snapshots, side by side

I have a four-year-old daughter. She has her grandmother’s pale Metis skin and wavy hair. She has her dad’s ears and my lips. She has her grandmother’s eyes – sometimes incredibly sad, often mischievous, and naturally watchful. She looks like her ancestors, all mixed up in a package of dimples and a strong, powerful voice.

On the West Coast, she would fit in with the Longhouse Speakers, I think.


I brought my mom and daughter to Vancouver with me, as I photographed the Indspire Awards. I had brought them with me previously to Winnipeg for the same award show, and mom always helps me make family a natural part of my business life. We left early Monday morning from Saskatoon, and took three days to arrive in a city of rain, mist and fog.

My first stop, once I had a free moment, was to visit Beau Photo, a compact but effective shop dedicated to photography, printing and all things good. I had visited them back in May of 2015 and purchased a Land Polaroid 210, as well as a bunch of film.


They remembered me, which is great. I lovingly picked out four new 600 packs one SX-70 pack, two more packs of FP-100c, and then had Aerie pick two packs of film for her Fujifilm Instax Mini.

Santa had given her a purple camera for Christmas.

We walked out, hand in hand, and picked a side street to practice on. Some people will hoard their film until the right moment – that perfect swirl in a latte, the searing colours of sunset, the moody lighting on a brick wall – whereas me, I aim to make art of the now. I am into the instant gratification of instant film, the not knowing, the mystery and the huge chance that yes, you can really fuck up a Polaroid.

I posed Aerie, laughing as she took my directions of “look up a little” to stare straight up into the sky, hands on hip, waiting for me to take the picture. The Polaroid snaps. Out comes magic. I feel uber-Hipster, and briefly reflect on the idea of what would be an Indigenous Hipster, and what is a Hipster, and would I be a Hipster. Then I snap out of it. Live in the moment.

My turn,” Aerie says, running towards me to change spots. “Stand here. Look sideways. Hand on hip. Don’t smile.” She rattles off instructions that prove she has been listening to me direct for a long time. I burst out laughing, still posing, and she snaps the picture.

We wait for them to develop, side by side. Her mini-instax takes a few minutes, as we drive around Vancouver as we wait to see what I had captured on her image. We drive through Hastings, visit a Friendship Centre, peruse the latest goods at the Value Village, and finally, head back to the hotel so I could prep for work the next day.

At the end of the night, in the safety of a warm room and filled with good food, we lay the images side by side. Aerie’s image of me is saturated, full of shadows and light. There is clarity in the goodness. You see me, outlined and defined.

My image of Aerie is too brightly exposed, desaturated, and blurry. It’s her – you can see her grin, her purple camera hanging by her side. But it’s not definite. It’s a memory, a moment.


 – tenille campbell

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