a peek into the mind of LNFB’S first photographer | conversation with whitney lewis-smith

Whitney and Rachel worked together at Play Food & Wine in Ottawa’s Byward Market almost ten years ago. While they’ve both since pursued very different careers, they were thrilled that their paths converged to produce the first 33 LNFB portraits in March 2016.


LNFB is grateful to Whitney for laying the founation of our portraits, which have now reached almost 1000 in number, and setting the honest and relevatory tone of the campaign. We are truly lucky to have benefited from Whitney’s talent and genius. It is no wonder her work sits in prominent private collections in Canada, the US, England, Spain, Mexico, and Chile, as well as the private collection of Sophie and Justin Trudeau, The Beaverbrook Art Gallery of New Brunswick, Maison Simons colelction, SUMMA contemporary Art Fair’s premanent acquisitions, and Ottawa City’s Public Art collections.

Want to learn more about Whitney’s work? Check out her website here, or her representation by Galerie St-Laurent+Hill (Ottawa) and Subject Gallery NYC (New York).

 Whitney in the studio. Photo Credit: Metropolis Studio

Whitney in the studio. Photo Credit: Metropolis Studio

To get things rolling, can you tell us a bit about yourself, Whit?

I’m a Canadian photo-based artist and college instructor at The School Of Photographic Arts Ottawa. I studied drawing and sculpture at Concordia University which has also become a large part of my practice. The last few years have had me travelling frequently to source props and long term project opportunities. I was working at the Museum of Natural History in Puebla, Mexico building sets and photographing their vast collection of specimens which ultimately became the catalyst for my most recent series discussing consumerism and humanity’s relationship with the environment.

How did you become involved with the first 33 portraits?

Looking back now it’s incredible how serendipitous life can be. Rachel and I worked together a decade ago at a part time job during our university years. We were forging very different career paths but our frequent late night phone calls ranting our individual challenges (and how often they overlapped) had always ended with us racking our brains at how we could collaborate in some way. When LNFB was born and Rachel asked me to participate it was an obvious yes.