Saturday, February 6, 2021

I Stand with the Muslims

As I learn about yet another racist assault on Muslim women in the city I live in, I'd like to take a minute to share a story.

I’ve been an AirBnB host for over six years. In my first year hosting, I had a young woman stay for a month as she getting started as a PhD student at the UofA.

She was Muslim.
Pink Ribbons (SOTC 168/365)
I am Christian.

Throughout her four-week stay, I showed her around. Coming from a large city in the middle of the desert, she was keen on spending time in nature. So I took her to Elk Island National Park, down into the River Valley, and--upon request--I found her a wheat field to stand in.

I took her to Ikea to get what she needed for her new apartment, and to the Old Strathcona Farmer's Market to show her where to buy local close to campus. I Googled the Halal shops close by. I accompanied her on a walk or two.

In all this, we talked about our different upbringings, our different cultural experiences, and our different faiths—I remember she openly answered my curious questions about her faith practices, and the principles that guide them. I think I did the same for her.

She reached out a few times after she’d moved. She was making friends with other international students, and they sometimes had questions as they tried to immerse themselves in various aspects of “Edmonton culture” for the first time. One particular summer evening, she texted and said she and her friends were going tent camping in Jasper for the first time that weekend. She wanted me to come; partly for company, but partly, I'm pretty sure, as the Canadian Camping Expert. I couldn’t go, but I offered up my camping gear so they wouldn’t have to buy everything new.

That was the day I stood in my garage and showed a Muslim woman and her friend how to pitch a tent.

I don’t remember most of the conversations we had. I just remember she had such a posture of humility. She was open to conversation without judgement or pretense. She had a delightful sense of humour. She was open to trying new things. She was disciplined in her studies as well as her faith.

I've thought of her, and other Muslim women I know, often this past year, as these acts of racism and hate keep happening. I don’t have any heroic point to make here other than to show that she is a person--with hopes, joys, and a life—just like every other Muslim in Edmonton and Alberta.

Let me just say that if you’re the kind of individual who is bothered by people who look, dress, or live differently than you, YOU’RE the one who can go elsewhere. I stand with the Muslim women who've been attacked this year, and all those who are at risk of discrimination and attack as they simply go about the business of living. They have every right to be here and to exist as you or I.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

The 365-day Project that Took 8 Years (AND SOTC 365/365)

Evening Saskatoons (SOTC 365/365)
Have you ever gotten so intimate with a saskatoon berry? My yearly tradition of foraging a few cups of saskatoons from Edmonton's River Valley completed my SOTC photo challenge this past summer.*

I do love a good photo challenge. A few years ago, I turned a gratitude challenge into a photographic one; I spent the next summer hunting down instagrammable walls in Edmonton; and, I currently have an ongoing challenge to sit in a Red Chair in every one of Canada's national parks/historic sites before I die--with picture proof, of course.

My first photo challenge was a 365 project where I captured a photo of myself every single day for one year. As soon as that one was complete, I set myself up for a second 365 challenge--a photo each day straight off the camera (SOTC); no post-processing of any kind. However, 30 days in, I was struggling to keep up the creative juices. While the first 365 project was essentially photo documentation of my daily life, my Straight Off The Camera challenge was more about being able to work a subject or composition. But, you know what? Some days I just don't feel like taking photos. I doubt even professional photographers take photos every single day.

So I re-wrote the challenge. Still 365 un-processed images... with an open time line.

And so here we are.

That project started on September 1, 2012, and concluded July 27, 2020. The 365 project that took 2887 days.

I have to admit, I'm not sure if this challenge resulted in me creating more un-processed final images or not. As my photography has evolved, so has my "vision" for some of the images I compose--sometimes I create compositions that I fully intend to run through Photoshop before I even click the shutter.

However, my first love is capturing this big, beautiful world "as is"--there is a strong element of realism in my photography, and so I know my satisfaction with getting the shot I want fully in-camera has certainly increased, because sometimes the elements are against me! In this project, occasionally I got one on the first try. Other times, it took upwards of 20 shots to get the one I wanted. I also put concerted effort into capturing a variety of compositions to stretch my comfort zone.

My creative drive has taken a bit of a hit with the pandemic this year; as for so many people, my mind has often just been elsewhere. Nevertheless, I know that photography soothes my soul, and my camera is never far from my side. While I will be spending time this winter learning more about post-processing, there's nothing quite like getting it "right" in-camera. I know I will continue to stretch my compositional skills as much behind the lens as in front of the screen.

P.S. I am blogging less these days... the best way to keep up with my fine art photography is by following me on Instagram: @photosbygina.yeg.

* It also completed the life span of my camera, the shutter mechanism of which started failing minutes after this image was taken. Many digital cameras like mine have an average "mileage" of 100,000 shutter clicks. In seven years with that camera, I'm sure I reached or exceeded that. It is costly to repair the shutter when compared to the cost of a new camera body, so I upgraded to a similar but newer model. RIP Canon 70D.

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

SOTC 362/365

If I can't go to the Red Chairs this year, I'll bring the red chairs to me!

Canada at Home (SOTC 362/365)

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Monday, June 15, 2020

Monday, June 1, 2020

Sunday, May 24, 2020

SOTC 358/365*

Bright in Bloom (SOTC 358/365)

*omg, you guys, only a "week" left in this project! It's taken years!