November 20th, 2016 — Main and Hastings Street about 5pm. It all seems so quiet but this picture doesn’t tell the story very well. Those two ambulance in front of the Carnegie Centre are accompanied by another two in front of the Balmoral Hotel a half block away. All arrived within 15 minutes of each other, sirens screaming, along with two fire trucks. Six emergency vehicles within the space of 15 minutes, to one location, overdose’s probably, fentanyl probably.
November 20th, 2016 — It has two flat tires and no chain and judging by the state of the cables the brakes don’t work but on Main Street by Terminal Avenue nothing is safe so it’s locked all the same.
June 26th, 2016 — Three times in the last few months I’ve been confounded by comments about photographs.
The first was during a panel discussion about “The Sinister in Photography” at the Capture Photography Festival. It seemed to be taken for granted by everyone on the panel that any photograph made without the intent of righting a wrong was, maybe not sinister, but certainly suspicious.
The second comment came from a long time documentary photographer based in Vancouver who was apologetic after posting a picture of a homeless person on Granville Street to his Facebook page. This matter would have been of no consequence except that he was offended when I sent him a note saying there was no apology needed.
The third comment came last week from a well known Vancouver art photographer and curator during a discussion at the Vancouver Art Gallery about street photography. He basically said that anyone doing street photography is wasting their time, the best has been done, it’s all repetitive, just a version of necromancy which I looked up and took to mean, “a conjuration of the spirits of the dead for purposes of magically revealing the future or influencing the course of events”. Did he mean recording the visual history of a city and its people is of no importance because the genre is artistically stale or is it that there is no history anymore; that history is over?
All this is cause for thought. It’s true that few photographs have changed anything and with the death of newspapers and general circulation magazines it looks likely that pictures taken in the future will have even less power to make an impact. But, what if we tackled a problem in a different way? Instead of ignoring the homeless people on the street, or just being careful of their sensitivities and not photographing them, everyone with a cell phone took a picture of every homeless person they passed every day for a year and immediately posted it to Flickr or a Facebook page called, say, Homeless in Vancouver. That could easily be fifty thousand new pictures a day whizzing around the world on the internet. Would the city take notice? Would the tourist bureau take notice? Would the Chamber of Commerce take notice? It’s certainly a thought.
Note: The picture above was taken at Burrard and Robson Streets in Vancouver.
December 16th, 2015 — Many years ago Shanghai Alley in Vancouver was haunted by gangs, drugs, and gambling; it had a very dangerous reputation, but that’s long gone. This is the only original building remaining. What stories these walls could tell.
December 16th, 2015 — The sidewalk prisms in front of The Sam Kee Building on West Pender Street are lit with Christmas colours.
January 29, 2003 — Empty lot waiting to be developed in the 1100 block of Granville Street in Vancouver.
June 4th, 2015 — This man was hit by a car while cycling along Pender Street in downtown Vancouver. It was a slight collision, the cyclist explaining to a pedestrian who witnessed the incident that he didn’t really think the car hit him, this despite the rear wheel being destroyed and the frame bent. He was more concerned with getting to a nearby bike shop where he hoped repairs could be made quickly as he had some people to meet up with in Richmond.
April 30th, 2015 — At the end of each month and especially the end of the school year, abandoned mattresses appear on Vancouver streets. At one time people who wouldn’t or couldn’t pay the $15 fee required by the landfill to dispose of mattresses would dump them in alleys but lately the mattresses have been appearing on the main streets of upscale neigbourhoods. The mattresses above were just off Broadway near Macdonald. The one below on King Edward Avenue near Dunbar.
February 1st, 2015 — This poster was on at least four light poles on the Granville Mall between Georgia Street and Denman. “Must sell my condo. 2 bedroom, 2 baths, rents for $850. $15,000 down, seller will finance”. Is this the new Craigslist?