photos: Buffie Irvine's winning photo of her dad Mark Irvine in Crab Park

Bringing connections into sharper focus

For winning photographer Buffie Irvine, the Hope in Shadows project becaime more than a photo contest.

Get on your megaphone

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Twenty-nine-year-old Buffie Irvine, a Megaphone vendor for eight years, captured the double award-winning image for this year’s 2019 Hope in Shadows calendar.

The photo called Great Expectations—which shows her father Mark Irvine atop a rock in Crab Park—graces the calendar’s cover and also won the Community Choice Award, meaning it was a top favourite among community juries.

Mark Irvine, 67, has been with Megaphone for about 14 years, selling the calendar and magazine on Commercial Drive and Grant Street in Vancouver.

At first, Mark says, he was only interested in selling the calendars.

“I started with Hope in Shadows, which gave me about $2,000 over the season.

“But then the protocol changed. And I changed with it,” he says, and he started selling the magazines as well—usually, as a necessity.

“Well, to be honest, in the past, I pretty much sold to keep my habit,” Mark says. “In my drinking days, it was cheque to cheque, from day to day sometimes. My ability to drink depended on my ability to sell.”

But Mark quit drinking nearly a year ago and he says thing have changed for the better.

“It [selling Megaphone] became more of a case of being able to reach out and touch the public, which for me, this time around, having sobered up... I’ve gotten more of a benefit from my interactions with the community. Doing my sales, I feel different.”

As for Buffie, she found participating this year’s Hope in Shadows particularly transformative.

“Commercial Drive has been my home for over 20 years and it’s lovely to see people make the connections: 'Oh yeah, that’s your Dad!’ It’s really sweet. The people, they talk to me, about how they’ve talked to him and it gets conversations going.

“I won’t connect to people on my own... I’m in my own world, so it’s kind of odd how my little connections with Dad have me connecting more with the community as well. It’s not anything big, but it really brightens up my day a little.

“We talk about our families... I find that making connections on my own is not my strong suit. I’m an introvert. I like to
be at home. So through this, I have noticed that I really do appreciate these points of contact with the community.

“Like this project, even from the start, just taking these photos, and being outside, and looking around, and looking up—instead of getting on the next thing, waiting for my bus, walking from Point A to Point B.... It was like, ‘where am I? What is actually happening around me?’

“Because so much of it I block out. And that serves its purpose, it helps me, but it also greatly helped me to have that time, have this be a project that has been going on in the community and that I’m part of here and there... even that was just a gift of that camera roll.

“And Dad’s sunny, funny poses. I mean I caught a moment [the 2019 Hope in Shadows cover shot] that was truly... my Dad. And hearing people talk about their photos [at the Hope in Shadows calendar launch] and what they were about, the amounts of times I heard people say, ‘these are people I care about... I loved them and they loved me, and that’s why the photo turned out this way,’ and that’s just what it is.

“We go and maybe have some time to do this and maybe think about having our photo in the calendar, but much more than that, it was time to think about what I loved.

“And so on the cameral roll, it was birds. My dog. And Dad."

Mark Irvine and Buffie Irvine sell Megaphone and Hope in Shadows on Commercial Drive at Grant Street. 

Get on your megaphone

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