Dreamers + Doers

The following is the speech I prepared for my 5 min talk at a new event entitled Dreamers + Doers


I was asked to be here through my current fellowship with RADIUS. I’d like to thank Jenn McRae & Shawn Smith for connecting me with Sarah Shandl, the organizer of this great event.


I looked up. Lil Wayne’s tattooed body. His gold-filled grin. And amongst the screaming crowd and thumping bass, I asked myself, what the fuck am I doing here?!?

We’ll get back to that, but first,
let’s hop over the rockies, to good ol’ Alberta…


I was born in Edmonton.

Although I came from a blue collared working class family, in which “working hard for your money” was drilled into me, it never fit. I was a quiet kid who spent pretty much all day either drawing or reading.
I was an artist, which was considered weird and useless.
I tried working as a helper in a welding fabrication shop during the summer. I worked on construction sites. But I just didn’t fit in.

It wasn’t just that I didn’t fit in with these stereotypically gruff n tough manly Albertan men.
I always thought there must be more than this.

Even though by my early 20s, I hadn’t been anywhere outside Alberta (other than a trip to Disneyland when I was a kid),
I knew there must be more than this.

My imagination, confined to being able to draw cool creatures or writing fantastical stories,  was at best, up to that point, been given a pat on the head.

But what I’ve learned since is that my imagination – my dreaming – has WAY more potential than anyone, myself included, could have imagined.


My name is Ash Tanasiychuk
(tana – SAY – chuck)

I’m a visual artist and the founder of VANDOCUMENT.

You might have seen photos of mine over the years. Since 2010, I’ve shot bands playing throughout the city, which gets us back to Lil Wayne.

How DID I find myself in a photo pit shooting Lil Wayne?

I found myself there because I took a chance.


In July 2010, I answered a local online publication’s call for gig photographers.
At that point, I had NEVER shot ANYTHING for ANYONE other than myself.
I didn’t even have an SLR.
But it was an unpaid gig, I thought what the hell why not.
I shot the show and I instantly fell in love with live music photography. From that day, I was hooked. I loved what I was doing, and in the photos, it showed.

  • Although I shot tons of bands, including Leonard Cohen at one point – I realized my talent wasn’t really contributing to anything, other than some sweets shots on the sites & publications I was shooting for.
  • That fateful gig in Rogers Arena, shooting Lil Wayne, helped me realize there must be more than this.
  • I realized that my talent to capture a few key moments in time could be shifted to my city’s local artists.

This is where the DOING started to come in.


Once Lil Wayne helped me realize that he didn’t need my photo talent, that my local community did, everything exploded.

I started shooting events featuring local artists. I cycled around, brought my camera everywhere, shot pics of gallery openings, artist talks, bands and performers, posted the pics, and shared them with the artists.


So I did it more. This energy fed me.

I shot more and more until I literally couldn’t do anymore. I realized this needed to be a bigger thing.

I brainstormed a name (VANDOCUMENT, obvious, right?) bought the url, found a theme,  populated it with my own work, and launched on May 10 2013.

From there, I spoke to people. In person, online. I invited people to join. And it took no time to gather a small but amazing crew.

This is where my dreams moved from personal to communal.


It’s a buzz word, I admit.
But I choose it for a genuine reason: community building buzzes me. Electrifies me.

This is a new discovery.
As a quiet kid, I didn’t make an effort to build community.
As an artist, I just made things. I didn’t think I needed community.

But now that my dreaming had moved from simply being an artist to documenting and supporting artists, I was opening myself up to others. I began to expose myself and my beliefs to people.


In one of VANDOC’s first posts, entitled “On Why Art Matters”
I introduce the concept and intentions of VANDOCUMENT. Then I ask:

“But WHY? Why does our local talent deserve this attention?”
A couple of the points in particular stick out:

  • Art has the capability to save me from confusion, depression, anger, and other not-so-awesome states because it reminds me that I am not alone. Music, performance, film, etc – shows me a world larger than my own and by so doing, it grounds me, calms me or invigorates me
  • This grounding, calming, invigorating power of art is inherently community-building. It gives us a sense of being HERE. Whether we know the people around us or not, whether we are in a tiny village or a massive metropolis, we are not alone.

I sign off on this post with
“Support art. Love yourself. Connect with the people around you.”

I bore my soul here. By writing this, I was distilling the core essence of my dreaming into a 500 word article.

By baring my soul, I was sharing my dream. I began DOING my dream.

So what did this teach me?


Genuine purpose.
Purpose that extends into & connects with other people’s lives.

In my case, paying tribute to what people do.
If people are going to put themselves on the line, if they’re going to create anything, we should at least give them a nod.
You needn’t love it. You needn’t like it. You needn’t even “get” it. But you definitely need to give that nod. Because each of these creators, even if only for that one time in their lives, have taken a dream and done it.

What we should be asking is what is their story.
What is your story? What matters to you? No, what REALLY matters? If you could realize your dream, what would that look like?

Cuz see, I’m discovering that by putting MY dream out there, by DOING my dream, I’m enabling other people to DO theirs.
I’m inviting people in to share their stories, and their dreams with me.

So, before I leave, I’d like to share:


  1. Surround yourself with believers, supporters, and participants in your dream.
  2. Thank those who help you, give back to those who give to you, and create opportunities for them. Build and respect your community.
  3. Take chances. Lots of them. As often as possible.

Thank you.


Remembering A Fantastic Evening Of Music Through Photography

While culling through my photos for an upcoming exhibit, I came across my capture of one of the ladies from Tasseomancy, a unique vocal-based indie group that performed at The Electric Owl in Vancouver BC November 2011.
The show also included Young Galaxy
and Austra – whatta lineup!!
On assignment for The Snipe News, original post here


You Can Do Anything, After A Real English Breakfast

Jan Dibbets and Reiner Ruthenbeck in ‘The energy of a real English breakfast transformed into breaking a real steel bar by the artists Dibbets and Ruthenbeck’ 1969
from Conceptual Art by Tony Godfrey, Phaidon 1998


2011 Wrap Up: Paying Tribute To A Monumental Year

Welcome to my WRAP UP of 2011! This is the 4th edition of what has become an annual event in which I take stock of the past 12 months of my life, paying respect to how I filled my days and nights, highlight some of my favourite sounds and sights, and set intentions for the new year. It’s exciting and humbling to write, and from what I’m told, enjoyed and anticipated by many of you. So without further delay…

2011 is done!

No, I’m not happy about it – this has been one of the best years of my life. Best because it’s also been very very tough, with major changes to all the biggies: work, relationship, and home.

I moved twice. I ended an unhealthy relationship, and haven’t been happier in ages. And I started working full time for myself as a graphic designer/photographer/artist/all ’round creative bloke!

What I’m stoked on is that through it all, I’m closer to becoming the real me, the true, strong, honest, passionate, positive, and creative me, that’s only shown cameos in the past.

Which brings me to what means more to me than any of the music, films, books, etc that I’m going to mention below: YOU.

Yes you. If you have been invited to read this, it’s because you are a positive, inspirational part of my life, and if 2011 taught me anything, it’s that what matters most in life are people who treat me right and are there for me. Some of you are new to my life, some have been consistently rad for over a decade. To all of you, huge love and respect!!

If I seem a little over the top with my adoration for you, if you are receiving messages and texts encouraging you to make the most of your life, to become the person/artist you truly are deep down, well, get used to it! It’s only gonna happen more! You inspire me, and as I see you grow, and be your true self, shedding any false layers, I am energized to do the same. As the Beastie Boys once said, “be true to yourself and you’ll never fall” (from “Pass The Mic”, for my fellow music nerds).

Aiiight, let’s get amongst it, shall we?

And please let me know what you think of everything by adding your comments at the bottom of this post. I’m open to constructive criticism, adoring praise, or if there’s some of your personal 2011 highlights you’d like to share, please do!






The Great Outdoors + Friends = Best Way To Start The Year!

In January, I got some great outdoor time with friends, including an excellent day riding Cypress w Geordie + Julian, and a North Van photoshoot walkabout with friend and mega talented designer & photographer jenny reed, during which I captured this strange, otherwordly wrapped structure.

Participating In Positive Progress

The city held a Live Performance Review open house @ Mount Pleasant community centre. This is a multi-phase review that is assessing and addressing the outdated rules that keep Vancouver’s art, music, and cultural scenes from flourishing, specifically, performance spaces. Through my participation, I have met some supercool, devoted, and inspiring people who are tirelessly working to bring cultural progress to the city.

Live Music Highlights: Little Dragon and Good Night Billygoat

I kicked off the year right with a great show at one of my favourite venues: Fortune Sound Club. Headliners Little Dragon were incredible
and openers Billygoat (since renamed to Good Night Billygoat) were thoroughly charming. They are visual artists who create soundtracks for their collaged stop motion animation. A beautiful, unique show that had the crowd at Fortune mesmerized.
Billygoat commented: “Hey man. These are the best live photos anyone has ever taken us. Hands down. Keep up the brilliant work. Thank you!”
I shot this show and Sarah Harmer in January (& many more throughout the year) for The Snipe News. Thanks Shawn & the whole Snipe crew!

Live Music Highlights: Givers @ Biltmore

A definite surprise, since I was there to shoot Ra Ra Riot, but holy shit Louisiana pop ensemble Givers put on one helluva live show!

Mesmerizing, Colourful Night at Vancouver Playhouse

In addition to shooting The Pack A.D. and Thee Manipulators for Scene In The Dark (big up Michael & everyone at Scene! You guys are awesome!), I also photographed two incredibly talented bands, Rhythms of Rajasthan and Kiran Ahluwahlia. It was my 1st time at Vancouver Playhouse, and I was the only photographer there this beautiful evening. The bands amazed the audience, and although I was kept to stage sides and balcony (no front shots on the floor allowed), I ended up with some nice shots. Bless you, Allan, for lending me your 80-200!

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In February, I shot Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Sebadoh, and Quasi, but the highlights were:

Cheeky Rappers Das Racist @ Fortune

Postponed from an earlier cancelled show, Das Racist didn’t hold back on the theatrics, smirky faces, or solid delivery when they finally took the stage.

Ska by The Aggrolites and The Valuables

I had seen The Aggrolites a few years ago based on my tattoo artist’s suggestion so I knew this’d be a great show.
Local group The Valuables were more than worthy openers!

The Blow and Sonny & The Sunsets

Opener Sonny & The Sunsets are a surprisingly charming group that pen funny, deeply honest folk/rock/indie songs.
I’m not sure how to describe The Blow, except to say that she is a solo artist who sings, dances, and effortlessly had the entire Biltmore in her grasp. A beautiful, alluring, talented performance artist who you should definitely check out.

Surf Rock Madness!

I shot a crazy all ages show at The Rickshaw: Best Coast
and Wavves. Timez got nutz especially during Wavves.
The crowd went wacko – crowd surfing, jumping the fence, and fellow photog David Thai had his camera bag (temporarily) stolen by some crazy klepto girl in the crowd. Super fun night though!

Pre-Valentine’s Love by Jody Quine

Friend and talented singer/songwriter Jody Quine was highlighted in “a show all about love.” I was honoured that Jody asked me to photograph her performance.

Dip My Toes Into Another Music Industry Pool

From February to August 2011, I worked as Assistant Editor at The Snipe News. In addition to writing weekly articles (check out my page at The Snipe News), and posting new photo galleries, my main responsibility was requesting media passes for upcoming shows from publicists and promotion companies, and coordinating our writers and photographers to cover these events. It was an ongoing logistical challenge, but I thrived in it, my work was greatly appreciated by everyone at The Snipe, and I built great relationships with many people in Vancouver’s (and beyond) music scene.

My Black Keys Photo Featured in L.A.!

Rollo & Grady, a LA-based music blog, requested use of my pic of Black Keys’ drummer Patrick Carney on their site to accompany their interview. Rad! Check it out here – it’s at the end of the article!

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Good Times With & For Friends

In March, some other rad stuff happened, such as a brief visit from long-time Calgary-based friend Renee, Sarita (along with David and Ellee) had a beautiful sunny birthday brunch at their lovely waterside New West home, and our lovely Lucy Small officially became a Canadian citizen.

Instructions On How To Flash

I’ve been teaching Adobe Flash one-on-one and in small groups at VIVO Media Arts Centre since 2007. I love teaching, and am open to doing more of it. Anyone want to learn Photoshop, Illustrator, video editing…? Let me know.
In March, I taught a one-on-one Flash course to a woman who is a youth career coach. She brings multimedia skills into her coaching. Rad.

March of Music!

It was also a massive month for music! I saw, but did not shoot Akron/Family and Crystal Castles. Both of those shows blew my mind; Akron/Family because they got the entire crowd involved; Crystal Castles because it was a complete onslaught of intense electropunk awesomeness.
I shot Concretes, Millionyoung, Asobi Seksu, O’Death, Strange Boys, State Radio, Kaki King, Erica Dee, Mount Kimbie, Babe Rainbow, No Gold, War On Drugs, and Destroyer. Whew! And that’s not even including the top shows…

Telekinesis, Wye Oak, Callers @ Media Club

Whatta lineup. All amazing bands, but holy shit Wye Oak are mesmerizing. And their recordings are beautiful. One of my favourite discoveries of 2011.

Esben and The Witch, First Time Ever Using Flash At A Live Music Shoot

Shot at the impossibly dark Waldorf (c’mon Waldorf, sort out your lights aka buy some!), but a blisteringly brilliant show. I love this band to bits.

Warpaint (with PVT and Family Band)

Warpaint were mediocre. Tonight was all about Family Band, another favourite discovery of the year. Moody, gorgeous music.

Acid Mother’s Temple & The Melting Paraiso UFO (w/ Shilpa Ray and Her Happy Hookers) @ Biltmore

Haha no I’m not kidding – these were the names of the 2 bands playing. Awesome trippy psychedelic night.

Cute Bouncy Wolf Head Couple Steal Amelie Composer’s Thunder

I went for Yann Tiersen, but left in love with Breathe Owl Breathe. An adorable band. Obviously enjoying themselves immensely, they were all smiles, lead singer Micah Middaugh bouncing up and down throughout songs. The moment that caught my heart was during a song in which singer/celloist Andréa Moreno-Beals was wearing a wolf hat. During moments of the chorus, she would ‘yelp!’ like a wolf; as she did, Middaugh held the mic not at her mouth, but the wolf’s! So cute, so sincere.

International Women’s Day Highlighted at W2 Storyeum

Utopia Fest: 25 female artists, including Tanya Tagaq (who I’d been dying to see for years), Peaches, and Isis Salam, this was an unforgettable night.


