Once upon a time I got to the place where I was comfortable photographing people I don’t know. Complete strangers. I guess it was while living in Madagascar, where the locals were more than willing to be photographed and mostly-unsuspicious of foreigners. Then I moved back to South Africa and began to feel like a paparazzo, having to sneak photos of people or events that I thought were cool (all because of the level of mistrust of “strangers” and what one would do with the photos). Friends asked me not to photograph their kids or to post them on my blog for fear that something perilous would happen to them.
In all my travels, I never met a Nepali or Mongolian who didn’t want his or her photo taken, Europe was similar to South Africa, and small-town Canuckistan was downright neurotic. A week into my first stay here in 2013, a Facebook post began doing the rounds asking who the weirdo was taking photos around town. The hysteria just grew from there, with parents locking up their children, dogs and collector cars when they saw me coming. This pretty much put paid to street photography in Canuckistan.
But last week, with three spontaneous, carefree, confident young adults as my guides, I ventured down to Commercial Drive in Vancouver, planning to photograph graffiti. Instead, we ended up shooting the colourful still-lifes and eclectic characters of the district. And to be honest, it really is easier asking a random stranger if you can shoot them when you aren’t alone.
The whole point of this blog, when I started it in 2013, was as an online journal, and a way to document the vibrant yet alien-to-me Canucki lifestyle through my camera lens and with my writing. Reading back over some of my 270 posts since then, I think I’ve largely been successful, and I find a flood of special memories washing over me with each post revisited. Street photography remains one of my favourite expressions of the art, and this colourful post is the perfect way to honour my original aim for my blog.