Why this Prince Edward Island photographer is happy to finally answer his phone


Robin Gislain Shumbusho saw his phone ring, but he did not recognize the number. He assumed it was a scam and hung up.

But the appellant persisted. After about the 10th try, Shumbusho relented.

He’s glad he did.

The appellant offered Shumbusho – a Prince Edward Island-based photographer known online as Gessyy – one of 20 positions in Canon Futures’ 12-month mentorship program. The program brings together emerging artists and designers for professional development.

“It’s a huge, huge deal, at least for the price of photography and the film world,” Shumbusho said in an interview with Island morning host Mitch Cormier.

“It’s more of a process for people to learn and grow their careers and get to a point where they can really do it professionally and make it a full-time career.”

Shumbusho, who is already working full time as a photographer, hopes to take the opportunity to establish himself further.

“I come from a community that is very poorly represented in terms of people who are always in front of the screen,” he said. “And I’m black and all of my peers, most of the time we don’t really end up in front of the lens. I find pleasure in being able to do that and being able to shoot documentaries that tell their stories.”

Shumbusho’s photo of the Black Lives Matter walk in Prince Edward Island in June 2020. (Robin Gislain Shumbusho)

Shumbusho’s work was featured on Canon Canada’s website in June 2020, so the company already knew about his work and saw him grow as an artist.

“The growth, at least for me, I see it’s like a huge curve and they seem to notice it. And when I sent in my application, they had already had a prior meeting with my job, so I guess that was not the case. obvious. “

The opportunity comes at the right time, he said, as it has been difficult working as a photographer during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Access to my studio was really limited, and even people didn’t feel very safe walking into a studio or even being around other people in general. So you can’t meet, bookings get very slow… there was no trip that was allowed or collected. So it was really a big success for the photography. “

Photo by Shumbusho of Bianca Garcia, co-founder of The Black Collective Media. (Robin Gislain Shumbusho)

Shumbusho said he developed an interest in photography with encouragement from his mother, who told him he had a knack for capturing subjects and telling a story in just a few pictures.

“From there it became a huge passion that I just followed.”

He said it was a great experience. The group is planning an in-person event in the coming months. It will include workshops and a focus on photography as a sustainable business.

“There are so many people who fall under the umbrella of starving artists, really where they really shouldn’t be starving if they had a good business perspective on where they started out.”

Shumbusho said he would share his experience and knowledge of Canon Futures on YouTube and Instagram to @iamgessyy.

For more stories about the experiences of black Canadians – from anti-black racism to success stories within the black community – check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.



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