Cliff Davidson was born long ago in a galaxy far away. Or not so long ago and actually just outside of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
I have two brothers. Dylan is the youngest. Matthew is the middle. I am the oldest. I think they could be adopted. We used to have dogs. Our dogs names were: Bear, Honey, Sport, Pebbles, Bam Bam (1 and 2), Bruiser, and Little Girl. They were fun. I used to wear glasses. I didn’t like them. I got called four-eyes. Sometimes I had an eyepatch and looked like a pirate. Arrrrrr. I’m so funny sometimes. I used to play soccer. It was fun. I scored five goals one season. I was awesome.
I stopped playing soccer and then started to play street hockey. I hated dishes. If I didn’t do them mom wouldn’t let me play street hockey. I only did the dishes to go outside and play. I still hate dishes. I played hockey before we had video games. I first got Atari 2600. Then we got Nintendo. I didn’t play hockey much after getting Nintendo for Christmas one year.
I got my first camera in public school. It was an Olympus Trip MD 2. It was awesome. I don’t know what happened to it. When I was older I took it with me skiing and it got dumped into a pitcher of beer. It still worked after that. That is how I got into photography.
So, I moved on to junior high and it was nothing too exciting. I had detention pretty much every day in grade 6. Mrs. Marler must’ve hated me. I was a perfect angel I swear! Grade seven was pretty cool because I had a huge crush on my homeroom teacher Ms. Demayer. I wonder what happened to her. Grade eight was strange because we moved into a new house right at the end so I knew I wasn’t going to see my friends much after that.
High school was pretty cool. First year not so much because my first class was gym. I was late, it was the weight room, and I was clearly the shortest, skinniest, and scrawniest guy there. I was still wearing kids 16 pants, I hadn’t moved up to a waist and inseam form of pants until later in the year. Wow. I made a bunch of great friends in grade 10 and 11 and still talk to them to this day. I was sorta smart: I got 92% on my English essay about J.D. Salinger—the highest mark in the school for that. Go me!
The College Years
I went to Humber College for Advertising and Graphic Design straight out of high school. I actually preferred the copywriting aspect of the course but (and some people might disagree) I was apparently better at graphic design and web design. I did quite well on typography, except I didn’t hand in one assignment and somehow failed. I never figured that out. I got super high marks for everthing else. I like words still.
College went by pretty fast, except for making up the two courses (Marketing and Typography, which is strange because I feel those are my strengths). I worked though and was perfecting my skills as a graphic and web designer for various freelance jobs and an actual full time job.
After I officially finished college I worked a bunch of graphic and web design jobs but got so fed up with it that I hit a cross-roads in my life. I decided to give myself three options: find a new and better job, go and teach English overseas, or go to University to become a high school teacher. After nine failed interviews and poor spending habits (for a quick fix and TESOL course) I decided to go to University. I applied and was accepted to all three schools. I am still awesome!
My camera at this time moved from the Olympus to a brand spanking new digital Pentax Optio 550. That camera was sweet for the time: 5.0 mp and 5x optical zoom! I had that camera for quite awhile until it got ‘lost’. From there I moved on to a Canon Powershot A620. That was even cooler! So many options including a folding view screen. I took many many photos with that camera. Well, those cameras. I had two of them because one was also ‘lost’.
University and Beyond
So, when I decided to go to University I gave myself one ultimatum: do everything I can and that I didn’t do when I was in College. And I did just that. I focused on English and Sociology and teaching English as an International Language. I started a club, ran for student government, worked on campus, did an exchange, lived in residence, and just the whole experience. It was fantastic and so enriching. I got to travel to the Netherlands for my exchange and while there I was able to travel to the majority of the countries listed above that I’ve visited.
Of course, since I was doing an exchange and was going to be traveling I got myself a fancy new DSLR: a Nikon D60 which I still own to this day. It’s a pretty nifty little camera. I love how compact it is (without my giant 24-70mm f2.8 lens on it that is) and how I can carry it about wherever I go. This camera probably has the majority of photographs taken on my computer.
While finishing off my BA I was again faced with decisions: go to Teacher’s College or do a Masters degree. After some deliberating I finally decided to do a Masters degree because of the mediocre job prospects after Teacher’s College (not that a Masters had much better prospects). I also wanted to get out of Canada for various reasons which is why I decided on doing a Master of Arts in Photography and Urban Cultures in London United Kingdom. Can you say AMAZING!!!
This course opened my eyes to whole new ways of thinking critically about the city, my photography, and visual sociology in general. So many skills learned and so many eye-opening experiences. Since my photography up until this point had been pretty much a hobby I was able to learn a whole lot more about the basics including: dark room techniques, film versus digital, and photography composition techniques. I have to admit that my photography has improved immensely after this course.
While doing the MA I explored camera equipment a lot more and bought the following: a Holga 120 GN (medium format film), an Olympus XA-2 (35mm film point and shoot), Nikon FM3a (35mm film slr), Kiev 3a (35mm film viewfinder), and two cameras that I threw out because they were broken and beyond repair: Kodak Retinette and Olympus Trim MD 2 (just like my first camera—I even dropped it in beer to make it just like the other one… it was dead before I did that though and obviously the beer didn’t help). The Nikon FM3A quickly became my favourite camera, and probably still is today.
I graduated the program with distinction and finished off my stay in the UK with a joint exhibition with a group of our graduating class. It was amazing! I miss the UK already.
Back in Canada I got myself a job and applied to further my studies. I did a second MA in Sociology and Education at Western University in London ON, Canada. From London to London. That’s kind of funny. I’m now pursuing my PhD in Sociology and Education at Western. Four more years of university. Excellent. Maybe that’s why I’m studying education… I’ve been in so long!
I have also bought four more cameras (for a total of nine): a Yashica Mat 124G, a Nikon F3 with a DW-3 waist-level viewfinder, a Yashica ME-1, and a Yashica Samurai X3 half frame. I think I’m done with camera purchases for a bit now.
And there you have a brief-ish bio with a slight focus on my camera gear. Just because that’s how I roll.