Help-Portrait Vancouver

Posted by on November 20, 2012 at 4:14 pm.

It’s a typically chilly Autumn day in Vancouver as the door of the Union Gospel Mission swings open. A blast of cold comes through, but with it also the warmth that emanates from the renewed soul of a man who has kicked his dark past life of addiction to the curb. Now a year clean, he is hoping to commemorate his new lease on life with a gift for his mother: the image of a transformed son with his life back on track. Ten years it has been since his image was last taken, and though happy at heart, he cannot smile for the camera lest he reveal the loss of all his teeth. A kind-hearted photographer gently coaxes him to do so without showing any of the signs indicative of prolonged drug habits and as the shutter releases, a new door opens, one through which the man now walks with a reawakened sense of purpose to share the moment with the one person he is most proud to celebrate this milestone with: Mom.

This is a true story. The year was 2011, the photographer is Roger Hur, and the project which enabled the aforementioned man to memorialize a turning point in his life is Help-Portrait Vancouver.

On Saturday December 1st 2012, a group of photographers, editors, and make-up artists will once again volunteer their time and talents to propel an annual international non-profit movement to give back to those who are less fortunate with the gift of a beautiful portrait. Spread over 60 countries in over 600 locations with more than 7000 photographers involved, we can all image how many inspirational stories have been shared throughout the world. This moment is when any one of us can help someone in Vancouver tell their story. If we pool our resources, we can easily help this wonderful project reach its goal of raising the $800 necessary to cover some basic but essential costs of production. Please consider contributing what you can through the link below.


Help-Portrait Vancouver Volunteers

We have the privilege of knowing two members of Help-Portrait Vancouver‘s organizing committee: 12x12ers Roger Hur and Bernard Ng, who have been involved with the project since its inaugural year in 2009. It was the vision of celebrity photographer Jeremy Cowart that brought a world-wide community of photographers together. As its Mission states, Help-Portrait “is about GIVING the pictures, not taking them. These portraits are not for your portfolio, website, or for sale. Money isn’t involved here. This holiday season, you have the chance to give a family something they may have never had before – a portrait together.”

Help-Portrait Vancouver Roger Hur

It is easy to see why Help-Portrait has captured the hearts of so many. “The participants hold their heads higher,” says Hur. “They love all the fuss we make over them. It’s an experience that I thoroughly enjoy and look forward to every year. The people that come in aren’t used to the kind of attention we’re giving them. It’s a shock to their system.”

Help-Portrait Vancouver Bernard Ng

New to this year’s team of volunteers are Ryan Mah and Andres Vargas, 12x12ers as well! We are so proud to know these amazing men and commend them for being leaders in the photography community.

Like us, you probably want to see some of the incredible images given by Help-Portrait. The spirit of the Vancouver event however, is to preserve the anonymity and privacy of the recipients. All the photographs are deleted as soon as they are printed so that no individual can use them for any other purpose. It keeps the event very pure in its intent and that is to give the portrait to the person. We have our own portraits to share with you though. Here are our guys who are making a difference.

Roger Hur & Bernard NgRyan Mah & Andres Vargas

Help-Portrait LogoHelp-Portrait is a movement of photographers who are using their time, equipment and expertise to give back to those who are less fortunate.

The goal is simple:
Find someone in need, take their portrait, print their portrait, and deliver them.

Yep. It’s really that easy.

2012 Winning Photos

Posted by on September 26, 2012 at 1:17 pm.

60 marathoners registered for the fourth annual 12×12 Vancouver Photo Marathon and all 60 handed in their 12exp b&w 35mm rolls by 10pm on Saturday August 18th, 2012. From the 720 photos that we had developed, our judges selected winners for Best Series and Best Photo, along with Runner-Ups for both categories, as well as 1 winner for the best interpretation of each of the 12 themes. Here are the results that were revealed at Raw Talent 2012 on Saturday September 22nd at the magnificent Salt Building in the Olympic Village:

Best Series: #01 Ryan Mah

Judges’ Remarks:

“My personal photographic style dictates that I “shoot it as I find it.” There’s no room in my documentary work for staged photos. So, obviously, I’m not going to give the ultimate prize to some manipulated, overly-staged photo series, right? Wrong! Not only am I awarding my vote to a “staged” series, I’m awarding it to the most audaciously, overtly and gloriously staged series in this years’ 12×12 competition. What right do I have to let personal bias prevent such a deliciously wicked story from taking this years’ top honours?”

“The level of preparation and effort that went into this series is notable, and the photographer managed to construct a coherent story while following the themes. There is mystery, drama, action, and a bit of humour. The execution is great, the photos are composed well and enjoyable individually, too.”

Best Series Runner-Up: #18 Phil Jones

Judges’ Remarks:

“This very strong collection of photos is let down only by frames 10 and 11. And, although I ultimately voted for only one of these photos as “best in theme,” many of them actually made it into my “top-3” list in numerous categories. The photographer’s skill is evident throughout, and the photographic quality is high (as is the cleverness of many photos). Aside from the 2-frame letdown, the only thing standing between Marathoner #18 and victory was Marathoner #1.”

