This Life Unseen Exhibit and Book – Final Words

It’s been a very interesting journey for me over the past 3 to 4 years being involved with my book project “This Life Unseen” – photographs of everyday life in a small town. The book was released in September of 2015 and the exhibit for the project was an enormous success seeing hundreds and hundreds of people stopping by to have a peak at some of the images on display. The exhibit just closed on July 30th, 2016.

My personal feelings about the whole thing are as follows:

I am extremely pleased to see so many people in this small community take an interest in photography. I think this project has contributed to spawning a curiosity in what it is I may have been taking pictures of.

The feedback I have received thus far has been overwhelmingly positive not just from photographers, but also from people who just enjoy looking at images. People who have purchased the book seem to be very very pleased with it and are proud to have a copy in their collection. From my standpoint, I am very happy with the book, especially the sequencing of the images. It was quite difficult to choose which images would make the final cut, keeping in mind that they had to contribute to the overall feeling and help to record the story. I’m also pleased to have been able to include so many images while keeping the cost reasonable at 74 dollars for a book of this quality and content. And now that it’s done, I can reflect back on the effort that was involved both physically and mentally to capture the images and persist for 3 years with a difficult project. I know the images contained in the book will only be more valuable over time.

The only negative comments I’ve received have have been from about 3 people. These comments were all the same flavour saying that they were expecting prettier images or happier images. And one person even wished I had included a photo of the Kitimat snowflake monument located along highway 37. To that I say, “Well perhaps you could do a book that contains nothing but beautiful images and happy groups of people having fun for promoting tourism to the area.” The point was completely missed it seemed. The book was about the reality of everyday life as it could be witnessed by a visitor who spent a few days walking around. I wasn’t photographing events, or getting sponsored from the chamber of commerce, but rather just observing and recording what I saw. I found it interesting how some people’s versions of reality can be so different to what’s right before their eyes.

The exhibit at the museum and archives went extremely well. It was a good experience for me and a considerable cost outlay with little monetary return. However as I said earlier, I think it did a great deal to inject an interest in photography in the community. And I think it really opened the eyes of a few who weren’t expecting to see reality. I think for years, people of the community have been conditioned to have only paintings and landscape photographs that promote the beauty of the area on display. One of the functions of art is to stimulate thought…to provoke…and to leave the viewer somehow changed after they have seen the work. Indeed there were some in this little community who were not familiar with this genre of street/documentary photography.

This community needs an art gallery that is properly set up for displaying both analog artwork and digital media! The staff at the Kitimat museum and archives did an exceptional job working in a confined space with the limited resources they have been provided with. Seriously folks, Kitimat needs to start the ball rolling to replace the museum with a building that has more floor space, proper equipment, no stairs, storage facilities and modern digital archives.

The book will still be available for a little while longer, however I suggest that anyone who would like to purchase a copy, please do so sooner than later. At this point I’m running 2 websites at a considerable cost, and I’m not sure how much longer the book’s website will be up.

For more information, reviews, or to get your own copy of the book, please visit http:/thislifeunseen.com

Thanks to all for your help and support of the project.

Happy Shooting,

Doug

Notes from a Small Town Street Tog (February)

“If we limit ourselves, a whole new world of possibilities will emerge.”

“Some situations terrify me. That’s how I know it’s time to press the shutter.”

“Even if I go out and return home with no photos to show for it, I still feel good. It’s only a loss if I’ve learned nothing.”

“In street photography you react. Thinking is for when you’ve got time.”

“I don’t take photographs for the taking’s sake. They have to mean something twenty years from now.”

“What is photography if it isn’t putting bookmarks in the pages of your life?”

“There is a point where you can become too technical or too demanding. After that the photograph no longer has meaning.”

“I don’t get angry if I have to shoot at a high ISO. After all, it’s not a contest to see who can produce the cleanest photograph. There are situations where I embrace grain.”

“The more transparent a camera is the more I like it. I just want it to do what I need it to do with minimum fuss. I have to get on with my work.”

“In small town street photography there are really only two approaches: either you have to become involved in a situation or you have to be invisible.”

“Sometimes we need to take a step away from reality to emphasize reality.”

“Being in a state of readiness and able to anticipate what’s going to happen is most of what I do.”

“A smile can go a long way in street photography.”

“I don’t consider all of my photos to be good. Many though, are necessary.”

“After taking someone’s photograph, thanking them then walking away must be a little bit like – What the fuck just happened?”

“We’re all colour blind at first.”

“I enjoy photographing dogs. They’re usually so attentive or not.”

The Beaver Pond

When you look at a place like this what do you see? After spending a few days here and photographing a beaver family, I see a magical forest Shangri-la teaming with birds, animals, amphibians, and insects.  People often see places like this from a distance, but they don’t experience them. Being a part of this place, I think I got a better education here than I did all through grade school.

 

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Busy as a Beaver

A few important facts about castor canadensis (source beaversww.org):

 

  • beavers maintain wetlands that act as the earth’s kidneys to purify water
  • these wetlands support a biodiversity that rivals tropical rain forests
  • almost half the endangered species in North America rely on wetlands to survive
  • wildlife rehabilitators claim beavers to be gentle, reasoning beings who enjoy playing practical jokes
  • beavers rarely overpopulate because they breed only once a year
  • they mate for life during their third year. One to four kits are born in the spring and stay with the parents for two years. The yearlings become babysitters for the new litter.
  • trapping is the most common source of mortality

 

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A Piece of History

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During a trip I made to Vancouver in 2009, I noticed the remarkable sculpting and texture that the side-lighting was bringing out on this structure. In particular, the interplay between light and shadow really caught my eye.

 

A piece of history for the city, the roof on the B.C. Place stadium has now been replaced. I’m so happy I took the time to record this image. It was shot at ISO 800, 1/500, f7.1 handheld with a Canon XSi then converted to black and white. 

 

Happy Shooting,

 

Doug