'You Belong in Vancouver' Vancouver Tourism

As a queer identified photographer it was emotional and empowering to be involved in a project that honours my LGBTQ community.
I am proud to have been chosen as the photographer to create portraits for Vancouver Tourism's 'You Belong in Vancouver' LGBTQ campaign.
It was two full days of photography and video with an incredible team who deeply cared about telling these individuals stories with respect and dignity.

DJ O Show is a dynamic speaker and this video of her describing her heritage and what music means to her is powerful.

Danny Ramadan is an inspiring individual who has overcome great hardship to start a new life in Vancouver, Canada.

Videography:  Barbershop Films
Makeup & Hair:  Tasha Vu
Photography:  Belle Ancell
Digi-Tech:  Maylies Lang

Existing and Thriving

In their own words, "It is my hope, through workshops and consulting services, that organizations will become allies to the Black community and work towards a world in which Black and racialized communities can freely and safely participate, exist and thrive."
Cicely-Belle is co-founder of Black Lives Matter and we created these awesome portraits together for their Xtra Vancouver column and new personal consulting website.
Cicely-Belle was recently featured on the Coolest People in Vancouver list published by Huffington Post.

New additions to the YVR Sisters

In 2014, I was honoured with the title of 'Angel' by the Vancouver Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence for my 'Unveiled' photo project, which honours the Sisters and their devotion to the Vancouver LGBT Community. The photo project is ongoing and will culminate with a 10 year anniversary book entitled 'Sistory' to be published in 2020. 
In 2016 these beautiful people became the newest members of the Vancouver Abbey.
Sister Bodice Rippa is the second cis-gender female fully professed member of the Vancouver Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.
L'il Randy is a Paladin. The primary role of the Paladins are to support the work of the Sisters through protection and service.
To view the entire Unveiled Photo Project click HERE.

Sister Bodice Rippa -   Fully Professed Member October 2016

Sister Bodice Rippa - Fully Professed Member October 2016

Paladin L'il Randy  - Fully Professed Member September 2016

Paladin L'il Randy - Fully Professed Member September 2016

Sister Festivus Illuminata

The Vancouver Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence are a 21st Century order of Queer Nuns who believe in spreading universal joy and expiating stigmatic guilt.

Sister Festivus Illuminata is an ordained Minister and sanctioned to perform and solemnize marriages in Canada.

In August 2016 she married 6 couples on stage at the Vancouver Pride celebrations. You can watch the video here of Sister Festivus singing 'One World - One Hope' before the ceremonies.

River 'The Fox' Tucker wins Bronze at Nationals

Out and about last night at a fundraiser for my friend River 'The Fox' Tucker.
River brought home a black eye and a bronze medal from the Canadian National Boxing Championships.
I felt prideFULL seeing all the images we created together printed larger than life as posters at her fundraiser to fight at the World Championships in Kazakhstan.
Check out the River's full kick ass shoot HERE.
 

River-the-Fox-Tucker-Canadian-boxer

New additions to the YVR Sisters

In 2014, I was honoured with the title of 'Angel' by the Vancouver Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence for my 'Unveiled' photo project, which honours the Sisters and their life long devotion to the Vancouver LGBT Community. The photo project is ongoing and will culminate with
a 10 year anniversary book entitled 'Sistory' to be published in 2020. 
In 2015 these wonderful creatures became the newest members of the Vancouver Abbey.
To view the entire Unveiled Photo Project click HERE.
 

Sister Lois Price - Fully Professed Member February 2015

Sister Lois Price - Fully Professed Member February 2015

Sister Koo-Koo Kachoo - Fully Professed Member March 2015

Sister Koo-Koo Kachoo - Fully Professed Member March 2015

Sister Visa DeKline - Fully Professed Member May 2015

Sister Visa DeKline - Fully Professed Member May 2015

Sister Festivus Illuminata - Fully Professed Member July 2015

Sister Festivus Illuminata - Fully Professed Member July 2015

Sister Diversity Rains - Fully Professed Member November 2015

Sister Diversity Rains - Fully Professed Member November 2015

My Summer Holiday....by belle ancell

Actually, there wasn't a summer holiday. However, there was a lot of love beginning with my first wedding of the season officiated by Vancouver Sister of Perpetual Indulgence Sister Festivus Illuminata (pictured below).
The intimate wedding of Jennifer & Jocelyn was the first wedding ceremony ever performed in Canada by a Sister of Perpetual Indulgence. The Sisters are a worldwide 21st Century order of Queer Nuns who's lifelong vow is to spread universal joy and erase stigmatic guilt.
Please visit my portraiture website to see more LGBT folks in love.