“Fantastic series in the recurring use of games, the photographer shows ingenuity and wit in every photo. They’re all well executed, many have a vintage feel to them. Even considering the missing photo, the series stands out because of the number of hits.”

Best Photo:

Jackie Dives (#06) for Theme 07: Top

Jackie Dives (#06) for Theme 07: Top

Judges’ Remarks:

“Beautiful tones, beautiful girl and a seductive glance that captivates me — hypnotizing me into a waking dream in which I am the lucky recipient of such a glance. This is a photo that could and would continue to seduce me for many years.”

“Stunning photo. Portraits like this are an excellent choice for the B+W format. The subject looks moody, ticked off even. That she is seated on a staircase suggests she might be waiting for someone who stood her up. Her gaze makes the viewer a bit uneasy, as if they have disturbed her or are otherwise unwelcome. The bokeh is great, nice clean lines, visually appealing and not distracting. The composition is too, free from clutter at the edges. The hat is wonderfully lit, with subtle tonal variation and great texture.”

Best Photo Runner-Up:

Ryan Mah (#01) for Theme 02: Through the Looking Glass

Ryan Mah (#01) for Theme 02: Through the Looking Glass

Judges’ Remarks:

“Looks like an old private eye from the 30’s. Especially since the photo is black and white. Very good way to make use of the black and white format! It looks like the subject is in a sunken sidewalk slightly below street level, observing their subject from across the street. I like the way the subject’s head is framed inside the circle, and the use of repeated circles (of the binocular lenses, and even the reflection inside the lenses) is an appealing feature.”

Individual Theme Winners:

Theme 01: My Entry Number + Colour by Allison McDougall (#12)

Theme 01: My Entry Number + Colour by Allison McDougall (#12)

Judges’ Remarks:

“This one immediately struck me as clever, whimsical. The way the eggs are lined up on the street personifies them a bit. As if they’re standing around waiting for a bus, or taking a rest. The choice of subject highlights the contestant’s number a bit more, since everyone knows eggs are sold by the dozen. I like the simplicity. It’s very clean.”

Theme 02: Through the Looking Glass by Dave Fell (#41)

Theme 02: Through the Looking Glass by Dave Fell (#41)

Judges’ Remarks:

“The most literally interpreted theme in this years’ competition: Should I vote for one of the many excellent interpretations of the camera looking through glass? Or should I vote for one of the many charming and literally literal Lewis Carroll references? Neither! I opted for the most demented of literal interpretations. And, in this case, I’d have to say that Marathoner #41 nailed it.”

“Beautiful composition. The reflection in the three lens fragments is fantastic: each of the reflected images in the the lens fragments overlaps with each other (the building and the tree), and they provide a nice spatter of lowlights on an otherwise light background. Only complaint is the shallow depth of field. It does draw the eye nicely to the center of the broken fragments, but I would have liked to see a bit more in focus.”

Theme 03: Nude by Monica Chow (#05)

Theme 03: Nude by Monica Chow (#05)

Judges’ Remarks:

“Clever! Great concept, great composition. Took me a few minutes and some Googling before I was able to identify the background subject as the Gassy Jack statue. I wish it was in focus a bit more, it blends into the background scene a bit too well. The choice of foreground photo is great, the white sheets give it a nice neutral context and helps for that sharp distinction between the paper and the rest of the scene. The overall tones are great, since the (lighter) centre image is framed nicely by the dark background. By suggesting a nude sculpture, it reminds me of Michelangelo’s David.”

Theme 04: In 20 Years by Aaron Macfarlane (#04)

Theme 04: In 20 Years by Aaron Macfarlane (#04)

Judges’ Remarks:

“A most astute method for illustrating generations eclipsing previous generations. Poetic to read. Soothing to view.”

“Here are three different ages of paving surfaces: Bricks, old asphalt and new asphalt. Great theme interpretation, by capturing the progression. The photo is aesthetically pleasing due to its simplicity. This photographer is a keen observer, many others wouldn’t have noticed this when searching for their shot.”

Theme 05: Old School by Chaunce Drury (#34)

Theme 05: Old School by Chaunce Drury (#34)

Judges’ Remarks:

“The literal interpretation of an old school with the vintage desk is a nice touch. Again, goes very well with the B+W. The dead centre framing of the subject gives it a bit of staleness, blandness, which are common attributes when you think of a school; especially, a high or junior high school, which appears to be the case here. The book, also apparently old, adds a bit of interest to the photo (I wonder what subject it is?). The background is great. Clean, goes very well with the photo with its bland painted concrete floor and plain wall.”

Theme 06: Three Times by Ryan Mah (#01)

Theme 06: Three Times by Ryan Mah (#01)

Judges’ Remarks:

“We see the figure in a very dramatic scene after just having murdered three people with a hatchet. Its a peculiar scene for at least two reasons: 1) the murderer is a woman with a ponytail and pearl earrings (not your typical axe-murderer), and 2) it looks like a public place in broad daylight. The elevated perspective is nice, it allows the viewer to survey the scene and reflect on what has just happened. Great focus as well, and the darkly dressed figure really stands out.”

“I don’t know what is going on here, but I love this photo. Great feel to it.”

