Patrick in Kirkland

On Sunday night, I took 3 buses to Kirkland to see my buddy Patrick and take a walk, catch up and take some photos for this project of mine. Walking through quiet streets and empty parking lots on a summer evening is probably the best way two people can bond, and hearing about specific memories he had growing up while we passed so many different "landmarks" made me feel like I also grew up there with him. I could go on about our conversation for hours and talk about how all suburbs really aren't so different, but I don't think I could say it better than how he did:

" There is some cathartic inexplicable relationship between the suburban experience and memory. Wether we like to admit it or not, we are nostalgic creatures by design. Born and bred into these monuments to 50’s and 60s optimism, we are constantly searching for the lost simplicity of the Good Old Days. A time when you could play with your Dollarama slinky and not question it’s philosophical merit as a metaphor for the human experience. In a place where you were endlessly told that you can be anything you want to be in life, while sitting in a home identical to 4 others along the street. If you grow up in these rows and rows of cookie-cutter houses, no matter how good or bad the present may, your environment unconsciously molds you into a historian with rose tinted glasses. It doesn’t matter if at any one moment the strip mall in front of the Colisée was a gym, a discount clothing store or a Staples, to me it’s something more. It’s the place where I would line my pockets with 2$ peanut m&ms before sneaking into R-rated movies as a 12 year old. It’s where I ate s--t on my sisters bike trying to get up the cracked concrete ramp and had to walk it home with the kind of fear and terror only found in a guilty 9 year old. It’s the parking lot where my dad first taught me to drive at 16 and where I still go to practice as I keep coming up with excuses as to why I don’t have my license. When I walk down that bike path and pass my old elementary school, my old football field and my favourite park as a kid with the wood chips and the green plastic dinosaur, I smirk. For good reason. See that’s what everyone gets wrong about the suburbs. It’s not some utopia far away from any danger or problems the postmodern world has to offer. But! It’s not some self righteous dead-zone with no running busses filled to the brim with snobs, cults and nothing to do. Okay maybe on second thought the bus thing is a little accurate (f--k the 201) but still. The suburbs and especially the West Island is just a neighbourhood like any other. They have their obvious problems and their very overt positives. The only real difference is the kind of people and culture it has a tendency to produce. People who will gladly write a giant rambling and quasi-pretentious paragraph on a couple quiet cul-de-sacs, an unevenly paved bike path and an empty movie theatre parking lot. "

Couldn't have said it better myself. 



I'm not exactly sure where or how to begin explaining this, so bear with me.

For over a year, I've wanted to dedicate time and effort into creating something bigger than just a one-shoot series. Having a short attention span, not being the best planner (to say the least) and having to depend on other people to be my models has always made sure that my attempts at creating something big have mostly ended with "we can always try again next summer".  

Going out and taking photos for fun is, well, fun, but like anything you do too much, it gets boring at times. When I started out photography, I used to only shoot architecture, then I had a metro phase, then the botanical gardens, then just portraits, and finally what I like to call "portraits with meaning". I found it enjoyable and challenging to try to take a certain feeling/concept/song and try to conceptualize it into a couple of photos. Here's the thing about that: no matter how much I tried to vary my work, everything always seemed to come back to the same general theme:


My work has changed a lot over the past few months: I went from trying to create as much as possible to using photography as a medium to express what I was feeling. I started to feel unsatisfied photographing a subject just because they were conventionally attractive: what else do we have in common? Do we have the same interests? Same taste in music? Are we going to be friends after this? I realized how much more connected I was to people that I knew personally, even if they weren't models, and how much I preferred photos I took of them over those I took of strangers, only because I felt something when I looked at them. 

Cutting my repertoire of faces down led to me to always finding myself using the same people, same places, and same music as inspiration: and although I was far from unsatisfied with the results I was getting, I was definitely getting tired of exploring the same idea and still feeling like there was more left to express that I couldn't do with just one set of images.

I've been wanting to tackle the suburbs with my photography for so long now, and I realized that it was the only place where I could really find nostalgia, familiar faces and locations that meant a lot to me were in the neighbourhoods I grew up and spent time in.

I also figured that documenting this project step-by-step instead of keeping it to myself until the very end would help me to stay motivated, inspired, and to get other people involved. I'll go deeper into my fascination with the suburbs and what exactly I want to depict with this project very soon, but for now I just wanted to share a short introduction as to what inspired me to start this.