In honor of Canada Day, we’re sharing the stories behind local photographer Camila Gargantini‘s ambitious photo series, The Birthday Book Project. Together, she and a team of local Canadian photographers set out to capture 366 individual portraits of people representing a birth date—their own birthday—for every day of the entire year, including February 29th. This body of work is made and shot in Canada with passion by homegrown Canadian talent.
“There are number of layers to the project which are important to me and that drove the inspiration. I wanted to work with Canadian photographers to elevate our talent here right at home. I wanted to empower both the photographers and the subjects being photographed to help them tell their stories. I wanted to celebrate community and collaboration while highlighting the diversity and uniqueness that make up each of us.”
—Camila Gargantini, on The Birthday Project
When we last heard from Camila, she shared her three favorite portraits to be featured in the book, then we followed her behind-the-scenes at the making of a portrait for the book featuring our own CEO Andy Yang and his family. Today, they’re nearing the end of their journey, and soon their efforts will come to life in the form of a published book.
We checked back in with her to discover that some of her team’s photographers—all community members on 500px—have stories to share behind the striking portraits they shot for the project.
As we wish our own Canada a happy birthday, scroll down—and get inspired to come up with ideas for your own portraits or future photo projects!
Photographer Camila Gargantini
“When I was answering the questions for our Media Kit, I mentioned that one of the people I would like to photograph was Ed Robertson, born on October 25th, amongst other notable Canadians like David Suzuki, Rachel McAdams, and Chris Hadfield. But his birthday date was already taken…and even then I wasn’t sure I would be able to pull it off. A while into the project, I noticed his date had opened up, so I decided to reach out and ask if he would participate. He replied with a “So you want to photograph me?” followed by a yes…I so was thrilled!! We messaged back and forth to come up with an idea for the photo and agreed to photograph him in his home, alongside a collection of amazing pinball machines that he fixed himself. I had a blast chatting about the machines and all the amazing artwork he has around his home. Better yet, I was so glad I got to interview him for the project and share a few laughs.”
Photographer April Cormier
“This image of Chelsea Smith, born July 4th was an easy choice. I absolutely love dogs and was super excited when Chelsea said she’d be bringing her beautiful dog along. I decided to go with a walking trail park for our shooting location. It just made sense.”
Photographer Craig MacPhee
“Corey Walyuchow was born on December 12th.”
Photographer Cyndal Lorch
“This is Kristen. We met years ago and quickly realized we were both born in the same year and that our birthdays were one day apart. Super random, but also super cool, resulting in immediate friendship. Born December 19th, Kristen is glamazon with a “slight” shoe obsession (I feel ya girl) who also loves to eat. So when she came to me with the idea of a fridge full of shoes, I knew we had a winner. Conveniently her dad had a brand new (clean and empty) fridge that we could use. So after two suitcases full of shoes, which weren’t even all of them, a kitchen makeover and a concept in hand, we were able to get this shot. I think this photo is the epitome of Kristen’s personality and I just love how it turned out.”
Photographer Emily Dozois
“This is an image of my little sister, Megan Bauer, born June 25th. She absolutely hates posing for photos, so there was a certain level of bribery and coercion involved in getting this shot. I wanted to capture her personality, which was difficult because she tends to be very stiff when she knows she is on camera. To help her relax, I snuck her into the backyard for a few minutes when she was outside playing. Her hair was between haircuts and she was wearing a shirt that featured her favorite cartoon characters, but it shows exactly who she is. She is the middle child, who loves fiercely and always fights for things to be fair. She is determined in everything she does and never lets her loved ones down. I love this photo because I think it depicts true, uninhibited joy.”
Photographer Jeannette Breward
“I have had such a wonderful time photographing people for the birthday book project – it’s so difficult to pick a favourite image. The one I’ve decided to speak on is my photograph of Brooke Mullins, born June 27th. I’ve long had a fascination with abandoned spaces and have an ongoing series of self-portraits shot inside of ones that I have found on my explorations. When Brooke expressed a fondness and connection to these same types of places, I knew we were going to create something awesome together for her portrait. The final photo, which includes a ghostly image of Brooke’s daughter in the background as an homage to Brooke’s affinity for and connection to the otherworldly, is one that I really love. Despite the cold weather, Brooke and her daughter both braved the temperature in their glamourous outfits to make the final piece a success. I just love the feel of this image, the adventure we had to create it, and the fact that I got to incorporate some of the surreal elements of my own personal work outside of the birthday book project into it. So, although I can’t say I have a favourite image, because I’ve gotten to photograph so many wonderful people and had such amazing experiences with them all, creating this particular photo was definitely memorable!”
Photographer Lori Maloney
“It was really difficult to choose one image from my portraits for The Birthday Book Project because they all had their own level of challenge, intrigue, or flair; in the end, I chose this one of, my husband, Darren Maloney, born March 10th. I first met Darren when I was walking into a barn and he was walking out…my eyes were adjusting from the bright, summer sun to the dark interior of our barn and his presence actually startled me a little! When I realized he was standing in front of me, and looked up, I immediately thought ‘those are the kindest eyes I’ve ever seen’. Flash forward to many years later & my collaboration with The Birthday Book Project when it was my privilege to create his portrait. This session was the fastest, easiest, most carefree shoot I’ve done for The Project…we ambled our way out back, up the hill a little, he sat in a thorny bush, we laughed, I held up a reflector, and – boom – a portrait that, I feel, really captures his sensitivity & gentle nature. Often times we employ the use of extra gear to ‘make it happen’…this is a good example of how keeping it simple can provide amazing results!”
Photographer Mélissa Pelchat
“I have picked this image because my friend Arielle Livernoche born on February 9th has been through one of those horrible years we face maybe once or twice in life when, every time you seem to get back on your feet, Life punches you in the guts again. Yet, she kept getting up again… and again… and didn’t let her body’s weakness get in the way of her spirit getting stronger than ever. When we met for this picture, she didn’t hesitate one second to bare it all under a stormy sky and I think she looks like the warrior that she truly is.”
Happy birthday, Canada!
What do you think of these portraits? Let us know in the comments below!