If I could tell you why I am compelled to take pictures I don’t think there’d be any point in me doing it. Sometimes there is no rational or thought for me to articulate only a need to shoot. Between steps I look and listen to everything going on around me subtly analyzing the world on a day to day basis. I read the big stories at home and step outside the door to experience their trickle down in the bubble of my own existence.
Maybe photography for me then is as much about making art as it is about reaching out and finding ways to make connections with the world; to understand the goings-on outside my own periphery.
Andrew Macartney is a student of photographic arts based in Ottawa, Canada. He brings to his practice an assortment of film cameras of various formats from full frame to large format giving him an ability to slow down and make an honest attempt to consciously choose worthwhile places and moments. Andrew covers a range of subjects for reasons he is only beginning to understand outside a mere ‘love of photography.’ Andrew has shown at SPAO’s Exhibition No.11, Contact Photography Festival and the Ottawa Art Gallery.
I shop differently than I used to. I also don't pay for many things anymore. I guess knowing of the incredible treasures to be found in the garbage can lead to that real quick. But anyhoo, how quickly things change.
I went through a phase once of spending lots of money on wellness shit and organic food. I was making a fair bit of money during this time so it worked. Then life happened, I became frugal (raiding clearance sections ayyy), and began to spend less and less. Later I spent all my money on yoga trainings and travel. Money became a limited resource. Lucky for me, some great souls spoke of dumpster diving in a way that gave me the confidence to try it. And so I did, and my first night at it I pulled out three full boxes of organic produce in seconds (high score yo). It’s kind of a super power. Just last night I was walking down Bronson and found a great Columbia sleeping bag in some sidewalk garbage bin which I then slept in that same night.
“Thats nice”, you say. Indeed it is. Not worrying about money as much has done wonders. Being able to travel almost moneyless was a magical experience. I don’t pay for food very often anymore (at least when I have time to cook, lately that’s been a challenge). My line of work in food waste recovery and redistribution on campuses helps out a fair bit (a lot) when times get tough, but that aside, I know the ways.
Walking down the produce section, you notice many a blemish on assorted sections of produce. People seem to be averse to said blemishes, so there is a fair expectation that they may be thrown away. So all those apples and tomatoes are basically garbage that hasn’t made its way to the compactor yet. But wait! See all those other shiny pristine pieces of granny smiths about? Imagine a third or so will be tossed too. Now stop imagining and understand that a third of those grannies (or some other significant amount) will be tossed too. Likewise for all the other produce too. And those cosmetics too. And the packaged food items too. And meat and dairy and bread. Basically, a lot of it will end up in the garbage, compacted or recoverable in the bags in the dumpster (heheh).
This is what I see in grocery stores. I see inevitable waste (I see other things too). And then I go around back when the sun sets and it’s all right there. And I can have it. Only this time I don’t have to pay for it. And I get a workout out of it too (diving is quite laborious, let me tell you). It's a predictable series of events, happening every day, in almost every food selling establishment everywhere. And it’s makes me gag. I don’t need that many containers of yoghurt, or 20 different bottles of assorted supplements and herb powders in capsule form. Or eyeshadow. A bunch of kale, some root veggies and a loaf of bread do me well. Think broccoli is scary? Imagine having to decide whether to drag two dozen heads back home or take one and accept that it will be wasted. You get over it pretty quick though, you’d be dead before you can carry that much produce home.
Maybe they should give it away or something. Maybe to their employees. Could be a thing to try