Vancouver – Orange Shirt Day

Portrait of Kelvin Bee

Portrait of Kelvin Bee on Orange Shirt Day, Vancouver, 2020

Today, September 30th, is Orange Shirt Day. This day honours the Indigenous children who were sent to residential schools and acknowledges the horrendous impact of that system that continues today. I live in the Downtown Eastside (DTES) of Vancouver and the other day I bumped into my friend, Kelvin Bee. When he mentioned Orange Shirt Day I was dismayed to realise I was unaware of this event. To learn more I asked Kelvin if he would share his story and allow me to take his portrait. Here is a very brief account of Kelvin’s story. We met at the Ovaltine Cafe on Hastings Street, a colouful hangout in the DTES.

Kelvin Bee is from the Kwakiutl Nation and was born in the month of July 1962.  His birth was literally on the seas as his parents were on their way by boat from their ancestral homes of  Mimkwa̱mlis (the name means “village with rocks and island out front” or in English Village Island) to the hospital in Alert Bay. 

Kelvin lived with his parents on Village Island until he was sent at the tender age of four and half years old (due to the Federal Governmental Policy that all Indigenous should be sent to Residential Schools) to St Michael’s Indian Residential School in Alert Bay. He had no contact with parents during these days and as he was too young for school Kelvin had to do chores and sit on his bed. Some of his older sisters and brothers were at this residential school, but familial ties were discouraged or even forbidden. He went home that summer but already he was losing his mother tongue the Kwak’wala language. Kelvin was at St Michael’s Indian Residential School for 4 years and then he was sent to Port Alberni Residential School. Sometimes he could be sent home for the whole summer, but this was  very unpredictable and on the whim of the person in charge.. His parents were not informed of his whereabouts. At the age of approximately 10 years old he was again transferred to St Mary’s Residential School in Mission, which is on the mainland of British Columbia. He recalls that during this transfer at Vancouver he saw some luxurious coaches and he thought wow that will be nice to travel on, to slowly come to the bitter realisation that he and his fellow companions were being loaded into the cattle cars:  no seats, dirty floors and it was very cold for the journey.  Kelvin’s parents had been mandated to leave their ancestral home and live in Vancouver and on the occasions he was allowed to visit them, he could only stay for 24 to 48 hours. Outside this time he was placed in foster care until he was returned to residential school. 

I asked Kelvin how this had affected him and his family. He told me: “It broke our family really bad, but I came from a good family so we survived it. I carry hidden secrets all which have affected my emotional, mental and sexual health. At Alert Bay Residential school as a young child, I was told my mother was a whore and my father was a drunkard and then I was made to repeat those words. It is important that Canadians learn of the 150 years of abuse that the Indigenous Nations suffered. As an individual, I do not hold today’s priests and nuns accountable they are not from yesteryear. I am a parishioner of St. James Anglican church in the DTES.”

Portrait of Kelvin Bee on Orange Shirt Day, Vancouver, 2020

Portrait of Kelvin Bee on Orange Shirt Day, Vancouver, 2020

 
After our conversation and portraits, I left Kelvin who was helping out at the Aboriginal Front Door’s Orange Shirt Day lunch service. 
 
Orange Shirt Day, Carnegie Centre Vancouver, 2020

Orange Shirt Day, Carnegie Centre Vancouver, 2020

 

Vancouver – The Curse of Willow Song – Film Stills.

A young Asian woman, played by the wonderful Valerie Tian, is released from prison and struggles to survive the harsh reality of life on the outside. With the “help” of her friend Flea, portrayed with a sneer and a smirk by actor Ingrid Nilsen, she must choose between a dangerous life on the streets or being sucked back into her former life of gangs and a devestating drug habit.  The Curse of Willow Song is nominated for 10 awards at the upcoming 2020 Leo Awards. I asked director Karen Lam a couple of questions.

TP: Why did you decide to shoot the film in black & white?

KL: My inspirations included Japanese ghost stories and samurai films from the 1960s, including Oni Baba, Kwaidan and Kuroneko.  The removal of colour forces us to look at framing and lighting in a much more graphic way and worked with the story and mood I had in mind.

TP: Was there one main story or incident that inspired you to write and make this film which touches upon many social current issues?

KL: I’ve been following the attitudes from a lot of my Caucasian friends in Vancouver regarding recent Asian immigration and the effect on real estate market prices:  the sense that immigration is to blame for being priced out of homes and the underlying racial tensions, something I was not expecting to hear from my otherwise liberal friends and colleagues.  I wanted to address some of those issues but in a way that was more palatable:  in a simple supernatural story. Here is an interview between Karen Lam and Sheryl MacKay and her inspiration behind The Curse of Willow Song.

The Curse of Willow Song

The Curse of Willow Song

 The Curse of Willow Song

The Curse of Willow Song 

The Curse of Willow Song 

The Curse of Willow Song

The Curse of Willow Song

The Curse of Willow Song

The Curse of Willow Song

The Curse of Willow Song

The Curse of Willow Song

Behind the Scenes – Gun safety

The Curse of Willow Song

The Curse of Willow Song

The Curse of Willow Song

The Curse of Willow Song

The Curse of Willow Song

The Curse of Willow Song

The Curse of Willow Song

 

Vancouver – My Photo Diaries

Being a photographer when still in the world of analogue, I spent hours in the darkroom leaving me with lots of test prints and snapshots from parties and gatherings with friends. Many years ago I visited a gallery in SOHO, New York featuring a photographer who had created these intense, colourful diaries, filled with photos and bits and pieces. I think he had perished so it was very poignant and I was enthralled. Years later my own diaries started to take shape creating a texture of a day, of a month and my life. A  laundry list of the detritus of life displaying memories of lovers & friends and parties an events we shared. The pages are layered with photographs, magazines (appropriating the typography) makeup, nail polish, lipsticks,  eye powder, ink, paints, and  whatever is lying around on the table. All these pieces can be purchased as art pieces. Contact Tallulah for sizes and prices. 