Theme 07: Top by Roger Hur (#09)

Theme 07: Top by Roger Hur (#09)

Judges’ Remarks:

“Love the humour in this one. Not only from the shocked expression on the boy’s face after getting caught in an act of mischief, but also because I find it absurd that a store would stock Pringles on the top of a shelf full of cleaning products. The pop of the starburst flash echoes the boy’s surprise, and really adds to the photo. The girl is too mesmerized by the food to be aware of the situation. The lighting is fantastic. Not only with the flash and lens flare, but also the refrigerated isle fades nicely into the background, and the shelf of products is lit perfectly.”

Theme 08: Hide by Collin Varner (#43)

Theme 08: Hide by Collin Varner (#43)

Judges’ Remarks:

“This is just a great photo. Period. I’d have been forced to vote for it even if it didn’t adhere to the theme. I would like to suggest that the photographer be recognized as the winner, but that the SUBJECT receive the prize, since she is the one who most-sacrificed for the sake of art. A collaborative masterpiece.”

“Another playful one. In this case, either the subject has been caught in the process of hiding, or, (my preferred interpretation) like a cartoon ostrich, believes that hiding her head is sufficient. In a more serious tone, what could make her want to hide badly enough to climb a fire escape ladder in an alley behind Abbot St.?”

“Compositionally this works really well and I like the somewhat unsettled feeling the viewer has because of the tilt.”

Theme 09: Clever by Ryan Mah (#01)

Theme 09: Clever by Ryan Mah (#01)

Judges’ Remarks:

“This depiction of what is, perhaps, the most deliciously destructive mickey ever slipped into a beverage, will have evil super-villains wringing their hands in gleeful appreciation.”

“Great pose, the subject is leaning back and you can almost hear her maniacal cackle. As clever as she appears to think she is, this looks like one of those schemes that just won’t pan out, so, possibly in combination with the attire, I’m imagining a bumbling villain. The subject’s head is nicely framed up by the tower in the background, and the big bright glasses and teeth really make the face pop out.”

Theme 10: Float by Kennedy Hunter (#32)

Theme 10: Float by Kennedy Hunter (#32)

Judges’ Remarks:

“In a hotly contested category with many wonderful shots, I simply found myself drawn to this photo the most. Visually arresting, ethereal and beautiful.”

“Great interpretation. A lonely leaf, withered and delicate, floating in air rather than liquid. It’s slightly blurred, giving a sense of motion which aids the theme. Apart from the misaligned vertical element (a pipe?) the bokeh is wonderful, soft and clean, and the leaf is perfectly positioned over it. The grain of the film really shows well.”

Theme 11: Background Story by Chris McDonald (#45)

Theme 11: Background Story by Chris McDonald (#45)

Judges’ Remarks:

“The background story here I think is referring to Coffeebar, the home base of this year’s 12×12. If that’s the case, then this photo does a great job of conveying the marathoner’s perspective. It is slightly hazy and dimly lit, Coffeebar looks empty, and the streets are fairly quiet, showing signs of waning energy as the marathon draws to a close. The repeating pattern of street lamps is attractive without being distracting.”

Theme 12: (D)Evolved by Monica Chow (#05)

Theme 12: (D)Evolved by Monica Chow (#05)

Judges’ Remarks:

“It took three days for me to cast my vote for this theme but, in the end, the simple fact that I laughed every single time I looked at this photo was sufficient justification to declare it “top photo in the category.””

“Clever take on the classic “evolution of man” drawing, which is commonly parodied with the last figure devolving into a crouched position at a computer desk. So this is a photographic parody of the parody, great! I’m not sure if its intentional that the middle photographer is aiming at the front photographer’s butt (I guess not, because in the EOM drawing each figure is a state which is isolated from the others).”

Marathoners Who Were Also in the Running:

For Best Series & Runner-Up:

#03 Yuki Takahashi & #20 Fiona Howarth

For Best Photo & Runner-Up:

#02 Bob Lai for Theme 08: Hide + #03 Yuki Takahashi for Theme 03: Nude
#04 Aaron Macfarlane for Theme 04: In 20 Years + #43 Collin Varner for Theme 08: Hide

For Theme 01: My Entry Number + Colour

#11 Andrew Topalov + #15 Richard Markus

For Theme 02: Through the Looking Glass

#01 Ryan Mah + #50 Daylene Marshall

For Theme 03: Nude

#07 Zachary Wong + #18 Phil Jones

For Theme 04: In 20 Years

#10 Pedro Nunes + #20 Fiona Howarth

For Theme 05: Old School

#14 John Roberts + #57 Ryan Marchant

For Theme 06: Three Times

#57 Ryan Marchant

For Theme 07: Top

#05 Monica Chow + #11 Andrew Topalov

For Theme 08: Hide

#02 Bob Lai

For Theme 09: Clever

#02 Bob Lai + #25 Evelyn Dawson

For Theme 10: Float

#01 Ryan Mah + #20 Fiona Howarth

For Theme 11: Background Story

#11 Andrew Topalov + #12 Allison McDougall

For Theme 12: (D)Evolved

#12 Allison McDougall + #43 Collin Varner


Posted by on September 5, 2012 at 12:40 pm.

