Casey Bennett (b. 1980, Grand Forks, British Columbia) is an urban landscape / contemporary fine art photographer currently based in south-central British Columbia, Canada. His clean photography of urban and semi-urban spaces is about exploration of places where architecture, landscape, portraits and the built environment intersect and a human presence can be felt around the corner. His work is also about transience, and ideas of change being brought in our surroundings and environment.
My earliest memories of living in Williams Lake were when I was 16 and my family was relocated there when my dad’s government job transferred him. The first month, we stayed in a small hotel room, the 6 of us, while we waited for the house we were moving into become available – much like that hotel, living in Williams Lake would become confined and claustrophobic. I experienced immediate shock and bewilderment, unsure of what was going on or how to address these new changes to my surroundings. I would learn that Williams Lake would be consistently ranked as one of the worst places to live in all of Canada as it was plagued with gang violence as well as a haven for the Hells Angels drug trafficking operations. The socio-economic struggles were extremely evident — employment, health care, education and housing were facing steep uphill battles and forcing families to pack up and seek a better life elsewhere. After a series of working back breaking, blue collar jobs, I left in 2006, moving to Victoria with the intention of never returning.
I moved back in mid-2015 and I immediately began to wander around, getting re-acquainted with the community again, but this time with a new approach to how I perceived it. With my camera, I gradually began to examine it not from the perspective of my old self who often rejected the idea of succumbing to this brand of blue-collar lifestyle, but rather that of an older and wiser man choosing to move forward and reconcile with my own past insecurities and further understand those around me who openly embrace this community and call it home. The socio-economic rankings are still below average, although transition is evident, much work is yet to be done. My photographic project hopes to instill a visually compelling collection of images of this specific place in time and the prospect for insight into the community and its individuals who have shaped a region and created the character of a place. The environment is loaded with evidence from the past that is now layered with subtle manifestations about the inevitable future.
Aptly titled Hub City, this refers to Williams Lake as the central location that sits in the junction of Highway 97 and Highway 20, leading major routes to cities and points of interest like Kamloops (south), Bella Coola (west) and Prince George (north).
To view more of Casey Roger Curtis Bennett’s work please visit his website.