I was invited to photograph the media-only preview of Cavalia, a Cirque de Solelil spin-off. The power of the horses was incredible. It made all the acrobatics of the humans seem silly, insignificant. We were given free tickets to the Grand Opening the following night – score! – to sit back and enjoy the production in it’s entirety.

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April, Ashley’s Month of BIG Changes

April! Well, whatta month that was! Becoming self employed, moving house, and my first ever trip to Portland!

Started Self Employment: Format No Auto Goes Solo, and Changes The World!

It was time to grab my life and career by the balls and head out on my own, so I finished working for ShowMakers Productions, my 9-5 family and place of employment since 2006. A crazy thing to do, to leave a consistent job with a good family-run business, but I needed to do it. And bless my boss, she was very supportive. Working independently has been a huge challenge, but through the struggles, I feel like I’ve grown a full foot in stature. And I am happy to say that my relationship with ShowMakers is healthy; I have been asked to return to ShowMakers twice a week starting January 2012, helping the gang out during their busy period.

Another Big Month of Music Photography

April was another month packed with tons of shows to shoot: Fleet Foxes, Olof Arnalds, My Chemical Romance, Two Door Cinema Club, Rural Alberta Advantage, Girls Rock Camp, Awolnation, Ellie Goulding, Bright Eyes, Titus Andronicus, Mike Watt, Run With The Heard, and Sex With Strangers! All this while transitioning to solo employment, and working as The Snipe’s Assistant Editor! Here are the shows that really stood out:

Trentemoller & His Theremin-Playing Companion

Euro multi-genre producer Trentemoller‘s music is dramatic; it seems he likes his live set to be so, too. And he likes peculiar opening acts: Dorit Chrysler (who also performs with his band) is not only a vocalist, but plays the theremin, that weird metal stick that creates sound without being directly touched.
Later that year, I shot Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, who also use the theremin! Weird… Forget the ukelele, 2011 was the Year Of The Theremin!

tUnE-yArDs + Buke and Gase @ Biltmore

Easily one of my favourite shows of the year, tUnE-yArDs is a phenomenal, exciting performer, accentuating her belting, unique voice with flamboyant costumes and facial warpaint. One of my photos would later be featured in Spectrum Culture’s review of tUnE-yArDs’ Washington D.C. show!
Buke and Gass (now Buke and Gase) are a sweet duo who not only write incredible music, but have created their own instruments that are the reason for their band name: A “buke:” baritone ukulele and a “gase:” guitar+bass.

Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj, Dessa, Sims, and Lazerbeak All In One Night?!? Plus Nardwuar?!?!?!!

That’s right: At Rogers Arena early in the evening, pop/rap acts Lil Wayne & Nicki Minaj co-headlined a massive stadium show.
Lil Wayne was alright, but it was Nicki Minaj, in her skin tight neapolitan ice cream suit that stole the show. I couldn’t help but make an animated gif of her twirling her superior booty in this post.

I actually met Vancouver music brainiac and icon Nardwuar outside the arena moments before he held this interview with Lil Wayne.

Afterwards, I cycled to the Biltmore to shoot Dessa, one of the massively talented Doomtree crew, on her solo tour, with support from Sims and Lazerbeak. Awesome show. Truly. The talent, the charisma, of this hip hop crew always amazes me.

Not Really A Rave, But They Still Bring Glow Sticks

Electronic duo Chase & Status brought a full-on, ear-bursting night of drum’n’bass, breakbeat, dubstep, and hip hop to the screaming, pouncing, seemingly underage sold out crowd at Gossip. It was mental.


5 days in Portland, Oregon. Brilliant. A trip with great friends, sharing a house in the Alameda neighbourhood, cruising around on bicycles in one of the most bike friendly cities I’ve ever cycled, hitting up microbrew pub after microbrew pub after food cart after food cart, it was a pleasure for the senses, night and day. Big smiles all week. I never thought I’d want to live in the US; this is the closest I’ve ever felt to it. I definite highlight of 2011.

Tennis! Almost. Not Really

I really like tennis. I’ve played with friends over the years, but there’s only so long that you can go whacking the ball without any control before it gets tiring and you’d like to get beyond just getting it over the net.
OK, so maybe I’m not that bad, but not much better than. So Cory & I signed up for lessons at Britannia. Great idea, right? Wrong. Remember the “summer” we had in 2011? Yeah. Monsoon, you mean. More than half our lessons were cancelled due to rain, so we didn’t really progress. Maybe I’ll revisit the idea in summer 2012…?

Get Crafty!

In April, the Vancouver Tool Library had their open house, and just down the road at the Croatian Cultural Centre, This Is East Van were selling their hot-off-the-presses first book (which features 2 of my photos!) at Make It Vancouver. Good crafty stuff a’happenin’!

New, Gorgeous, Temporary Home

At the end of the month, I moved out of my bachelor apartment (& home for 3 years) and into a shared home with my good friend Dave and new friend Erica. Although it was just a four-month sublet (while Olive & Ben cycled across the US for their honeymoon – you can read all about their adventures on their blog), the opportunity was too good to pass up: live with friends in a big, bright, gorgeous old home that I’ve admired for ages, in a quiet East Van neighbourhood during the summer. And I don’t regret the decision one bit. I loved everything about living at Turner St. Thank you Dave, Erica, and Tig! And thanks Olive for your beautiful room – I slept like a baby all summer. Fond memories of breakfast on the front porch in the sun, and BBQ’s out back in the evening. Bless.

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Federal Election – Gah!

A momentous federal election kicked off the month, in which The Harper (aka backwards, bigoted bullshit) Government gained a majority, but for the 1st time in history, the NDP secured official opposition status, thanks to the tireless determination of leader Jack Layton, who would tragically lose his battle with cancer mere months later.

This Is East Van Book Launch!

After a hugely successful release at Make It Vancouver last month, TIEV had their official launch party at the Waldorf to celebrate. As a contributor (2 of my photos are in the book, and later in the year I was a
Featured Photographer on their site
), I was in attendance, and thought it’d be cool to shoot a few candids to document the evening. TIEV liked ’em so much, they added the gallery to their site. See TIEV 1 Launch Party.
This little community photo project has been so successful, a sequel is already underway (3 of my photos have been selected!), including a video project! Great things a’happen when people put their hands where their hearts beat.

Edmonchuk, Hear Me Roar

Since I wasn’t in Edmonton for Xmas 2010 (I spent it in Vancouver with friends – big up the orphan crew! Good times!), I took a quick trip home to Alberta.

Marley Pays The Bills

I was approached to design material for Rohan Marley (Bob’s son)’s company, Marley Coffee. I have designed posters, flyers, stickers, and coffee bags, created web content, written and edited copy, photographed product, edited video, and drawn illustrations for coffee bags. I’m happy to say that Marley Coffee has become my main ongoing client, and for that I thank you for approaching me, Nicole. One Love.

Store Your Files In My Toaster

I bought an NAS, aka my “toaster” (it looks exactly like a traditional tin toaster, except the slots are on the side). I needed space for the tons of RAW photos I’m accumulating and to free up space for clients’ files on my local. I’m not entirely sold on it, because it’s NAS (Network Attached Storage), which means wireless, which means it’s not terribly fast. But it frees up a lot of hard drive space, which is more than just convenient, it’s actually necessary. I was running on zero kb of local free space for a bit there! And RAID (mirrored drives) ain’t so bad for peace of mind, either.

Best Photographer In Vancouver! Almost

I was nominated as Best Photographer in the 1st ever Vancouver Urban Culture Conference, but unfortunately, the conference was cancelled last minute due to insufficient funds. I might not have won – the competition was pretty impressive – but it was nice to be mentioned amongst the city’s best! Big love to my fellow photogs, you are a constant source of inspiration!

Arcade At The Auction

Music BC has noticed my gig photography, and I was asked to donate my photo of Arcade Fire‘s Régine Chassagne for Music BC’s Charitable Foundation Gala and Auction. I’m honoured to have had my piece amongst other auction items and prizes such as a signed Joe Satriani guitar!

Speaking Of Photography, What’d You Shoot This Month, Ash?

I shot Mother Mother, KT Tunstall, Joe Pug, The Kills, Atmosphere, and Wolf Parade’s (supposedly) last ever gig.

Stand Out Gigs? First Surprise: Some French Girl Named Yelle

Who knew? I photographed this one just for more photo-taking experience, but it ended up being a blast! Yelle really knows how to put on a show and entertain her audience! High energy electro dance pop.

Female Artists Impress

Alluring, mystical, highly talented women continued the standard set by Yelle: both gothic synthpop act Zola Jesus
and indie/dream pop songstress Lykke Li blew me away.
Fantastic performers, truly a joy to photograph.

Cute, Innocent, Whistling… Animals!!!

Peter Bjorn & John. Sure they write irresistably catchy pop tunes, but who knew they’d kill it live, like proper rock stars? Great show, complete with shoulder high kicks and thrashing guitars.

Yea Or Nay? I Say ‘Yea’ Every Time!

I definite highlight of the year. I have always loved Yeasayer for their unapologetically experimental rock full of raw, honest lyrics. Expectations were high after hearing their stellar live album Live At Ancienne Belgique. Yeasayer brought it: when they rocked the Commodore, all expectations were satisfied.
A nice surprise was opener Hush Hush, a tall, skinny, bearded man shakin’ his thang, givin’ a young Mick Jagger a run for his money, singing spankdirty songs with nothing but a mic, an ipod, and a lot of costume changes. Highly entertaining.

Electric Owls, Souvenirs Of Canada

All in one night, I was at the grand opening of Electric Owl, the new Main St/Chinatown bar/restaurant/live music venue, AND waxing philosophical with internationally renowned author and visual artist Douglas Coupland.
Quick recap: after the Owl, I was too late to get into the Coupland/McLuhan/Youtube event at the Waldorf. So I thought what the hell, it’s a nice night, I’ll go to Nuba (connected to the Waldorf) and stay for a drink or three. A couple hours later, who should sit down at the table next to mine? That’s right: the world famous artist & writer himself. One of my friends is such an enormous fan, she went over, introduced herself, and brought Coupland over to our table. He happily launched into it when I asked about his presentation that evening.

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Beyond Blue

Thanks to my new roomies at Turner, I discovered the Beyond The Blue Box program. All those potentially recyclable materials that you aren’t meant to put in your regular recycling (styrofoam, polystyrene food containers, electronics, CDs, milk and juice containers, etc) are taken and sorted by Beyond The Blue Box! Rad. Check the Britannia Community Centre site for more info.

Two Friends, Two Shows

Two successful artist friends of mine had openings the same night: Chris Von Szombathy‘s art opening at Helen Pitt,
Chris Von Szombathy art opening at Helen Pitt
and Persistence of Vision by Holly Ward @ Artspeak
Holly Ward "Persistence Of Vision" at Artspeak

Flailing Feet In The Sky, Bypass My Teeth

In June, I actually chilled out a bit on shooting shows, while I really tucked into my graphic design business. I even took in a show without my camera (gasp!) and replaced it with beer drinking and moshing with friends. Dropkick Murphys @ Commodore: crazy night out with the boys!

…And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead and Rihanna, An Unlikely Pair

They weren’t on the same bill, but after shooting decent shows by My Morning Jacket, Bruno Mars, Janelle Monae, Friendly Fires, and Invasion Fest, it was Trail Of Dead and Rihanna that really blew me away.
At Electric Owl, an awesome lineup included Follow That Bird and Ringo Deathstarr.
But it was the epic, soaring, driving rock of …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead that stole the night.
Then in a completely different venue (Rogers Arena), a completely different performer (Rihanna) proceeded to surprise me and gain my respect. Respect? Prancing her bikini-clad curvy body all over the stage, you ask? Yes.
See, for one, Rihanna knows what she’s got, and she knows how to move it. She owns it. Secondly, I’ve seen a lot of these big pop stars at Rogers Arena, and most rely on the fireworks and jumbotrons to satisfy the arena full of fans. What’d Rihanna do? She worked that stage like she owned every inch of it. She pounded the pavement like it was her first ever gig. Top marks to this pop superstar!

Harrison Hot Springs Sucks, Harrison Lake Is A Trip

Cory and I took a weekend outta town, camped up around the northeastern side of Harrison Lake, and, well, melted into the surroundings. We found an incredible point that shot out into the lake, and since the walk out to it was fairly inhospitable, it became our peaceful spot to recharge and engage in wicked conversation.

Photography’s A Drug

Since I wasn’t shooting as many shows, it satisfied my ichy trigger finger to be invited by jenny reed for an afternoon Gastown shoot.

Contributor Appreciation!

As Assistant Editor at The Snipe, I was in constant contact with our amazing group of writers and photographers, but hadn’t met most in person. So it was cool that The Man at The Snipe, Shawn Conner, organized a contributors party at Revel Room in Gastown. It was awesome to meet everyone, though some people (I’m looking at you, Rachel Fox) were disappointed that I wasn’t a perky young girl(!) Oh my name, how you provide me with constant surprises and entertainment!

Drawing Is Meditation

I have a somewhat regular meditation practice. This is something I started many years ago (thanks Veronica!), and have, at times, focused on (a 5 day silent retreat in 2009). This is my ceramic bodhi leaf incense holder, a tribute to my practice.

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Collaboration, My Love

In July, I began a collaborative project with teacher and artist igor santizo. Igor had taken a series of photos of his piece “Dissolutio: State Phase” and wanted to present it as a poster. He approached me, and over a few months, we worked together, exchanging ideas, and we emerged with an 11×17 poster that feels like a page out of a newspaper or old magazine.
Dissolutio: State Phase by Igor Santizo and Ashley Tanasiychuk
In December, it was featured in QR_U, an art exhibition at Emily Carr University of Art and Design, after I responded to one of their questions about the importance of collaboration in art. You can read my post here.

Collaboration Continues

I attend CO-LAB @ Centre A, a multi-artist show that presented the results of collaborative workshops that took place earlier in the year. A piece by friends & super artist couple Emma Hendrix & Julie Gendron was in the show. Called NOISE/DE-NOISE, multiple analog tape decks are arranged on a waterbed, and play indefinitely, intentionally deteriorating. Laying on the bed with the tapes around my head felt like I was in the womb.

Asian Ghost Stories

Just a couple of weeks earlier, I was at Centre A to take in Howie Tsui’s Celestials Of Saltwater City. Read my review of the exhibit here.

EatArt Powers The VAG

My friends who are involved with EatArt (famous for Mondo Spider, but should be recognized for all the great work they are doing investigating, in creative ways, our relationship to energy use) dressed as snakes while cycling stationary bikes throughout the day to power the Vancouver Art Gallery and to highlight the great things that EatArt is about. Keep up the awesome work, it’s been a blast getting to know you all, you crazy talented wacky people.

