Welcome to Conversations, a new series on Mortal Muses, in which we ask photographers to tell us about their work and inspirations. Today’s guest is Nicole White, who lives in Toronto, Canada with her cat, Gerrard. She is currently a graduate student in an experimental psychology program learning about cognitive neuroscience, and studying visual information processing and perception. She has a photography blog, and you can also follow her on flickr.

How did you find your way into photography?

I’ve been drawn to photography since I can remember, but I started getting more serious about learning the ins and outs of the technical stuff a little over two years ago, when my family bought me my first dSLR as a graduation present when I finished university. I could ramble on for an embarrassingly long time without actually making a coherent point here, so let me just say that I’m very fortunate to have a family in which documenting both the big and small moments has always been important (including, and perhaps especially, the embarrassing ones that everyone else thinks are funny). My grandparents have a dresser drawer full of photos, some in albums but many loose, and I’ve spent many afternoons just flipping through those memories. Photographs have such a powerful way of completely transporting you into that moment. Here is a small collection reasons I grew up loving photography:

Great Grandfather


Feb ’61 Nanny


April ’64


Fishing in BC


Grandfather in basic training


Grandparents wedding


Xmas ’66


My family’s favorite embarrassing story


Making Jack O’laterns with Mom


Grandparents 25th Anniversary

What is your style?

I don’t think I really have one, but if I do, someone else is going to have to tell me what it is. I can tell you that my approach is methodical, and I really try to take in the moment. I love film, but sometimes I love processing the crap out of a digital image, too. My approach changed with film definitely; you have to stop and consider and make the image you want in your mind first, much more of a process than a snap shot or a snap decision. I like the slow approach [that film calls for], and I would also would like to start experimenting with more candid, street style photography.

What or who inspires you?

The right light! It doesn’t matter what the subject is, if the light is right, it is good. I’ve been known to dance a jig and clap if the sun is at the right angle. My first in-depth look at a camera was in a neuroscience class when we learned about eyes, and I’m still baffled by how it all works.

What are some of your favorite photographic subjects?

My cat, Gerrard – he’s my mandatory portrait model! I’ve also come to appreciate still life photography a lot more…you know, the things you have around all the time, but don’t always stop to take an extra moment to appreciate.

Share with us a favorite recent photo?

I’m a bit biased, but this picture is a recent favourite of mine. Heath and I live 800 miles apart, and we only get to visit each other a few times a year. With the multitude of video applications online, we see each other frequently, but I like having (sneaking) candid pictures of him where he’s frozen in a moment we were enjoying together in the same place. And it’s pretty tough to be sneaky with a Hasselblad, so this one is also an accomplishment to be proud of!

Share with us an all time favorite photo you’ve taken?

I’ve loved this image since the moment the shutter fired. Talk about being in the right place at the right time! (Peggy’s Cove, Nova Scotia)

What would your superpower be?

The choosing of superpowers is very serious business. As Uncle Ben said, with great power comes great responsibility. I think I would want Captain Atom’s superpowers (from The New 52), as long as I could retain my human form – the captain is an unfortunately large, radioactive blue fellow. He can manipulate atoms. Do you know what’s made of atoms? Everything. That means his power is more or less limitless. He can do awesome things like end war and remove inoperable tumours, but also materialize cupcakes out of carbon and hydrogen, and he never has to commute to work because he can fly. He could also probably develop his own C-41 film with his mind, an ability which would save me a lot of money. I can’t think of a more awesome, multi-purpose superpower than that!