What do Senjiro Hayashi’s photos mean to you?

When I first saw Hayashi’s photos, I can’t explain how deeply they struck me. Many times, Laura (the Anthropologist we worked with) told me, “there were so many other people here, we should know more than just white colonial history.” And in theory, I understood that, but when I saw Hayashi’s photos the disparity became so profound. I had never seen photos of a diverse community, taken by someone within that community from that time. On top of that, they were so well composed, so precise, so beautiful.

What cut deep with Hayashi’s photos is knowing that there were hundreds of diverse communities throughout BC’s history that didn’t have a photographer and because of that, we would never get to know them like this.

The photos are a constant reminder that everyone’s history is important. When I go out to meet knowledge keepers on these research trips, so often I hear, “Why do you care? Or doesn’t matter anymore.” The interview I found from Mickey Hayashi (Senjiro’s son) that allowed me to find the Hayashi family finishes with: “I don’t know what you are going to do with it.” It being the interview. There’s often this feeling that their stories aren’t important, and it’s never true. In the film there is a particular photo that we reference, it is that of Ginger Goodwin’s Funeral procession. Without Ken Hayashi’s photo the procession, would we be able to comprehend the level of solidarity that led to the first general strike in Canada?

I think what I love most though are the simple moments in people’s lives that we would never get to see otherwise, [the photo above] has always been one of my favourite photos, I know nothing about this family of women, but you see the shyness of one, the obstinance of the other, the shine on their shoes and the mix of Chinese and European clothes. It’s such a reflection.

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