Chinatown Project

The Chinatown Parade... LAST year (2018)

I’ve started to make it a habit to post up these Chinatown Parade photos a year later… whoops! Life does get busy and now even more so with my daughter’s arrival. However, this has allowed for a strange benefit: After having faced a Chinatown Parade in the freezing cold and then in a blizzard (literally moments ago… and the snow is still falling as I type), I now look back at the photos from last year’s parade and am able to enjoy them more after having let them sit and marinate for a year rather than if I had simply posted them straight away. There’s something about the passage of time that really matures a documentary photograph.

Also, after feeling the light singe of firecracker during the parade last year, I came back this year with a mouth cover and it somewhat helped in breathing in less of those firecracker fumes but golly…. stay away from those things!

Full Gallery below:


2018 Year End Review - My Documentary Photography Comes Home

How do you even begin to encapsulate a year? It’s 365 days of living and being and breathing and it all goes by so fast. As a photographer, the photos I take are not only momentos of the little moments that went by but also memory place holders that let me look back and recall a time in my life: the smells, the sights and even the sounds.

A brief slideshow encapsulating my 2018 year. What a year it was! Read on below for more details :)

This year marked a major change for me personally with the birth of my daughter. It changed the way I see the world  and how I play a part in it. Being a father is at some time really tough but also other times very rewarding and I truly enjoy the reward of being a new Dad.

Seeing my wife give birth was an experience unto itself… but hearing my daughter’s first cries changed everything about who I think I am.

Seeing my wife give birth was an experience unto itself… but hearing my daughter’s first cries changed everything about who I think I am.

The Chinatown Project (Documenting Chinatown) grew externally this year. I was taking less photos and spending a little less time in Chinatown compared to before but I got a chance to exhibit photos at the Sun Yat Sen Courtyard pop-up exhibition and also talk about this long-term project at the ARC Experience photography conference in Vancouver this year. It’s also the year that I started creating the first book of my documentation of Chinatown and I look forward to making it available for sale next year. 

I worked with many families this year as well as wedding couples and it was amazing as always to be a part of people’s lives and document their day. I truly enjoy being a documentary photographer and creating photographs from the “mundane” and “unseen” moments. To be able to create authentic and honest photographs are why I do what I do every day. 

As I look back and try to pick a few “highlight” photos for this slideshow and blogpost, I’m reminded of all the good times in 2018, all the rough times and also all the celebratory times. As in previous years, I’m so thankful for all the people I worked with this year, from clients to photographers, to the people of Chinatown, to event planners and brides and grooms to the Chinatown Associations, to all my friends I’ve made at the ARC Experience to the families who’ve allowed me to document your lives. Thank you all so much! You all make my photography more than just about photographs.


The Birth Of Our Daughter:

The Documenting Chinatown Project (Photos from 2018):

Family PhotoSessions:

Documentary Wedding Photography (and some Styled Photoshoot Projects):

Chinatown at Night

It’s been a while since I blogged about Chinatown… or blogged at all for that matter. Life keeps getting busy and taking the time to sit down and write stuff to a general internet audience sometimes (in all honesty) ranks a little lower on my list of priorities. Lately, I’ve taken to exercise more and stay in shape, I’ve attempted to learn to dance a bit, I’ve been catching up on personal film work from the last year and a bit and I’m trying to finally put together that Chinatown book I’ve been meaning to do.

However, as I sit down and dedicate some time to blog, I’m reminded of how therapeutic it can be to write your thoughts and share my photographs. Blogging is a chance to just sit and reflect, which I realize in this world of high tech and fast-paced smart phone notifications is a luxury these days… but is one luxury I intend to do more of. :)

I started my Chinatown blogging on my old blog at jonathandesmond.blogspot.ca but eventually moved it to this blog. However, a lot has happened between the old blog and now. My Chinatown project has grown into something much bigger than a photography project; it has become an immensely personal documentary project that I hope will provide a narrative of the last 6 years of Chinatown’s community, lifestyle and constant changes.

