Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Blog Review: Location Vanier

Photo of Richelieu Park sugar shack
by Eva Russell (Copyright)

Today we continue our series on great local photographers that I have found on the blogosphere.  In this installment we look at the work of Vanier resident Eva Russell.

Eva Russell is an architect and photographer who came to Ottawa from Nova Scotia in 1999 to study architecture at Carleton University.  Before moving to Vanier two years ago, she tells me, the furthest east that she had travelled in the city was probably St. Laurent Mall.

"I had rented in the Glebe, Old Ottawa South, and the Golden Triangle," she says in an email.  "However, when the time came for my partner Jim and I to get on the property ladder, Vanier was on the table as the one of the only options to own and still be close to downtown."

Photo by Eva Russell
Russell fell in love with her new community and launched Location: Vanier, a photo-blog that shows Vanier's overlooked spaces, from sugar shacks (see above) to local landmarks (see left) to area business (see below).

"Vanier may have gotten a bad wrap in the past but it is definitely one of the best neighbourhoods in Ottawa," she says. "It is an area that is constantly undergoing change, and even in the past two years I have seen my neighbourhood transform with safer streets and younger families that occupy the parks and splash pads around where I live."

Photo of by Eva Russell
In addition to her photographs of Vanier, which she takes with an iPhone camera, she also shoots pictures of Ottawa that showcase the city's natural surroundings and urban landscapes.  As an example, see the picture of the Rideau Canal that can be found at the bottom of this post.

While her tumblr account is relatively new – her archives only go back to November of last year  this is a site that I quite enjoy and look forward to following in the coming months and, hopefully, years.

One thing that I particularly like about Russell's photographs is their rustic feel.  On several occasions I felt like I was going through an intimate family photo album from decades ago, which displayed tender moments and good memories.

In my view, this feeling of intimacy allows this photo-blog to present Vanier (and Ottawa) in a positive light.  While some of the photographs do capture some of the gritty parts of Vanier (see here and here), overall this is the photographic equivalent of a love letter to this east end neighbourhood.

Photo of the Rideau Canal by Eva Russell
"After we had moved in, I began to explore the winding streets north of Montreal Road, many without sidewalks, and started to discover some of Vanier’s hidden gems," says Russell.

"This winter I started walking down Montreal Road to go to the gym ... and was fascinated by the illuminated empty store fronts that lined the street. Armed with only an iPhone camera, I began to document and record framed images that I wanted to capture: overlooked spaces such as the empty Laundromat, the pawn shop and the cash stores that lined my route."

If you want to see more of Russell's work or follow her endeavours you can go to her web site or Twitter account.

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