posted on: 09/26/2013

A year's worth of connecting, conversing, and creating images of community is culminating in a celebration. The BVCAC, in partnership with Smithers Art Gallery and the Misty River Gallery, is proud to present two photography exhibits, which will be concurrently on display through the month of October 2013. The exhibit openings will take place on October 4th and 11th respectively (details below), so save the dates!

There are countless people to thank for the success of this project, from the workshop facilitators, to community ambassadors and volunteers, to the participants themselves. I hope you will agree that the photographs this project inspired are truly a representative cross-section of the diversity and complexity of our communities here in the Bulkley Valley. We would love to hear your response to the shows, as this is an ongoing conversation and we want your voice to be heard.


Misty River Gallery: Friday, October 4th, 7:00-9:00 p.m.

Smithers Art Gallery: Friday October 11th, 7:00-9:00 p.m. (featuring live music by Dorothy Giesbrecht and Ben Brookes)

See you there!

posted on: 08/17/2013

Thank you to everyone who has submitted your photos and perspectives on community. We are so touched by the diversity, power and perspectives in these photos.

With all this beauty: we are keeping online submissions OPEN. Please spread the word and upload your photos. We will not be printing any more photos but all submissions will be part of this online gallery and displayed digitally at the October exhibits. Let's keep this project growing!

posted on: 08/04/2013

The final submission deadline for Life Exposure: Images of Community is coming up on August 15, 2013. If you're intrigued by the project and have been meaning to submit, now is your last chance! This project is designed to be co-created and owned by you, the residents of the Bulkley Valley community. Here's a handy checklist of what you need to do in order to participate:

Grab a camera and answer one (or all) of the four Community Questions with a photo:

  • How do I see our community?
  • How is my culture alive?
  • How do I see myself?
  • What brings me joy?

There is no "right way" to answer any of these questions. Use them as inspiration or a jumping off point to share your perspective and/or personal point-of-view through a photographic image.

How to submit:

  • Visit and click on the "Submit" page (explore the photo gallery while you're at it!)
  • Your photos will be displayed in our online gallery, and may also be selected for inclusion in exhibitions at Smithers Art Gallery and Misty River Gallery (Hazelton) in October 2013
  • Please note: You can upload colour photos, but all images will be displayed and/or printed in B&W
  • Deadline: August 15th

If you have any questions or need help with your submission(s), please contact us at

Thank you for joining our project and please spread the word!

posted on: 05/25/2013

With the spring submission deadline just around the corner, photo submissions from across the Bulkley Valley are rolling in. Check out the Gallery to see how some of your fellow community members are engaging with and answering the four community questions.

I encourage you to add your own photographic answers into the mix and help make the outcome of this project that much more inspiring. If you are having trouble navigating the community questions, please send me an email at and we can chat about ways in which you might become unblocked. I bring this up because a number of people have found themselves stalled by the questions, and that is the opposite of what we want! Try to instead see them as a jumping off point... there are no wrong answers and we encourage you to challenge them. For instance: "How is my culture alive?" could pretty much result in photos of anything and everything, since we all define and identify with the word "culture" in different ways. Perhaps you define it as an ethnic tradition, or the natural landscape, or an artistic practice, or a specific community group to which you belong. Any one of these answers are perfect.

I look forward to seeing what you come up with. It may even end up in the Life Exposure exhibition at the Smithers Art Gallery this coming October!

posted on: 04/24/2013

The spring deadline for Life Exposure is coming up on May 31st, so now is the time to check out the "Submit" page above and share your photos with us. Submissions are starting to come in, and we'd love to see yours.

Please note, if you have any technical issues or need assistance with the online submission page, please contact Melissa at We also have hard copy submission forms and/or you can send your photos over email. We're happy to accommodate any submission route that works for you!

