All posts in Inspiration

Casita Rincón Criollo

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Casita Rincón Criollo AKA La Casita de Chema is a beautiful garden sanctuary in the South Bronx on the corner of 157th and Brook Ave. It once used to be an abandoned, garbage-filled lot in the 60s and 70s. Founder José Manuel “Chema” Soto used to pass by this lot regularly with his daughter. Finally fed up by the sights of rampant destruction and neglect, he and fifty other residents decided to clean up the lot – a land that they did not own – and turned it into a casita reminiscent of the Puerto Rican countryside. The lush space has been lovingly maintained by volunteers and community organizers since.

RinconCriollo-3-smI had the opportunity to meet José who was one of several volunteers tending the garden on a sunny Sunday afternoon. A natural talker and entertainer, José showed us around the garden lined with lush pear and lemon trees. His eyes glimmered as he talked about their abundant harvest year after year. In a corrugated metal shed, another volunteer was setting up a makeshift meat smoker for a massive pig roast that they were planning to put on for Mother’s Day. “You’re all invited,” José told us warmly as he led us into the main casita.

RinconCriollo-5The main casita was adorned with portraits of the great Chema as well as group shots of past and present members brimming with smiles and camaraderie. Sun-bleached frames and memorabilia hung from the low ceiling; in the center of the room were a row of fold-out tables with plenty of chairs to go around. Hell of a club house if you ask me.

RinconCriollo-4-smRincón Criollo serves as a thriving music venue and a mainstay of Puerto Rican identity in the South Bronx. The pure dedication of community members turning a dilapidated lot into a lush gathering space for their fellow countrymen is one of the many things that I love about this city.

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Photo Credit: The Denizen Co.

Noteworthy: Jacob Holdt

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“A clever combination of luck and laziness seems to have guided me through life.”
– Jacob Holdt

Jacob Holdt is a Danish photographer and lecturer who is most well known for his behemoth photography collection, American Pictures. It contains over 15,000 photos taken with a $30 Canon Dial, depicting the 400+ families that he stayed with while hitchhiking in the US during the 1970s.

holdt-4The project inadvertently began when Holdt was held up at gunpoint by two young black men in the US while hitchhiking from Canada to Chile. Alarmed by the devastating living conditions of African American communities, Holdt then decided to stay in the US to document the various narratives of the American “underclass.” He did so by hitchhiking, dumpster diving and selling his blood plasma twice a week to buy film.

holdt-1American Pictures received international attention in 1977 as a groundbreaking catalogue of America’s dark underbelly. In fact, the Communist bloc attempted to use it as arsenal to smear President Carter’s human rights campaign. Holdt withdrew the book less than a month after publication and refused to release it until the end of Communism.

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holdt-6Though Holdt’s work may portray him as an earnest man, one does not have to venture too far into his website to learn that Holdt has a wicked sense of humor (and a handsome beard to boot). Read more about his story here.

Photo Credit: Jacob Holdt

Noteworthy: Justine Kurland

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“We who are brave enough (or stupid enough) to become explorers today, when all available land has been conquered and occupied, can still be, I believe, the builders of a new world and a new consciousness.”

– Justine Kurland, This Train Is Bound For Glory

Justine Kurland is a fine art photographer known for her large-scale compositions of tiny female subjects in suburban or rural wastelands. Nowadays, she spends most of the year on the road with her son Casper capturing car shows, commune hippies, teenage runaways and other fellow travelers along the way. View her most recent work here.

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Photo Credit: Justine Kurland

Local Lens: Tina Albrecht

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Friends! I am so excited to share with you the work of Tina Albrecht, a designer/photographer residing in Vancouver, BC. This particular collection of hers captures the stunning climatic range of British Columbia. From dense fog to abundant snow to effervescent sunlight filtering through the clouds, the face of BC shifts dramatically as the seasons fold into one another.

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The lovely Tina sat down with us to chat about her creative background and where she gleans her day-to-day inspiration.

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Q&A with Tina Albrecht

1. Please name three things you are currently into:

  • Anything with gold plating
  • Creating an amazing cocktail bar at home (I already have a bunch of lovely gold trimmed glasses)
  • My patio. I have big plans to create a lush, green, outdoor living space to spend my summer evening relaxing in. If only spring would hurry up and get here!!

2. You are a communications designer by trade. How did you get into photography?

I started taking photos in high school with my dad’s film camera. I would lug around the camera and a suitcase full of lenses, making my sister and friends pose for me. When I went to university at Emily Carr, I took photography as a minor and have been dabbling in it ever since. I have always been drawn to photography and sometimes I think that if I hadn’t gone into design, I probably would have chosen photography as a career.

3. Was there a defining moment / turning point in your life when you realized what you wanted to do for a living?

When I was in my early teens I loved to draw, I would cut photos of my favourite baseball players out of the newspaper and sketch them. I had a whole binder full of drawings. It was around that time when someone suggested that I should think of becoming a commercial artist, as we were called in those days. I think that was when I first realized that there was more out there than just becoming fine artist.

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4. Your work always seems to capture a strong sense of place. What do you love about the region you live in?

There are so many things that I love about Vancouver. The snow capped mountains, our four seasons, the ocean, the fact that we have so many natural wonders within such a close proximity, but most of all I love the amazing connections and friends that I have here.

