Field Notes – Sandra Shields and David Campion

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Partners in life and work,  writer Sandra Shields and photographer David Campion work together on long term projects, chronicling subjects they find both important and interesting. They now have a site dedicated to their work, www.fieldnotes.ca. The stories here have appeared in a number of places, magazines such as Geist, online at The Tyee and in books such as Where Fire Speaks, published by  Arsenal Pulp Press.  They’ve looked at, and explained, life with a disability, a tribe in Africa facing wholesale lifestyle changes and the Calgary Stampede.

I’ve always thought that documentarians were the poets of the journalism world, under appreciated and under paid,  but they get closer to the core of a subject than anyone else and these two certainly prove that.

These are the two opening paragraphs from Sandra Shields essay in Valley To The Sea:

‘JEN SLEPT IN HER CAR outside the Deroche Hall for a few nights the spring she met Rope. She was seventeen and had just gotten a rose tattooed above her right breast and didn’t want her dad to find out. Her parents lived across the field from the Deroche Hall in a house they built when they got pregnant with Jen, next to a trailer court named in honour of Jen’s great-grandfather Joe Kelly, who had once been chief of the Lakahahmen Indian Band.

Rope was twenty-five and lived in his own trailer in Joe Kelly Estates. He was a white kid who grew up on welfare in Surrey. He moved out to Deroche when he got a job in a sawmill near Mission. When he learned Jen was sleeping in her car, he said she could stay with him for a while. They had met a few days earlier on a double date and had gone to a movie that none of them liked, and in the back seat on the drive home Rope fell asleep and spilled beer all over Jen. They became buddies but didn’t want to date each other. He slept on the couch and gave her his bed. ‘

Those two paragraphs draw you in and tell you more than you thought possible in such a short burst of writing.

David’s photographs both complement Sandra’s writing and tell their own version of the story.

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This is the full uncropped version of the photograph at top.  Photograph © David Campion

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©David Campion

See much more of their work on their field notes site. You can also look at some of  David’s fine art work at www.davidcampion.ca.

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