A South Cambie base camp in Vancouver

South Cambie Base Camp

South Cambie Base Camp

The previous post recounted my visit, last summer, to Vancouver and a photographic re-examination of a neighbourhood I once called home. Since I’m planning a move from my present neighbourhood and studio, the influence of place, time and relationships on my work has taken on particular significance.

Much of the work I now call the “Eighties Vancouver Portfolio” was launched from a basement suite located in Vancouver’s South Cambie neighbourhood, where I developed my studio skills, launched mountaineering expeditions and ski trips, where romances blossomed and withered, parties were enjoyed, music was made, fleeting liaisons transpired, and lifelong friendships were kindled.

Party

Party People

In 1983, I bought the Mamixaflex medium-format camera I’d use for both commercial and personal projects, including the “80s Vancouver” work.

I turned the unfinished area of the basement, outside my little bedroom, into a makeshift studio where I could shoot portraits and tabletop product for Mountain Equipment Co-op and other clients.

One of the best images that sprang from my sojourn in this neighbourhood, the study of Zone System technique, and the Mamiyaflex camera, was made at the corner of Heather & Broadway, a few blocks north. It’s available as a limited edition print and lithographed poster.

Another recent post illustrates how I practiced tabletop product photography in a corner of that studio.

When I look back to that time, place and friends, it’s impossible to separate myself and the work I produced there from the inspiration of the communal experience.

Though our assets were modest, we collaborated to expand our horizons, whether from the summit of a Coast Range mountain or Vancouver city panorama. I’m guessing that the madness of recent Vancouver real estate speculation and the subsequent dearth of affordable housing has led to a whole new level of communal arrangements amongst artists and young adventurers, not to mention anyone short of an inheritance hoping to find lodging in Lotus Land.

View to 16th Avenue & Vancouver General Hospital

View to 16th Avenue & Vancouver General Hospital

In upcoming posts I’ll look at some more images made during this inspiring time and place. Check out the “south cambie” tag below.

Raymond Parker

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