Bringing a new perspective to old things

Every student dreams of one day being able to turn their passions into a career. For some that means turning a love of writing into marketable journalism skills, for others, turning a love of learning how things work into a physics degree.

For urban planning student Brodie Vissers, his hobby and his degree have worked hand in hand to create a brand new passion: urban photography.

“It started for me, probably through skateboarding,” said Vissers. “You hang out with friends, you want to capture what’s going on, cameras are a must.”

After a year of playing around with digital cameras Vissers said, “it was mostly searching online, asking questions to people who had been doing it longer.” Vissers decided to take a break from school, and plunge deeper into both travel and photography.

“Just before I left for China on a one-year break from school, I decided to buy myself a real camera to really play around with photography, and … shutter speed, focal length, and how that all actually worked,” said Vissers.

“I always wanted to go to China to immerse myself in the culture, learn the language, travel … I decided last year to take the year off and just go. It was a big decision, but ultimately it was worth it.”

Vissers spent his year in China exploring more than just photography.

“About four years ago now, a friend and I were talking and he said how he was moving to China to start up a community centre with a team of people there,” he said. “I was helping out with opening this community centre, which was basically a skate park … I was doing promotions for them, I was meeting locals, teaching English.”

Between helping out around the centre, Vissers took the time to capture the demolition, restructuring, and decay occurring in China.

“I wanted to portray my perspective on what was going on and how it related to what I was studying,” said Vissers. “The artistic side of what was going on and capturing a moment of time that hasn’t really been around but also wouldn’t be carried on … This demolished village is going to be gone soon.”

Upon his return to Waterloo, Vissers compiled his works into a collection and put on a photography show entitled <em>Before It&rsquo;s Lost</em> at Cafe Pyrus.

&ldquo;It was about &hellip; the urban transition that the whole world, China, [and] this community specifically is going through, from smaller urban&nbsp; developments to demolition to make way for larger urban developments,&rdquo; Vissers said.&ldquo;It wasn&rsquo;t a persuasive act or show, it was more my perspective. Not everyone gets to see this sort of thing and there&rsquo;s so many beautiful things in China.&rdquo;

The show opened May 29, and will be on display at Cafe Pyrus until June 30.

&ldquo;This is just my perspective on China and I definitely encourage people to go see the country by themselves,&rdquo; Vissers said. &ldquo;There&rsquo;s just so much to see there and this wasn&rsquo;t really focussed on the people, but a response to the communities that I felt were lost and encouraging people to explore.

&ldquo;I think it&rsquo;s a great tool to have in any situation, whether it&rsquo;s being able to do photo shoots or wedding shoots on the side, or when I do field work or presentations to any future clients,&rdquo; said Vissers.

&ldquo;Being in urban planing, [and] sort of having an emphasis on design and visuals, being in photography has given me a different perspective, especially when I&rsquo;m travelling. And being able to not only document the places that I&rsquo;m going for future reference but also to just portray them in the perspective that I see them, in terms of their sense of design or sense of vibrancy or whatever it is that I&rsquo;m trying to capture.&rdquo;

Vissers hopes to expand his photography skills and venture further into the hobby.

&ldquo;[I encourage people to] explore the places they are now and document. Everyone has a creative perspective,&rdquo; he said.


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