Click here to download a PDF version of this press release


Raw Talent 2012 on September 22nd at the Salt Building

Vancouver, BC (September 5, 2012): Imagine capturing 12 frames on 12 themes in a single roll of 12 exposure film over the course of 12 hours during one of Vancouver’s hottest summer days. That’s what 60 adventurous photographers did, and to honour their results, we’re having a big party that the entire city is invited to. Come and celebrate the art of film photography as the excitement of that day’s events is relived at the 4th annual 12×12 Vancouver Photo Marathon Exhibit. Every image will be on display in its purest and unedited form, making this unique event a true showcase of Raw Talent.


There was no surprise when the theme “My Entry Number”* was announced in hour one of the 2012 12×12, but when we threw “+ Colour” into the mix to be interpreted in black & white film, marathoners knew it wasn’t going to be an easy cycle. “Through the Looking Glass”* they explored the city, the bright summer rays exposing the “Nude”* nooks and crannies that have transformed Gastown so much “In 20 Years.”* Toting “Old School”* photo gear, most wished they could shoot their subjects “Three Times”* to increase their chances at the “Top”* prize. Even though some said they wanted to “Hide”* their shots, we know they were all very “Clever.”* Whatever may “Float”* your boat, you’ll be sure to find it at Raw Talent, where you’ll get the full “Background Story”* behind each “(D)Evolved”* frame.

Over 700 photos will be on display and the winning prints announced. Join the fun on Saturday September 22nd as 60 marathoners regroup with nervous anticipation to find out how their images developed. You won’t want to miss this always highly anticipated one-night event!


For more information or to book an interview, please contact:
Angela Chih, Event Producer
Click here to email Angela
c: 778.388.3690

* The 12 themes – in sequence – randomly drawn during the 2012 12×12 Vancouver Photo Marathon which was held on August 18 at Coffeebar in Gastown

Raw Talent is a free public event for the entire city to enjoy and is supported in full by its fans and sponsors. If you would like to help, please consider a contribution to our Crowdfunding Project.
♥ Thank you! ♥

2012 12x12 Marathoners

2012 Judges

Posted by on September 4, 2012 at 2:00 pm.

Virginie Lamarche +
Bastien Desfriches Doria

Judges Bastien Desfriches Doria & Virginie LamarcheOriginally from France, Virginie & Bastien have spent the past decade in the US first getting their MFA degrees in Photography, then teaching full-time respectively at the University of Dayton in Dayton, Ohio, and at Governors State University in Chicago, Illinois. Working in Academia allowed them to develop successful artistic careers, having both received numerous photography awards and having exhibited their fine art work nationally and internationally.

Virginie & Bastien are the co-founders of Canada’s first and exclusive film photography workshops, specializing in the teaching, promoting and publishing of contemporary film photography. VNB Fine Art Photo Workshops is all about reigniting passion for all things film and analog, and their workshops highlight the unique quality, aesthetics and artistic benefits of the film medium. VNB’s latest project is BC’s first ecologically sensitive public darkroom in the heart of downtown to give our beautiful city’s talented film photography community an innovative working and networking place to use and abuse for the sake of art.

grEGORy simpson

Judge grEGORy simpson

Equal parts philosopher and photographer, grEGORy simpson’s subject of choice is whatever or whomever no one else is bothering to photograph. Any contestant wishing to get a leg up on this years’ competition needs only to read his Bartlett’s Rejects article for insight into egor’s photography views. Right this moment, he’s likely on the streets documenting humans simply being. He might even be documenting you! His most recent photos and writings can be seen on both his ULTRAsomething site and on the Leica Camera Blog, where he writes the f/Egor column.

Jonathan Canlas

Judge Jonathan CanlasJonathan is a world-travelling film photographer who was first introduced to photography in Japan when a friend let him borrow an old Canon AE1. When he returned to the US, he became enthralled with the photographic process and eventually graduated with a degree in photography from Brigham Young University. Since that time, photography has become both his passion and his job. He has shot hundreds of events and his work has been published in several magazines. He’s loud, he’s funny, he’s an open book in every sense of the word – even down to the fact that he’s now a published author of Film Is Not Dead: A Digital Photographer’s Guide to Shooting Film, which all of this year’s winners receive a copy of. He teaches Film Is Not Dead workshops to give him an excuse to get fired up about film on a regular basis.

Although he is a giant advocate of film photography, Jon’s true passion is his family. Jon, his beautiful and talented wife Callie, and their six kids live in Lehi, Utah. Jon’s home and family is the primary feature and expression of joy – and source of inspiration – in his personal work.

Michael Lawrence

Mystery Judge (revealed September 22 at Raw Talent 2012)

Judge Michael LawrenceMichael Lawrence is a Nova Scotia expat who moved to BC in pursuit of higher education. Currently residing in Port Moody, Michael is a keen, self-taught amateur who has photographed everything from cyclists to cyclotrons, from elevations of 10,000 feet to negative 50 feet. He has a bias towards cleanliness and simplicity and is not beholden to any particular piece of equipment. He has participated in the 2009 and 2011 12×12 Vancouver Photo Marathons, and empathizes with this year’s marathoners after experiencing both the lows of improperly loaded film and the highs of winning a grand prize.

