3rd year Photography Teaching Assistant, Fyfield House resident

Although he himself doesn’t know it, Ethan is dyslexic, which is part of why his academic background isn’t very solid; if he hadn’t had a supportive upbringing Ethan is exactly the kind of kid who might have fallen through the cracks.  He was raised alone by his single mom until she married when he was in middle school. His mother backed her new husband, and it was a power struggle from the first.  Ethan’s “new Dad” tried to make him improve his grades through hard work and unremitting application to his studies.  But no matter what Ethan did, no matter how hard he tried, it was never good enough.

blurry bar photoBy high school Ethan gravitated to the outsiders, the kids who didn’t fit in, the stoners. His stepfather told him over and over that he was a loser who would never amount to anything, and Ethan cheerfully decided to prove him right. He never had trouble getting served in bars, and smoking up help keep high school a blur. He managed to survive until he was old enough to move out on his own in tenth grade.

He was going to drop out but his uncle offered him a hand up in the shape of a spare room and a part time job in his portrait studio. All he had to do was finish school. That’s when Ethan fell in love with photography and found his place in the world. He had to be discouraged from making art rather than portraits, but his uncle gave him a battered old SLR and encouraged him to play with it.

Ethan settled down and managed to scrape up enough credits to get his diploma, then started saving for the photography program at Christie. Ironically, part of the reason Ethan’s mother married “the jerk” was that she hoped he’d be able to help her son get to university. Yet now that the family could afford to help, Ethan’s rift with his stepfather means that even if the man offered, Ethan would refuse.

Ethan is a talented photographer, but not brilliant, like Jake.

Yet he was the third year student chosen by world famous photojournalist turned photography professor Annie Mol to be her Teaching Assistant  at Christie.  Mol chose Ethan because he certainly is technically competent, but possibly more important, he is truly a people person.   Ethan is curious, and not only will talk to anyone, much like Heinlein’s Valentine Michael Smith, Ethan truly listens.

He isn’t into confrontation, much preferring to back down than fight. Ethan doesn’t like being stressed, which is why he would rather withdraw and smoke a quiet joint to get calm again. This doesn’t mean he doesn’t feel things deeply, far from it.

The first time Ethan heard about Ubuntu, although he didn’t do anything until Jake invited him to the release party, was last summer, when Ethan went to Toronto with this Montreal girl he met, a performance artist who was into using computers for multi media. Hanging out at the Linux Cafe with her was when Ethan heard about the arrest of Byron Sonne, even before the G20 protests began. He didn’t really give it much thought, thinking it was just the cops doing their job, until he himself was caught up in the Toronto G20 mass arrests.

This upset him on many levels, the impotence he felt when the cops manhandled him in front of the girl, even though they were walking down the street looking for a place to have lunch when they stumbled into the protest. Then his inability to calm her down, and keep her grounded, help her through it. Turned out she wasn’t as fee a thinker as she thought she was… maybe she was just rebelling against her establishment family. Maybe dating Ethan wasn’t about Ethan as much as dissing her daddy. She blamed him for the fact that they were swept up by the police, even though they weren’t protesting, just being tourists, because of the way Ethan looks. Long hair, bandana, skull earring. Eau du marijuana. [Coincidentally, the same things that attracted her in the first place.] Once the cops let them go, she couldn’t ditch him fast enough.

There is a better than good chance that all these things are part of why Ethan has such a strong sense of social justice. He is one of the rare ones who can put himself in someone else’s shoes; he can empathize. That’s the spark that makes him a good photographer.

Ethan’s Links

Ansel Adams
Diane Arbus
Richard Avedon
Zdzislaw Beksinski
Henri Cartier-Bresson
William Eggleston
Yousuf Karsh
Robert Frank
Dorothea Lange
Mark Twain, Napoleon Sarony and “The damned old libel”
The most famous Canadian photographer you’ve never heard of
Canadian Photographers will be paying the music industry soon…
Pirate Party of Canada
Community Solidarity Network
G20 Information Centre
Toronto Police Officer Charged With G20 Assault
Boing Boing
free byron
bluline.ca: No Canadian Miranda right, top court rules

Image Credit
To construct Ethan’s profile photo, I borrowed Ethan’s profile from the classic painting “Oedipus and the Sphinx” by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, a work in the public domain