Photographer Nadya Kwandibens captures aboriginal experience in Canada

Aboriginal photographer Nadya Kwandibens wants to dispel notions of First Nations people being troubled in today's society and portrayed as stoic in the past.

Red Works photographer's tour brings her to Winnipeg

Aboriginal photographer Nadya Kwandibens wants to dispel notions of First Nations people being troubled in society today and portrayed as stoic in the past. 

"There is more of a need for positive imagery of First Nations people," she said.

One of her series of black and white photographs is called Concrete Indians. She invited people to send her proposals for portraits and many people wanted to be photographed in an urban setting wearing regalia.

 "It poses the question, how does living in an urban centre affect your identity as an indigenous person?" explained Kwandibens, whose company is called Red Works Photography. 

"Regalia has certain meanings for different people and it's very much a part of who they are and how they identify. People are really proud of their culture and their roots and what they've been taught. The portrait ideas are a strengthening of those roots and those ideas  and those values that they've been instilled with."

By contrast, the series Red Works Outtakes is in full vibrant colour, with subjects smiling and laughing, expressing a feeling of exuberance and unbridled joy.

"We're laughing when we're protesting, at rallies and marches, I really just pick up on all of that. It's a part of who we are and the resiliency that our people have," she said. "You can sense  the energy in those shots."

Kwandibens, who is from Northwest Angle #37 First Nation south of Kenora, Ontario, also enjoys photographing large public events and concerts. She spent Saturday capturing festivities at The Forks in Winnipeg on Aboriginal Day. She was also featured in CBC's documentary series 8th Fire and took a number of promotional shots for that series.

Nadya Kwandibens is in Winnipeg until June 26 as part of her annual tour in which she takes bookings for portraits, headshots, events, and concerts.