Taking Media To The Street

I attended Fresh Media ReMixology 6: Hit Refresh – Taking Media to the Street. Fresh Media is a cool, forward thinking group of people who put on ReMixology nights to get speakers and interested people to speak & share ideas so that we can reimagine media & journalism in Canada.

What’s A Snipe?

Now that Guttersnipe had officially changed it’s name to The Snipe News, I created new business cards for everyone. With a snipe (bird) on the back!
The Snipe News business card 2011

Fucked Up For Free

A free Fucked Up show?!? WTF! Thanks wendythirteen for continuing to be the coolest promoter of punk in Vancouver.
Openers Real Problems were highly entertaining. Later, their bassist Denis contacted me to say that my pics “looked amazing, you are talented, and because of this I had already posted some of them onto our Facebook site.”
I also shot The Herbaliser at Fortune, but on the 2nd night of their 2-night tenure, and the place was half empty.

The Wild Styles of Les Savy Fav & The Dirty Awesomeness Of Handsome Furs

I love Handsome Furs. Dan Boeckner has always been 1 of my favourite 2 Wolf Paraders; the intensity in everything he does is so fucking inspiring. He’s one of those people who just lives, breathes, and shits music. It’s all he does, he’s obsessed, and I love him for it. And I love that he’s in a band with his wife, three albums into a successful international career.
Co-headliners Les Savy Fav are more about the spectacle that is their lead singer, Tim Harrington, than their average post-punk songs.

Electronica In The Forest, Shambhala Eat Your Heart Out

Bass Coast Fest! Truly awesome. An incredible group of artists and festival goers, but all the props need to go to the lovely ladies who have run the Bass Coast Project for years.
Everything about the festival was impeccably run. I appreciated how well I was treated as media. And hey! Even though I arrived as a Snipe photographer, I’m now an official Bass Coast photographer! See my shots on the Bass Coast facebook page

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Joffre Lakes, Glacial Beauty

I spent more time in the glorious outdoors, returning with Kirby to one of our favourite camping & hiking spots: Joffre Lakes Provincial Park, just northeast of Pemberton. Along with Andrea, Matt, and Lindsay, we hiked the brilliant all day hike alongside three immaculate glacier lakes, up to the glacier’s source, then soaked in the serene evenings with Jenga and a bloodthirsty pack of deer.

Speaking Of Deer, It’s Time For A Stag!

Joe’s a gentleman. Instead of your regular, drunken, idiodic pranks, trashy strippers-type stag, we had a civilized backyard BBQ. Congrats to you and Shona, Joe!

Leather Pants Reinvigorate Me

My live music photography was reinvigorated after a great Jon Spencer (“The Blues Are Number One!”) Blues Explosion and Rich Hope show at Venue. @johnlee_ tweeted “those JSBX shots you did were amazin. nice work, Ashley. cheers, J”

Tapes ‘n Tapes

I also shot rock’n’rollers Tapes ‘n Tapes and The Chain Gang Of 1974 at the Biltmore. Later, Tapes ‘n Tapes tweeted at me: “@formatnoauto thanks! Sweet pics”

Such Gorgeous Sounds Come From That Potty Mouth

One of my favourite shows of the year was Aussie songstress Sia, known for her work with Zero 7, but also making a name as a solo artist. She has a very unique voice, and my god it was impeccable through every note of every song. What surprised me was how blunt she was during between-song banter, describing the patterns of her dress as being covered in vaginas, and introducing her band members by the “sexual names” they had acquired during the tour. Hilarious and entertaining, just unexpected from such a seemingly innocent woman whose website is painted in crayons.

Schmooze SchMusic

Music BC holds occasional industry nights that are open to anyone. Called SchMusic BC, August’s was a Summer Tiki Party at the Waldorf. It’s a great chance to meet up and coming musicians, producers, promoters, videographers, photographers like myself, and others in the music biz.

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Next Stop: Woodlandia

In September, my 4 month sublet had come to a close, and I sadly had to say goodbye to the incredible Turner St home and my wonderful roommates there. I’m now nestled in the Broadway/Woodland area, affectionately known as “Woodlandia,” and makin’ it home.

Spunky, Sexy, Whipsmart

This was a treat: taking in a show with Kirby & Andrea, without my camera!
Jean Grae! I’m a longtime admirer of this killer MC, even back to her days spitting on Herbaliser tracks as What What. Spunky, and surprisingly sexy too. Just as ill live as you’d expect.

Massive Month For Art & Music Fests

Victory Square Block party, the Boom Booms Block Party, UBC Master of Fine Arts grad exhibit, SWARM & New Forms Fest! Great music, outdoors at the Waldorf during Vancouver’s late summer heat (read more here).
A definite stand out amongst NFF’s visual component: a beautifully shot, stylistically arresting pair of films entitled Lorenzo, Isabella and the Pot of Basil, featuring contemporary dancers Jennifer Mcleish-Lewis & Josh Martin. I could watch this diptych daily forever. Read my thoughts here.
video still of contemporary dancer Jennifer Mcleish-Lewis in "Lorenzo, Isabella and the Pot of Basil"

Bambu Gives Hip Hop A Real Voice

Ben & I checked out rapper Bambu at FIVESIXTY, a club I hadn’t yet been to. Unfortunately, it seems they’re trying to attract a douchebag crowd, with their glossy trashy advertising and nights focused on cheesy disposable djs. Which is unfortunate, cuz the space is actually pretty dope.
Bambu was awesome. He oozes confidence, his messages are educated and intentional, and he delivers it all with perfect cadence and timing.

POP Montreal, How I Love Thee

One of the best things I’ve ever done for myself: After being approached to shoot POP Montreal, and really wanting to do it, I talked myself out of it. But it wouldn’t go away, it was in my head, in my heart, and I just knew I had to go, no matter how much sense it didn’t make financially.
So the night before I flew, literally hours before my early morning flight, I bought a ticket. And I tell you what: if I needed a reminder that following your gut is the way to live, this was it. There wasn’t a single thing, nor a single moment, that wasn’t absolutely brilliant about this trip. Possibly the top highlight of 2011. A free bicycle rental, 2 lovely homes to stay at (cheers Cat & Feo, and Ed & Vicki!), great weather, tons of incredibly talented bands from every genre you could imagine, dedicated, knowledgeable and fun staff & volunteers… Genius.
I made a ton of solid contacts in Montreal, and many of the bands, or their publicists, requested to use my photos, including The Fundamentals, Alaclair Ensemble, and Dominique Young Unique.
For more thoughts, photos, and links to original published pages in The Snipe News, read my blog post here.

What’d You Put In My Drink, Mister?

Amon Tobin. His ISAM 3D mapping cube Tetris stage setup. Unfuckingbelievable. I’ve never felt so high and been so sober. Honestly, my pics don’t do it justice, you need to see it live. For the closest thing to it, watch the trailer, which I posted on my blog here.

I Continue To Be Inspired By / Jealous Of Burnkit

Fellow photog/designer Cory Stevens and I headed to Burnkit, a super rad Vancouver design house that we were introduced to as a design students (our professor knows the Burnkit guys personally and took us on a field trip to their studio). Burnkit continues to set the trend as a thinking out-of-the-box company, now holding art exhibitions in their giant Railtown space, this one called Prototypes. For more, read my post.

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October! Let The Games Begin!

A pretty big month with the Occupy Movement kicking off around the world. Personally, this month was HUGE and it’s where I took some major “it’s a bird it’s a plane” sized changes in the right direction. Let’s take a quick look at them, shall we? (he says while smiling brightly)

It’s Over

Ended a negative, emotionally draining relationship that I had given more than it deserved. This changed e v e r y t h i n g for me.

Work Kicks Into High Gear

With 5 months of independent graphic design work under my belt, I found my stride in October. Focused, determined, and delivering the goods.

Dance, Connect Deep Within

I joined the lovely Jules’ Chakra Dance Series, dancing for two & a half hours every Friday night, focusing on one chakra each week. I was hesitant, because it sounded a bit too hippy for me, but it was beautiful fun, and kickstarted the path I’m on to reconnect with myself, with my body, which I feel I lost connection with in recent years. Thank you Jules xo

East Side Yoga!

Rediscovering the importance of being truly connected to my body, I ended my hiatus from yoga and joined a new studio: East Side Yoga. It’s a sweet little space at Commercial & Grant, and I’ve been incredibly impressed with the great character and level of quality instruction there. I get to turn my brain off, stretch, strengthen, go inside and feel my fingers, toes, hips, back and shoulders, and return to a sense of my sensual self. I’ve also dropped in on my old studio, Open Door, for occasional classes. Variety!

Cycle This Way

I continued my history of volunteer work for Vancouver Biennale, this time for the Tour de Biennale, during which cyclists raced around the city, with public sculptures as check points. I was a traffic marshal, directing cyclists from Cambie towards Queen E Park. My uniform? A tight pink cycling jersey!

Work For Food

I started volunteering at Quest Food Exchange, where I’ve been intending to volunteer for years. It’s right up my alley, I do a little of everything: work in the warehouse organizing & labelling food, in the store culling produce and restocking shelves, and in the office, updating/fixing the website, creating store signage, working on photos, etc., all with a good group of people doing great things.

Art, Collectives, Friends

I attended the Freelance Finance workshop at W2. Also, before a free screening of Press Pause Play at W2, pre-drinks were at Also Known As, a shared studio space for digital artists & designers. They also use the space for gallery exhibits. A wicked concept, awesome people.
And fellow photog Jason Statler had his work in an exhibit called Open Relationships at a great little space called Studio 1666, near Granville Island. Supposedly it’s dj & bartender school during the day, which is dope, it means there’s a full bar there for gallery shows!
Plus a super Thanksgiving: Big dinner potluck, hosted by Dave, Olive, and Ben at their cozy Turner house. Great people, delicious food. Perfect. Afterwards, big Thanksgivr party at Geri & Michael Hall’s palace. More great peeps dancin’ off their turkey.

Not A Lot Of Shows, But The Ones I Shot Were Excellent

Electronic/soul producer SBTRKT (w/ collaborator Sampha, pictured here) made a big splash in 2011, and the crowd at Fortune gave proper respect. Opening duo (& real life couple) New Look were surprisingly good, with their simple, catchy 80s synth pop.
I never thought I’d get a chance to see this highly influential band, yet there I was with camera in hand at the front of the stage of the PNE.
Read my thoughts, and check out a video of Portishead’s newest song in my blog post.
I also shot the SONG recital for Music BC. In Coquitlam! Crazy, I never thought I’d have a reason to go there.

Return Of The Greenhorn

After leaving 12 months ago on a road trip to top all road trips, Neil returned home after driving from Vancouver to Panama and back, surfing all the way. Check out the video I made of his arrival home:

You should read Neil’s blog – The man’s a good writer! Check it: The Greenhorn Surf Diaries!

Halloween Awesomeness

Awesome Halloween weekend, dressing up as Richie Tenenbaum, and Erica as my sister Margot, partying with good friends including Troy, visiting from Quadra Island.
On the 31st, Kelly painted us all so we looked dead/undead/zombie, we carved pumpkins (that many of the parents complimented us on), and we gave candy to 117 kids!!! I thought I overbought candy, turns out it was barely enough. Super fun.
Halloween pumpkins

Six Acres, One Of My Favourite Places In The City

Close out the month with a cool shot.

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On November 11th, the world lost an awesome man. My mentor and friend Allan Bergman passed away after fighting lung and bone cancer. He was the founder of ShowMakers Productions, the company I worked for as a multimedia designer from 2006-2011. He was one of the only people I know who got as excited about photography as I do, and he was such a cool dude he lent me lenses on many occasions, without hesitation. I loved his dry wit, and how he put on a convincing sense of aloofness, even though I know he was a deeply loving man underneath it all. His wife and children love him immensely; their family is incredibly close. My heart is with the Bergman family. With love, respect, and fond memories of an incredible, inspirational man – Mr. Allan Bergman, you will be missed. Rest in peace.


I watched Polytechnique, a movie about the massacre targeted at women at the Montreal École Polytechnique. I am invigorated to take action against violence against women, but also against violence in general. It disgusts me that people are so fucked, and feel so alone, that they blame others for their sadness and lash out in violence.
I was raised to be respectful of women and of people in general, no matter their age, sex, culture, or religion. Yet in the past, I have perhaps been too polite/tolerant of ignorant, racist, sexist assholes. No more bullshit, I absolutely refuse to tolerate it. I have volunteered for Vancouver Rape Relief in the past, and will become more involved with organizations such as Say NO – UNiTE and the White Ribbon Campaign, because being kind and respectful to women doesn’t mean I am less of a man. It means I am more.
I recommend you watch this TED talk in which Tony Porter challenges the characteristics that men are expected to adhere to.

More great references to check out: XY Online and Futures Without Violence.

Shrinks. Why Are They Called That?

I found a new counsellor and he seems like a good fit, someone who will be a key player in my intention to delve deep into some personal work and growth over the next 6 months.

It’s Upper Lip-ember!

With fellow moustachioed friends participating in Movember here and around the world, my upper lip was a soup-strainin’ beast of badassness for a month, while we raised $$$ + awareness for prostate cancer research.

Speed Dating

Get Your Vote On holds Candidate Speed Dating evenings at The Biltmore in the lead up to Vancouver’s municipal elections. It’s a meet and greet, where city hall candidates move from table to table, speaking directly to average citizens like myself. After this round-table, a more traditional Q&A is held, with the candidates on stage.
This is such a beneficial, educational event, that leading up to the next municipal election, I’m determined to make it a series of nights. Think of it: if held once or twice a week over the course of a month or so, you could meet all of the candidates, not just a handful, which is the most honest way to judge their potential as a person who will make decisions that directly affect us all.

Outdoor hottub party?! OK!

Actually, I was home & cozy, listening to great tunes, when Erica & Kelly came home around midnight. It was Saturday, I had been out the night before, and wasn’t planning on doing anything. But they *dragged* me out, and I’m so very glad I went. I met some truly incredible, beautiful people that night.

Art Art Art!

Lots of great art in November, with the annual Eastside Culture Crawl being an annual favourite.
I had a meeting with Linus and Denise, the wicked couple behind Vancouver’s go-to place for all things art: Artsy Dartsy.
And jenny invited me to a special presentation of the Snapshot Fred Herzog film at the Goldcorp Centre for the Arts. There were presentations by Douglas Coupland, Gary Stephen Ross, Sam Sullivan and Andy Sylvester. And when Shelagh Rogers (CBC radio superstar) had to cancel her appearance last minute, she sent her speech by mp3! Whatta lady! And the man himself, Fred Herzog, was in attendance. Who knew that he isn’t only a fantastic candid photographer, he’s also an incredibly charming and hilarious man.

Experimental Sound Art: Viva VIVO!