Click here to view Michael Lawrence’s 2009 photo set
Click here to view Michael Lawrence’s 2011 photo set


2009 Winner for Best Theme Interpretation: High Hope by Michael Lawrence

2009 Winner for Best Theme Interpretation: High Hope by Michael Lawrence

2009 Winner for Theme 10: Flash by Michael Lawrence

2009 Winner for Theme 10: Flash by Michael Lawrence

2011 Winner for Theme 02: The Usual Suspects by Michael Lawrence

2011 Winner for Theme 02: The Usual Suspects by Michael Lawrence

2011 Winner for Theme 09: Take it to the Grave by Michael Lawrence

2011 Winner for Theme 09: Take it to the Grave by Michael Lawrence

Through the Looking Glass of 12×12

Posted by on August 18, 2012 at 3:04 pm.

What goes through a participants mind, as they peer through their camera, lining up for the perfect shot, a single shot, a vital shot, a shot permanently captured on film? Seemingly a hundred different ideas flash by, as the minutes tick down on 12×12’s hourly theme. “Do I go literal? Do I think abstract? Do I venture to find the exact setting for my ideal idea? Or do I wander and observe and let the shot come to me?”

This is what I see, as I tag along with three of this year’s 12×12 Photo Marathon participants. If you’ve ever wondered what the process has been for participants in this rather epic photo competition, well I’m here to give you the down low and dirty of it all.

It’s noon, 2 hours into the marathon on a perfect sunny day in Gastown as Shannon Leonard takes to the streets to brainstorm ideas for the hourly theme, Nude. It’s a simple one it seems, but rather difficult to interpret at the same time given 12×12’s rule of no explicit nudity.

At first thought, Shannon admits she’s thinking literal. She mentions costuming but quickly moves to thoughts of bare faces, baring it all, to be emotionally bare. Given our proximity to Pidgeon Park, her ideas wander towards those around the area, the many homeless perhaps and the bareness of their lives, stripped from the world, an emotional nudity. She decides this may be worth pursuing, so we head towards the park.

Shannon at 12x12 Vancouver Photo Marathon 2012I ask her what she thinks of the black and white theme this year. “I love colour”, she says, but black and white poses an interesting challenge for her. She particularly likes portraits in black and white where the structure and features of a person are exposed and emotion is captured more honestly. We stop and chat, all the while her eyes wander behind me. An idea has come into view. She points to a discarded tan couch in the alleyway. I can see the theme unravelling at the sight of this sad yellow couch. She is compelled to take a closer look.

The couch is definitely exposed, she explains, weathered and “nude”, forgotten and discarded. I ask her whether this is it, and I see knowing in her eyes. She sets up the shot, crouching low to get the best angle that captures the reflection in the puddle, the gritty pavement, graffiti’d walls and the narrow lane of dumpsters. A quick click of her camera and the photo is taken. She turns to me with a grin and tells me she’s captured a gem. Someone had surprisingly poked their head out of the doorway with their tongue sticking out, and she captured it all on film! Fantastic, I agree.

If there ever was a place more laid bare, this alleyway would probably be it. A fine find, and one she wasn’t necessarily looking for, but that seemingly found her instead. It appears there are many ways to find the perfect shot, but sometimes it’s the ones you’re not looking for that turn out to be the most compelling.

Bob and Ayoe at 12x12 Vancouver Photo MarathonReturning to the 12×12 headquarters at The Coffee Bar, I meet up with Bob and Ayoe, participants #2. Somewhat behind in their photos, they had two themes to capture in the next hour, but the duo appeared confident and focused. I found myself in front of Gastown’s famous Gassy Jack statue. There, the couple set up for their second thematic shot, “Looking Through the Looking Glass”. Unlike Shannon, Bob and Ayoe appeared to take a more literal approach to the theme, taking a photo literally through another camera lense aimed at Gassy Jack.

Bob and Ayoe come well prepared with a digital camera in one hand and their film camera in another. Taking multiple test shots with their digital camera before committing to film, the couple are meticulous with their shot. Are they metering correctly? Wait, Jack’s head is not in view! “Get his head into the picture!” says Ayoe. Several focused minutes later and the film camera comes out. Ayoe holds her breath to steady the lens in her hand. This is it, shoot and commit!

Asked what they thought about black and white film, Bob tells me that film is different. Unlike colour photos, one needs to consider how colour translates into black and white. Red and green, for example, appears the same in black and white. Focus must be placed more on contrast, structure, patterns, texture, shade and light. But I can tell, this duo is not intimidated by this year’s challenge. They’ve been practicing at home, they tell me, so that their digital tests will translate well on film. Clearly, 12×12 participants mean business and this duo have their process down.

Bob and Ayoe at 12x12 Vancouver Photo MarathonEvery year there are 60 stories to be told, one for each participant. Each have a different approach, a different point of view, and a different story that speaks as much about the 12 themes as the photographer’s own philosophy, narrative, and voice. Looking over the shoulders of these participants, I have come to realize that this event is more than a competition. It’s an opportunity to create a story in a medium that has to many been forgotten. And perhaps the use of black and white film is more apt than any this time around, as it strips away the noise of colour, leaving us with the core of the photo and the heart of the photographer.

Blogged by Vanessa Chu.

