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Photographer Nadya Kwandibens creates positive imagery of Indigenous peoples

The first time Nadya Kwandibens picked up a camera was 16 years ago during a film training program in Thunder Bay, Ont. It wasn't until six years after that, that she began her own photography company, Red Works.
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      The first time Nadya Kwandibens picked up a camera was 16 years ago during a film training program in Thunder Bay, Ont. It wasn't until six years after that, that she began her own photography company, Red Works.

      "When I first began Red Works, I noticed the total lack of positive imagery of Indigenous peoples. That need for more positive imagery is the basis upon which I create all my work," said Kwandibens.

      Kwandibens prefers to shoot in natural light, making the most out of what's available. Her subjects have included: Michelle Thrush, Dorothy Grant, Pura Fe, Leanne Simpson and Tantoo Cardinal.

      Up until 2008, Kwandibens was doing mostly portrait, headshots and event photography. But she wanted to find a deeper way of connecting her photography to her audience.

      "I asked myself, 'What is it that I want to say?' and other people might be able to relate with that as well."

      She had been living in Toronto and being in an urban centre surrounded by buildings, roads and little greenery was starting to get to her.

      "I found myself thinking of home and who I really was, living in the city and how disconnected I felt," she said. 

      That is when she began a series called, Concrete Indians. "The series asks 'who are you as a Native person living in the city?' It is about reconnecting with yourself and your culture and who you are deep down," said Kwandibens.