An excellent evening at VIVO Media Arts in Vancouver BC.
Three incredibly talented groups of musicians with video projectionists (+ 1 interpretive dancer):
Coin Gutter
Ross Birdwise, Soressa Gardner, Victor Ballesteros, Luciana D’Anunciacao
The Automatic Message
Read my post about the night in here.

Two Excellent, Yet Very Different Exhibitions

Poemitron @ Charles H Scott & Shapely @ CSA Space
Read my blog post about these exhibits here.

Female Vocal Power x3

I photographed Ohbijou at the Biltmore, but the real highlight was Austra, Young Galaxy, Tasseomancy at Electric Owl: easily one of the best lineups this year, 3 solid pop bands with strong female lead vocals in all.

Deaf From Above

My 1st time shooting for Backstage Rider, and it was a good’un: Death From Above 1979! Awesome. You gotta read Mikala’s review – it’s psychedelic & spot on.

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Gettin’ Older And Loving It

The last month of the year always kicks off with my birthday, and I take my birthday very seriously, in a completely off the wall, fun way. It’s the day I was born, and I figure if there’s ever a time in the year to take time off work (a MUST. I always book my birthday off. I actually believe everyone’s birthday should be a stat holiday for that person. Working on your birthday?!? Sacrilegious!), have fun, and do whatever it is I want to do, this is the day.
Well, my 36th birthday landed on a Saturday last year, so I made a full weekend of it. It was completely everything I could’ve wished for, and more. Thank you to everyone who played a part in it. To all those who sent me birthday wishes by phone, email, text, and fcbk, to the lovelies who made the journey all the way to the N.Van art party, to everyone at my potluck, brunch, Hastings steam, and to everyone who allowed me to drag them out for days(!), denying you the right to return home for a shower & change of clothes, I love you all.


I officially joined Olio Festival as Assistant Operations Manager. I am super stoked to work alongside Dani, Sarena, and the Olio Team to make the festival’s 4th year it’s best ever!

House Sitter

Kunst the cat and I guarded Emma, Julie & Ari’s home while they were overseas doing their super artist thang.
Kunst is a good influence on me: even after I had cleaned his litter and fed him and even poured a little water in the tub (his preferred way to drink), he’d meow and meow and meow. Then I figured it out: he’d only stop meowing once I sat down and stopped moving. He just wants me to chill! Thanks buddy! I appreciate it!

One Of A Kind

I went to the One Of A Kind art show to support two immensely talented women: Jules Emmerson, clothing designer, and Nathalie Columbe, painter. Nathalie is the beautiful woman who set me up to stay at her sister’s whilst in Montreal. Even though I barely knew Nathalie at the time, and had never met her sister, it all went splendidly well, and I have a very strong loving connection with her family. This was solidified when I met her charming and warm mom, who was supporting her daughter at One Of A Kind. Big love to the Coulombe family!

Art With Energy

An incredibly curated show, Art With Energy at EatArt was one of the most engaging art shows I’ve been to in awhile. A wide variety of work, from photography to painting to meticulously detailed illustration to electronic sound generated in organic (tree trunks!) material, and of course, EatArt’s showstoppers, the Mondo Spider, snake, and Prosthesis Project, it was a fantastic night of art and good people. See my energized photos on fcbk
Art With Energy, EatArt, Vancouver, 2011


I received a devastating phone call. My Mom, while walking in a parking lot, was hit by SUV. The driver had no license, no insurance. And she expressed no sympathy or remorse for hitting my mom. Luckily, my mom survived without any broken bones or concussion. She is severely banged and cut up, but it doing her best to recover. Thank you to everyone who has sent your love and prayers, it means more than you know. I was with her for a week over the Xmas holidays and made sure she knew how much care and love was coming from friends around the globe. Bless you all.

Xmas Dinner, Stone Mason Style

Since I didn’t have my own Xmas party (no company, no staff!), I was kindly invited by the stone mason crew to dinner at Hamilton St. Grill. Which is surprisingly not the run-of-the-mill bar/grill it appears to be! It actually has a very nice interior and a quality menu. Steak, Chicago-style, for everyone!
Then catchin’ up with Kirby and our lovely Kate, visiting from T.O., at The Narrow.


A brilliant 2 hour vinyasa yoga class at Open Door, led by two of my favourite instructors: Jennifer and Randy. Thank you both for leading us through an engaging class to set positive intentions for 2012!

It’s NYE: Surprise!

Cuz his lovely girlfriend just wanted “to see his silly face,” we planned a multi-stage surprise birthday for Geordie, taking him (distracting him) snowboarding, to keep him out of the house while preparations (food, tunes, people gathering) were being made. Then a dinnertime arrival, SURPRISE! (met with: “but it’s not my birthday!”), lotsa good peeps & good times to celebrate Geordie who normally gets screwed, his actual bday being Jan 2nd when everyone’s still burnt out.

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Black Mountain Wilderness Heart (2010)

OK, so this is a 2010 release, but I didn’t hear it until January 2011. And my “best of” lists aren’t confined by year. It’s more important for me to share with you what rocked me throughout the year, regardless of when it was released, published, or printed.
Black Mountain has put out nothing but solid rock, yet they supercede all previous efforts on Wilderness Heart. It kicks ass.
Listen to “Rollercoaster”

The Besnard Lakes The Besnard Lakes Are The Roaring Night (2009)

2011 was the year I fell deeply in love with The Besnard Lakes. Their 1st album is great, but oh my goodness I melt everytime I hear The Besnard Lakes Are The Roaring Night.
Listen to “Albatross” (& prepare for a heart-stopping drop at 3:03)

Kid Sister

This girl should be MASSIVE by now. All the big DJs know this – listen to Rusko’s bangin’ remix of “Pro Nails”

Wye Oak The Knot (2009)

Infuckingcredible. A duo who generate more power and emotion than most bands twice their size can create. Gorgeous (but far from cutesy) female vocals provided by Jenn Wasner, and drums & keys by Andy Stack. If you want gorgeous, powerful indie/country-tinged folk rock, Wye Oak is your band.
Listen to “For Prayer,” from their 2009 release The Knot. They have a new one out, Civilian, that I’m dying to hear.

Doomtree No Kings + Sims Bad Time Zoo (both 2011)

This Minneapolis hip hop collective, and one of their members, Sims, have released 2 of my favourite albums of the year. There are amazing layers on Doomtree’s new one. I feel that the 8 member group is finding new and exciting ways to combine and fully utilize their voices and talents.
Listen to “Team The Best Team.”

And Bad Time Zoo is just solid, positive hip hop. Sims has bumped up his lyrical delivery some serious notches. And the energy that he and producer Lazerbeak have injected into this album is infectious.
Listen to “Good Times”

Gabrielle Papillon

I’m a sucker for heart-felt folk. I was sent this vid by Papillon’s publicist. It made my day.

Esben and The Witch Violet Cries and Hexagons EP (both 2011)

I fell in love with this band when I photographed them at the Waldorf. Their live show was blistering. Their recordings are more moody, but I love them all the same.
Listen to “Hexagons II (In Flight)”

Lykke Li Wounded Rhymes (2011)

What an incredible album, such a variety of moods & energies. Except for whining “Sadness Is A Blessing,” it is a truly solid album from beginning to end. I mentioned her in my blog here.
Listen to “I Know Places”

POP Montreal discoveries

So many incredible bands. Highlights include AraabMuzik, B L A C K I E , Death Grips, Dominique Young Unique, Evening Hymns, Holger, Megan Bonnell, Purity Ring, The Darcys, TONSTARTSSBANDHT, and Trust. I highly recommend you check them all out.
Listen to “Klink” by Death Grips

Listen to “Lofticries” by Purity Ring

Listen to “Shaking Down The Old Bones” by The Darcys

Azelia Banks

This really needs no introduction. Just watch it.

The Weeknd House Of Balloons, Thursday, and Echoes Of Silence (all 2011)

What an incredible year for this youngster! Toronto boy Abel Tesfaye went from unknown to massive international success, and not off a single, which is all most music sensations need these days. No, he released THREE full albums in one year. WTF amazing. Nominated for the Polaris Prize, Canada’s highest honour in the music industry, I’m looking forward to more silkysexysmooth R&B from The Weeknd in 2012.
Listen to “Lonely Star”

Cowboy Junkies Renmin Park (2010) and Demons (2011)

After 26 years(!) of making music together, the Cowboy Junkies are at the top of their game. Seriously gorgeous music, incredible storytelling, brilliant musicianship (killer organ in “See You Around”). The Junkies are a secret guilty pleasure of mine, because I think they are (wrongly) categorized as alternative country. But one of the reasons I love where they are now is that they’ve opened up and experimented and their sound is now much more blues and soul-infused. Speak to me!
Listen to “Wrong Piano”

tUnE-yArDs W H O K I L L (2011)

Love love love this woman. Talent and soul just pour out of her, effortlessly.
Listen to “Powa”

Pretty Lights’ Posse (various)

Pretty Lights, a killer dj and producer, is now running his own label. He’s carrying incredible talent: Gramatik’s Beatz & Pieces Vol. 1for funky early Herbaliser-style grooves, Break Science’s Further Than Our Eyes Can See for the dirtier, hiphop-injected side of this group, Michal Menert’s Dreaming Of A Bigger Life for sweeping DJ Shadow-esque voyages. Big up to Dwight in Colorado for turning me on to Pretty Lights years ago!
Listen to “Happiness On A Leash” by Gramatik

Listen to “Move Ya Body” by Break Science

Listen to “Alpha Omega” by Michal Menert

PJ Harvey Let England Shake (2011)

Although nothing will match the raw power of Rid Of Me (still my favourite PJ album), Let England Shake is the most important album PJ Harvey has ever released. A concept album focused on the idiotic results of war, and the decline of her England, this album rightly won the Mercury Prize.
Listen to “The Glorious Land”

Crystal Castles Crystal Castles II (2010)

Both albums are solid end-to-end bangin’ brilliance. As mentioned, I lost my mind at their live show.
Listen to “Baptism”

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Nina Simone Live At Ronnie Scott’s (2003)

I’ve said before that it’s soul in music that gets me. It doesn’t matter what genre, if the creator poured their soul into it, I’ll be hooked. Nina Simone gushes soul. I hear it in her recordings, and in this video recording of a live performance from 1985, the expressions, the changes in her voice, her movements, how she teases the piano, it’s all so marvellous I feel tears welling up at the same time the corners of my mouth create a smile.
Watch “Mississippi Goddam:”

Touching The Void (2003)

Truly inspiring movie. Even though you know that the characters survive (because they are doing voiceover throughout the movie), it is still unfathomably intense. I believe I’ll remember this movie every single time I’m in a precarious situation.
“You gotta make decisions. You gotta keep making decisions, even if they’re wrong decisions. If you don’t make decisions, you’re stuffed.” – Joe Simpson, talking about his decision to lower himself deeper into the crevasse he has fallen into, alone, with a broken leg, in the Peruvian Andes.

Andrew Bird: Fever Year (2011)

There are people who have creative talent, yet live average 9-5 lives (most of us), then there are those so consumed by their talent, they can do nothing else. One of those people is Andrew Bird, multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, singer, and one helluva whistler.
This gorgeously shot documentary, with impeccably recorded audio, follows Bird as he tours relentlessly for 1 full year, struggling with a sickness through nearly all of it. During the day, he’s burning up, feels like death, but at night, he takes the stage, and you wouldn’t know he was less than 100%. He plays through his sickness, he sings and smiles and whistles through his sickness, and gives it 300% every night, night after night, because there is nothing else he’d rather do. An inspiring movie, my pick from 2011’s Int’l Film Fest.

Armed Chinese Troops In Texas! (2011)

Ignore the last 30sec or so (it’s a political campaign for Ron Paul). The message of this vid is spot on.

Wristcutters: A Love Story (2006)

A charming film, it takes the premise that life after suicide is the same as this life, only worse. The main characters handle their new “lives” in a variety of ways: a Russian gypsy who sings Gogol Bordello songs, a young man convinced his girlfriend is there & is searching for her, and a hitchhiker (the strikingly attractive Shannyn Sossamon) is convinced she is there by accident and is looking for the People In Charge. A wacky roadtrip flick with heart.

Love Is the Devil: Study for a Portrait of Francis Bacon (1998)

A difficult but rewarding film to watch, it fully deserves to be shown alongside any of Bacon’s meat and blood drenched paintings. Raw, cruel, terrifying; director John Maybury never attempts to make Bacon likeable. In fact, no one is likeable in this film. Yet the characters, especially Derek Jacobi’s Bacon and Daniel Craig’s portrayal of Bacon’s lover & muse, are so engrossing in their flaws, they are irresistible. The tortured artist, depicted to perfection.

Underground (1995)

Read my thoughts of this absurb, epic, Cannes-winning film here.

Biutiful (2010)

Powerful performances. A unique story with a hint of the supernatural. A perfectly executed film with equal parts intensity and subtlety.

Just Keep Going (2011)

APPLAUSE. That’s what this project deserves. He breaks through the silence & gets a few people on the subway to think about their lives and what it means to them, and in turn, what it means to us. Learn more at

Black Swan (2010)

I finally saw Darren Aronofsky‘s newest film. Holy shit what an incredible movie. The tight shots throughout give a claustrophobic feeling that is only relieved occasionally, to pull back and show just how far Portman’s character is slipping.

Buried (2010)

Yes, watching a man trapped inside a box for 1hr40min IS recommended. Very suspenseful, masterfully controlled. Not over the top. Restrained believable performance.

Soundtracker (2010)

Beautiful. Another example of a person who is so absolutely obsessed with their passion that they can do nothing else. This documentary is a piece of art that visually honours and complements the audio art that Gordon Hempton devotes his life to.

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How to Be a Graphic Designer, Without Losing Your Soul (2009) by Adrian Shaughnessy

How to Be a Graphic Designer, Without Losing Your SoulExactly what the title says, and written with the spunk and attitude that the title implies. Full of practical advice, including interviews with successful designers who chose to forge their own path rather than bend over for their clients.
Preview the book at Amazon here.

Photography: The 50 Most Influential Photographers of All Time (2009), a Barron’s “Icons of Culture” book by Chris Dickie

Photography: The 50 Most Influential Photographers of All TimeRead my thoughts here.

Juxtapoz Magazine

Juxtapoz MagazineThrough which I discovered Audrey Kawasaki. Check out her site of gorgeous illustration/painting. I wrote about this rad art mag here.

The Outsider by Albert Camus

The Outsider by Albert CamusIt made me laugh at times – the main character, Meursault, speaks with such emotional detachment from his surroundings, his lines occasionally come off as deadpan. Read some of my thoughts and favourite quotes that I posted here.
Here’s an example: “So I fried some eggs, and ate them off the pan. I did without bread as there wasn’t any left, and I couldn’t be bothered going down to buy it.”
Preview the book at Amazon here.