2012 Sponsor Photo Challenge!

Posted by on August 17, 2012 at 11:28 am.

Sponsors always wonder what it’s like to do the 12×12 Vancouver Photo Marathon so we figured, why not give them a little taste? We can’t be the only ones having all the fun! ;o)

And so the Sponsor Photo Challenge was born. With theme assignment in hand, our awesome sponsors set about the task of capturing their unique interpretation with a single shot. Here are the very cool results (in no particular order) for the theme:


Foundation by Opus Art Supplies

I hate when I’m misinterpreted. You now that annoying situation of Chinese whispers where one simple word gets blown out of context and suddenly all meaning is lost? To avoid such frustrating circumstances, I like to take things literally in all aspects of my life from conversations to image making. If you give me a theme of “foundation” then that’s exactly what I’m going to give back.

Foundation describes the ground or base upon which a structure rests. On a recent walk home to East Van from Downtown I spotted the iconic looking Science World in the background of a mess of construction work. The foundations of a new structure stood trapped behind the wire fencing, which I thought was also important to include in the image as it captures the many levels through which access is granted. From laying down the groundwork of a fence for safety, to the actual construction or deconstruction of a structure, to the finished piece: I saw it all in this frame. Interpret at your own discretion.

by Christine Redmond, Opus Art Supplies

Opus LogoOpus Art Supplies
100 – 207 West Hastings Street, Vancouver | Tel: 604.678.5889
Also on Granville Island, in North Vancouver, Langley, Victoria, and Kelowna

From day one, Opus Art Supplies has backed us up and helped us feature our winners in spectacular ways. For 2012, the always amazing team at Opus is sponsoring 12×12 with:

  • Four 24″x36″ fine art digital prints on paper and mounted on Opus Aluminum Mounting Panels for our top 4 winners (if you were at Raw Talent last year, you know how incredible these are)
  • Twelve  8″x12″ canvas prints stretched on 3/4″ stretcher bars and finished in custom cut white Opus BOD frames for our 12 individual theme winners
  • Lanyards and reusable roll-up shopping bags for the participant packages

Foundation by Photo Life Magazine

This theme inspired me to contemplate the foundational elements of my culture. The making of the “ceinture fléchée” is a part of French-Canadian history, and it’s also a part of my family’s particular cultural heritage. This traditional sash is created through a method of finger weaving developed by my ancestors a few centuries ago. At that time, the arrow sashes were worn by the general French-Canadian population, including the “coureur des bois” and the bourgeois class. This handmade traditional piece of clothing connects me to my history and origins and reminds me that creativity is a foundational element of French-Canadian culture. But, more importantly, it represents the countless hours I’ve seen my mother put into this wonderful handicraft as I sat at her side as a child, untangling the wool as the patterns were created.

My mother, my culture, my foundation.

by Valérie Racine, Editorial Director of Photo Life Magazine

Photo Life Magazine LogoPhoto Life Magazine
Tel: 1.800.905.7468
Subscriptions: 1.800.461.7468

One of our newest sponsors, Photo Life Magazine is sponsoring the 2012 12×12 with:

  • 60 magazines with special subscription rates via promo codes for the 2012 participants
  • Promotion of 12×12 through the magazine, blog, and social media
  • 120×240 banner ad on for one full month (value: $700)

Foundation by Beau Photo

My real life surroundings with the re-bar looking like a digital skeleton coming up from the ground…

People say that downtown Vancouver is more and more becoming an urban jungle, and this photo shows that very clearly. Tree roots are being replaced with concrete foundations which demonstrates, like in all urban environments, that man has firmly taken over control of the growth and shape of the landscape from nature. The ever changing setting grows vertically as it should, but with concrete towers instead of trees. What used to be a forest that sustained a variety of fauna is now a forest of glass high-rises, accommodating people in compartmentalized living. As an urban Vancouver dweller, this is the foundation of my landscape.

by Nicole Langdon-Davies, Film & Analog Department of Beau Photo

Beau Photo LogoBeau Photo Supplies
1520 W. 6th Ave, Vancouver
Tel: 604.734.7771 

Beau Photo has been a supporter of 12×12 since 2009 and for the 2012 cycle, is generously sponsoring us with:

  • Film and cassettes for all of this year’s marathoners. Thanks to Beau Photo, Ilford has also come on board and offered us the necessary HP5+ Black & White film, which Beau Photo has custom-rolled for us
  • Two $50 Rental Certificates
  • The loan of lighting equipment for a special perk that we are currently working on for our 2012 marathoners!

Foundation by Coffeebar

Billions of cups of coffee are consumed around the world every day, making coffee beans one of the most traded commodities; and every day, millions of farmers work extremely hard as they depend on coffee for their source of income. Yet when the beans travel a long way from home to be brewed into that cup of fragrant liquid gold we are familiar with, we often neglect its journey and origin as we emphasize on speed and quantity while we wait in line for that morning kick-start on our way to work.

