photography, artist

270 Photographers Can't Be Wrong - Vancouver 2013

Like an old guitar

Worn out and left behind

I have stories still to tell

They're of the healing kind

Day 1.

Half a month ago now! There's some photos of many things on the trip, coming later!

For most people, getting chosen for a full body scan at the airport for their flight is not the best part of their day. I am not most people. Getting more attention from airport security is still fascinating to me. When the woman told me I'd been selected for a random screening and asked me what I wanted to choose and I answered in good cheer, "Whatever is easiest for you" she blinked at me. Bet they don't get that too often. They put me in a big body scanning machine and had to pat me down as well because my jean rivets were beeping.

Other than that awesome hiccup, my trip was so smooth it was almost unbelievable. I spent my layover in Calgary perusing the catalog of a vending machine with items worth over $600 like iPads and fancy headphones. I got to sit by the plane's emergency exit for the first time and when I left the airport I literally walked out of the doors to the baggage area and picked up my bag as it was coming down the chute. Couldn't have been better timing or more of a smooth arrival. I then found a plugin for my phone (story of my life on this trip. LTE phone service drains my battery within 3-4 hours.) and waited for Cathleen and then for her Dad who came to lead us to the boat. It was my first time on the SeaBus ferry of more than six trips, which despite staying on a boat for a week were my only voyages.

The boat in question was a small sailboat with a tiny bathroom, kitchen, living room, and two small bedrooms inside and a narrow hall down the centre - it was apparently a pretty common sailboat brand.

I then started my first day of walking - out to the SkyTrain which took us to the SeaBus which took us to the boat we were staying on, which was incredibly convenient for transit considering.

There was a beautiful sunset that night, and we got to see it from Cathleen's Dad's place on the penthouse floor of his apartment building. Her Dad has a nice little two bedroom corner place overlooking the main harbour, and he taught us about his favorite wine and talked a lot about how he loves cooking. I had delicious pork chops that were broiled with spices on top. (Anyone who knows me might have picked up at some point that I dislike pork chops, so this was quite a revelation.) We ate well at his house on several occasions.

I found myself stronger and more resilient for long term walking than I thought, but my will was no match for my feet…

Day 2.

Our boat was in C Dock at Mosquito Marina, very close to Lonsdale Quay. We wandered around the Lonsdale Quay Market, bought amazing veggies and fruits, stopped at a hot sauce and spice store where we both picked up a couple of things, and then wandered around the dock. We wandered slowly down the dock taking a few photos, then did supper at Cathleen's dad's house again, meeting her uncle who has been everywhere and was just in Australia. We took off in the evening and I shot one of my first awesome night panoramas of the harbour and some boat houses with a metallic outside that shone with the harbour lights.

The view I shot is from just in front of a bench with an epitaph to a presumably deceased couple saying, "The light of Christ was reflected in their love." It made my heart warm to see it.

That night Cathleen and I talked late into the night (like we always do) on the boat. She taught me to eat avocados with just a little salt, straight up. It's my new favourite snack!

Day 3.

So everybody put your best suit or dress on

Let's make believe that we are wealthy for just this once

Lighting firecrackers off on the front lawn

As thirty dialogs bleed into one

Cathleen and I went to Granville Island. We shopped until I had to leave because I was too tired to keep going!

We visited the Printmaking studio, super cool place, got a quick tour of the facility. They have day rates to print there and they're really inexpensive, so I'd love to make a print original of some kind and come in to print it.

Shopping at Make Vancouver and a dozen other stores with jewellery and art took up most of the rest of our time, but there were two other main attractions to the day: Eating at Edible, and shopping at Bodacious. Cathleen and I both enjoyed some great food at Edible, who had a ton of great gluten free options for her, and I had a melt-in-your-mouth burger. Bodacious is a great style-conscious plus size store, and I bought a really sweet dress in grey and magenta and a pair of slacks that are so soft you could wear them forever. After all that though, I was beat.

I went home early because my feet (especially my ankle) were hurting fiercely and when Cathleen got back she'd gone to Dollarama for foot bath basins and epsom salts, and she used some lovely essential oils to make them smell amazing. Foot baths on a sailboat! What a vacation!

