June 24, 2012



I love Vancouver as much as the film industry does. There are so many different flavours to this city and the Downtown Eastside is the place I go to find what I can only describe as the most amazing 'texture'. I figured Sunday morning at 8 a.m. would be a good time: few cars, and only a few people, so lots of ops to take photos of buildings and crows.

avielle foods side street
broken grid
heatley block sidewalk crow 5 butcher

Then there was the guy who was deeply offended by me taking photos in Canada's poorest neighbourhood. The fact that he was at Main & Hastings, poverty's Ground Zero, was not lost on me. I am very careful when taking photos in areas like this, and try and be as respectful and invisible as possible, but I don't feel I should avoid them either because of fear. So, while shooting a building I heard: "Hey! Take my picture!" behind me and turned around to see him flipping me the bird:

main and hastings

So what did I do? What any self-respecting photographer would do: I took his picture. Then I immediately regretted it as he crossed the street and got right in my face to say, "Is this like going to the zoo for you? Coming down here and taking photos of people minding their own businesses?" I decided it would be better for my health to not tell him that I was photographing buildings and to mind his own business.


jemmagirl said...

Yes, for such a harsh environment, it's a fragile neighborhood ...

dinahmow said...

Well, he did ask!
I had a similar moment in London recently.I just sensed that taking photos was not appreciated, but I asked a man if I could take a picture of his jacket(denim, with some pretty disgusting writing on the back!) His response was:"Whatthefuckfoman!" So I shrugged, said "OK" and pocketed the camera. But I whipped it out and snapped as he shuffled off. Damn! Shoving it in my pocket, I'd switched settings and just got a blur!

andrea said...

Faith: yes, it's a tricky line to walk.

Di: Oh, so many lost photos. I have a few myself! Everyone and his dog has a picture-taking device now so you'd think we'd all be used to it. I guess it's much rarer to see someone with an SLR and long(ish) lens, though, so it feels more threatening.

Ponita in Real Life said...

Very interesting textures for sure! You take fantastic photos Andrea. I know some people really don't want their souls sucked out by the lens but getting in your face? That's just downright rude.

As an aside have you heard of Ravenswood wines? I'm not a wine drinker so have no idea if they are any good but their logo is cool and I thought of you when I saw it in the Flavours magazine at the liquor store the other day. I'd do a link but my keyboard is seriously acting up [it will be replaced this evening] so here's the address so you can cut and paste: http://www.ravenswoodwinery.com/

Rose L said...

Some people Have no consideration for others. It was none of his business that you were taking photos. I got that once at an event I was paid to photograph. I was to take crowd shots for the event. One lady came up and said, "I do not want you to take my picture. Stop immediately!" I explained that I was taking crowd shots and not focusing on anyone in particular. I was shooting shots of a room filled with 200 people, so if she happened to be one in a crowd, I was sorry.
She walked away.
Just ignore people like that. He may have been tweaking

or something!

andrea said...

Pam: I just checked them out. Nice logo! Makes me want to redesign my avatar.

Rose: The funny thing about all this is the egotism. There was a woman who used to volunteer at the horse rescue where I work who was quite adamant that I not photograph her. Who do they think is looking? Why do they care? It's so NOT about them but some people can only see the world through their own blinkered perspective I guess.

annell said...

hummmm.... this gives me pause to think about it....

dinahmow said...

Ooh! Just checked P's Ravenswood link. Cool!

Indigene said...

Hi Andrea,

I've have mixed emotions about photographing people.

I've of course, photographed many people for portraits, which of course, I've had their permission. I do ask before I shoot people in general. As a person of indigenous people, I know that they are often the shots that have been award-winning for photographers, with no permission from them or any gain.

There are also culture reasons that people do not want their photos taken (Amish, etc.) and I respect that. I have been on many reservations and tribal grounds in my life, and respect their rights to not wanting to be photographed. I am appalled by people who do not respect those rights.

The man that you wrote about called out to you, so to me that was a different circumstance, so I would have taken his photo, too!

But in a society, where privacy, decorum and respect, seems to go out the window, I still honor individuals and people who asked not to be photographed.

I'm not judging you, this is just how I feel. You're an amazing photographer!

andrea said...

Indigene: It's a really hard decision to make if your aim is to capture the candid, unconscious or natural and you really-really want that photo. If I was photographing the people in particular I would ask, but in many cases (like the photos here ~ except the last of course!), the people were props for the building or facade I wanted to shoot. In the case of the women on the stoop they weren't actually able to answer me because I did make a half-assed attempt. I totally understand your concerns, though, and Vancouver's DTES has a large number of indigenous people amongst its populace (no Amish, though, I'm pretty sure! :). I promise to be careful in the future and must admit that I have a bit of a narrow "I'll do anything for art" attitude that could use some fine tuning.

kj said...

andrea, i don't know how i missed this post. your photos are exquisite. i love how you see the world