The cultivation of coffee beans is a long and labor-intensive process, comparable to that of rice. The coffee plant can take up to seven years to grow and requires strict conditions and constant attention. They are therefore susceptible to pests and weather changes. The result of a good harvest, however, is nothing short of gratifying; like wines of different regions, coffee beans produced from different farms can take on the flavours of the soil and have their own unique taste. A distinct taste pertaining to a distinct origin, what better way to build a solid foundation for coffee? As our culture begins to appreciate the fine tasting and proper brewing of coffee, it is crucial for us to understand the foundations of coffee beans. It really helps us bring a little bit more romance into the cup, and a little bit more appreciation to our morning coffee.

Coffee can be a grab-and-go, but with all the hard labor involved in bringing those amazing flavours into the cup, it should be a treat. I make coffee for people most days, but when I’m not and the weather allows, I sit at a coffeeshop and look at the rain. Falling. And I remember other rains from different skies. Mountain fog descending and lifting like a dream, drinking single-origin coffee from the origin itself – in a small town, in the northern sierra of Mexico, through cobblestone streets and the rich palette of color surrounding everything; and the farmer – whose name escapes me now, but who still tells his story and the story of this town through his coffee. This beautiful, colorful, hidden treasure of a town, whose name will never escape me: Cuetzalan.

by Christine Delano, Manager of Coffeebar

Coffeebar LogoCoffeebar
10 Water Street, Vancouver (Gastown)
Tel: 604.566.9693

Coming on board this year, Coffeebar is officially the:

  • Venue for the 2012 12×12 Vancouver Photo Marathon on Saturday August 18th

Also part of our wonderful family of sponsors:

CustomColor LogoCustomColor Professional Imaging Lab
1123 Venables Street, Vancouver
Tel: 604.681.4680

Have you ever noticed how your lab always sends your black & white film out for development? Well, CustomColor Professional Imaging Lab is one of the few places in Vancouver where these orders go. It’s also the place professional photographers frequent to get the results they want. For 2012, our marathoners are getting nothing but the best. CustomColor is sponsoring the 12×12 with:

  • The processing of all the film rolls from the marathon
  • 4″x6″ prints of all the photos processed for the Raw Talent 2012 exhibit
  • Digital scanning for all the exhibit photos to upload to our Flickr account

City of Vancouver LogoCity of Vancouver
City of Vancouver Art & Cultural Activities
City of Vancouver Events Calendar

As our newest sponsor, the City of Vancouver is sponsoring this year’s 12×12 with:

  • A dramatically subsidized rental fee for the use of the magnificent heritage Salt Building in The Village on  False Creek for Raw Talent 2012. Without the extremely generous support from the City of Vancouver, the exhibit venue would have cost us $10,000, something we would have never been able to afford without them.

Tel: 1.888.33.LYNDA

A supporter since 2011, is supporting this year’s marathon with:

  • A cheque in the amount of $500
  • A 1-year premium subscription membership
  • 1-month free subscriptions for all 60 of our marathoners
  • DVD titles from their collection of courses

Six Cent Press Logo

Six Cent Press
1880 Powell Street, Vancouver
Tel: 604.216.0405

A 12×12 supporter since 2010, Six Cent Press has sponsored us with:

  • 100 twin sets of their custom 1.25″ buttons with packaging, a very special commemorative and collectible memento of 12×12

It goes without saying that we owe much of our success to all of our generous and supportive sponsors. Hence the selection of “Foundation” as the theme for the Sponsor Challenge. Without this solid foundation, there would be no 12×12. We share a special connection with everyone we work with to bring you this annual event. We hope you are as proud of it as we are ♥

Ilford HP5+ B&W Film: The 12×12 Choice of 2012!

Posted by on August 6, 2012 at 7:06 am.

Nervous about shooting Black and White film come marathon day? Don’t be! As 2-time 12×12 marathoner Aaron Macfarlane shows in this post, Ilford’s HP5+ film is a very adaptive and forgiving medium to play with. It also happens to be the film for this year’s 12×12 Vancouver Photo Marathon on August 18th, 2012!

But first, here’s a little teaser ;o)

Ilford HP5+ Film
By Aaron Macfarlane

Re-posted with permission. Click here for the original post.

Let me tell you about my experience with HP5+ and B&W film in general.

First off, I am not married to one brand or style of film. I like to try them all out because they are fun and, like photography, is a learning experience. Ilford’s HP5+ film is one I enjoy using on a regular basis.

One thing about shooting B&W is that you need to psychologically eliminate the colour while you are composing with your camera because there will be no colour recognition when the film is displayed after it is developed and printed. B&W for me relies very much on composition.

A good tip that I can suggest is to get a yellow or orange filter for your lens. This way, if you are unable to disconnect colour from composition, the filter will help eliminate most of the colours while you are composing. BUT if you are using a rangefinder camera, this tip will not help you as you are not looking through the lens to compose your photograph.

Note: Filters generally take away some of the light, so if you do happen to try out a yellow or orange filter and you are using a hand-held light meter, you have to compensate for the lost light. Typically it is 1 to 2 stops of light lost.

Click here for more information on factoring filters.

Another tip is if you have a digital camera, I suggest taking it out for a day or two and change it to B&W mode to help yourself get used to ‘seeing’ in black and white.

HP5+ film is a good general use film. It does perform very well in many types of situations. I’ve used it for street, portrait, landscape, macro, and most any type of photography.