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Vancouver – Studio Portraits with actor/musician Matina

Studio portraits by Tallulah

Portraits of Matina by Tallulah

Having an opportunity to play with my studio lights in a new studio space – I asked my friend actor & musician  Matina if she would let me take some portraits of her. We decided to use fairly dramatic lighting – so the overall effect is quite mysterious and moody. 

Tallulah is a photojournalist and a member of Getty editorial agency. She contributes regularly to many major international magazines. Her project have focused on various social issues and on her hometown of Vancouver, Canada.

For editorial portraits contact Tallulah.

   

Vancouver – Revealed by Tallulah (some new prints)

PHOTOGRAPHY IS forever

Thoughtful and unique gifts help build meaningful relationships that last forever. Vancouver based photographer Tallulah has created a series of black and white images of memorable Vancouver scenes. These are the perfect gift for a client visiting Vancouver or a person who is moving into a new home or just for you.

Archival photographic prints are framed 16”x 20” signed and with a certificate of authenticity $350.00

Archival photographic prints are matted 10”x 10” signed and with a certificate of authenticity $85.00

 

Siwash Rock, Vancouver

 

Totem Poles, Stanley Park, Vancouver

 

Koret Building, Vancouver

 

Hotel Europe, Vancouver

Vancouver – V6A + Oppenheimer Park

Homelessness in Vancouver, British Columbia is a crisis that has worsened dramatically in the past decade. Hundreds of homeless have been forced to take refuge in Oppenheimer Park in the Downtown Eastside — the nation’s poorest postal code — at the juncture of Powell and Cordova streets. Here, people cobble together temporary shelters using tents, tarps and umbrellas. At night, hordes of rats emerge, looking for food. Despite the appalling living conditions, there is a sense of community; people look out for and help one other. This Dickensian spectre is backdropped by the stunning incongruity of glass business towers and multi-million-dollar condominiums rising high into the sky meres blocks away.

Hastings, UK – Shoes with Terry de Havilland.

Projects in the past and current projects merging! A few years ago I was invited to the home of cobbler/ shoe maestro Terry de Havilland and his wife Lizzie – who lived in the seaside community of Hastings! The stories that were shared and the shoes – exquisite – daring and seductive! I had a few hours of photographing and was hoping to come back and visit Terry again for the World People Project. Sadly he passed away this year and so I thought I would share some of the images. The most iconic silhouette, the Margeaux, first made its appearance in the 1973 collection – a striking three-tiered wedge originally imagined in vivid multicolour snakeskin that perfectly captured the disco era.  His first store was called Cobblers to the World and his list of clients ranged from Bianca Jagger in the seventies to designing the Tomb Raider boots worn by Angelina Jolie. 

Vancouver – Some shots from the photoshoot with Precious Chong for WPP.

Actor – Precious Chong

Actor Precious Chong agreed to an interview with the WPP – going through the images I thought I would share a few shots on my diary page. Currently, Precious co-wrote and is starring in Homewrecker a comedy/horror film. I saw it at the Rio Theatre in Vancouver and it is currently on the film festival circuit. 

Vancouver – VIFW (Vancouver Indigenous Fashion Week)

Kinnie Starr performing at the VIFW

Vancouver Indigenous Fashion Week (VIFW) is a fashion show that promotes fashion and community. it connects the past, present and future of Canada. Indigenous designers such as Chief Janice George, Sho Sho Esquiro, Erin Brillion, Rob Geary to name a few showcased their designs at VIFW.  As an organisation VIFW, started by  Joleen Mitton, a former model herself works closely with the Pacific Association of First Nations Women’s Mentor Me program, which empowers Indigenous youth coming out of the foster care system. The runway models and production crew are recruited from the Mentor me program. 

Chief Janice George presented woven shawls and wraps on the last night of the VIFW. She cofounded the L’hen Awtxw Weaving House to share the teachings and pracitice of traditional Coast Salish wool weaving.

Street fashion by Rob Geary (SRO)

 

Vancouver – Research for WPP Eric Napoleon Campbell & Nuttin But Luv Club

Portrait of Eric Napoleon Campbell – Chapter President of Nuttin But Luv Club,  Vancouver 

When I come across someone who intrigues me and I want to feature them in the WPP the research and getting to know them can take some time, as they may have a life and culture that I know nothing about. I met Eric a few months ago at Trout Lake, he was with his family and their custom bikes, which are very eye catching and are inspired  by Chicano lowrider culture.  The above photo was taken at a lowrider event at Trev Deeley Motorcycles. I have been following and enjoying his photos on Instagram. Today I met him for a more formal interview and below are a few photos I took while we chatted. His life story is one of overcoming adversity and great personal change. Going forward his aim is to inspire his community (East Van) and to get kids off the streets by presenting a realistic alternative to joining gangs. He is chapter president of the Vancouver (only one in Canada) and sergeant-at-arms of the Nuttin But Luv Club, which was started in Pennsylvania, USA. In total there are 23 chapters, mostly in the USA, but  some are as far away as Germany, United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia and Australia.  From what I understand the Nuttin But Luv Club has a similar structure to a traditional motorcycle club but with zero tolerance for crime  or any destructive  behaviour and a very strong focus on positive attitudes.

Portrait of Eric Napoleon Campbell – Chapter President of Nuttin But Luv Club,  Vancouver

Portrait of Eric Napoleon Campbell – Chapter President of Nuttin But Luv Club,  Vancouver