In the interest of promoting arts engagement in the community -- as Life Exposure aims to do -- I would like to plug Hyperlocal: Put your story on the map presented by CBC's Canada Writes. Here's a bit about the project:

"The essence of Hyperlocal is a national call-out to all Canadians to share what's new and changing in your neighbourhood and what that change means to you. Send your true, personal stories as text, photo essays, audio, or raw video. Stories may touch on some of the big issues we face in a fragile economy, or may reflect small changes in a neighbourhood as it becomes gentrified, as the last post office closes, as a new restaurant opens with a fusion of cultures and cuisines, or as memorable characters move in or out. All stories will be posted online, and at the end of the month one winner will be selected by a jury panel. The grand prize is an interactive adaptation of the winning story by the National Film Board of Canada’s Digital Studio and a laptop computer. Deadline to submit is May 3, 2013."

This sounds like a fascinating exercise in storytelling, and we encourage you to submit your own.

posted on: 03/31/2013

On Saturday, March 16th Chris Duncan facilitated the first Life Exposure photography workshop at the Old Church in Smithers. With over 20 participants in attendance, the event was a resounding success. From instruction, to inspiration, to hands-on practice, Chris helped us deepen our understanding of the art form and gave us courage to move beyond our automatic settings to create some thrilling, vibrant shots.

The piece of insight that I found most valuable is probably quite basic to seasoned photographers: The difference between a snapshot and a photograph. I hadn't thought of it in this way before. According to Chris, a snapshot is an image taken in the spur of the moment, without much consideration for composition and/or lighting. A photograph, on the other hand, is acheived when one takes into account the arrangement of elements in the viewfinder, employs "pre-focus" with the shutter, and considers the optimal settings for lighting in a particular environment.

Chris helped us decode the menu on our digital cameras and move beyond a practice of creating endless snapshots. Don't miss his upcoming Photo Workshops that run throughout April and May at Smithers Secondary School. To find out more, visit Chris' website at Synergy Arts.


Friday, April 26th, 1:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. | MAPPING YOUR COMMUNITY: Creative Expression and Photo Transfer with Perry Rath

Friday, May 17th (evening) + Sunday, May 19th (morning) | Community, Culture & Identity: 2-Part Photo Workshop with Mike Ambach (participants can attend one session, or both)

To register for either of these FREE workshops, contact Melissa at More events and activities are in store, so stay tuned!

posted on: 03/05/2013

Most artists rely on some degree of inspiration. The unknowable muse, if you will. Sure, 95% of creation is honing one's skills and doing the work, but what about that other 5%? There is a magic ingredient that turns a creative person's effort into what we call "art." I believe this is where inspiration comes in.

In the trajectory of the Life Exposure Project, we are currently at the inspiration stage, playing with our cameras and rolling the Community Questions around in our minds. Perhaps you're stuck and wondering how to go about finding your photographic answers.

Enter: Inspiration. I recently dropped in on Chris Duncan's photography class at Smithers Secondary, and he introduced us to French street artist, JR, and his international photography project called Inside Out. Here's a video of the artist talking about the impact of his project: JR: One year of turning the world inside out.

At the beginning of his talk, JR says: "Twelve years ago, I was in the street writing my name to say, I exist." Through Life Exposure, we hope to give everyone in the Bulkley Valley the chance to say the same. The end result may not turn out to be as monumental as JR's project, but the intention behind it comes from the same place.

So if you're wondering where to start, take a photo that says, I exist. Inspiration will follow.

posted on: 02/04/2013

Life Exposure is all about arts engagement in the community. To this end, the project includes free workshops across the Bulkley Valley (stay tuned), an online gallery, storefront displays along Main Street, and art gallery exhibitions in both Smithers and Hazelton. Life Exposure will create a diverse and dynamic visual record of how Bulkley Valley residents see both their communities and themselves at this point in time.

Now let's talk one-on-one. I'd like to invite you to explore 4 community questions through the lens of your camera. Let's revisit them for a moment, shall we?

  • How do I see our community?
  • How is my culture alive?
  • How do I see myself?
  • What brings me joy?

Say them aloud. Let them breathe. Perhaps a few images have already come to mind. Others will come instinctively, as you seek answers with the shutter release button. Consider how a photo tells a story: Who is the protagonist, or cast of characters? What is the setting? Is there a call to adventure? A conflict?

The intention of the community questions is to launch a conversation that will inevitably give rise to more questions. We welcome you to pose them.