The Thursday Q&A with photographer Angelina McCormick
At the age of 42, Angelina McCormick went back to school to study photography. Her children had started school and she was bored. Her new career was a perfect fit and she’s been honoured for her work. She won applied arts awards in three different categories in 2011 and received honourable mentions at the International Photography Awards in 2008.
Although this life was fantastic, there was something missing, namely children. McCormick realized she wanted a career that involved teaching or helping young people. Now she has the best of both worlds as a full-time teacher at SPAO (School of Photographic Arts: Ottawa). She sat down with Style intern Laura Green to answer our Q&A’s many questions.
OCS: Who are your style icons?
AM: I don’t know if I have a style icon, but I’m really attracted to the 1940s era, and I think it’s because I’m attracted to the costume. Everyone in those days wore a costume. You wore a costume to go to church, and you wore a costume to go to work.
OCS: Favourite websites and blogs?
AM: I tend to (look at) a lot of Tumblr blogs, just to get inspiration, and I tend to go to a lot of fashion Tumblrs. There’s one that’s called Strangely Compelling. I also enjoy A Photo Editor (another Tumblr blog).
OCS: Best recent fashion find?
AM: I found a purse at Value Village, and it was a Rudsak. And it was red.
OCS: What was your biggest fashion faux-pas, where was it and when?
AM: It was two years ago, and it was the most memorable one. I got to photograph the Governor General Michaëlle Jean. I was to photograph during an interview, and as I leaned over (I was using a waist-mounting camera) to photograph her, I saw this funny smile on her face. I thought to myself ‘Uh-oh, what’s wrong?’ I usually wear dresses but that day I wore pants and a nice blouse because I didn’t want to have any faux-pas if I bent over. As I leaned over I looked down towards my chest and I could see my top completely hanging open. So I stuck some tape down my shirt to keep my shirt to my chest and then I continued.
OCS: What is a person, place or thing that makes you proudest or happiest that you live in Ottawa?
AM: I love the Parliament Hill, walking around, seeing all the statues and the whispering wall. The fact that we can have freedom to walk on that hill and the grass amazes me, because back with my family in Italy, you wouldn’t even get past the gate to the government.
OCS: Best restaurant in Ottawa?
AM: Because of food allergies, we go to limited places. But I would say the best restaurant because of the atmosphere and the ideas of bringing back memories of my children would have to be Mello’s.
OCS: Favourite piece of furniture?
AM: My favourite piece of furniture would have to be a table at the school where I teach. It’s a table that was constructed by (co-instructor) Michael Tardioli and I. It was the first table I used power tools to build.
OCS: Favourite home accessory?
AM: My home is very minimal. I’d have to say my broom. I like to sweep. To me, sweeping is (not only) cleaning up, it’s a repetitive motion, it’s relaxing.
OCS: Qualities you admire in a person?
AM: That I learned from my mother: Not to judge anybody.
OCS: Fine dining or plain-old diners?
AM: I’d probably have to say plain-old diners, I like the casual aspect of it and just being able to not have a care and relax.
OCS: Who would you invite for dinner if you could choose anyone in the world?
AM: To me, dinner is the most important meal. I am strict about when you have dinner, you have dinner with family. The telephone and TV are off, and you talk about your day. The person I would have to spend dinner with is a person from my family.
OCS: Favourite food?
AM: Linguini. I could eat linguini with any kind of sauce.
OCS: Wine, beer or both?
AM: I would have to say white wine. I don’t drink that often, I tend to just drink at social events.
OCS: Mac or PC?
AM: Mac. My whole industry is Mac-based, and that’s all I’ve ever owned.
OCS: Favourite visual artist, living or dead?
AM: That changes all the time, but for right now, I would have to say Albert Watson. He’s a photographer and my inspiration.
OCS: What’s on your bedside table?
AM: I have a little CD case with plasticine smushed in it with a landscape that my son gave me, and a little vase with smushed-up paper flowers with pipe cleaners. Every Mother’s Day, my kids have given me one so it’s become a bouquet now. And a little painting of a tree with fall leaves that my daughter made me.
OCS: Best book you read in the last year?
AM: I purchase books to read for a moment or a feeling, so right now I’m reading a book of poetry by Nina Berkhout, it’s called Arrivals and Departures.
OCS: Most often played song on your iPod or mp3 player?
AM: I’m Not Sleeping by Big Bag Voodoo Daddy
OCS: What is your guilty pleasure?
AM: The only thing I do for myself is go to a salon every once in a while, and have someone play (with) and wash and massage my scalp and my hair.
OCS: What is your favourite place to spend time?
AM: I’m kind of a workaholic, so it’s probably my work. I like to spend time in the darkroom. The darkroom is a special place.
OCS: Describe your perfect day off, (it could be anywhere in the world.)
AM: I would have to say sitting on a beach. The idea of just sitting there and putting your toes in the white sand, that would be where I’d want to be for a day off.
OCS: What is your earliest memory?
AM: My grandmother from Italy… I just remember sitting on her lap, and we were on the front step, and we were just watching people walk by.
OCS: What is your proudest moment?
AM: To me, I take pride in watching my children or students succeed and understand. It’s that moment when they get it, or they go up and they receive an award, or if they’ve won a race, or just accomplished something. I get goose bumps. That’s when I feel proud, not only for them, but proud that I had an impact.
OCS: How would you like the world to remember you? What would your eulogist ideally say?
AM: People would describe me as (someone who is) whatever you need me to be. That’s how I tend to live my life. I am whatever anybody needs me to be at that moment to support them.