The Photographer Capturing the Derelict Beauty of Vancouver’s Old Buildings

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When Gregory Geipel was growing up in South Burnaby, the local corner store was suddenly torn down before he had a chance to photograph it. Geipel took on the mission of documenting the corner stores of the region before they disappeared, what would eventually become his photo collection On the Corner. He was struck, he says, by people’s emotional reactions to seeing the forgotten corner stores⁠ they remembered from childhood.

In his new photo exhibition, Still Vancouver, Geipel turns his camera to the old buildings of Vancouver, capturing the faded but instantly recognizable architecture of the city, both ubiquitous and on the brink of disappearance. He shared some of his photos with us in advance of their display at the Capture Photography Festival at the Kurbatoff Gallery from April 15 to 30.

“A lot of these buildings have a lot of character and colour and history behind them. Some of them are decaying a bit, but what I’m trying to bring out is that vibrance and that history. And some of them are still thriving.”

“I don’t try to take the stance that development shouldn’t happen. I think the city needs to move forward and grow. New things have to come up. When a lot of people think of heritage they think buildings. But heritage is a culture, it’s not a building. There’s a community and a history behind the buildings, and as long as that community is involved in development then the heritage can be preserved.”

“It’s a matter of remembering how these buildings have shaped Vancouver, and how in the future they can still hold the roots of Vancouver’s history. I don’t want people to walk away sad that these buildings aren’t here anymore; I want people to feel good about remembering that they existed.”


Our interview with Gregory Geipel has been edited for length and clarity. Read more stories of local Photographers.

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March 2, 2021