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Photo: Mike Wakefield (left) and Ralph Bower
The Local Voices Series returns in 2020 after a successful launch in 2019!
For our February event, North Shore photographers Mike Wakefield and Ralph Bower will share the stories behind their images.
Ralph Bower and Mike Wakefield have more in common than the ability to capture the right image at the right moment. Both were born in North Vancouver, and both live in the neighbourhood where they were raised and educated, Mike in Lynn Valley and Ralph in Queensbury.
Ralph and his wife Joan lived in the next house over from the Bower family home. Today, they live a couple of doors away in a home they designed together. Their grandchildren make are the fourth generation of Bowers to make their home in North Vancouver. Lynn Valley has been home to Mike’s family for 112 years, thanks to his wife’s great grandparents, which makes their children fifth generation North Vancouverites.
Both men have had only one job during their professional careers, Ralph with the Vancouver Sun, and Mike with the North Shore News.
Ralph’s summer job as a copyboy in 1955 led to his career as a staff photographer with the Vancouver Sun. Mike graduated from Emily Carr intending to be an artist. To please his family, he applied to an ad for a photographer at the North Shore News, insisting he would try it for only two weeks. He’s been with the News ever since.
Though each one of Ralph’s photographs – from the collapse of the Second Narrows bridge to his friend Harry Jerome tying the world’s record at Empire Stadium to the occasional water-skiing squirrel – is special, he doesn’t have a favourite. “That’s like choosing a person in your family you love best. I always liked working with children and animals – you never knew what they were going to do.”
“Ralph taught me that photography is five per cent pushing the button,” says Mike. “The rest is how you treat people. When Ralph was in North Vancouver on assignment, he’d say, ‘Hey, kid, it’s all yours. Get a great shot, I know you can do it.’”
Of all his photographs, Mike has one that he believes said all he wanted to say, and more.
Find out more at Local Voices when the two ace shooters and good friends will share their photographs, and the stories that go with them.
Check out Mike’s website for a sampling of his work. Mike Wakefield Photography
In partnership with the West Vancouver Memorial Library, WVHS is breaking ground with Local Voices, a new series of community conversations that explores our community, as it was and as it is, in the words of the people who live here. Learn about your neighbours, who they are and why they chose to make their home in West Vancouver.