Yesterday I wrote a blogpost about some of the challenges I have had taking photos in a small town here in Canuckistan. And I was given a real dressing down by a friend later who took umbrage at me generalising about Canuckistanis and how impolite and unfriendly they can be.
Of course, one should never generalise about an entire population, and that was most definitely not my intention – I was just reflecting on some of the less welcoming, sometimes suspicious individuals I encountered in this tiny pocket of Canuckistan.
The majority were interested in where I came from and actually happy that I would take the time to document their lives and the town they called home. Like the older couple I saw walking hand in hand on the riverfront trail one evening. I pulled over, grabbed my camera and jogged over to them to ask if I might photograph them. He answered in the affirmative, with flowery language that would have made a sailor blush. But I loved how down to earth both of them were, and just how in love they seemed to be.
There were the golfers with equally as expletive-laden language and the two wheelchair-bound women fighting for better facilities and access for the handicapped in town. The twenty-something lady walking her dog under the golden canopy of Ceal Tingley park humoured me by going back to do it once, twice and a third time so that I could get an angle with which I was happy. The dragon boat paddlers invited me, a complete stranger, onto the boat with them and the yoga ladies at the local recreation centre made sure to show their best form. The group of skateboarders were only too happy to show off their moves for the camera, and millwright students took time off class to pose for my camera. The most accommodating and pleasant though, were the staff and interns at the local hospital.
Those were just some of the people I didn’t know who let me photograph them.
In addition, over the course of a month and a bit, I cajoled a whole bunch of friends to come out and help me to stage photos to show off some of the best this town and its surroundings has to offer too.
And after weeks of photographing, I realised that it’s not nature, buildings or facilities that make the town beautiful. It’s its people. I know that sounds twee, but it’s a simple truth I hope I never forget. The main memories I take from my last four months Cruising Canuckistan are of the new people I met, and the friends I got to know better as we spent time together photographing the city.