It took three and a half years to bring local photographer and DJ Leigh-Anne Hazard’s portraiture project from thought to fruition, and the timing of the publication of this project couldn’t be better. With increasing scrutiny by the media, online forums and music collectives over gender disparities in electronic music, Hazard’s project features female-identifying/ non-binary musicians, whom she photographs away from the lights and action of their regular performance spaces, and is a poignant look at gender representation and community in Calgary’s electronic music scene.

Having simultaneously become involved in photography and music six years ago, Hazard’s latest project marries both of her hobbies, and what started out as “vogue” style headshots with a few of her friends has become an ambitious archive, cataloguing the candid photos of over 60 DJs.

This exhibition is a showcase of [the] strong, talented, hard working female-identifying indivudals, who like me, have pushed through into a scene where males are more prominent, bulldozing the norms and doing what they love to do,” Hazard says chatting with me over email.

With a day job in an industry that has more male representation than female, Hazard knows the daily struggle of being viewed as the underdog, but sees it as a challenge and an opportunity to push and stay ahead of the game. “I do not mind running a meeting with a room full of men and I have no problem being the only woman DJ on the bill at a club night.”

But early in Hazard’s DJing career this wasn’t always the case. She hopes that for women who might be intimidated by the idea of performing or producing music due to lack of female-identifying/ non-binary representation in the music scene, this project will assuage some of that fear.

Projects like this are important because they educate and build awareness,” Hazard suggests. The series has been “…a major team building experience,” providing an opportunity for the participants to get to know and support one another, while building a more cohesive community.

Surprisingly, one of the more impressive points of the project is the depth of Calgary’s musical pool. “When speaking to people, even people who work in the music industry, they are usually shocked to find out that there are 60 females playing clubs, radio shows and festivals in all styles of electronic music.” With the final touches on the project complete, Hazard cannot wait to reveal all 60 portraits during the Alberta Electronic Music Conference, which will take place November 16th-19th in multiple venues around Calgary.

[With this project] I hope that the public will realize the pivotal role Calgarians play in reducing the gender divide in electronic music,” Hazard says, wrapping up the interview. “DJ Mag’s ‘Top 100 DJs’ poll had three women out of 100 in 2016 and this subset is a fair representation of the situation nationally and internationally. This three percent compared to the number of women represented in this project shows how forward our community is when it comes to supporting, teaching and promoting each other.

Early next year, Hazard hopes to push her project even further by creating a photo book of portraits, or taking her photo series/ community building project outside of Calgary to Edmonton or Vancouver.

As non-binary/ female-identifying, we are far better off working together and supporting each other.”

You can catch the culmination of Leigh-Anne’s work at AEMCON, November 16-19 or following Leigh-Anne Hazard Photography on Facebook for more details and upcoming projects.

By: Donatella Connolly

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