Just a tease of Hayla Gilvert's collection of street photography

Sooke photographer looks for true grit in urban settings

Haela Gilvert magnifies the things and settings that pass by us on a daily basis.

It is said that art is meant to expose something we may not necessarily think about or even see. A message. A warning. A moment of time caught in a capsule.

And, like all art, there are countless avenues of expressing what one sees and experiences.

Sooke artist Haela Gilvert is of a different breed. She’s a street photographer who looks for the grit and the visual mosaics that pass by our usual line of sight on a daily basis.

“I discover beauty in an old oil barrel, I find it really redeeming … memorializing the unmemorialized, in a way,” she said. “It could be something we’d never notice.”

Her passion for photos began in 2001, when she started taking photography classes at Focal Point in Vancouver. There, she learned the art of street photography, and fell instantly in love with the craft.

Since then, Gilvert has travelled across Canada, passing through more than 23 cities, intimately documenting the artistic grittiness of urban areas, back alleys, scrap yards and everything else in-between.

Before she realized it, the craft became more than just mere experimentation.

“It was a hobby, and now it’s taken over my life, because I have to go shooting every day,” Gilvert said.

For a second time around, Gilvert’s work has been featured at the Sooke Fine Arts Show. Her winning shot is an optical illusion of a shopping cart that appears to be suspended in mid-air. The actual photo is much more deceptive, however.

“There was a massive puddle, which was perfectly still … there was a reflection of a tree … and the way it kind of appeared to be floating in the sky background, I thought, perfect,” she said.

It’s all mostly done using a manual camera, as Gilvert feels it’s becoming a lost art in the shadow of digital photography.

“I don’t find [digital] as interactive and as cerebral as a manual camera. That mechanical clicking, adding in your own film, it’s all just part of it,” she said.

Her focus remains on high-contrast, highly-detailed macro photography, as it still remains to be a bit of a niche, particularly street art, and noticing the things many don’t.

“I feel like I’m doing something special and unique, just looking at the world the way others many not. Not a lot of people snoop around junk yards and back alleys for photos,” she laughed.

Gilvert hopes to publish a small coffee table book at some point, illustrating some of her work. To view her work, you can visit the Sooke Fine Arts Show, which runs until Aug. 1 at SEAPARC Leisure Complex.