5. What are you currently working on?

I’m currently working on a collaborative project with a very talented local food photographer @sliceofpai, I’m really excited about it. Keep an eye on our feeds to find out more!!

6. Tell us about a typical work day in the life of Tina Albrecht.

My work days are pretty structured. I’m off to the office first thing in the morning and then home by 5. On the weekend I treasure my morning coffee in bed. Sometime before noon I usually head out for a long run. Right now I’m training for a half marathon. My afternoons are spent doing something photography related, usually it is a photowalk with my partner in crime @othellonine.

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7. Where is your favorite spot to shoot in Vancouver?

I really love shooting downtown, it is the best of both worlds. You can walk across the whole downtown core in around 30 minutes and you can have your pick of grungy old alleys, sleek glass buildings, the ocean, forests, beaches and the north shore mountains. There is such amazing diversity in a compact space.

8. What are your simplest daily pleasures?

Running is an almost daily pleasure for me. I love to come home from work lace up my shoes and hit the road. There is something so cathartic about the rhythm of running. It is the perfect way to unwind, work out your problems and stimulate your brain. I can’t tell you how many times I have come home from a run with a great idea for a project.

Cooking is also a big part of my life. Scott and I cook together most evenings; the time that we spend choosing a recipe, picking up ingredient and then preparing our meal is something that I always look forward too.

My most simple pleasure of all is our cat Charlie. He is such a little character and I just can’t imagine our home without him in it.

9. Where do you see yourself in ten years?

I kind of don’t want to think of myself at that age!! Eek. In 10 years I will have either won the lottery (totally wishful thinking) or I hope to be perusing projects that really allow me to push my creativity and travel. I would love to be doing lots of traveling.

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To explore more of Tina’s work, visit her website or her stunning Instagram feed.

Photo Credit: Tina Albrecht

Local Lens: Laura Bancroft

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Laura Bancroft, known by many as Piper Winston, is a true denizen of Vancouver, BC. A biologist by training and photographer at heart, she is an eclectic mix of linear logic and creativity. Her work masterfully captures the quiet grandeur of British Columbia by paying homage to the delicate geometry manifest in its scenery. Laura was kind enough to sit down and share her story with us.

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Q&A with Laura Bancroft

1. Please name three things you are currently into:

  • Design with an emphasis on form meeting function. Architectural, fashion-related, interior related, I’m intrigued by all of it.
  • Decaf Earl Grey tea with Bailey’s – I don’t really drink, but this combo has me by my sweet-tooth.
  • Meeting new people to adventure with. Sharing spots and taking photos with someone new is always inspiring.

 
2. You are a “biologist by training” — please explain.

In what seems like a previous life, I received my degree in Biology – Animal Biology. I’ve always been fascinated with life and the factors that drive and explain how things come to be. I’m about a 50:50 split between creativity/expression and logic.

3. How does your interest in biology inform your photography?

Though I have left my scientific background behind (for the most part), my sense of curiosity and intrigue plays a role in how I see the world (and photograph it). When you study the complex details that are required to make everyday occurrences possible, you realize everything you see is an amazing, physical expression of a delicate balance. This awareness makes me fully present in the moment, and drives me to want to capture every minute detail of life in front of me.

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4. Your work always seems to capture a strong sense of place. What do you love about the region you live in?

Born and raised in the PNW, the roots of my identity are defined by this place. That being said, my family raised me to have a lust for adventure, road trips and discovery. Both of my grandmothers drove the California Coast before it was common. They, and my parents, filled me with dreams of travelling the world by car. From mountains to oceans, deserts to forests, my passion is being outdoors. Lucky for me Vancouver offers almost all of this within a 6 hour driving radius.

5. Tell us about a typical work day in the life of Laura Bancroft.

My typical wok day is probably much like many others’. I work for a small company to get by, but my 9-5 job doesn’t define my identity. My off time is really where I spend my energy – trying new projects, seeing new things and sharing it with others via social media/blogging. You can normally find me trying to convince friends to join me on last-minue adventures, turning down roads that seem to lead to nowhere and pouring over the heaps of photos after. Following a long day at work and an evening of adventuring, I am normally curled up on my couch with a movie sipping, as mentioned above, Earl Grey tea with Bailey’s.

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6. Where is your favorite spot to shoot in Vancouver?

Howe Sound is this vast, untouched space where mountains and ocean meet. It’s beautiful in the rain, on a boat in the sunny summer or viewed by car on the way to Whistler. No matter how many times I visit this space, it always makes my heart sing. There’s always a new spot to discover and a different photo to take, and it changes its face completely from season to season.

7. What are your simplest daily pleasures?

  • Discovering new music to fall in love with.
  • Cooking for others.
  • Watercolour painting.
  • Binge-watching TV shows (guilty pleasure when I have the time).
  • The golden hour in our home, amazing light at the time of day when you need it.

 
8. Where do you see yourself in ten years?

Ha! ….. Good question. I hope to make my off-time, creative hobbies, align with my 9-5 work. I would love to be entreprenuerial at some point. But, you can live your life lusting for the future, and even though I keep mine in mind I don’t want to spend today fretting about tomorrow.

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Laura currently lives in Vancouver with her musically talented other, Tyler Bancroft. She dreams of one day embarking on an endless roadtrip with a boler trailer in tow. Want to learn more about the beautiful Laura? Visit her website or follow her on Instagram.

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Photo Credit: Laura Bancroft