We then read for a while and went to bed early - I tried reading and couldn't stay awake anymore at around 10:30, so I slept.

Day 4.

And if we could float away,

Fly up to the surface and just start again.

And lift off before trouble just erodes us in the rain

Just erodes us in the rain

I'm sure most people wouldn't think that being in a small cave-like boat for most of a day wouldn't be their ideal vacation, but with my poor feet hurting so badly and being totally exhausted from shopping (gee, I'm so hard done by) I holed up in the boat to escape the foot pain that had made my previous days pretty awful. I gave Cathleen permission to go out and walk around and get lost in the city, which is what she'd been aching to do the whole time we had been there. I spent a little time on email and such, read some articles about current events since there were so many during this trip like in Boston, and spent hours contemplating if I wanted to leave the ship at all. Cathleen took off as expected, since staying on the sailboat when it wasn't sailing just seemed weird to her.

A safe boat, moored at harbour in the rain that isn't turning into a storm - that's a place I could spend time. I craved the feeling of being safe and warm when I am alone, and it hasn't been easy for me to find that feeling for some time now. I think I am finally getting there. I had enough days left on this trip to experience Vancouver and its people that I need not worry about taking a day off to just be me. It was glorious. No regrets. Especially no regrets eating supper at her Dad's place again!

Day 5.

Today was spent shopping for plus size clothes all day with Cathleen until supper with her Dad. We went to New Westminster on the SkyTrain and took in the big Salvation Army Thrift store, Grand Central Consignment and then on our way back on Broadway, Rubenesque Consignment - and we bought clothes galore and a new bright green purse for me. While in New Westminster, we had an awesome lunch at Wild Rice where they had a great gluten free green curry that Cathleen ordered and I ate some of as well. We spent a ton of money that day but it was totally worth it. I have pretty much a whole new wardrobe, and it's about time!

We got back to the boat late at night after a supper with her Dad and some ice cream from the Marble Slab close to his place, and we showered and did laundry in the little building off the docks for that purpose. I almost left the clothing in the wrong dryer but Cathleen noticed... I'd pressed the wrong button and started the dryer the clothes weren't in. Oops. I plead exhaustion.

Day 6.

Cathleen was gone in the morning for a crazy-early flight, so I had my first day alone! Transit had become easy. I had plans to meet a friend, but I went too early in the morning and had to grab an iced cap. Talked to a friend on chat while I was at Timmies and used up a ton of my phone battery, though I managed to make it last 12 hours without a plug in today after my discovery about turning off the data when I wasn't using the phone.

I was feeling a bit bad about spending so much, but I'm trying to hold that feeling in check. It's not often I find that many clothes to fit me. I found a couple of PERFECT gifts on the trip too. I had a seriously AWESOME time with Jessa, and we talked basically all afternoon about all kinds of social and moral concepts. I saw a homeless person's outdoor market for the first time and Jessa shared a little with me about the gentrification history of the neighbourhood we were in. We got caught in the rain. It's Vancouver, so that wasn't terribly unexpected! One of the cool moments was when we visited an uptown men's "General Store" retro style which was quite a cool experience. They had pretty smelling candles with latin names that were $50 each for very strong smells like Rosemary or Thyme. I think I might try making beeswax spice candles someday. At any rate it was VERY manly in there. We also took a look at a fabulous antique store. I bought some movable type page-ender stamps - you know the little square stamps they have in old books to start or end a page or a chapter?

I went to a Catholic mass that evening and it was ALL text and NO music. SO strange! They sung a four line Marian hymn at the end. That was it. Not a single note in the Mass! I couldn't believe it! I prayed for the holy Spirit to come and liven up the church a bit. The Priest was a cute old guy, ESL-speaking, maybe Spanish originally. The Church was a HUGE cathedral style with lovely stained glass and was pretty full for an evening mass.

Tonight was the height of the Lyra Meteor shower and I saw one BIG one and a couple little ones looking out toward downtown Vancouver because it was a clear night! I stayed out watching the sky from the dock for some time until I got cold and had to go to the bathroom. I headed into the boat and started repacking all my stuff. I had (wisely as it turned out) packed a smaller suitcase into my bigger one for the trip back and I filled them both with all the new stuff I'd picked up - between gifts and new clothes.

