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Photo: "Somerset" by Jason Fournier

Photographer Jason Fournier captures moody street photos of Ottawa at night

By Greggory Clark on December 17, 2020

What does your neighbourhood look like at night? Will you expect to see anyone if you go out for a walk? Does the corner store or pizza place nearby leave its bright sign glowing for 24 hours a day? Lastly, is it possible someone could show you a picture of your ‘hood at night which you would not even recognize?

#NightWalks613 is an ongoing photography series by Jason Fournier that documents Ottawa neighbourhoods at night during the course of 2020. Scroll through the collection on Twitter and you’ll likely recognize locations in Hintonburg, Mechanicsville, Centretown, Chinatown, Little Italy, Wellington Village, Westboro, The Glebe, Lowertown, and Vanier.

After taking in several images, or by perusing the entire collection, you may notice something every shot has in common: There are never humans in view. I imagined this was intentional—I pictured Fournier staking out his locations and waiting for minutes, maybe hours, until the coast is clear to snap an image devoid of people. Actually, he says, “I’d love to have more people in the shots… There are very few people out at night these days. Very few cars too. I don’t know if that’s a neighbourhood thing?”

What else do his photos have in common? “I’ve found cart corrals, phone booths, reflections, geometric perspectives, and iconic establishments all super interesting.” Ottawa institutions like The Laff, Irene’s Pub, Wing’s Takeout, The Prescott, The Carleton, and The Elmdale make appearances. Street art and murals are another common theme.

On any given night, Fournier heads out around 10pm and starts to make his way home at midnight. He sets out on foot, sometimes on his bike, with a surprisingly minimal amount of gear. The majority are actually shot on an iPhone 11.

“I don’t always lug out the Nikons,” says Fournier. “There is a mix though… I use the Nikon D850 with a series of 2.8 lenses, and sometimes a Fuji x100. If I’m out for a run I won’t have the full-frame camera, it’ll be an iPhone.”

Starting at his home in Hintonburg, the photographer simply picks a direction (east or west) and goes out about five kilometres. Most nights he moves up and down the Wellington West-Somerset West corridor and picks different side streets to see where those will lead him. Then he walks or runs the distance back home.

That process hasn’t changed much since his first night walks in summer 2020, “except when I know I want to go to a specific neighbourhood for some reason… Rain downtown makes neon reflections look great… Or sometimes I notice something during the day and make a note to head back.”

In December, Fournier passed the impressive milestone of publishing 100 photos and, due to popular demand from Twitter followers, created nightwalks.ca to archive his project and even sell prints. Each photo is available as an 8×10 print on professional-grade lustre or metallic paper with an optional gallery frame and archival mat.

Although not quick to call this a “pandemic project,” Fournier goes along with my suggestion. “I think it’s fair to say that the conditions around the pandemic, like social distancing and sheltering in place, really took a hit to my creative side.” As someone who has travelled a lot with his camera, the project has allowed him to rediscover Ottawa in a different light.

Fournier shows no signs of slowing down in 2021. “#NightWalks613 has been a super fun project over the past few months; one I’m looking forward to continuing into the new year,” says the photographer. “Big thanks to everyone who has followed along on the journey so far. It’s been fun sharing the adventure.”


Follow @jayfournier, browse the series on Twitter then visit nightwalks.ca to order 8×10 prints. Shipping is extra, however delivery is free within 25km of downtown Ottawa. All net proceeds from sales between Sunday December 13th and Friday December 18th will be donated to Cornerstone Housing for Women. Cornerstone provides emergency shelter and safe, supportive housing for women in Ottawa.

 

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