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Like many 2020 events, organizers of the Far North Photo Festival are having to get creative due to the Covid pandemic.

Pat Kane prepares prints to be hung at last year’s Far North Photo Fest in the Centre Square Mall. This year’s edition of the event will be held outdoors and via video. “There are actually some really good, maybe even better, opportunities for doing things through video,” Kane says.
NNSL file photo

This year, the festival will take place outside City Hall in Somba K’e Civic Plaza in order to adhere to the chief public health officer’s safety regulations. Now in its second year, the festival will showcase representation from each circumpolar region as well as a gallery full of submissions from anyone living in, or with ties to, NWT, Yukon or Nunavut. 

“It’s going to have a different look, different feel, different vibe, but it’ll be cool,” says Pat Kane, creative director and co-founder of the festival. 

In addition to the photo exhibition, the Far North Photo Festival (FNPF) will offer workshops including an introduction to photography, pitching to editors and photojournalism. Workshops will be a mix of live-streamed webinars, and “in the field” tutorials. Kane says those workshops will range from photo walks, photographing the aurora borealis, landscapes, and others. He says it’s a space “where people can get together, be socially distant, but also do something fun outside at that time of year.”

While Kane is disappointed that they won’t be able to invite in-person keynote speakers because of travel restrictions, he’s not shaken about having to adjust the festival’s plans. 

“There are actually some really good, maybe even better, opportunities for doing things through video,” he says. “Even having the exhibit outdoors in the park is more accessible to a lot more people. If people are just going for a walk or a run they can stop and check it out.”

Kane, a professional photographer, says that photography and visual storytelling are tangible ways of sharing perspectives that resonate. FNPF allows Northerners to showcase their own stories. 

“I think as Northerners, as people who live and work here, we see a lot of people coming from outside, from the south or from Europe or the States, who come and tell stories about the North, and then leave,” he says. “We see the festival as a place for Northerners to reclaim Northern stories and to share images and perspectives that are unique to the North and that people might not see all the time but to us is daily life.”

Kane views FNPF as a way of giving back and helping to “give opportunities to other people who may not have the opportunities that I have had.”

“This is a way for us to bring the photo community together, to encourage each other as peers, as friends and as colleagues,” he says.

The festival will take place from Sept. 11 to 21, and the workshop schedule will be announced in August. Submissions are open for anyone from the North, or with a connection to the North. Guidelines are on the FNPF website

For anyone hesitant about submitting their work, Kane says, “Don’t be afraid. We’re always excited to see what people have, because even if people say ‘Oh, I don’t know if that’s any good’ or ‘It’s just an everyday life kind of thing,’ sometimes those are the most special moments really to see the aspects of people’s lives that not a lot of people get to see.”

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Natalie Pressman

Natalie is a graduate of Carleton University’s journalism program. She has since held contracts working with an NGO in Vietnam, freelancing, and working with Journalists for Human Rights in Iskatewizaagegan...

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