Twitter Connection: One-on-one with photographer Shay Malden of Canada

(Shay Malden resides in Toronto, Canada. I was introduced to her on Twitter by a fellow photographer. I checked out her Flickr photo stream and I was blown away. So I felt compelled to share her gift with my readers. I went one-on-one with her about her childhood, her evolution as a photographer, her source of inspiration and more.)

Jesse Muhammad (JM): First thank you for taking the time to do this interview. Please share with my readers a little about yourself.

Shay Malden (SM): I’m nobody really. I’m the little girl that sat quietly never saying much. I’m the sheltered teenager that was never allowed to go anywhere. I’m the student that excelled and finished school two years ahead of her peers. I don’t move around much, I am content with life/love, and as I walk the path ahead of me I do so with confidence and grace. When I am fully at peace with myself poetry flows from my finger tips, and I see beauty through my lens. I am not a photographer. I compose art/abstractions. My work with film is raw. Not edited in any way. When I pick up my camera and hold it to my eye, what I wish for more than anything is the ability to see as if for the first time.

JM: Last month someone saw one of my photos via Twitter and in turn introduced me to you. I was blown away by your photography from the start! How long have you been shooting?

SM: I started shooting consistently in 2008, I am still very much an amateur, and what you see in my compositions are bits and pieces of my soul. It’s my view of the world, not all of it is pretty.

JM: What drew you to photography?

SM: Photography came naturally to me. It allows me to show without ever saying a word what I feel in my heart. It is an extension of self. It is my truth, my life, my experiences. Through it I hope to gain a better understanding of self, nature, beauty, vision, inspiration, art. I hope to find my love, my voice.

JM: I am so mesmerized by your photos. It seems like every shot is so detailed. What type of photography do you love doing the most?

SM: I enjoy creating what I like to call art/abstractions, and I work solely with film.

JM: What is your favorite camera? Why?

SM: My camera at the moment is a Canon Rebel 2000 EOS. I use a Sigma Macro Lens (70-300mm), and natural lighting at all times. I’ve purchased many Digital Cameras. When I hold them they feel empty, lifeless. I feel no connection with it or the images that they produce.

JM: When people look at your photography, what do you want your pieces to say to them?

SM: I would like for my images to command their attention; to draw them in close, to take a better look; I would like for it to stir an emotion, and provoke thought; I would like for it to lift their spirits; I would like them to see black as beautiful, powerful, strong; the ultimate compliment however would be for them to feel inspired.

JM: I know it might be hard to pick. But what are three of your favorites?

SM: Three only three? They are all my favorites!!! I’d like for you to pick three of your favorites.

JM: Wow, now you’re putting the pressure on me! I love them all also! (laughs) But I will select "Forever", "Visible", “Feeling Blue”, and "Ebony Eyes". Ok, that’s four. Can you give an explanation behind these amazing shots?

SM: Taking photos are easy. Explaining the thought, concept, or what comes quite naturally actually takes some doing.

"Forever" is the result of a challenge posed by an acquaintance (another photographer Carla Y. Brown) that I met on Flickr. She asked me to capture "what forever looked like to me"...

This seed of thought resonated with me for quite some time. My children are adopted. All of my hopes and dreams are realized every day when they wrap their arms around me, and tell me that they love me. Together we embrace the future, each moment a revelation. I see such light, and love in their eyes. It is my hope that this light/love lasts forever... The painted face represents the internal struggle of all black people(s) being linked with Africa; regardless of where they come from. This too I believe will last forever.

So here you have it, my daughter Tierra born into this struggle, the light in her eyes my hope for the future.


"Visible" was created to illustrate my personal plague in life. No matter how much I accomplish, I always feel like there's a veil hanging in front of me that makes me invisible. When people actually stop for a moment, and take notice, then they realize that there is something--someone of value here.


“Feeling Blue”, long story short, was simply a play on words. Eye Catching…Black and Blue….Blue Eyes

[Feeling Blue]

"Ebony Eyes" was created to illustrate a poem that I wrote...

Emancipation (Pleiades)
Ebony eyes of darkness
Entice my poetic voice
Enthralled I succumb
Entwined with its essence
Eternal scars of a people
Escape on the wings of hope
Empowered by a life of liberty

[Ebony Eyes]

JM: Wow, I love them even more now! You gave me more to think about as I look at them. So, who are some of your favorite photographers?

SM: To be quite honest I’ve never looked at another photographers work. I couldn’t name one if I tried. I’ve quoted Ansel Adams many times, but he is not the source of my inspiration. If I had to name an Artist I would name Picasso in an instant. Why? Simply because he dared to be different. He gave the world something new to look at, and said “Why not?”

JM: Thank you so much for the interview!

SM: These questions forced me to look inward and I thank you for that. Continue to live inspired.

(All images by Shay Malden. You can follow Shay on @Photograbber and view more of her photos on Flickr)



  1. Shay is an amazing an photographer. If she is an amateur now, I can't wait to see how she will evolve as a photographer. Thank you for sharing her with us! She is amazing!


  2. The magic Shay captures in every photo renders me speechless... In the short time that I have known her, I must say that her inner beauty speaks through her poetry and her photography! ~Jonell


  4. This sistah got skills....great interview

  5. First let me say that this is one of the BEST BLOGS I have ever seen...secondly this is one of the BEST PHOTOGRAPHERS I have seen.

    Great interview...great photos. She is powerful in words and works.

  6. Thank You for sharing, I am truely inspired!

  7. Pure genuis...her photography is off the chain. I love her words too.

    Brother Jesse you're a great young man.


  9. Now THIS is what Twitter is suppose to produce! CONNECTIONS!!!! go head brother jesse...keep sharing these great people with us!

    Great photos sister!

  10. Shay is AMAZING! When you were younger being quiet and observing everything - you saved it for us to enjoy today! For that I am grateful :-) ---Your Connecticut Mom


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