My name is Moira Ness. I am an award winning photo-based artist from Toronto, Canada. I want to share my experience/advice on making it as an emerging artist(applying for opportunities, dealing with rejections, networking, etc!). Ask me anything!

Moira Ness
Mar 26, 2018

Here to share any art world tips and tricks that have worked(and not worked!) for me! I specialize in photography and new media advice, but can still help artists in other mediums/practices, as well as give general career suggestions. How to get opportunities without having a lengthy CV, how to get your work in front of the right eyes, when to pay an application fee, getting into your first group show/solo show, where to find opportunities online, the importance of professional presentation of your work, oh my! Check out my website to get an idea of my own practice:! Excited for this AMA!


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What is something you think everyone should do at least once in their lives?
Apr 2, 11:58AM EDT0
What are your responsibilities as a photo-based artist?
Apr 2, 10:05AM EDT0
What is something that is considered a luxury, but you don’t think you could live without as a photographer?
Apr 2, 10:02AM EDT0
What job, outside of your field, do you think you would you be great at and why?
Apr 2, 10:00AM EDT0
Do you listen to music when taking or developing your photographs and what are you reasons for this?
Apr 2, 9:07AM EDT0
What are some small and generally overlooked things about photography that make you want to continue with it as a career?
Apr 2, 5:07AM EDT0
What photography tools do you use both traditional and digital, if any?
Mar 31, 7:21PM EDT0

I use many tools! I own 3 tripods, 3 DSLRs, 2 SLRs, 5 lenses, a 27" retina iMac, Photoshop CC, i1Display Pro, and a few things I'm probably forgetting!

Mar 31, 7:27PM EDT0
What is your biggest challenge in today's digital age?
Mar 31, 3:30PM EDT0

Getting lost in the online photography crowd! There are so many photographers posting photos and trying to be seen. It is such an approachable medium that there in a larger amount of people "at it" than say, painting or drawing. 

Mar 31, 7:24PM EDT0
What makes a perfect profile photo for an artist's website?
Mar 29, 5:47PM EDT0

Well lit! Professional camera. A casual headshot works well. You could include your art or you working on your art!

Mar 29, 6:09PM EDT0
What according to you are some of the most unbelievable yet "true" pictures?
Mar 29, 5:31PM EDT0

What type of photography are you asking about? I know mostly about fine art, which is usually manipulated in some way, so therefore not ever "true."! 

Mar 29, 5:37PM EDT0
When did you decide to pursue a career as an photo based artist?
Mar 29, 1:11PM EDT0

2016! I answer a bit more about this a few questions down! :)

Mar 29, 5:15PM EDT0
In the field of creativity like photography, designing whats more important CV or a Portfolio and why?
Mar 29, 1:06PM EDT0

That is a hard question! It is always important to have a solid portfolio! That is the reason for being an artist. A loaded CV is also a good thing to have, but you cannot have a full CV without a solid body of work. I would focus more on the photography before worrying about a CV.

Mar 29, 5:38PM EDT0
What is your favorite guilty pleasure when you’re not working?
Mar 29, 5:18AM EDT0

I watch a lot of Coronation Street! I very rarely admit to this fact, so there you go!

Mar 29, 5:39PM EDT0
Are any failures along the way helped you shape your creativity?
Mar 28, 6:59AM EDT0

I used to apply to galleries way out of my league. This was at the very beginning of my career and I was overly excited with the small amount of success I had. Luckily this was years ago and none of them replied. I hope that they have now forgotten about my “application/submission”, haha!

Mar 29, 5:43PM EDT0
What kind of camera do you currently use?
Mar 27, 9:55PM EDT0

I use a Nikon D750! I have a 50mm and a 20mm, only primes! My back up camera is my old D300. 

Mar 27, 10:12PM EDT0
How do you find 'all included' shows? Is there a list somewhere with details about these shows?
Mar 27, 12:54PM EDT0 is where I found 99% of the "all included" shows. I pay for a subscription, which I would usually not do. However, the annual fee is something like $15, very, very reasonable for even just these "all included" opportunities. They also have an extensive list otherwise, mostly directed towards a US artist. I still find a lot of international opportunities!

They also have a free section, it just is not as extensive as the paid section. 

Mar 27, 1:09PM EDT0
After your first show, in what way did you rectify your framing and printing?
Mar 27, 9:54AM EDT0

Before my first show I would print my work at a large printing studio. I had no direct contact with the printer, submitting through an online form. They did not provide access to their printer’s colour profile which is so important for any photographer who is proofing and printing work! I now work with a small studio in Hamilton, ON, called Smokestack Studio:  Jonathan and the Smokestack team are my saving grace. I had been so frustrated printing with other studios! Orders at other studios had come out wrong despite specific requests and with massive quality discrepancies. It was like night and day at Smokestack. Each order is a personal correspondence with Jonathan. He makes sure all details are reviewed and noted. On top of providing the absolute best customer service, his prices are competitive and his printers are literally the best. There is a Epson SureColor P20000, the best and the only one of its kind in Canada.


Smokestack also offers a satellite Superframe(best framer in Toronto) location, meaning I can have my work printed and framed in the same spot without having to take prints to the framer.

Last edited @ Mar 27, 10:13PM EDT.
Mar 27, 1:14PM EDT0
Which online forums did you use to learn about Photoshop? Can you recommend any tutorial sites?
Mar 27, 9:00AM EDT0

I actually taught myself Photoshop! I used some YouTube videos for some guidance. I always had very specific questions which I just typed in and learned those specific guides. It was a lot of trial and error and looking back I would probably have been wise to take an actual course. My Photoshop skills are good, but my organization within the application is not. I am actually planning to take a refresher beginners course to relearn the basic organization properly. I would look into courses and OCAD or Ryerson Chang. I am unsure if an online course would suffice, BUT I do know there are lots of different online resources to use!

Mar 27, 11:47AM EDT0
What happened between 2012 to 2015 to stifle your creativity?
Mar 27, 7:00AM EDT0

I was working a day job that was draining my entire life. Over worked, on call, severely underpaid, and poorly treated. I’d come home exhausted and just want to eat and go to sleep. There was no time to be creative! Then my mother passed away in mid 2014 and that was obviously a huge set back for many parts of my life. After a lot of reflection and delays I set a date to quit my day job(Jan 1st, 2016) and began this journey into the art world. Never looked back!

Mar 27, 11:44AM EDT0
Apart from photography, what are your other interests and hobbies?
Mar 26, 2:20PM EDT0

I love cooking. I experiment with so so many recipes and have settled with Japanese cuisine being my favourite to cook. I make ramen from scratch(Spicy Miso is my fav to make) and love making Okonomiyaki, a sort of savoury Japanese pancakes with a bunch of optional toppings.


I also watch Top Chef like it is my job and love watching reruns. Obsessed with The Food Network, too!

Mar 26, 3:27PM EDT0
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