We’re always looking for images of Vancouver—new, old, beautiful, strange, revelatory. Browsing photostreams on Flickr—a site invented locally, no less—has become a pastime at the Museum.
Vancouverites, it would seem, spend an inordinate amount of time photographing their surrounds. Two reasons, the first one obvious: we’re a photogenic city. Two: we’re a young city, and in so many ways still settling in. Some of our most populous neighbourhoods are only a handful of years old; others have been redeveloped many, many times over, and have no particular aesthetic. A typical Vancouver city block might include an arts-and-crafts-style cottage, a mid-century bungalow, and an 1980s-era, seashell-pink, stucco-clad two-storey. On so many occasions, you pass a new building on your daily commute and can’t recall what was there prior. Local photography has become a way to keep track; a powerful cataloguing tool, driven by photographers, both amateur and professional, who actively share their work online.
Among this diverse group is Kenny Louie. We discovered his photostream recently and have been scrolling through it—all 850 images and counting—ever since. Many of his images have made their way onto this website. Louie, 31, is a software developer who grew up in Renfrew-Collingwood, and now lives in Burnaby. He carries a digital SLR camera with him most of the time, and has made a practice of taking at least one photograph a day as part of his “365” project. Another informal project has him uploading shots of North and Southeast False Creek every Friday. He says it’s just a “silly thing”—he’s in that area a lot because his wife works at Science World—but the sheer size of his portfolio indicates it’s anything but. He’s amassed over 1,000 images of that area alone, and in the process, produced a thorough chronicle of the contentious Olympic Village construction. Other photo sets capture the Downtown Eastside, Granville Island, and Yaletown, among many other locations. Taken together, it’s a moving portrait of the city today.
Herewith, a sampling of Louie’s online portfolio, with his comments:
Museum of Vancouver: “This was taken on one of my evening photowalks, when I was waiting for my wife. I had been shooting between the Burrard and Granville Street Bridges and was making my way back when I noticed some other large group photographing the Museum and thought, yeah, the light is pretty good.”
The Ovaltine Café: “My dad used to work here. One of his friends took it over, and my dad was semi-retired at the time, so he went to help out on the weekends and a few weekdays. It’s not as bad as you might think it is, because it’s in such close proximity to the police station.”
Stanley Park: “So many of my shots emphasize cityscape. I took this shot of Stanley Park to remind myself of the natural beauty we sometimes take for granted in this city.”