Collaborator Bio

I grew up in a small town south of Ottawa where, for my 10th birthday, I received a Kodak 110 camera as a gift. I attended Ryerson University and graduated in 2008. I’ve wandered and worked around the world before returning home to Canada.

My photography work focuses on the theme of female identity and childhood as I find myself constantly looking for answers of what it really means to be a woman through photography.

I am currently a freelance photographer working to and from Ottawa and Toronto (and the in between) specializing in both fashion and portraiture.

Kaja Tirrul
Kaja TirrulOttawa - ON

Q. When is your birthday?

A. October 3rd, 1986

Q. What is your best memory/moment from one of your past birthdays?

A. My best memory of one of my past birthdays would be rainbow chip cake, with rainbow chip icing, with rainbow candies. My mom hates to bake but always made me this colourful treat, well into my 20’s. The funny thing is I don’t even really like cake . . but the idea of this cake is so wonderful I have always felt special knowing it was made for me.

Q. How about your worst?  And why?

A. My worst birthday memory would be on my fifth birthday. My neighbour David came to my party and pooped his pants while we were playing games. I was very upset.

Q. What do you believe is the most important aspect of celebrating a birthday?

A. Being demonstrative. I love surprising loved ones on their birthdays, working hard to find the perfect gifts, making treats, reaching out, all in all, letting them know they are loved.

Q. Do you/your family have a tradition/rituals/ceremonies to celebrate birthdays? What is it?

A. I can’t think of any rituals or ceremonies. Every year is different.

Q. What is your life motto?

A. Just a little patience.

Q. What/Whom drives you to keep going and why?

A. My mom has always inspired me. She is a smart, funny, interesting, strong and hard working woman. I have never seen her be lazy or boring for even a moment. She can stop and find interest in, and learn from, everything around her which is something I wish everyone had and something I am lucky to have inherited from her in some small way. People close to me have always motivated and inspired me when I am struggling with what I am working on. My best friend is a sounding board for all of my crazy ideas and always nods and tells me how great they are even when she has no idea what I’m talking about. My boyfriend knows and loves my need to photograph, and simply accepts when I’m being driven crazy by it. I have a great support group of fellow photographers, mainly from university, and we all just get each other in a way no one else does. Logistically, money and time are my biggest enemies – but who can’t say that? I suppose Beyoncé is one of them…

Q. If you could change one and only one thing – big or small – what would it be?

A. That more people tried to see things through the eyes of others.

Q. Which photographers have influenced you, and how did they influence your thinking, photographing and career path?

A. Currently my favorite photographers are Chris Buck, Lauren Greenfield and Nirrimi Hakonson. I love Buck’s humour, Greenfield’s honesty, and Hakonson’s beauty. Of course I have a love for the greats; Diane Arbus and Richard Avedon in particular. My influences change almost daily, there is no one particular photographer who inspired me or modified my career path. 

Q. What motivates you to continue to take photographs?

A. I can’t imagine not doing it. When I’m shooting it’s the only time that I feel completely awake, when I am 100% focused, forgetting everything else around me. Taking pictures and working with pictures fuels me. It is a blessing and a curse because photography has always been something that I need to do. It is almost as though there is not another option, I feel like I have to do it. Don’t get me wrong, it makes me the happiest I can ever be, but that means that I kind of never have a break from it.

Q. Why did you agree to participate in The Birthday Book Project?

A. I agreed to participate in The Birthday Project for many reasons. I want to celebrate and share the work of Canadians and Canadian photographers. I love the collaboration aspect to it, as photographers we do lonely work, just us and our camera. Its wonderful to touch base with others who have the same passion, to be inspired by them and learn from them. I have never been competitive with other photographers as no two are ever alike, therefore we each offer something new, and when open to that we can learn a lot from one another. Lastly, I love photographing people, I also love birthdays, therefore this is perfect for me. Simple as that.

Q. What do you expect to accomplish through your participation in The Birthday Book Project?

A. I hope to create some new work, meet some new people, and learn some new things.