Mary Beaubien saw her shot on a bright day last June.
Standing by the now-demolished Rainbow Alley building on Main Street, Beaubien looked through the viewfinder of her single-use film camera.
She had only one shot left, and her subject—a portrait painted on a plywood wall cover—was about to disappear.
“The thing was, they were dismantling it and I wanted to get a picture of that before it was all gone,” said Beaubien.
Luckily for her, a young man who knew her daughter passed by and offered to be in the shot (Shown at right).
A scene came together: the step ladder, the painted figure, and the young man all at angles that drew the eye. She took her last shot.
Now, months later, Beaubien’s photo has won Best Artistic Expression award in the third annual camera project run by Positive Living North.
Inspired by Hope in the Shadows, a photo contest and calendar shot by low-income residents living in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, the Smithers camera project is the only other contest like it in B.C.
“It’s really rewarding,” said Melanie Monds, the Positive Living North manager who coordinates the contest. “It’s shocking to me, the buy-in by the people who are part of the project.”
Monds said 48 people joined in this year. They picked up disposable cameras from Positive Living North, shot the roll, and returned the cameras a few weeks later.
From over 1000 photos, photographer Virgina Pohl chose the top 40. Those were mounted on a board and voted on by people who saw them at the Smithers farmer’s market or outside Mountain Eagle Books.
Voters chose a shot by Robert Nicholas for Best Photo—Nicholas captured a carver finishing the totem pole that now stands outside Northwest Community College.
Voters gave the Best Landscape award to Sylvester Morris, who took a picture of a wooded spot where he said older Wet’suwet’en people used to get together.
Funding for the photo project comes from sales of the Reflections of Hope calendar, which are now available at SpeeDee Printers and Mountain Eagle books.
Positive Living North is a community organization that offers daily drop-in programs to people living on lower incomes in the Bulkley Valley.