I could not be more pleased that my project is being presented to the Vancouver Is Awesome readers. In mid-February of last year I had a desire to refine my portrait photography after traveling and photo documenting Southeast Asia, India and Nepal for eight months over 2013 and 2014.
Having been a concert photographer for the past five years here in Vancouver, I have been fortunate to have been in the unique position to be able to get to know a number of our city’s finest performers. It wasn’t until after I had photographed the first few artists in their homes, that I happen to be friendly with, that the notion that I was on to something special really sunk in. It was at that moment I decided to dedicate myself to this endeavour. I don’t believe that a project of this scale and subject had been undertaken in this city before.
So many things came together at the right time for this project to work. Despite having an established network of potential subjects, chiefly, people had to say ‘Yes’ to having me come into their living rooms, bedrooms, hallways, staircases, kitchens, closets, bathrooms and for some with alternative living circumstances, a sailboat and even a storage locker to photograph them. This fact has never been lost on me and I am forever thankful.
While I was already friendly with many of the artists included in this project, for most, I had never been to their homes, for others we may have only recently met or had never met before I was at their door. Interestingly, many of the artists that had known each other for years had never been to the others homes either.
I was inspired to make this project as inclusive as possible, to not only include musicians, but to include dancers, writers, actors and of course videographers, and photographers and thus became #ArtistAtHome. At it’s peak I had posted a new artist portrait and write up every day for 106 days and have featured 125 artists to date.
Logistically, many times I would have to arrange two photoshoots a day to provide a buffer, to give me some days off and time to recruit more subjects, while still posting new artists. Timing was on my side as most portraits were taken before the summer festival season thus providing artist availability. I have been over to Vancouver Island, Whistler, North Vancouver, Burnaby, Surrey, The West End, Coal Harbour, Kits, Oakridge, Yaletown, Shaughnessy, Strathcona, Mt. Pleasant, Gastown, Commercial Drive, and Hastings Sunrise to capture these images. I have never spent so much time in East Vancouver in my life, and I have been constantly amazed at how many fantastic areas there are in the city. The hospitality I have received has been truly amazing. Many times I left homes a little wobbly, with a full stomach, but always happy.
When you ask yourself what do you want to do in your life and the answer comes back – I am doing exactly what I love to do – that is a pretty fantastic realization. Every day has been awesome. Every day, I have been able to spend quality time with some of the most interesting, talented, and inspiring people in the city. Overcoming the mental inertia of all things you tell you yourself why something won’t work is the hardest part. The crazy thing about it is, literally, you just have to start doing it. I have made a concerted effort in my life to do this and it takes vigilance to remind yourself to go for what you want.
For me, #ArtistAtHome became much more than just a taking a cool photo. It was getting to know people, away from the chit chat that usually occurs out at a venue before or after a performance. There is something unique about being in someones home, photographing them. If I was a relative stranger when I came in, I felt like I bonded through the process with every single person and when I left I had a new or strengthened friendship. I think sometimes Vancouverites might not appreciate how many talented people we have in this city and it has been my absolute pleasure to celebrate these people and share them with everyone I know. It has been amazing to watch the reaction and the outpouring of support the photos and stories have received from their friends and family. To have people believe in what you are doing is a pretty great feeling.
The Artist’s stories – your stories are fascinating. From inspiring to tragic to really funny. One thing I have noticed amongst most people in the series are the sacrifices and the struggle that comes with a life of pursuing their dream. Not everyone is going to be a mega star, although, I believe anything can happen. The definition of success at its core is personal. For most, their drive comes from the love, and the need to express themselves through the doing of ‘it’ whatever their craft. Canadian star Steve Bays of the band Mounties told me the reason he works so many crazy hours is the fear of having to do something he didn’t want to be doing for somebody else, even if it means working twice as much.
In theory, this project go on indefinitely, as there are always more new and talented people to bring to you and that, is a good thing. I continue to document artists in their homes and I am pleased that Vancouver Is Awesome will be presenting two artist profiles a week. This will be a great way introduce these people to a very large audience and show off the amazing talent that we have here in Vancouver. Eventually, this work will be presented in a exhibition event featuring performances from a selection of performers that have participated in the project and I look forward to sharing details of this event when they are available. I have a huge heartfelt thanks to all of the Artists that have let me into their lives and homes. This time has been very special to me and one of the best experiences of my life.
Love to all,