Selling Art Without Galleries: Toward Making A Living From Your Art (2006) by Daniel Grant

Selling Art Without Galleries: Toward Making A Living From Your Art Not judging a book by it’s cover (gah! vomiting rainbows!), Grant actually shares some great info. Everything from specific tips on shooting your art for slides, to curating your own show, to juried shows and festivals. There are a ton of tips in here, and although its USA-centric, which means I skipped through the specific lists of associations and festivals, all other advice is pertinent.
Preview the book at Google Books here.

New Media Art (2006) by Mark Tribe + Reena Jana

New Media ArtWell written, comprehensive coverage of new media art, a wide-spanning, difficult subject to condense. “Part of the appeal of (the Internet) is that it is outside the museum-gallery complex, and thus gives artists access to a broad, non-art audience.”

The 4-Hour Workweek (2009) by Timothy Ferriss

The 4-Hour WorkweekAlthough it sounds ridiculous to work only 4 hours per week, Ferriss lists a variety of ways that it is possible, from reducing the amount of time we spend on email, to how we must remove ourselves as an equation in money making (aka establishing passive income). Like many self-help books, there are aspects of this book that I didn’t agree with, but it was great to read as I started my own business last summer.
Preview the book at Amazon here.

The 99 Percent

The 99 Percent by BehanceEntirely unrelated to the Occupy Movement, Behance‘s 99% bases their name off Thomas Edison’s quote, “Genius is 1% inspiration, and 99% perspiration.”
At 99%, they research and post articles that can push us through the actual creative process, after the initial inspiration, aka the most difficult but most necessary part of getting anything done.
Check out their online content here.

World Changing: A User’s Guide For The 21st Century (2011), edited by Alex Steffen

World Changing: A User’s Guide For The 21st CenturyI don’t like the subtitle – I don’t see this as a user’s guide in the way that you need a guide for your TV. This is instead an indispensable collection of information, it is a resource, and at 600 pages, it is an encyclopedia. Calling it a user’s guide is disrespectful.
The book describes what people and organizations are doing around the world to efficiently and environmentally handle the crazy changes that are happening in this world that is our home. The major sections are Shelter, Cities, Community, Business, Politics, and Planet, with a ton of subchapters within each. Inspiring.
For more info go to the World Changing site.

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  • Redesign to professionally promote my photography.
    I made some significant changes to my site, cleaned it up and added an animated gallery to slide through a variety of my work (drawing, photos, design), but I didn’t do a complete redesign nor migrate to WordPress. I made the effort, and what I learned in the process is huge: I’m not a programmer. Nor do I want to be.
    It’s critical to my success to be able to admit where I do not have skill (nor interest), and instead of banging my head on walls of PHP and MySQL, leave it to the talented folks out there who want to and can do that work. Outsourcing. That frees me up to focus on the stuff I am passionate about and have talent in.
  • Become independently successful, wealthy, and famous as a photographer and artist.
    Hmmm. Well, I officially started working independently in May. So I accomplished that. And I’m successful enough to be paying rent, eating good food, and enjoying life. So that’s a win, too. But wealthy & famous? Not yet – let’s see what’s in store for 2012..!
  • Volunteer to walk dogs for the SPCA and/or the Animal Shelter.
    I contacted both organizations, and to my surprise, they have more than enough dog walkers! Instead of walking my furry friends, I started volunteering for Quest Food Exchange.
  • And my overall intention for the 2011 was: to be honest.
    And hells yes, this I can say I accomplished this with a resounding YES.
    It hasn’t been easy. Being honest, to me, means more than just avoiding lying. It means telling people what you feel, what you believe, even if it will ruffle their feathers. Even if it might hurt someone you love.
    Which is especially difficult for me. The last thing I ever want to do is hurt my loved ones. But I realized that if that meant not being honest, if it meant not saying things that I think you might not want to hear, I’m actually doing more harm than good.
    For example, if I think that you’ve made a bad career or relationship decision, by not saying anything, you might be missing out on a helpful alternative viewpoint on your decision. Now, if I am brutally honest and offer my perspective, without fear of hurting your feelings, my honesty could help you in the long run. I know, because I have huge respect for those of you who are unafraid to give me your opinions on my life. Even if I’m pissed off at you initially for saying something I don’t want to hear or don’t agree with, if it comes from a genuine place of caring, I end up loving you for your honesty in the end.
    So if I’ve hurt you with my honesty this year, I’m sorry because I don’t do it to be cruel, I say what I say and act how I act out of love and respect. I hope that you can see this, and extend the same love and respect to me. Don’t be afraid of being honest with me. I’m a sensitive fellow, but my heart is fucking huge and I can take it!

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  • Learn ballroom dance.
    That’s right: partner dancing! It’s sexy, it’s classy, it’s fun! And hey! You get to dance with someone! Why do we only do it at weddings or other formal events (and then do it badly)? I say it’s time to break out of this, time to bring partner/ballroom dance back. I’m looking into some swing classes that start in the new year, though I’m open to salsa too. And this doesn’t mean we need to start listening to jive or salsa, no not at all. I plan on busting it out at dupstep nights. Ladies, are you ready?
  • Deepen my involvement with music and art events.
    My experience at POP Montreal was so powerful and positive that I flew home knowing that I had a future in the music and art industry beyond photography. I am going to organize & operate events and festivals so I can bring to people what POP Montreal brought to me. My new position as Olio Festival’s Assistant Operations Manager kickstarts this. I’m going to do everything I can to make this year’s Olio it’s best yet. And beyond this? I am going to continue to push myself in how I can fully utilize my creativity and passion to manifest an art + music revolution!
  • Expand my photography skills.
    I love photography. I love everything about it: capturing a moment in a way, just so, just how I see it, to share with you. I love the range of possibilities, from candid snapshots to highly elaborate setups. I even love the techy side of it (as any of you who have been in a conversation about lenses, or f stops, or full frame vs cropped sensor bodies will know).
    And as much as I love event photography and see myself doing it well into my last days, I’m ready to push into new possibilities with my talents. I’m in search of a photographer or a studio that will take me on as an assistant in portrait/product shooting. I am ready to learn lighting, modelling, and people/product-specific post-production. If you have any suggestions, let me know – thanks!
  • My main focus for 2012: Personal work.
    There are a lot of great things I’ve figured out over the years: my passion for music and the arts. Total love and respect and importance of spending quality time with my friends and family. The necessity of an occasional single malt scotch and cigar.
    But there are some things I haven’t figured out. Some are personal, some are interpersonal, such as relationship issues. These haven’t been figured out because I’ve never given myself the time to properly address them.
    So I’ve made a decision: the time is now. Things are going incredibly well for me; I’m the only thing holding myself back from truly riding this wave of progress and breaking through old patterns and habits. This means facing these issues and patterns head-on. I’ve already begun the process. I’m working with a great, no-holds-barred counsellor for the 1st time in my life, and am committed to working on myself hardcore for a solid six months, until late June.
    I know that personal work is a lifelong process, but sometimes you need to focus on it like it’s a project with a due date. Like a final paper. Or client’s assignment. Or moving house. Or packing for a trip.
    That’s how I see this time in my life: it’s like I’m starting a journey at the end of June. I’ve done a lot of research and prep and planning and work to get there, but now I’m taking off in six months and there’s no more time to procrastinate. Either I do the work now, or I’ll miss my plane. So I have chosen these 1st six months of 2012 as my time to act, to get some serious work done. So if you see me sitting in cafes around town reading self help books, go ahead and chuckle. At least come in and buy me a muffin.

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Thank You And All The Best To You In 2012

To continue on what I started with, blessings to all the beautiful (inside & out) people who bring smiles to my face and warmth to my heart. I truly feel that warmth, and the reverberating energy shooting out to my fingertips and toetips when I connect with you. I appreciate anything that keeps us connected, whether you are near or far, whether it’s texts, emails, messages, sharing dinners, engaging in live music or art. You are everything to me.

The last couple months of 2011 have been truly unbelievable. I haven’t felt this positive or energized in years. Literally. My early 30s weren’t easy. Internally I’ve struggled with a lot, and it’s stuff I rarely share. So to all of you who have stuck with me, respected me, been patient with me, and offered your advice, thank you. Your loyalty and friendship will be rewarded. You know that. I’m good to the people who are good to me.

Love, my friends. It’s love. Be true to yourself, spend as much time as possible doing and seeing and kissing and hugging and dancing and listening and sharing the things you love with the people you love. Beyond this, there is nothing. Beyond this is a bunch of bullshit that’s just shoved at us to confuse us into a depressing, rewardless pursuit for more money, more possessions, and stuff that takes us away from our hearts. Don’t get caught up in that bullshit. Get caught up in the loves in your life.

2011 is done. The past is gone. 2012 is here, it’s all about living in THE MOMENT to build for the future. Take stock of your life. Love those who deserve your love. Be true to yourself, believe in yourself, and go for everything that inspires you. Follow your passions: art, music, film, athletics, physical passion, spiritual passion, intellectual passion. Live it, live large, my friends & family!

Looking forward to sharing 2012 with you, Ash

Polar Bear Swim, Vancouver BC, 2012

Me & Jason Statler starting 2012 off right! Polar Bear Swim in the freezing cold ocean, English Bay, Vancouver BC, Jan 1 2012


Still Life, It’s Still Life, Life Is Still Here With Still Life To Photograph

Continually evolving, continually changing, continually challenging, continually learning.
Learning that I love photography but it’s not all live music and events.
At home, still moments are capturing my attention lately.
On a quiet rainy morning:
After dinner I was being watched (or, you say ‘tomato’ I say ‘eyeball’):
Stay tuned for more…


POP Montreal 2011 – How An Obsession With Live Music & Art Flew Me Across The Country On A Whim

Completely irresponsibly, both for time and money, I decided the night before to travel to Montreal, Quebec for POP Montreal, a festival of international music, as well as art, film, symposiums, and all sorts of fantastic stuff.

The festival is 5 days long; in this 10th incarnation, it ran from Wednesday September 21st to Sunday September 25th. I flew on Tuesday, to give myself time to adjust to the city and get my bearings, since I had never spent any significant amount of time here.
Luckily, I was treated like a king, both by my hosts (thank you thank you eternally for being so amazing, Cat & Feo, and Ed & Vicki!!) and by the POP Montreal organizers.

I was so inspired by my experience at POP Montreal, that I am going to apply to work for them in 2012. Truly amazing, passionate, hard working people creating a thoroughly enjoyable, diverse, exciting festival.

Here, I will celebrate my favourite moments and shots, but for my full accounts of the 5 days of POP Montreal, read my posts on The Snipe News:
Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4
Day 5

And for my full gallery of photos, both snapshots of Montreal and Art POP, as well as my photos of performing musicians, see my Flickr gallery of POP Montreal Fest.

POP Montreal Day 1

Bikes from Fitz & Follwell


Fitz & Follwell fitted media up with bicycle rentals for the week. This bike and I were inseparable for the whole week. Thanks Fitz & Follwell!!!!

A Variety of Art for Art POP


The map for all the art, symposiums, etc happening at POP headquarters


Golden Energies by Tyler K Rauman


Series of limited edition mini art books by Julie Doucet


one of the many Bad Summer illustrations by Connor Willumsen. I love the variety of styles Willumsen works in


Stephanie Bokenfohr, curator of Art POP, and Connor Willumsen


an entire loading bay full of this intricate black & white graffiti on St.Laurent, beside Sala Rossa

What’s A Visit To Montreal Without Smoked Meat?


smoked meat sandwich and cherry Cott from Schwartz's

Fashion POP


There is a fashion component to POP Montreal called Fashion POP

Lindi Ortega


Country & western star Lindi Ortega

Megan Bonnell


sultry singer songwriter Megan Bonnell

Mark Berube and The Patriotic Few


Mark Berube and The Patriotic Few performed at Sala Rossa



New favourites Monogrenade brought their French indie rock to the festival

POP Montreal Day 2



There are a variety of interesting speakers at POP Montreal. This was called "Meet The Festivals," where representatives from a variety of international festivals talked about their particular focus and challenges

Free outdoor concert featuring Arcade Fire, Karkwa, Kid Koala


The 100,000+ crowd at the free outdoor concert



Electro pop star Grimes getting the crowd seriously movin' at Mission Santa Cruz



Loud multi-instrumental group Tonstartssbandht were one of my favourites of the festival

POP Montreal Day 3



Friday started off with a kick - at Maison Notman's BBQ, artists were performing outdoors. Rapper B L A C K I E went mental! It turns out that's how his performances always are, but it took this crowd by surprise.

Evening Hymns


Beautiful indie rock & folk by Evening Hymns

Mr. Pauer


Latin dance DJ Mr. Pauer brought the groove at Hohm

Death Grips


Living up to the hype (they were on the cover of Montreal's weekly event paper The Mirror), Death Grips sent the Club Lambi crowd into a manic frenzy

POP Montreal Day 4

Rooftop event at Ubisoft


Peter Peter played on the rooftop of game developing company Ubisoft. It was a magical moment to be up there, with a full view of the city towards sunset

Dominique Young Unique


Dominique Young Unique, a sexy woman who kills it on the mic

Alaclair Ensemble


Zany Quebecois hip hop crew Alaclair Ensemble



Polaris Prize nominated group Galaxie rockin out



Dark electro dance group Trust were moody, but the crowd was eating it up, dancing with all their might

POP Montreal Day 5

Piknic Electronik


Daytime partiers at Piknic Electronik


People of all ages love the daytime party!


As the sun begins to set on Piknic Electronik

Socalled: The Musical


A very bizarre musical, mostly filled with puppets dealing with an invasion of cute red aliens

Born Gold


Crazy hyper band Born Gold played the POP Montreal closing party

Le Guide De Poche


My bible for the week, this pocket guide suffered for it, but held together over the entire festival

Thank you POP Montreal! To all the organizers, volunteers, artists, bands, publicists, and anyone else involved in the festival – thank you! My week in Montreal was one of the best times I’ve had lately! I’ll be back next year…


Amon Tobin Sends Audience On A Psychedelic Visual Trip With New ISAM Tour

Amon Tobin’s Isam set = breath-taking brilliance.
I was only given the opportunity to photograph the first two songs, so my photos don’t really do the whole performance any justice. The range of visuals was truly mindblowing – the entire set deserves to be recording in HD & posted to repeatedly blow our minds.
Truly, though, it must be experienced live to be understood. There is no way to describe it in words or pictures. Mind morphing Tetris on acid, but a gentle, forgiving, coaxing video game, not a violent or scary one.
It is so impossible to describe, constantly changing, you’d think you’d run out of ideas of what to project onto the cubes, but it was always something different, at once ice, at once fire, then just when you think you’ve seen in all, the cubes start spinning!!
AmonTobin_Vogue_Vancouver_DSC_1812Seriously, any description of Amon Tobin’s ISAM show just sounds like some far-gone hippy who has done WAY too many mushrooms.
Do yourself a favour and whip down to Seattle tonight (Sept 29) to catch him there – he’s playing Decibel Fest. Or else one of his future shows, like San Fran, LA, etc etc – shows everywhere are selling out, and for good reason!
I was on assignment for The Snipe News. See the original post here.