It is a mid contrast film so it can produce good information in the shadows as well as the highlights. I wouldn’t say there are many limitations to this film, really. Some people like film that produces more contrast, such as Kodak’s Tri-X film.

Anyway, enough boring talk. Here are some examples of photos I’ve taken over the years using 135 format HP5+ film.

B&W Photo with Ilford HP5 by Aaron Macfarlane

Strong light, but shadows still show information

B&W Photo with Ilford HP5 by Aaron Macfarlane

Sharpness up close and at a distance thanks to the grain

B&W Photo with Ilford HP5 by Aaron Macfarlane

Lower contrast makes for less drama but more details

B&W Photo with Ilford HP5 by Aaron Macfarlane

A longer exposure at night (5 sec). That’s ’11 marathoner Andrew Topalov there with his Canon P rangefinder!

B&W Photo with Ilford HP5 by Aaron Macfarlane

HP5+ holds up well in foggy and snowy weather too

B&W Photo with Ilford HP5 by Aaron Macfarlane

Using a rangefinder from 1943 made for an interesting scene at IKEA

B&W Photo with Ilford HP5 by Aaron Macfarlane

With proper exposure, there is still great detail and sharpness in shadowy places

B&W Photo with Ilford HP5 by Aaron Macfarlane

Shallow depth test shot on a rainy day

B&W Photo with Ilford HP5 by Aaron Macfarlane

No flash needed. HP5+ performs indoors with ease

B&W Photo with Ilford HP5 by Aaron Macfarlane

Also, not related to the 12×12, but you can even create a colour image from three B&W photographs. Here I used Red, Blue, and Green filters and HP5+ film to create a trichromie image

All in all, you don’t need to worry too much about using B&W film. Chances are you have already used this film or have shot with B&W already.

If not, stop by Beau Photo and pick up a roll or two of HP5+ film. Test out your camera and try out the film beforehand. You’ll find you might get hooked on B&W film photography.

Good luck and see you on August 18th for this year’s 12×12 Vancouver Photo Marathon!

Aaron MacfarlaneAbout Aaron Macfarlane: “Okay I like photography; I talk about photography ALL DAY at work, then I come home and I take photos and/or process film and/or scan photos and/or go on the internet and look at photos and/or talk about photos on forums.

And I like snuggling. And I also like vinyl records.”

Aaron is a 2-time 12×12 Vancouver Photo Marathoner.

4th Annual 12×12 Vancouver Photo Marathon: The Black & White Edition!

Posted by on June 18, 2012 at 4:25 am.

A candid shot of Michael Kalus during the 2009 12x12 Vancouver Photo Marathon by John Biehler

The 4th Annual 12×12 Vancouver Photo Marathon: B&W Edition

Vancouver, BC (June 18, 2012): Dust off those 35mm cameras because the 12×12 Vancouver Photo Marathon is back on Saturday August 18 and this time, we’re turning back the pages to a forgotten chapter in photographic history. Set in the heart and birth place of the city where it all began, this year’s participants will gather in Gastown where they will explore the art of storytelling by capturing their images in black and white film.

With a 35mm camera as the only requirement to take part, recreational and professional photographers will each be given a marked roll of film containing only 12 exposures. Beginning at 10am and at the top of every hour for the next 12 hours, a theme will be randomly drawn and released. Participants must interpret and capture each theme in one single exposure of film in the exact sequence that they are revealed. Once the clock strikes 10pm, only the completed rolls that have been returned will move on to the next stage of the challenge. Negatives will be developed and judged after the marathon, the results of which will be showcased at a free public exhibit where more than 700 photos will be on display and the winning entries announced and celebrated.

With the highly anticipated vibrancy that summer brings, it’s no wonder that the city’s explosion of colour becomes the source of inspiration for many photographers. The brilliant blues of a child’s eyes create the perfect focal point in a still. The fiery red of a runaway balloon seizes attention. Now imagine the curtain falling on this play of colours, leaving nothing but infinite shades of gray. How do you then communicate your story? Suddenly, composition and lighting take centre stage. Perspective gets the limelight. Context now plays a role. In essence, a whole new world is brought forth. “Since photography emerged in monochrome format,” says 12×12 creator Morten Rand-Hendriksen, “what better way to play tribute to the classic medium of film than by revitalizing this art form.”

If a picture is worth a thousand words, get ready for an epic story.

SATURDAY AUGUST 18, 2012 • 10AM – 10PM

The 12×12 Vancouver Photo Marathon is the first not-for-profit annual film-based photo marathon in British Columbia. It is open to anyone with a 35mm film camera. Tickets ($36 each) must be purchased in advance, include film, and will go on sale here at 8pm on Wednesday July 18th, 2012. Last year’s marathon sold out within 10 minutes, so mark your calendars if you don’t want to miss out!

Check for updates.


For more information or media inquiries, please contact:
Angela Chih, Event Producer
e: Click here to submit an email
c: 778.388.3690

Click the following links to view the individual pages of the full media kit:

Page 1: Cover
Page 2: Media Release
Page 3: Event Photos
Page 4: Media Coverage
Page 5: What Marathoners are Saying About 12×12
Page 6: Frequently Asked Questions
Page 7: Sponsor Packages

Click here to download the full Media Kit in PDF format (approx. 839KB)