Mike DiPietro started the Seasons of East Van photography project early in 2018, and released the first photo book in 2023. I found Seasons of East Van through Instagram: a seemingly anonymous account of street fashion portraits taken in nearby neighbourhoods. The photos stuck out to me because they portrayed a beautiful side of Vancouver that is not often published.
I bought the book as inspiration and started digging into the background of the Seasons of East Van project. I’m not a fashion photographer (or reviewer), but I enjoyed the book so much that I wanted to briefly share my thoughts. The following photos are all examples from the book, courtesy of Mike.
The photos are taken in several East Vancouver neighbourhoods, across the seasons. I found some insight into the process in an article by the CBC, an interview by the Keep It in the Streets project, and an interview by Slice of Life Vancouver.
Mike started the project with an Olympus OM-10 and 50mm f/1.8. Apparently because of the cost of film (understandable given the volume of portraits!) he adapted the 50mm to a Sony α7 digital body.
I think the consistency of the photos (lens, perspective, depth-of-field, composition, and setting) highlights the diversity of fashion, people, and natural lighting conditions. The collection of photos benefits from the constraints of equipment and time. It’s a lesson for me: I don’t need a variety of lenses to capture a variety of subjects.
To me, almost all of the folks photographed in the collection exhibit some sense of confidence or joy (or both). I am impressed by these street portraits because I find taking photos of people very scary (I’ve never been rejected by a tree or a train). It’s fun to see the behind-the-scenes process in the CBC short film by Derek Kwan.
The 2022 book contains 124 street portraits in spreads, following the arc of a year. There is definitely congruency in the photo pairings, but I can’t quite put a finger on it. Is it the attitude of the subjects, the colour, the fashion? I’m still working on my own interpretation.
If you’re familiar with Vancouver you’ll enjoy the background hints of local landmarks, stores and parks. Winter (and the infamous Vancouver rain) is under-represented, but Mike can be forgiven for not taking long walks in the cold and wet!
Mike DiPietro is doing our city a great service by sharing the identity and the pride of everyday people. I admire his courage in approaching hundreds of people for their portrait.
Thanks for reading! You can find my photos on Flickr.
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