated from the early childhood education program. She soon went to work at the St. Joe’s Women’s Centre based out of St. Joseph’s parish in downtown Ottawa. There she helped homeless and disadvantaged women and children make it through the day.
“I took photos off and on all through my 20s,” said MacPherson. “Sometimes I’d be into it and sometimes I wouldn’t be into it. Then digital came around and, when I met my husband, he bought me a digital camera – a Canon Powershot – and I started using that.”
She quickly fell in love with digital photography and upgraded to a digital SLR. Eventually she was taking family portraits, creating slideshows for work and posting pictures to Facebook. Her photography was gaining popularity.
“It was at that point where I had to pick one,” MacPherson said.
She left her job at the women’s centre and, in 2007, enrolled in the photography program at Algonquin College. It was that same year she created her business, Tia Photography, specializing in maternity, newborn and family photography as well as wedding photography and now boudoir photography.
MacPherson enjoyed her time in the photography program. The freedom to experiment with photographs within a certain structure was a welcomed challenge. If a portrait could be taken a thousand ways, she says students were always encouraged to find those shots.
Her time at Algonquin also left her with a lifelong role model. Part-time photography professor Andrew Balfour was the motivator and the mentor she needed when her studies became overwhelming.
“It’s funny; at first, I was so intimidated by him,” said MacPherson. “I would fumble around any time he was near. But he really took me in. He would encourage me when I was stressed out. He would just keep saying, ‘You know this. Stop doubting.’ That’s what I needed sometimes when I was ready just to be done with it.
“There are people who stand out that make a difference. I really believe you meet certain people at certain points for a reason. There are those people you meet and they steer you when maybe you would have taken a different direction. It’s so critical. He stood out for me.”
MacPherson stands out herself. She runs a thriving business on a style she’s created on her own. Her soft, naturally lit photos look serene, peaceful and delicate. She also has a few words of advice for students still growing into their technique.
“If you have a direction and you have a style and you have a focus and something you like, whether it’s portraits or it’s architecture, no matter what anybody says to you, follow it,” she said. “You shouldn’t be swayed out of your opinion and your style. If you really, really love what you do, there’s nothing wrong with it.”
For more information on MacPherson’s photography, visit www.tiaphotography.com.