Day 7.

I managed to get all suitcases packed and off the boat, and took transit over to check in to the hotel early - glad they had a place for me so early in the day! I went for lunch at a little hole in the wall asian place and had a subsequent half-day talk with Ben, with whom I had taken photography while I was in art school and who is now in architecture at UBC. We talked about all kinds of cool topics from faith life to why buildings should be an art that challenges people and what it means to be a commercial artist. After our time together, I helped with setup at the CPC. I ended up spending the second half of the day rescuing files off Jasser's dying computer hard drive with the help of a second computer from one of the presenters and firewire protocols and a whole lot of process babysitting. Jasser bought me room service for supper while I was working on that. I briefly checked out the pre-party then bailed to go to bed, where I met my roommate for the first time - she was a cool girl, originally from France, and then she moved to Montreal - fellow photographer.

It's worth mentioning that I have the sorest feet and ankles imaginable by this point and I was so grateful to spend most of the conference sitting. It hurt to do anything ever since the first three days of the trip and I just kept walking everywhere. I spent the entire trip on Advil liquigels just to function. I need to walk more in my day-to-day life so vacations aren't so horrible for my body!

Day 8 - Canada Photo Convention - Day 1.

Take a picture of me with a Kodak

Took my life from negative to positive

I just want y'all know that

And tonight, let's enjoy life

I get up in the early, early morning for the conference at 6am so I can be there for the presenters. I skipped breakfast, which made me a bit cranky. But then the conference starts, and I get crazy inspired by many of the presenters. For some of my favourite conference quotes you can check out my Twitter account. I have a zillion pages of notes - and it's my first time taking them in Evernote, which was a great strategy. I was so tired I ended up ordering room service for supper in our short break. Then I decide to skip the after-party because I'm just too far gone and I want to get as much as I can out of CPC day 2. Good decision!

Day 9 - CPC 2013 - Day 2.

I wear my heart upon my sleeve, like a big deal

Your love pours down on me, surrounds me like a waterfall

And there's no stopping us right now

I feel so close to you right now

I am not quite as inspired the second day, but the conference is still the best. Everyone says different things about how to be a photographer, but I get something out of almost all the presenters anyway. 11 out of 14 ain't bad for a ridiculously useful speaker ratio - and some of the people I didn't like so much really spoke to others at the convention. So that makes it a heck of a lot better than any other conference I've ever been to for anything. Jasser's a genius, that's why. It was great getting to work with him as one of his go-to-girls for this conference, and it looks like it's becoming a semi-permanent position for me as sponsorship co-ordinator. I have no problem with that! Back again next year.

I do supper with some of my favourite people (many of whom are some of the best photographers in Canada) and debate about whether we have the right to talk negatively about weddings, especially if they just aren't to our liking… It was an interesting conversation.

The after-party was rocking - the dance floor was so packed you could barely dance, which is just how I like them, and the DJ was a genius and kept everyone going for hours. My kind of dance party. I probably lost ten pounds dancing, haha. It was wing night and the wings were delicious. I spoke with an Aussie occupational therapist who's married to one of the presenter photographers which was fun. Another unrelated Aussie who is in Canada for kicks (and seemed to be East Indian descent, so quite a mashup) hit on me quite politely at the pub we were at, which was interesting. Not sure he noticed my wedding ring, but I had a bit of a conversation with him before realizing he wasn't with the conference and that he was, indeed, hitting on me. It was a fun evening, and I spent a bit of time talking with some photographers I knew from the previous year afterwards until nearly 3am.

Tim King, one of the coolest people I know from the conference, said it best when he talked about the amazing vibe at the Canada Photo Convention:

"There are some photographers in my hometown that I like & get along with...but I'm not super close with them. At CPC - I feel like those photographers are like my FAMILY. Like some awesome cousins I seldom get to see, but always have a blast hanging with whenever I get the chance."

Touche, Tim. Touche.

As much as the photographers feel like family, I was starting to miss Paul pretty fiercely...

Day 10.