Please, if you haven’t seen it, watch the preview

and the “making of” the set & graphics


No F’n Regrets! & Bathroom Pics (Destroy, Challenge)

While researching RAID 1 NAS options, I was browsing Chase Jarvis’ amazing site of helpful photography ideas and tips (I think it was on his site that I 1st found out about G-Tech products, which seem AMAZING but are hella expensive).

Today I stumbled upon his interview with REI brand manager Jason Sutherland. I especially like that he said this:

F it all and f-n no regrets. Bottom line, get pissed, destroy. And by destroy, I mean tear it all down so you create something new and wonderful out of the strange parts that are left over. Make stuff. Cool stuff. Move on. Make more. Don’t dwell in the past. (It’s over.)

To read the rest of his advice on how to approach creative directors, go here.

In a related matter, as I was brushing my teeth in my bathroom last night, preparing for a much-needed sleep after a 12+ hour day of work, I challenged myself to shoot some abstract still lives. Seems all I’ve been doing is shooting live music, which ain’t bad, but some variety needs to be throw in the mix!
Here is one of my results:

Have a great day my friends,
and remember: “F it all and no regrets!!!”


Happily Surprised By A Deceivingly Simple Little Book (“The 50 Most Influential Photographers of All Time” has a focus and a depth that exceeds its dimensions)

In my experience, mini-books are usually cheap digests. They are potential thought provoking larger books stripped down to bare minimum so as to be easily digested. The meat of the content has usually been cut out; these books are usually insultingly introductory at best.

Therefore, I didn’t have high expectations for Photography: The 50 Most Influential Photographers of All Time (2009), a Barron’s “Icons of Culture” book by Chris Dickie. Actually, I was hesitant to borrow it from the library.

Photography: The 50 Most Influential Photographers Of All Time by Chris Dickie

Because really, a book like this is the sort of thing that is marketed as a stocking stuffer or a I-don’t-know-what-to-buy-for-someone-but-hey-they-like-photography-who-doesn’t-like-photography easy purchase. A thoughtless purchase. This book is the sort of thing we buy because we feel we must spend money in some form or another to express that we care for someone. But that’s a topic for another day.

Surprisingly, and happily, it turns out that Dickie is an excellent writer.
Although he devotes only 2 pages (of a very small format book, remember) to one photographer at a time, he takes the most interesting facts about that photographer and fits it all in.

Beyond that, even, he makes it an engaging read. If he were an untalented or lazy writer, he could have just lined up all the important facts in a list: birth, death, dates of important photos and sent it to print. But rather than reading like an empty, soulless rush through time, Dickie makes 50 Most Influential Photographers interesting.

He even makes room to instigate controversy. When talking about documenting war, he says of the role photojournalism had on the Vietnam war,

The power of photography to undermine a government’s intent was proven – and it would never be allowed to happen again. (31)

From photography’s creators, Louis Jacques Mandé Daguerre and William Henry Fox Talbot (gotta love those 19th century names) through to snapshot inventor George Eastman, to woman of many firsts Margaret Bourke-White, to modern day success story Annie Leibovitz, this book is remarkably comprehensive. The photographers are well chosen, the layout and type (use of bold, light grey and regular type) are very agreeable to the eye, and the historical accomplishments are told succinctly. This is a shockingly delightful, exceptionally well crafted little book.

I’m happy I swallowed my pride when I borrowed this. I will hold my head high when I pass it back over the Return desk.


2010 Wrap Up: The Year In Review (a look back at milestones, music, film, books, and more)

Hello, welcome, and Happy New Year!

I’m happy to bring in 2011 with my Wrap Up of 2010.

As with past years (see Wrap Ups for 2008 and 2009), I’m going to talk about important milestones that happened, list my favourite music, movies, and more, as well as outline my goals for the upcoming year.

I’m happy to note that all the photography in this Wrap Up is my own. If you’d like to see my gallery of photography, please visit

What’s new this year? I’ve created the Wrap Up entirely within my WordPress blog, The Moment. I’ve also used Soundcloud to stream music and YouTube for videos! Hopefully you enjoy this new format.
Also, in my past Wrap Ups, all music and film choices had to be released the year I was reviewing. This year, I’ve loosened up. Favourites can be from any year. It seemed silly to neglect an excellent older film, for example, just because it wasn’t a new release. I’ll note what year everything is from in the title of each item.

Please let me know what you think by adding your comments at the bottom of this post.

Okay, without further delay, let’s get to it!




Overall Highlights of 2010

Easily the most important thing to happen to me in 2010 was that I embraced my life as an artist fully and completely. I saw the big artist pool hundreds of feet in the distance and I jumped in. I drew, wrote, and shot more photos, with more determination, exploration, and consistency than I have in years.
Thanks to my hard work, I’m now regularly shooting live music all around Vancouver. My portfolio is growing, my skills are developing, and I’m having a freakin’ blast every show I shoot.



Amongst The Trees

I started the year with a fantastic hike up Lynn Peak with Geordie.

Folk Night

Went to The Biltmore Cabaret to see Bowerbirds, a very talented and charming folk band, with Canadian East Coast darling Julie Doiron.

In The Pursuit Of Grunge

I renewed my passport for a train trip to Seattle with Bex, Geordie, and Quetta. The girls’ birthdays are late Jan/early Feb, so we went down to celebrate and to find grunge! We stayed at the Ace Hotel, and I discovered that Seattle is very scary in the early morning hours; I now understand where the angst that fueled grunge came from.

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Started Dropbox, a very easy way to move and share files.

Intense Delivery Unlike Any Hip Hop I’ve Seen Before Or Since

In huge anticipation since their canceled gig in 2009, Eyedea & Abilities played The Biltmore, and were intense, spot on, and brilliant.
One of my picks for Best Live Show of the Year.

Eyedea & Abilities at The Biltmore

Eyedea & Abilities taking a moment to connect with the crowd (taken with an iPhone 3G)

P.O.S. Finally!!

A week later, P.O.S. hit the Biltmore stage, and blew all the fans away with his flawless delivery and ferocious intensity.
Definitely deserves an award for one of the Best Live Shows of the Year.

P.O.S. at The Biltmore

P.O.S. all smiles (taken with an iPhone 3G)

The Winter What?

The Olympics came to Vancouver, I think. I didn’t really experience the Olympics, as I was working tons of overtime. Thousands of people poured through the streets of Yaletown while my coworkers and I slaved through the night on our computers. Not much of a party for us.
When I actually had time to see Califone at David Lam Park, the line of people trying to get in was wrapped around the park. It was going to take over an hour to get in. So we listened from outside the fences, then escaped Yaletown, running off to Gastown, where it didn’t feel like the city had blown up in population. It came, it went, and when it was done, I was relieved.

The Olympic flame in Yaletown

The Olympic flame passed through Yaletown, past my workplace

Girls, Dust Off Your Tuxes, Boys, Dust Off Your Dresses – It’s The People’s Prom!

The People’s Prom: even though it was on a Sunday, it was still a rager. This event, held every year on Valentine’s Day, has consistently been one of the best events of the year, for years.IMG_5935_PeopleProm2010_doTheElectricStreamerDance

Four Tet, I’ll Forget We Ever Met

Four Tet @ The Biltmore. I’ve loved this guy’s music for years, and I still admire him for what he creates. But as far as a live show? It was very disappointing. The guy pretty much pressed play on his ipod.

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Ashley Balboa, For One Month

I trained at Sparta Boxing for one month. Nope, I didn’t get my ass kicked. I quit cuz it’s damn pricey! I love it and will continue when finances have a better flow to ’em.

Fundraiser At Rhizome

If you haven’t visited Rhizome Cafe, you should. It’s a restaurant/cafe with great food and a comfortable atmosphere. And they hold live music events, one at which the mega talented Bex played at, as part of a showcase of artists raising money for the North Shore Women’s Center.

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Those Creatures From Star Wars

I went to the Island to help shear 40 alpacas!! It was fun, actually, except when they’re distressed and spew alien green vomit everywhere.

Bionic Man

One of my big goals for 2010 was to get eye surgery, correcting the need to wear glasses or contacts on my -5.50 eyes. I did my research and went under the laser at London Eye Centre in New Westminster. They are very professional and if you or anyone you know are considering getting laser surgery, I highly recommend London Eye Centre. Let me know if you do; there is a discounted referral rate.IMG_6476_contactsLastWk_day5

Shameful, What Blind Greed Causes

The disastrous oil spill in Gulf. Read my thoughts here.

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A Break From 9-5 M-F

I went part time at work. I had been working fulltime for ShowMakers Productions for 3 1/2 years and needed some time to work on my own art, my own creativity, in order to honour myself as an artist. My boss is very supportive and accommodating, and while I have increased my hours since September, the few months of the summer were incredibly fulfilling and productive. A big creative kick in the butt.


Running with that creative kick in the butt, I got over my initial disinterest in Twitter, realizing it could be a fantastic information sharing and networking tool. And I’m very glad a did – I actually have Twitter to thank for facilitating the beginning of my live music photography passion!
Feel free to check out my Twitter page and follow me. I try to post relevant and interesting things, not gossip or idle chit chat.

Web Help

Although I’ve been taking a break from making brand new websites (due to the time needed), I always enjoy helping friends get a handle on their HTML and CSS. One such dude I was lucky to work with is Vancouver super illustrator and musician Chris von Szombathy. We rejigged and simplified his site. Take a look here!


There were some protests against the proposed gutting and redesign of Grandview Park on Commercial Drive. As part of the community-gathering, the childhood classic film Goonies was played on a screen in the park after dusk. Laying on the ground was chilly, but it was fun. When I was a kid, I definitely didn’t notice how hilariously crude the kids were to each other.

Night Shooter

Cory and I went on an evening East Van photoshoot. It’s very rare that I take the time out for long exposures and tripods. This was a ton of fun.

Sasquatch At The Gorge!

With Bex and Kirby, I went to my first ever Sasquatch Music Fest at the Gorge in Washington. It was AMAZING. I saw some fantastic acts (Massive Attack, Caribou, LCD Soundsystem…). Actually, Caribou and Massive Attack both deserve awards for some of the Best Live Shows of the Year.

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Graduation Celebration

My brainiac girlfriend graduated with super honours from Vancouver Island University. Congrats Bex!

Compact Discs Go The Way Of Rotary Phones

I had a yard sale. Mostly sold off tons of musical Compact Discs. Although now that I’m trying to figure out the best way to back up all of my photos, music, and data, I realize that Compact Discs are a great archive.
On that note, how do YOU back up your important files, now that everything is digital? Do you burn DVDs? Backup to external drives? Upload to a cloud server? Let me know. I can’t back up enough hard drives to relieve my fear that I’ll lose everything one day.


Animalopolis and Crow Toes Quarterly @ Ayden Gallery.
This was a wonderful night. My friend Chris Millin, since we graduated from Langara’s Publishing program in 2006, has been successfully running an innovative children’s magazine (online and in print) called Crow Toes Quarterly. He’s teamed with some very talented illustrators, notably Kristian Adam. They created a world called Animalopolis and celebrated the launch of a special limited edition issue of CTQ with a gallery show at Ayden Gallery. Huge turnout. I heard all the art and issues sold. Congrats!

Full Sound

I hooked an Airport Express into my stereo so can play iTunes throughout my apartment, instead of through tinny laptop speakers. It’s pretty awesome, except for the temperamental yard sale stereo, which will shut off if you don’t turn it’s knobs in just the right way 😉

Car Free Set Up

After enjoying the annual Car Free Fest on Commercial Drive for many summers, I thought it was time to give back and volunteer. I helped set up early on the Sunday morning, but unfortunately the weather was cold and cloudy this year, so I it was the first year I didn’t stick around. Ironic!

Who Knew Raking Sand Would Be So Much Fun, So Rewarding?

I also volunteered to help internationally successful artist Jim Denevan create his newest piece – a giant temporary sand drawing at Spanish Banks as part of the Vancouver Biennale. The final piece is featured on the home page of his site here. You should also read my blog entry about the experience here. It was a blast!

My First W2 Experience

I attended The Cheaper Show at W2, the arts wing of the new Woodwards building downtown. This piece by Jeff Hamada was one of my favourites.


World Cup soccer! Commercial Drive has been my home and favourite neighbourhood in Vancouver for a decade; the every-four-years World Cup just adds to the fun and flavour as everyone comes out to watch the games.
It was also a treat to be visited by an old friend from Ontario at that time, who happens to be a huge soccer fan. Great to see ya, Chris!

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Sounds Of Summer

In July, Bex performed as part of the Shore 104.3 Sounds of Summer Block Party. Afterward, Jenny, Bex and I soaked up the summer sun, relaxing at water’s edge of David Lam Park in Yaletown.

I Discover Photographing Live Music

After connecting with Shawn Conner (who runs Guttersnipe), he assigned me to shoot Kid Sister @ Fortune Sound Club.
This is the beginning of a wonderful working friendship. By the end of the year, I shot over 20 shows (almost 40 bands!), amassing a great portfolio, a ton of experience, huge improvement in technical skill, and more super fun memories than I could’ve dreamed for. HUGE shout out to you, Shawn!
I must note: Kid Sister’s public image is all gloss and fancy getups, but when she performs live, she’s the real deal. No fancy anything, just a great voice, spot on delivery, and jumpin’ dancin’ infectious high energy. She gets my vote for one of the Best Live Shows of the Year!
Also, this was my first time at Fortune Sound Club, and after a couple other visits, it has become one of my favourite venues in the city. Everyone at Fortune, from the bouncers to the bar staff, are all solid, cool people. If you haven’t checked out this gem tucked away in Vancouver’s Chinatown, do yourself a favour in 2011 and get down there. Cuz once you’re inside, you’ll have no choice but to get down and shake your fine thang. The place is happenin’!

Shiva’s Fury

Attended a fundraiser for Sven, who was raising money for his journey to India to live at an ashram at the end of 2010. Afterwards, Bex and I cycled to Wreck for an overnight stay.

Music On The Beach

On a gloriously hot and sunny night, one of the first of the summer, I shot Jon & Roy and Dan Mangan as they performed outdoors at English Bay in Vancouver. Dan Mangan received a lot of attention in 2010 for his album Nice, Nice, Very Nice, earning a Polaris Prize nomination. At his live shows he is incredibly charismatic, proving he’s got the whole package.

