Alternative Surrey: Beauty with an Edge (at Phoenix Tattoos, 21 January 2017)

Alt Surrey #046

Naturally one might assume that counterculture only thrives in big cities (people only go to the sleepy satellite towns and suburbs when the party’s over, right?) But given the ways that the high cost of living continues to drive Vancouver’s working class away from the city I thought, why shoot there? When so many creatives are forced to take refuge away from the traditional centers of culture, why continue to support the culture of a city that seems to have a vested interest in kicking out everyone that contributes to the varied richness of its communities?

For those familiar with the Phoenix Tattoos studio here in Surrey, it’s no secret that the second-floor shop at the corner of King George and 108 avenue is a sanctuary for local creatives, as the bright mural at the top of the stairs suggests, welcoming customers with its flaming orange tendrils and icy waves of silver-blue.

I like to update my portrait portfolio on a regular basis and rather than make another trek out to Vancouver while the transit system seems to be at its most unreliable (who knew an inch of snow last month would bring an entire fleet of trains and buses to its knees?!), I thought it high time to turn the spotlight on Surrey.

The three models pictured below were undaunted by a location far from the center of the Vancouver universe (for some, it was actually a rare opportunity to work much closer to home,) patiently smiling and posing despite the lateness of the after-hours shoot, for which I’d like to thank Phoenix for allowing us extra time to get all the technical details right.

And, of course, thanks to stunning models Reshmi, Shelby, and Siena for their energy and enthusiasm, as well as my industrious lighting assistant Rhys for illuminating us all! 

Woodwitch (Part One of the Elemental Witch Series)

From the "Woodwitch" portrait series with Casper Macabre

As I’m just about to post the second photoset in the elemental witch series, here is the image that inspired my personal creative direction for the year, photographically speaking:

"Woodwitch"
“Woodwitch”

An introductory essay about the set appears alongside its photo album on Facebook, from which I’ll quote here:

The main inspiration for this series came from walking through various wooded parklands and forests in Surrey, Vancouver, and Squamish, and watching how people treat these spaces as harmless sites for personal recreation – often in a very casual and disrespectful manner. For anyone that has ever been alone in the woods at night, there is the distinct feeling that life is stirring all around us, unseen in the shadows. It’s easy to forget that when the sun is shining and we feel safe, but as we recall when we breathe the smoke of distant brushfires or feel the earth quake beneath our feet, we remain subject to nature’s law – our privileged place at the top of the food chain isn’t guaranteed at all – we survive because nature allows it. The figure of the woodwitch is the archetypal “dark mother” who appears to remind us that there is indeed a price to pay for disrespecting her rules – so it’s best to stay on her good side.

That said, here again are several of the images first seen in the Facebook photo album, along with a few new additions – also check out “Stormwitch“, the next installment of the elemental witch photo series!