When I started at CUPS in 2003 and began doing outreach shortly after, I started to learn about encampments. Scott Calling Last was my mentor who would take me on wild treks along train lines and hidden areas of wilderness. He had an astonishing presence, where everyone knew his name and no one would forget it. He has a large stature that he would seamlessly squeeze through thick brush and an eye for catching a glimpse of colour. This colour is what could possibly be someone’s living arrangement. I was amazed to see the dedication, ingenuity, craftmanship and feeling of freedom.
In 2005 I started a photo album documenting what camps I came across to remember all the things I admired about them. On and off I would try to add as much as possible if I had my camera available (before cell phones). In 2020 a mutual friend introduced me to Alex Ramadan, who was looking to document frontline shelter workers dealing with the impact of COVID. I explained that this would be a hard sell to not only get access but that providers would be wary of what we be shown. Instead, I suggested the idea of focusing on campers, documenting their story while focusing on the amazing skill, work and architecture of their homes. Since December 2020 we have been going out once a week to connect, learn and get a small glimpse of the many factors that impact those that sleep outside.