For decades the Kinsol Trestle sat deep in the heart of the Cowichan Valley, with the only sound near it being that of the occasional bird, bear or arsonist. As things stand today, it has become one of the iconic places to visit on Vancouver Island and hundreds of people make the journey every weekend deep into the woods to see this marvel of engineering from 100 years ago.
After having withstood several fires, storms and other events, this bridge was almost entirely razed and left forgotten. Except for the work of local enthusiasts who saw value in restoring and maintaining this structure as an important piece of history that should be preserved for future generations. Over $7M and was spent and years of work completed to finally restore this bridge and open it to the public again.
Now, this bridge serves as a link to our past, and is now also one of the more frequently photographed artifacts on Vancouver Island. Widely considered to be the largest free standing wood structure in North America, and perhaps even the world, this iconic structure is both beautiful and amazing to behold, considering the engineering and effort that went into it’s original design and construction… almost 100 years ago.
There are many different types and styles of photography, and many of us like to document and capture our artifacts, buildings and landscapes the way they sit today. Many of us use our photography as a means to create art using it to make and share our personal vision of the world around us. At Toad Hollow, we try to bridge these two ideas into one to some degree. We try to create fine art out of our documentation process.
I don’t believe that our photoblog post “A Bridge Of Hope” was directly or indirectly involved in this new rush of interest in the bridge. But, I do know our blog has been hit hundreds of times and we have interacted with new folks who have discovered our post and reached out to us to discuss it.
The Bear Mountain development project is another example of this. Full of controversy in our area due to ongoing legal questions and battles over the finances of this development, this project is something that is on pretty much everyone’s radar here on Vancouver Island. We wrote an entire photoblog series discussing this development starting with “I Really DO Have A Bridge For Sale”. Again, many people who had no idea about the story behind this community were made aware of this through the work of local photographers and people who care about our community as a whole.
One of the keys behind facilitating change in our world is the spreading of awareness. Without this, people are unfamiliar with the topic and are not in a position to force change. In many cases, the act of making a group aware of a situation is the first step.
We also did a series on a local school that had been closed for several years. Our blog post “The Playground Children Forgot” was well received and through the act of photographing and writing about the facility, suddenly a group of local folks came forward and contacted us. They were excited to see the way we documented the current state of the facility, but were also very excited to share the pending plans and to have us come back and do some more photography sessions as the re-planning and refurbishment phase gets underway. By doing a series on the school, we were made aware of a larger group of caring people who were determined to save the school and the intrinsic history it has, and to show the world it’s new face.
This weekend we’ve been invited back to an open house. I am hopeful that we will capture some images of the facility and write up another blog post, this time it will be one full of hope for the future.
The real lesson we’ve come away from these experiences with is that photography can foster awareness. Both outwards, to a community at large, and also inwards, towards ourselves as artists as people see our art and interact with it and us.
Awareness can begin at the tip of your lens. From there, the network has no limits, no bounds. The challenge, then, for us all as photographers is to get out there and create this awareness through the act of creating art. In some ways, it is a call to arms. And at no time in history has this been more possible or potentially far-reaching. Modern tools and techniques exist to make this as easy as making the first step… the pressing of the shutter.
Toad Hollow Photography is a fine art photography company based on Vancouver Island, BC, Canada that specializes in HDR photography. Focused on architecture, landscapes and artifacts of historical value, Toad Hollow also writes a lively blog discussing these topics. Please feel free to visit the Toads gallery of fine art and follow them on Twitter.