I woke up and didn't lose my grogginess for hours. I was so exhausted I couldn't even walk all the way to meet a friend 6 blocks away. I made the mistake of thinking that it would be easier to pay my taxes in a bank branch and had a banking incident in which it was really, really difficult to pay my taxes and I ended up having to do it via telephone banking, which is ridiculous since I did it SITTING IN A BANK BRANCH. Really. It made me nearly an hour late for my lunch plans which made me pretty unhappy.

Anyway, I met my friend Kate for a brief lunch before packing it up to go the airport. I went to the outdoor concierge desk to see if I could hail a cab. Cabs are fairly cheap in Vancouver and it was another six blocks with a million pounds of luggage to even get to the first leg of the airport journey so I tried my luck at the concierge desk and ended up sharing a cab with a very nice lady who paid the whole fare for us as a kind gesture. It was greatly appreciated!

After what seemed like a million hours of travel, I made it home to Saskatoon and the arms of my Paul. I forgot to pack one food item I had purchased in my checked bag and lost it, which sucked - it was a salted caramel sauce. These things happen when you're that tired! I'll have to buy it again next year.

Day 11.

I am home in Saskatoon for mere hours. I spend pretty much the whole day sleeping, with a side dish of spending time with my Paul. Then I go to my Mother-in-law's birthday party, after which I spend some time with my best friend talking about her pregnancy and life stuff. I stay up late re-packing for Edmonton and end up only sleeping for three hours before…

Day 12. Getting up at 4:45am to drive to Edmonton. It's a nice drive and I'm pretty wide awake despite everything. On the way, around Maidstone, I see two creatures on the highway and a car swerving to avoid them. I slow down. There's a truck and trailer behind me, and as I slow down I realize the creatures are dogs and they are heading towards my car. I stop, open my door and call them to me, hoping they'll run faster. The do, and as a result the truck misses them by about a foot. My heart nearly stopped watching. The dogs, a corgi and a basset hound, jump in my car, spreading mud over everything and generally being pretty excited about the road trip. The basset hound has a tag with a vet office phone number. It's 7:30am on a Saturday morning, though. I am now officially running late. I call the number, then call the number for emergencies on the answering service. Someone answers and volunteers to run down to the vet office to get the owner records. I drive a ways down hoping to get to the next town and ask someone to take the dogs for me. About 2km down the road I pull into a little prairie restaurant. I walk in and ask the table of locals having breakfast, "I have two dogs in the car that I found on the highway…" They all laugh and one of them says, "Leave 'em there!" Then one of the women says, "Basset hound and a corgi?" I nod and she says, "Go back to the farm with all the big black cows." I do. The lady calls me back to confirm ID on the people at this residence, so I go up to the door and knock and the woman answers, frowns at me and then says, "Wait, were they on the highway again?" I cringe at the last word and make it clear how close they were to being roadkill. She says her hubby took them out to the fields with him and they must have gotten away. Here's hoping they keep staying alive.

I am 15 minutes late for my first appointment, but my story of dog heroism goes over well and I have a great session.

I had kind of forgotten that I needed to arrange a place to stay in Edmonton, so I take a risk and call a Bed and Breakfast called Urban Escape that had piqued my interest. Best decision of my weekend. The couple took me in, I got to stay in the whole main floor of the place (their policy is to only have one guest or guest set at a time) and I ate richly of fruit and berries, cheese, toast, eggs, and cereal for my whole stay. I even got a bunch of work done while I was there, as well as watching some TV in the downtime. Turns out the guy is a photographer too, and the two of them are mainly retired - she runs the guest house and he dabbles in photography and other stuff. His landscape work and some great shots with bears and eagles were quite something. We ended up talking quite a bit the one evening, and then when I decided to stay on Monday night because the weather was really bad, they put me up one more night for free in exchange for another two hour conversation!

Totally fabulous experience, and I can't wait to stay there again with Paul.

I ended up having two client meetings and two sessions this weekend, as well as an afternoon of shoe shopping which resulted in a nice nondescript pair of walking sandals that I hope won't cause the same kind of walking distress that my sandals have been causing.

Sadly, I now have a cold. And a wedding and two sessions to edit before a huge weekend of photography culminating in our trip to Toronto. Life isn't slowing down a bit, but after weeks of great conversation, inspiration, shopping, and photography, I am pretty pumped about the next few months bringing more of those things. Bring it on, world!