First Nations

I attended the Surge Festival of Urban Digital Culture at W2.

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Shambhala. What should have been a fun summer getaway turned into a stressful disappointment. To get the full story, read my blog post here.

This Is East Van

I submitted photos to the This Is East Van project. A real cool community project, the creators asked for photos that show East Vancouver in all it’s wonderful forms: people, places, events, anything, in order to assemble and publish a book. I was elated – 2 of my photos were selected!! The book should be published soon…


I went on walkabout for a week, taking buses, ferries, and even the VIA Rail (which is quite run down, I’m sad to say) stopping at Quadra Island and Victoria. Thank you so much for your hospitality Troy and Tracey!

Hot Springs

A quick little trip to Hot Springs Cove with Bex, Dan, and Naoko. On the return trip, rather than take the (1.5hr) ferry, we flew (only 20 minutes!) from Nanaimo. Feels pretty super deluxe VIP, let me tell you.

Tattooed Hands

I saw this photo in an issue of Popular Photography and I couldn’t resist: I had to draw it.

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The National, Minus Peter Mansbridge

In September, shooting live music caught fire and didn’t simmer until the xmas season.
First, I shot The National @ Malkin Bowl in Stanley Park. This was a pretty big deal – The National are internationally successful and their new album received glowing reviews.

Mr. Nice, His True Origins, Rendered The Format No Auto Way

I found a copy of Mr. Nice in a pile of giveaways outside an East Van house, and it inspired me to draw the cover. Strangely, my interpretation has a little Norm Macdonald and Daniel Day-Lewis in it.

Hot Panda: How Can You Not Love A Band With That Name?

I shot my first of many shows at The Biltmore Cabaret. The people running this place are doing a fantastic job of bring a wide range of quality shows to East Van: everything from folk to hip hop to metal to art shows. Heck, a couple years ago I attended a political candidate speed dating night in which the candidates for Vancouver’s election went from table to table answering the public’s questions. Informative and fun.
My first show was a jam packed night of three bands: Christina Martin (honest lyrics, hugely talented), Hot Panda (high energy, a new favourite) and Cuff The Duke.

First DLSR

After pushing my beloved Canon G9 to it’s limit (it’s a high end point&shoot, it can only do so much in the low light, high action environments of live music venues), I bought my first every digital SLR, a Nikon D90! It’s been an absolute gem.
(A big shout out to Allan Bergman for lending lenses until I could sort out my own!)

Lilith Fair, These Gals Were Almost There

The very same day that I bought the D90, I was invited to shoot a group of female performers who were all finalists as upcoming musicians for Lilith Fair. The night was at The Railway Club, a wonderful place to shoot, thanks to big bright lights and a gorgeous red backdrop.

Dancing DJ

Shortly thereafter, I returned to Fortune to shoot dj/producer of the moment Flying Lotus! He showed the appreciative crowd that not only is his work praised by critics, he’s also a charismatic performer.

Still Delivers Like A Champ

Chali 2na (of Jurassic 5 fame) arrived at The Biltmore and proved that his delivery is as top notch as ever. Hip hop outfit The Lytics opened.

Live And Learn

My biggest “learn the hard way” shoot of the year goes to Distance @ Astoria. Invited by Ben Ulis (aka Self Evident), I brought my excellent-in-low-light 35mm f1.8 lens, but even it couldn’t compete with the near pitch black darkness of The Astoria. The lesson? Although the rule is typically “no flash” when shooting live music, in some cases it’s absolutely necessary.

More Intensity In Three Songs Than Most Bands Could Muster In A Whole Show

Just before the end of September, I was given the green light to shoot Arcade Fire! Not only was this my first stadium show (at the PNE), it was a chance to see one of the greatest indie bands in the world up close and personal!
There’s a rule in live music photography: Shoot the first 3 songs only. In some smaller venues, they don’t mind if you shoot more, but in any larger venue, such as the PNE, the photographers are ushered into the pit just before the show, and are ushered out as soon as the 3rd song is finished. This was the case at Arcade Fire, but I have to say: I was so satisfied by those three mega-intense songs that I cycled home absolutely beaming with happiness. Arcade Fire @ the PNE easily receives an award for one of the Best Live Shows of the Year.

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Elation, Blues Rock Style

Less than a week after shooting Arcade Fire, I got the shoot The Black Keys @ the Orpheum. As you can probably guess, this was the best week of the entire year. I love Arcade Fire, but I absolutely adore The Black Keys. I had seen them before. I knew their live show was smoking. What I didn’t know is that the Orpheum doesn’t put in a pit for photographers, so we had no choice but to get in the madness of the frenzied sold out crowd. It was a tough shoot, but I loved every second of it. The Black Keys receive an award for one of the Best Live Shows of the Year.

A Friend Realizes His Dream

After almost 2 years of planning, saving money, and preparing his truck, my good friend Neil left on his surf trip. He’s taking a year to travel the entire Pacific coast to learn how to surf. Before he left, I helped set up his blog – The Greenhorn Surf Diaries. He updates it often, and he’s a helluva funnier guy than me. You should check it out at I also created some videos of Neil describing his truck, rooftop tent, and gear before he took off on the trip. They’re posted on YouTube here.

Beyond Yo Gabba Gabba

I shot Salteens, Colleen & Paul, and The Wind Whistles @ Biltmore.

The Real Deal, Not Just A YouTube Flash In The Pan

Die Antwoord, the zef internet sensation of 2010, came to The Commodore Ballroom. I was super stoked for this one – it was my 1st time shooting at The Commodore, which is easily one of the best live venues in Vancouver. I was also stoked to see Ninja, Yo-Landi Vi$$er and DJ Hi-Tek in the flesh. Any question as to their legitimacy was quickly dispelled – they know how to put on a mighty good show.

A Giant Loss

Eyedea, the MC from Eyedea & Abilities, who I had just seen in February, dies. I wrote my thoughts and a drawing here. RIP Eyedea.

Humility, Humanity

I suffered an incredibly brutal flu. It laid me out for a week.

Raging Foals

I recovered just in time to shoot Foals @ Venue. This show was outstanding, mostly due to the fact that I was expecting a shoe gazing performance. But they brought buckets of intensity, and were thanked by a mob of fans who rushed the stage at the end.

Railtown Walkaround

Cory and I explored some of Vancouver’s oldest neighbourhoods, from Hastings Sunrise to Railtown, through our cameras. Afterward, I disassembled and reassembled one of my favourites from that day.

A Nation Of Heat In October

My girlfriend and I went to see Joe Pug @ The Media Club. This was one of the only shows I didn’t shoot in the 2nd half of 2010. I was able to enjoy Joe Pug’s guitar, heartfelt lyrics and brilliantly growly voice, but at times, my hands felt empty.

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In early November, I was treated to another big time show: Gorillaz @ Rogers Arena. Animated characters on a gigantic screen, Damon Albarn running around non-stop hugging his fellow performers, including Bobby freakin’ Womack! Do I need to say more?

He Wore An East Van Pin

I shot Lyrics Born @ Biltmore. I was especially impressed by opener Rakaa, a member of Dilated Peoples. This night, he held it well on his own.

Almost The Full Crew

I returned to the Biltmore to shoot Doomtree, a hip hop supergroup consisting of (personal fave) P.O.S. and 6 other talents from Minneapolis.

Softy José González Rocks Out

José González‘s band, Junip, played Venue in support of their new album. If you like González’s solo work, but are in the mood for something louder, check out Junip. Good stuff. A fantastic opener, too: Sharon Van Etten.

MegaHurtz MegaAwesome MegaMadness

Next was a seriously HUGE event at W2. A Red Bull event called MegaHurtz, it was touted as “a massive installation of High-Voltage A/V” and it didn’t disappoint. The sold out crowd dressed to impress, then danced and sweat and lost themselves in the excellent array of spectacle by the dozen acts on two simultaneous stages. Massive! It introduced me to some new favourites including Black Milk and Mix Hell.

Robyn & Diamond Rings: Separated At Birth?

In one weekend, I shot two electro snyth pop acts.
At Venue, international superstar Robyn gave the sold out crowd every bit of positivity and energy they could’ve asked for, and at The Biltmore, Canadian up and comer Diamond Rings commanded the stage in eye makeup, a jean jacket, and silver tights. But it wasn’t all theatrics – his songs are clever and catchy, his delivery is true.

My 1st Full Season At Cypress Gets Started Early

Snowboarding season started early and I took advantage by hitting Cypress three times in the first week! I’ve had some brilliant days with fellow riders Kirby, Geordie, and Julian. Bex even took lessons, hopefully she’ll catch the bug too..?

A Sit Down Evening At The Biltmore

I shot a very mellow evening as Al Tuck and Jason Collett brought their folk songwriting to The Biltmore.
This was the 1st show I shot for Scene In The Dark.

Big Mouth Sings Dance Pop

Michael Angelakos, lead singer for Passion Pit, brought his high pitched voice and mic swinging to the Vogue. Excellent, high energy pop music. A lot of fun to shoot.

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Canadian Blues Rock

I started December by shooting 3 excellent Canadian blues rock bands @ Venue: Grady, The Motor League, and The British Columbians. Great photo ops, especially of high energy Motor League throwin’ down rock star poses throughout their set.

Leonard Cohen

I received an early birthday present on December 2nd, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: to photograph Leonard Cohen @ Rogers Arena. The photographers were only permitted to shoot the first song, but I have to say, that one song was unbelievable. There’s something hypnotically powerful about that man – his smile, his swagger, his voice.

My Birthday!

I celebrated my 35th birthday with a potluck at my apartment packed with friends.

New Format No Auto Business Cards

I designed and printed new business cards, highlighting my new passion as a live music photographer. Shots of Arcade Fire, Die Antwoord, and Gorillaz grace the front side.

Metal! Raaarrrr!!!

I shot a metal show at the Biltmore. There was a full lineup, but due to miscommunication at the ticket booth, I only caught the last two bands: Haggatha and Bison BC. It was awesome madness.

Video, Sound, Dance, Monologues

I shot a variety of performances as part of SquareWaves Fest @ Blim. I loved witnessing the talents of these interdisciplinary artists in such a quiet, intimate environment.

Experimental Vids

I went to a night of very cool experimental vids, collectively called Altered States at Little Mountain Gallery. You can read my poetic response here.

The Tricky Kid

I capped off the year by shooting a legend in his own right, the original trip hop master Tricky. He performed @ Venue in almost complete darkness, and for half the songs he was at the rear of the stage, his back to the audience. This is typical Tricky stage antics, but it makes for tough shooting conditions. When he came alive, though, he really came alive, pumping his fists in the air or inviting the audience to rush the stage.

Koalas DJ, Didja Know?

I saw Kid Koala @ Biltmore. This wasn’t an assignment; I didn’t have my camera. I wish I had, though – he was actually dressed in a head-to-toe koala costume (he said he lost a bet), and openers Run With The Heard were highly entertaining, sporting a variety of styles with high energy throughout. I loved it when a couple band members left the stage to join the crowd and literally add energy to the audience.


I stayed in Vancouver for Xmas and was taken care of by many kind, giving friends (thanks Kirby, Dave, Erica, Lucy, and everyone else who took me in and fed me and made Xmas 2010 a hit!). On Boxing Day, we drove out to Coquitlam to soothe our bodies at JJ spa – unbelievably refreshing and invigorating.

New Year’s Eve

The rain stayed in the clouds so Bex and I could cycle all over the city, stopping in at a variety of parties. Dancing, laughing, visiting friends, what more could one ask for on NYE?

Original 2011 Calendar!

I created a desk calendar for friends and family featuring some of my favourite drawings and photos of the year. And they’re not all of live music! I’m selling these by donation. If you’d like an original Ash Tanasiychuk work of art to treasure throughout 2011, let me know.

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The Black Keys Brothers (2010)

Brothers by The Black KeysIn an outstanding year of music, Brothers is my favourite album of 2010. The Black Keys, easily one of my favourite bands, outdo themselves by releasing their sixth killer album in a row. They’ve even tried some new tricks (Dan Auerbach sings falsetto!) and pulled them off with aplomb.

Listen to “Howlin’ For You”

LCD Soundsystem This Is Happening (2010)

This Is Happening by LCD SoundsystemLCD Soundsystem have put out some seriously wicked stuff over the years. This Is Happening is them at their peak – a solidly wicked album from sneaking-up-on-you beginning to bouncy celebratory end.

Listen to “Dance Yrself Clean” – after the first 3 minutes (which are very very quiet) expect to be blown away by one of my favourite tracks of the year.

Caribou Swim (2010)

Swim by CaribouWitnessing the progress of this Canadian gem has been fun. He’s blown away what anyone expected he was capable of when he started out. Although he won the Polaris Prize in 2008 for Andorra, Swim is Caribou realizing his full potential.

Listen to “Odessa”

Dan Auerbach Keep It Hid (2009)

Keep It Hid by Dan AuerbachThe singer/guitarist for The Black Keys releases a solo album. What can I say? My life’s a helluva lot better since I discovered this man, his guitar, his lyrics, his voice.

Listen to “Goin’ Home”

DJ Shadow Remix Project (2010)

The DJ Shadow Remix ProjectDJ Shadow has created some sick tracks over the years, providing ample inspiration for other sound mixers. The Remix Project is a public competition put on by the man himself, hand picking his faves and publishing them with his stamp of approval. Grab it as a free download from DJ Shadow’s site here.

Listen to The Remix Project Teaser, doing a mad mash through all 19 tracks!

Flying Lotus Cosmogramma (2010)

Cosmogramma by Flying LotusIf you’re in the mood for unpredictable electronica with beats, Flying Lotus is your man.

Listen to “Computer Face//Pure Being”

Clubroot II – MMX (2010)

II-MMX by ClubrootEpic progress from his debut LP, II – MMX pulls you into a supernatural fantasy world from the very first note and doesn’t let go, cradling you in its soothing arms, against a heavy bass heartbeat.

Listen to “Closure”

Connections (2009)

Connections by scape artistsThis was a nice find. ~scape, the label of one of my all-time favourite minimal electronic artists, Pole, released a compilation in 2009. It’s full of bleepin’ gems.

Listen to “Poison / Remedy” by Pinch Meets Pavel Ambiont

Broken Bells Broken Bells (2010)

Broken Bells by Broken BellsThat Dangermouse – he gets me every time. I thought I didn’t like this album at first. Then the production wizardry of Dangermouse caught me, lured me, then ate me and I spent much of the year swimming in his Broken Bells belly.