During this one particular evening, I met with some fellow friends from the Wong Association and we had some time to have pizza together and hangout. While we did, I took some photographs of Chinatown.

Obligatory (?) Window Selfie. Maybe I should trademark that…

Obligatory (?) Window Selfie. Maybe I should trademark that…

Chinatown at Night-3.jpg
The Chinatown Summer Market was on in full force last year. This year (2018) it was shut down.

The Chinatown Summer Market was on in full force last year. This year (2018) it was shut down.

This is the place where the old Daisy Garden used to be before a fire burned it down.

This is the place where the old Daisy Garden used to be before a fire burned it down.

Most of Chinatown is seen from the exterior of the buildings and on the streets. However, the inside of these buildings show signs of a larger and vibrant community. (Note: I only explore these places with permission granted from the owners).

Most of Chinatown is seen from the exterior of the buildings and on the streets. However, the inside of these buildings show signs of a larger and vibrant community. (Note: I only explore these places with permission granted from the owners).

The Mon Keang School at night

The Mon Keang School at night

Two chairs are lighted by the street lights outside.

Two chairs are lighted by the street lights outside.

Getting Deeper Into the Chinatown Project

Since 2013, I've been continually photographing Chinatown and as the years went on, I found myself meeting people and getting more involved. Eventually, I ended up joining the Wong Association and well... here I am. This project ended up becoming much more bigger than I ever thought it would be. I find that this 5+ year journey has me now intertwined in the conversation of Vancouver's Chinatown.

The Hon Hsing is the "sports" arm of the Wong Association.

The Hon Hsing is the "sports" arm of the Wong Association.

Thanks to my time here, I've now been afforded the opportunity to do documentary work that is beyond the usual street photography stuff. Being in and a part of this community has given me opportunities to document and get to know people and feel the true vibrant spirit of Chinatown that is not readily apparent from the streets. I've visited various Associations, experienced the battle over Chinatown's heritage and future and have made many friends along the way. It has truly been a blessing and I do hope one day that these photos will serve to remind future what was and inspire what could be.

Old and Young.

Old and Young.

I am currently working on a book representing the first 3 years of my project and will later on make a second book to cover the next 2-3 years after. My Chinatown photos are strewn in various places on the web such as over two blogs and on various Facebook and Instagram posts (@jonathan_desmond_journal), so having a book will bring all my images together into one final item that I can show to future generations. 

Below is a brief gallery of photographs I took while I attended the Wong Association banquet:

Documenting Chinatown: Vancouver's Chinese New Years Parade... LAST Year...

It was very wet last year...

It was very wet last year...

So it's taken me a while to blog this. Life became busier and wedding season went into full gear and I found myself with little time to edit my own personal work... but these last few months have been a great time for me to sit and look back at the year that was. As I sit here a week prior to the 2018 Chinese New Year Parade, I thought I'd share some of the major photo highlights from last year's 2017 Chinese New Year Parade.

Last year's Parade was a defining moment for me and this Chinatown Project that I'm involved in. It was the first time I was actually IN the parade rather than taking photographs outside of it. This afforded me opportunities to document the events and the moments happening all around me, including taking some firework debris to the face (true story), getting up close with the lion dances and seeing the smiling faces of those being drenched on by Vancouver's rain but marching onwards with pride.

I'm looking forward to being a part of the parade again this year. For now, here's the Chinatown Parade from last year. Full Gallery at the bottom.

Up close with one of the lions.

Up close with one of the lions.

The kind of moves these guys pulled with this dragon was mesmerizing.

The kind of moves these guys pulled with this dragon was mesmerizing.

A lot of people attended, despite the heavy rain fall.

A lot of people attended, despite the heavy rain fall.

If you see anyone you recognize (or it's you!), let me know as I'd like to send you a photo :)