10 Questions with SNAP Winner Meaghan Ogilvie

By: Dara Vandor

Lot 2 – Meaghan Ogilvie. ROW 6. WINNER: Award of Merit
20 ins x 30 ins; 50.8 cms x 76.2 cms. Estimate $1,000-$2,500

Waddington’s is proud to partner with the AIDS Committee of Toronto (ACT) to present the SNAP Photography Auction online from March 11-18, 2022.

The auction represents the winners and jury selections from the annual Photo Competition. These contemporary, lens-based works are selected from hundreds of entries by a blind jury of talented professionals working in the fields of photography, printing and framing. 

The winner of this year’s Award of Merit is Meaghan Ogilvie, an internationally-recognized photographer and visual artist whose diverse artistic collaborations are often aimed at raising awareness about water conservation. She has specialized in underwater photography for the past twelve years. Ogilvie began to photograph in open water in the ocean in 2014 and acquired scuba diving and freediving certifications.

We caught up with Ogilvie via email to ask about her earliest memories of art, her favourite things to photograph, and what makes a good picture.

Tell us about Row 6, your winning photograph. What was the genesis for this work/series?

The image was created for a commissioned series for the Toronto 2015 Panam/Parapan Am Games. The series focused on humans’ relationship to water. In lieu of the remarkable athleticism seen at the Games, I wanted to collaborate with athletes and document how they interacted with water by studying their movement and putting a spotlight on their performance. I worked with Olympic platform diver Max Bouchard and dancer and synchronized swimmer Emily Law.

Have your feelings changed towards it as time has passed as compared to when it was taken?

Yes, at the time I was overwhelmed with deadlines and the production of the large-scale exhibition to represent Toronto at the Panam Games. I had a complex relationship with the work I created because I was so stressed. For a long time, I didn’t want to look at the work. Now, I feel proud of the image and the athletes I worked with. The image was technically challenging to create in sixteen feet of water. For me, the image evokes a sense of adventure, escapism and playfulness – all reasons why I’m attracted to water.

Describe your style—both aesthetic and the way you work.

My practice is sensually influenced by the exploration of water, which I photograph in fragments and in whole. I photograph people and landscapes beneath the water, sometimes representationally, other times abstractly. I move between these aesthetics with as much fluidity as my subject itself. I am fascinated by something in the water which I am determined to discover. I enjoy the physicality of creating in water because it is so challenging and constantly changing. This changeability leaves room to experiment with light, colour, location and time.

Meaghan Ogilvie

What is your earliest memory of art? Did you always know that this was the path for you?

I remember creativity was always a part of my childhood with my father and grandfather playing guitar and my sister and I taking piano lessons. My mom would sew most of our clothes and gifts. If we weren’t outside playing, we were inside reading and making crafts. Creativity was always encouraged and became a place where I could be free to express myself and find an escape from the difficulties in life. It was a natural progression to choose art as my path because it was so familiar to me and brought me happiness.

What makes a good picture? 

From the beginning I have believed a good picture has the ability to evoke an emotion, tell a story and have balance through composition. If an image can communicate all of these, it will stand out from the average.

Tell us something that you’re looking forward to accomplishing in the next year.

This year I will be traveling to Australia for underwater cinematography training with a mentor. I received a grant from the Canadian Council for the Arts to fund the one month workshop. Because of COVID-19, the training had been delayed multiple times, so I’m looking forward to finally traveling there. The training will provide invaluable experience and certification to build a greater confidence to go after more lucrative and meaningful projects. I aspire to create documentaries and video installations. Traveling to Australia will also provide me with an opportunity to expand my geographic contacts by meeting new creatives, students, and members of the diving community. This will be advantageous to me for networking when I begin to plan my projects in the Oceania area.

What is your favourite thing to photograph?

My focus has been on water for the past thirteen years. There is so much that I love about water. I love that it never stands still and is constantly changing shape. It is the most beautiful subject to photograph.

Who are some of the artists working today whose work you admire?

Having access to so many talented artists on social media, there are many that I admire, but my long-time favourites are Sebastião Salgado, Sally Mann and Zena Holloway. I perceive all three of these artists as unique and courageous in the way that they create. I admire Salgado’s dedication to long-term projects and his ability to capture the essence of nature with his black and white images. Sally Mann has stayed true to her passion, despite the controversy surrounding her work. Zena Holloway is a pioneer in underwater photography, creating a sustainable career while expanding her medium into bio-design sculpture.

Was this your first time submitting to SNAP? How did you hear about the competition?

No, I’ve submitted in the past and my work has been a part of the live auctions. Originally, I heard about SNAP from other artists.

How did you learn about photography? Tell us about your trajectory as a photographer.

My first introduction was when I discovered National Geographic at age ten and knew I wanted to be a photographer. My parents made a modest income and we never traveled, so the magazine’s images brought the world to me. It was very inspiring and transformative. I was drawn to the possibilities of travel and being in nature as a career. Growing up I spent a lot of time outside in nature alone and with friends. It was an important part of where my happiness came from. This impacted my choice of using photography as a way to communicate our connection with nature today. I saw photography as a career where I could constantly learn, explore and evolve. My mother bought me an old Minolta film camera for my fifteenth birthday. I took the camera everywhere with me documenting my friends and family, school and the ravine behind my house. I was shy and I quickly learned photography gave me a reason to talk to people. It gave me a purpose. I went to Sheridan College for their commercial photography program and quickly learned I was more of an artist than an advertising photographer. After graduating, I began creating work to show at art fairs in Toronto. Once I created my first underwater series, the momentum of my career began and I’ve had the opportunity to travel the world to collaborate with ocean conservation organizations, as well as other artists and divers.



Proceeds from this auction will support the free programs and services offered at ACT, Canada’s largest HIV and AIDS service organization. ACT was founded in 1983 by a group of community volunteers with the mission to end AIDS in Toronto through sexual health education, prevention and outreach. ACT works towards a city with zero new HIV infections, zero HIV-related stigma and discrimination, and zero AIDS-related deaths while promoting the independence, dignity, health and well-being of those living with HIV and AIDS and those at increased risk of HIV. ACT primarily serves gay, bi, queer people living with HIV and those at increased risk for new HIV-infection. They offer counselling and support groups, social support programs and anonymous HIV-testing. ACT also offers programming for young people, women, and has a one-of-a-kind employment program to help people living with HIV and LGBTQ2+ folks find meaningful employment in their field after taking time to focus on their health. To learn more, please visit ACT’s website at actoronto.org.


Please view the full online gallery for the auction. The sale of all the artworks in this auction support the important work that ACT does in our community.

Click here to find out how to register for the auction, and to review the auction’s specific Terms & Conditions.


It is our hope that new audiences will participate in the SNAP online auction so as to better help support ACT’s important work.

For more information, we invite you visit SNAP’s website or contact Matt O’Donnell at [email protected].

SNAP would like to thank its partners, including the TD Ready Commitment, Toronto Image Works, Print Partner, museumpros, TPH, Air Canada, Inspired Media, Akasha Art Projects, Dimensions Custom Framing & Gallery, and Waddington’s.

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