Listen to “Vaporize”

Gnarls Barkley St. Elsewhere (2006)

St. Elsewhere by Gnarls BarkleyCee-Lo reminds me of Eyedea in how he is very raw and honest in his lyrics, singing about suicidal thoughts, for example. Yet with his soulful voice and Dangermouse’s space funk rhythms, Gnarls Barkley albums move along with an illusion of airy lightness. Especially in bangers like “The Last Time.”
Listen to “The Last Time”

Grizzly Bear Veckatimest (2009)

Veckatimest by Grizzly BearWhile some genres (hip hop, I’m looking at you) insist on staying stagnant, the indie rock scene is bursting with energy and invention. Grizzly Bear has a vocal style that runs just shy of putting me off, and an instrumental depth and growth that I love.

Listen to “While You Wait For The Others”

Harmonic 313 When Machines Exceed Human Intelligence (2009)

When Machines Exceed Human Intelligence by Harmonic 313A totally random find at the library, this album could accompany Daft Punk as the new Tron album.

Listen to “Cyclotron”

Massive Attack Heligoland (2010)

Heligoland by Massive AttackAlthough there are a couple duds (“Flat Of The Blade” – ugh), this is a magical return to form for Massive Attack (yet not an attempt to cling to the past, here they are moving forward), especially if you hear the deluxe version of the album, which is packed with a ton of excellent remixes.

Listen to “Atlas Air” – wait for the gut-drop at 5:34

Beck Modern Guilt (2008)

Modern Guilt by BeckContinuing my Dangermouse love-in, this is now my favourite Beck album because, listen after listen, I hear more incredible things embedded deeply in the tracks. Dangermouse knows I get bored easily, so he hides gems in there for my ears to discover on return visits.

Listen to “Chemtrails,” an excellent song, but I especially like the guitar freak out at the end

M.I.A. /\/\/\Y/\ (2010)

/\/\/\Y/\ by M.I.A.I know a lot of people are slagging M.I.A. for this album, which is definitely not as listenable as her previous efforts. But damn it, you gotta give her credit for not resting on past and proven successes. This is an album of experimentation, and it makes me very excited for her next release, after she’s developed these ideas and sounds a little more. After all, Roots Manuva needed to release Awfully Deep (his worst record) to make way for Slime & Reason (his strongest).
Listen to “Born Free”

The Roots How I Got Over (2010)

How I Got Over by The RootsRap and hip hop haven’t advanced much in recent years. But The Roots have always had their own style that transcends any specific genre, so even though they may not have broken any rules with their 2010 release, their sound is still more invigorating and full of soul than their competitors.
Listen to “How I Got Over”

Wolf Parade Expo 86 (2010)

Expo 86 by Wolf ParadeTheir first album, Apologies To The Queen Mary, is one of my favourites of all time. So with each new LP, I crave another Queen Mary, and am initially disappointed. But once I let go of that unreasonable desire, I discover that Wolf Parade is a band of true artists: continually challenging themselves, on the quest for new sounds, to not repeat themselves. I have huge respect for that.
Listen to “In The Direction Of The Moon”

Yeasayer Live at Ancienne Belgique (2010)

Live At Ancienne Belgique by YeasayerReleased on Xmas Day, Yeasayer offered this gift to their fans (“name your price & download” – check it out here), a recording of a recent show in Brussels. I liked their first LP for it’s quirky sounds, high energy, and sometimes honest, sometimes weird poetic lyrics, but I haven’t heard their second LP yet. This awesome live recording really makes me want to hear that second album now. And to see them live!
Listen to “Wait For Summer”

You Don’t Know: Ninja Cuts (2008)

You Don't Know: Ninja CutsA Ninja Tune compilation setting out to prove “you don’t know” everything about this music label, but this 3-disc set pretty much clarifies that Ninja Tune makes Ninja Cuts tunes and that ain’t a bad thing. This is a super solid collection of music.

Listen to “Poison Dart (Featuring Warrior Queen)” by The Bug

Other Favourite Music

I realize I’ve limited myself by using Soundcloud to list my top picks of 2010 because not every artist is on Soundcloud. Here are some of those:

Coin Gutter Asthmatics Of Failure (2010)

Asthmatics Of Failure by Coin GutterMore sound noise inventive audioscape awesomeness from Coin Gutter. Listen to the album and/or buy it at No Type.

Eyedea & Abilities By The Throat (2009)

By The Throat by Eyedea & AbilitiesUnbelievably raw, honest, brave. This is the album of an artist baring his entire soul, hiding nothing. To listen to the album and/or buy it go to Rhymesayers.

The White Stripes Under Great White Northern Lights (2010)

Under Great White Northern Lights by The White StripesAn absolute must have, Under Great White Northern Lights delivers what we want from any live album: the experience of being there – screaming fans, band-audience interaction, singalongs, and HUGE sound from the band. Have a peek on The White Stripes official site.

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Herb & Dorothy (2008)

An amazing little documentary I watched as part of the Visionaries: Art On Film series at VanCity Theatre. It’s about two art collectors, a very cute couple who, despite their small combined income, amass a huge collection of modern art. Charming and highly recommended.

The US vs John Lennon (2006)

Incredibly informative. I have a ton more respect for Lennon now that I am educated on how involved he was in the peace movement.

Primer (2004)

Incredibly unique. The science lingo script is written without concern for the audience, yet the genuine relationships keep you in. You need to know what’s going on, but by the end, I wasn’t sure what happened. Sort of a time travel movie, but not. Watch it.

Lords of Dogtown (2005)

A freakin’ excellent movie. Read my full review here.

JFK (1991)

“The assassination reduced the president to a transient official. His job, his assignment, is to speak as often as possible of this nation’s desire for peace while he acts as a business agent in the congress for the military and their hardware manufacturers.” A poignant quote from a powerful film.

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007)

I was prepared to dislike this movie because I dislike musicals. But Sweeney Todd moves in such a way that the singing not only comes at fitting moments, it also seems unforced. It’s dark and highly enjoyable.

Monster (2003)

Heavy. Very heavy. Do not watch if you’re feeling fragile.

Valkyrie (2008)

Somehow I didn’t loathe Tom Cruise in this; somehow I was riveted even though the ending is not a surprise. If you’re in the mood for suspense, watch Valkyrie.

The Deer Hunter (1978)

The Deer Hunter is multiple movies in one: a Vietnam flick, a look into small town USA, a powerful representation of the reality and complexity of relationships.

Cinderella Man (2005)

Yeah it’s a little cheesy (it is a Ron Howard film afterall), but if you need to be inspired, Russell Crowe’s performance and his very believable relationship with Renée Zellweger will do it to you.

Trouble the Water (2008)

Unbelievable. You’ve heard how the Bush administration ignored everyone in New Orleans during the flood of 2005 caused by Hurricane Katrina – now see first hand proof.

Hotaru no haka (Grave Of The Fireflies) (1988)

I’ve never seen an animated film that achieves human movement and emotion quite like this. Forget CGI and 3D, Grave Of The Fireflies has it all beat.

Through A Blue Lens (1999)

No holds barred look at the drug life on the streets of downtown eastside (DTES) Vancouver. A group officers, who, as beats cops, know the DTES residents well, take it upon themselves to video record everything, in order to educate young people. A must see. Also watch the follow up, Tears For April.
The following is not just a trailer, it’s the full video (online through the National Film Board Of Canada).

Annie Leibovitz: Life Through a Lens (2008)

A couple things happened to me this year: my obsession with photography blew up (in a good way) and my interest in the lives of artists grew. What’s better than watching a movie about the life behind the scenes of one of the most successful artistic photographers of our time?

art:21 Art In The Twenty-First Century (2001-current)

Perfectly satisfying my need for behind the scenes experiences of the lives of artists, I discovered art:21 by picking up the 1st & 2nd season DVD at VPL. Read my blog entry about it here.
And watch this little intro clip to the episode with Matthew Barney

We Live In Public (2009)

The experiments that Josh Harris sets up could be seen as crazy but I really like how he blends art, technology and business without doing it purposefully.
A marvelous look at people creating a new reality, or a spin on reality. Whatever it was, it was actually a precursor to what we now see as normal.

Synecdoche, New York (2008)

Philip Seymour Hoffman often plays a sad, hopeless character in his movies. If this annoys you, don’t watch this movie, because in Synecdoche, New York he is at his saddest and most hopeless.
But if you can get past that, this is a brilliant, unique vision of a person trying to figure out his life by creating a massive theatre production of his life. This may not be surprising if you’ve seen other Charlie Kaufman movies (Being John Malkovich, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, etc).

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Sell & Re-Sell Your Photos: learn how to sell your pictures worldwide (2003) by Rohn Engh

Sell And Re-Sell Your Photos by Rohn Engh Although the most recent edition is from 2003, which means Engh’s discussions of the internet are basic, all his other tips and ideas are quite applicable, pertinent.

Preview the book at Google Books here.

Best Business Practices For Photographers (2009) by John Harrington

Best Business Practices For Photographers by John HarringtonPacked with practical business advice. Contracts, rates, insurance, accounting, copyright – yep, a lot of boring stuff. But Harrington writes with a voice of obvious experience, being to the point yet as brief as possible, so that I wasn’t bored to tears.

Preview the book at Amazon here.

Art in America

Art in America magazineI may be a visual artist and I may love to check out what other artists are creating. But I LOATHE art writing – all that higher-than-thou rigmarole that actually means nothing. Thankfully, Art in America is light on that and heavier on solid journalism, writing well researched articles on artists of all genres and their work.

Check out their online content here.

The Walrus

The Walrus magazineI remember the debut of The Walrus back in 2003, when I was working for the Vancouver Public Library. I thought the name was weird; that it was a sign the magazine wouldn’t last. Yet here we are seven years and a Magazine of the Year award later and The Walrus is publishing some of the most consistently relevant material you’ll find on the newsstand.

Check out their online content here.

Life Of Pi (2001) by Yann Martel

Life Of Pi by Yann MartelOne of those books everyone tells you to read, then when you get around to it, it’s underwhelming. That’s how I felt through most of Life Of Pi. Then something happened that never happens: the book gained strength at the end. The end actually saved this book, it pulled everything together wonderfully in an unforced, thought provoking manner.

Preview the book at Google Books here.

A Short History Of Progress (2004) by Ronald Wright

A Short History Of Progress by Ronald WrightSpeaking of books you’re recommended to read, I read A Short History Of Progress and had mixed feelings about it’s execution. Read my response to the book here.

Preview the book at Google Books here.

My Name Is Asher Lev (1972) by Chaim Potok

My Name Is Asher Lev by Chaim PotokEasily my favourite fiction of the year, this charming book tells the story of a young, artistically gifted Jewish boy who never loses his passion for painting even though everyone discourages him.
His description of lines, textures, and other things visual resonated deeply within me. Truth, beauty, self-identity, this was one of those books that perfectly fit into my life when I read it.

Preview the book at Amazon here.

Popular Photography

Popular Photography magazineJust because I’m a photographer doesn’t mean I instantly enjoy anything about cameras and taking pictures. There’s a lot of sub par material out there, hacked together in haste, trying to cash in on hobbyists and professionals alike.
But some content, such as that published in Popular Photography every month, is genuine, worthwhile, well researched, and well written. The whole range of photography is covered in every issue: gear, tips, interviews, and inspiring photos, listed with their ISO, shutter speed, aperture, etc. Immensely helpful.

Check out their online content here.

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  • Laser Eyes: Hell yeah! So stoked I got this done.
  • Learn Piano: Nope. I have a keyboard and amp (thanks to Geordie and Bex), but I haven’t dedicated any time to this since early last year. I haven’t given up though! Piano is my favourite instrument and I will find time to learn one day.
  • Home Stereo System: Yep! Airport Express + garage sale stereo = tasty tunes throughout my apartment!
  • Summer Music Festival Tour: Nope. It wasn’t in the cards. Though I’m hoping this plan comes together very soon, perhaps this summer, most likely next? I’d love to tour as a festival photographer.
  • Travel to Australia: Nope. My mom, her partner and his son all flew from Alberta to see my brother and his family for the Xmas season, but I stayed in Vancouver.
    I could take this 2 ways: either I’ve learned that big plans won’t happen without early commitment, or I’ve learned that sometimes plans don’t come together because other things need to happen. Or both!
  • Push My Art Out: A big yes yes yes!!! Going part time last summer was one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself.
  • Redesign and launch the new Yep! I redesigned, built, and launched the new site in early 2010. Funny thing is, I’m going to redesign it again, this time incorporating the power of Read on for more about this…

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  • Redesign to professionally promote my photography.
    I’ve learned a ton from professional photographers such as Chase Jarvis and Todd Owyoung, especially how they promote themselves and their work on their sites. As much as I love the simplicity of my hand coded site, I’m now at the point where I want to utilize the power of PHP and all the dynamic capabilities it provides.
    My plan is to build with, which will grant my site the power of PHP, as well as incorporate the functionallity of blogging, archiving, an internal search engine, etc. If all goes well, I can use these new skills to build websites for others, giving people what they want: full functionality and editability. Two for the win!!
  • Become independently successful, wealthy, and famous as a photographer and artist. Easy right? I know this will take a ton of work and even more belief in myself, but I’m ready to take this leap. I’ve discovered a passion in shooting live music that’s unmatched by anything I’ve pursued before. I’m taking this as a bright sign that it’s true what they say, “do what you love and everything else will follow.”
    I intend to shoot things that make me happy, things that I’m interested in, that I have a passion for. Music, art, dance, theatre, etc – so if you or anyone you know would like their art photographed, let me know!
    Passion for life and creativity may not directly pay the bills, but by pursuing these things, I’m going to put myself into places where I will make money. I know it. (I have a project idea to shoot artists in Vancouver, write mini-bios about each artist, and post as a regular online magazine. If you’re interested, let me know)
  • I love dogs. Every time I’m around friends’ dogs, or dogs in the park, I love how they remind me of the simple pleasures in life: running around the outdoors, eating, sleeping, cuddling. So I’m going to volunteer to walk dogs for the SPCA and/or the Animal Shelter.
  • My overall intention for the year: to be honest. Stop holding back so as not to offend; stop saying things to make other people happy. Embrace conflict. Conflict encourages change. Strive for change, change is progress. In 2011, progress!!!

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Thank You And All The Best In 2011

To everyone that has read this, thank you.
May 2011 bring you good things: health, love, comfort, a sense of belonging, a belief in possibilities.
I compile, write, and publish my Wrap Up to take stock of my life, appreciate what I’ve done, and to share all of it with you. I would love to hear your comments, but if you say nothing, and just take what we have shared, then I am happy. That’s all we can do in this life is share with as much honesty and bravery as possible, encouraging peace, resisting violence and harm.

With love,
Me and Tracey’s daughter, Maya, when I visited in the summer.
Tummies hungry! Pizza good!!