Tea with photographer Kate Seaborne – Campbell River Mirror

How did you get to Oak Bay?

My husband and I were working at the University of Victoria, and in the spring of 1986 we started house hunting in Oak Bay. We fell for a little 1912 cottage with a great view of McNeill Bay and the Olympic Mountains and bought it in an instant. It needed a lot of renovations and additions, and luckily we had friends who were builders and put us in touch with a great designer, Nigel Banks. We finished renovating the cottage that summer, moved in and then expanded it again about five years later. Every now and then we think of the benefits of a newer home, but we can’t get away from the views and the terraced garden.

What do you love most about your life in Oak Bay?

I love the distinctly different neighborhoods, the easy access to parks and Garry Oak meadows, and the “walkability” of this community.

How did you come to photography?

My dad was a wonderful amateur photographer, and at an early age he gave me a Brownie camera to play with. He was interested in portraits and landscapes and was also fascinated by birds and often took me on “shoots” with him, which I thought would be a wonderful treat. When I was a teenager, he gave me his Leica IIIc camera and taught me how to use his darkroom. I worked with this Leica until I bought my first camera, an Olympus OM-1, which I used for years for portraits, landscapes and street images.

How does photography impact your life?

I derive great pleasure from the process of creating photographic images. For me, it’s about pausing, paying attention to what I’m seeing, and ‘immersing’ in the experience of seeing it from multiple points of view. If I’m lucky and don’t get distracted during the process, I can create an image that captures the subject and conveys my feelings about it.

What prompted you to photograph the alleys of Oak Bay?

This project began in the spring of 2016 when I enrolled in an urban photography course offered by the Vancouver Island School of Art. For this course, “urban photography” has been defined as depicting urban spaces and the lives of those who live, work and move in these spaces.

Prior to this course, I had photographed domestic spaces and the life lived there. So for the major project of the course, I decided to extend this interest by documenting the alleys of my neighborhood, where private and domestic life intersects with public space, often in an unsupervised or unconscious way. These lanes are familiar to me as they serve as alternate walking routes to and from the village of Oak Bay or extensions of hikes in my immediate vicinity.

When I finished the course I realized I had a much bigger photography project to pursue and I continued to photograph in the back streets of South Oak Bay until the spring of 2019. During this time , I encountered a huge number of South Oak Bay residents, some welcoming and some wary, while shooting through the back streets. Eventually, with the help of many dear friends and family members, I put together a book of selected images of these public spaces in private places. And, now, I’m ready to explore the alleys of the rest of the municipality!

What brings you joy?

A warm croissant from Ottavio with Glenlivet flavored marmalade made by Cathy, my dear friend and neighbour.