Alana Paterson

Alana and I crossed paths in 2003. I didn’t think much of her at the time and I’m pretty sure the feeling was reciprocal, but coincidentally she needed a roommate and I needed a place to live. I was skateboarding a lot and she was also. I can remember it like it was yesterday, the gut wrenching feeling of her asking me if she could come skate. Being young is like a mental handicap. People are cynical at least and barely accepting of anything at best. Only as her roommate and not based on any other form of interest, we started hanging out and became really close friends. I’d seen photography as a child. Parents with 35mm cameras all jarring their wrists trying to get in focus. I never understood the power of light shooting through as the shutter opened and the unique textures different cameras provided film. Alana did. She never didn’t have a camera on her hip. and never lacked the subject matter to shoot. She taught me invaluable lessons about there being other things to eat than mr. noodles, and that if you look not to far outside your bubble you can stumble your way into some pretty cool stuff.

What’s your full name, where do you live, and how’s things?

My name is Alana Lynn Paterson, I don’t really live anywhere at the moment…so thats a trick question and things are great! Thanks for asking.

Every time I speak to you, you are jet setting. Tell us a bit about your recent travels and work?

Hmmmm well I was living in New York and New England for the Winter…Then I came back to Vancouver for a week or so then had to head to Portland for a shoot. Now I’m back in Vancouver house sitting for Mila who is in Bali.

What are some of your recent achievements? What recent work are you most proud of?

Hmmmm going to Thailand with Lifetime to shoot their Spring line was pretty cool. MEC asked me to pitch for their S/S campaign…I didn’t get the job but I’m pretty pleased to even be considered cause the guy I lost the job to is a pretty big deal so… not getting that job…has been one my greatest achievement…haha what im trying to say it was flattering to even be considered.

Living in the Royal Mansions was like a whirlwind. In your own words please describe the night you flooded the bathroom?

Hahahaha shit. Well I was taking a bath with my Gentlemen friend at the time…drunk…after the bar for some reason. And well one of us..not gonna say who…reached for something leaning on the sink and it ripped right off the wall. We had to call a plumber to shut off the water main in the building which disturbed and shifted the ancient water pipes…one burst in the attic later that night and decimated an entire column of apartments from the fourth floor to the first. They all had to be gutted. Everyone moved out and the worst part is the guy who lived closest to the attic was out of town so he couldn’t move his stuff while it was happening and lost absolutely everything. So yeah thats that story. Fuck. We wont talk about the brothel above us…or the time they flooded OUR bathroom and I had to go knock…fuck that whole building was both charming in decor and fucking wild.

I have prints from 2004, and have noticed even as your work evolves no matter what you shoot; you capture it all as if you’ve known it for years?

Well if its people I try and see what makes them different. Or some little thing they do in their own way that probably they aren’t even conscience of like maybe the way they hold their hands or a funny way she puts her hair behind her ear or the way a guy learns on a table just so. Everyone has these things and a lot of time you only see them in people you are terribly intimate with but I try and have tried to train myself to see it in almost anyone I come across or have to shoot.

What drew you toward skateboard culture and shooting the lifestyle that goes along with it?

Well I have these two older cousins and they were fucking GODS. They were the meaning of cool to me when I was a child and they both skated. So that was that. They taught me what cool was and thank god they actually were. What a fluke.

Growing up on Gabriola Island you must have been surrounded by landscape, and nature. Did this play a role in your photography and is that where you first picked up a camera?

Being someone who grew up in natural spaces definitely plays a roll in what I shoot and the locations I choose. But no, photographer for me started at the old Vic West skatepark in Victoria. The first SLR roll I ever shot was of my friend skating there. And I have to say for what I knew about photography at the time…which was nothing… I nailed it.

Your sister Meghan Paterson is also artistic, did that play a role in molding who you are today?

Well maybe not her but being from a creative family in general yeah. I was expected to be in the arts. As a kid the biggest form of rebellion I could think of was telling my mom that I wasn’t going to be an artist and that I hated art. As a teenager I came across better ways to rebel… haha

I know you work as a farm hand in the summer. What’s the direct attachment to agriculture

Well I’m not sure really. My mom is a fantastic gardener and I guess I just have it in me. I’m good at it and I find it rewarding and its the opposite of working in photography which is so immediate while gardening is very time based and its also the opposite of skateboarding which is all concrete and city so I think its just found a nice little place in my life in a polar kind of way.

Last words?

Yes, Long live the Royal Mansion and I hope that kid that lived in the brothel came out ok. I highly doubt it possible but there is a chance. Also I am sorry I ruined those peoples apartments. That place was fucking cool. Remember all that stuff we found in that attic? And remember during the festival of lights when we threw beer cans at that guy and he got in the building some how and chased us all around the halls? Hahaha.

Alana Paterson – Interviewed by Alex Henery
Elliott MacDonald

Founder and editor in chief of The Strathcona Publication. I grew up in a neighbourhood called Strathcona in Vancouver on the North side of Hastings Ave. It was colourful, and vibrant with all kinds of inspiring experiences. This is my tribute to Strathcona.

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