Cor Flammae Fallen Angels

100 metres of fabric, 25 fabulously draped singers, 4 hair stylists, 7 makeup artists, 4 set stylists, 2 shoot assistants and one photographer. That is what it took to create this incredible 2015 promo image of Vancouver's classically trained Choir Cor Flammae.

Wardrobe/Set Styling:
Adam Dickson (Concept)
Jenny Gagne / Shelayne Mulholland
Movement Consultant: MaryAnne Wong

Makeup:
Belinda Sui (Team Lead)
Andi Alexander / Kasey Chen / Bingjie Dai / Raven Dickhout / Mei Lin / Oscar Xu

Hair:
Missy Clarkson (Concept)
Hair by Soo (Team Lead) / Jenny Lynn Goodwin / Katrina Shelast

Photographer/Lighting: belle ancell
Lighting Assistants: Maylies Lang / Debbie Pipe
Colour Treatment/Retouching: belle ancell / Reem Abdel-Jabbar

XTRA: The Final Issue Community Leaders Portrait

On Wednesday, February 11th the last print issue of Xtra Vancouver was published.
I am so grateful to Editor Robin Perelle and Xtra for taking a chance on an emerging photographer with no editorial shooting experience.
The day Robin asked me into her office to invite me to shoot for Xtra I said yes, but I was terrified!! So terrified of failing that I turned down my first cover shoot with them. But I didn’t turn down the next one.
It was a shoot with the Little Sisters Bookstore family for their 30th Anniversary story.
I will always have that wonderful memory of working with them and with Jim Deva before his tragic death.
I will have many wonderful memories from the shoots I did, the fabulous people I was privileged to photograph, and the pride I felt at seeing my he{art} work in print on the newsstands.
Thank you Xtra for believing in me. Thank you for honouring me with the task of photographing this incredible group of community leaders for your last print issue.

Read the full story  HERE  about the individuals honoured in this commemorative portrait.

Read the full story HERE about the individuals honoured in this commemorative portrait.

Behind the scenes of the Xtrafinal print edition photo shoot with Vancouver LGBT community leaders. Video by: Tony James dreamfixation@gmail.com

Vision Impure

Dancer/choreographer Noam Gagnon invited me into his home to create intimate portraits of him and it was a dream.
Soft diffused light bounced off white walls and white furniture and into his gorgeous eyes. Noam was completely as ease in front of the camera and we were able to create some stunning fine art nude images of him.

canadian author amber dawn

If comfort or credibility is to be gained by omitting parts of myself, then I don’t want comfort or credibility.
— Amber Dawn

I was thrilled when author Amber Dawn asked me to create 2015 promo images for her.
One of these beautiful images we created together will be used on the back of her new book jacket. Amber Dawn's new book of poetry will be revealed Spring of 2015!!

primal he{art}

The Primal He{Art} series was inspired from a photo project I was invited to participate in based out of Toronto called the 10x10 Photography Project. The ten year Project is in its third year and each year invites ten photographers to create ten portraits of individuals who have contributed to the LGBTQ arts in Canada. Those 100 portraits were showcased at a Gallery in Toronto in June and also published in a gorgeous photo book. I was also fortunate to have the Project accepted into Vancouver's Queer Arts Festival Curated Show in August.

My series honoured ten Vancouver artists and the primal heart connection they feel to their artistic expression. I invited my ten subjects to choose words that described what their artistic expression evoked for them. Those deeply intimate words were then spray painted onto their bodies by artist Carole Lagimodiere, and they were then photographed semi nude. I have experienced firsthand the vulnerability of sharing one’s art with the world and I felt that having them pose in the nude would help to illustrate that vulnerability. I also love how light and shadow can create texture, form and beauty when photographing the human body.

I endeavored to create an atmosphere of collaboration with my artists with poses and lighting that would suit their personalities and to some extent their gender expression. I took the duty that the 10x10 Project bestowed upon me very seriously as I wanted to honour these individuals by creating compelling and beautiful images for them. A lot of folks helped with this Project and I’m extremely proud of what we have all created together.

Even after all this time

The Sun never says to the Earth,
"You owe me."
Look what happens with a love like that,
It lights up the whole sky.
~Hafiz

Congratulations to my clients Andrea and Fiona on your surprise engagement!
It was an honour to capture your luminous love.
Please visit my portraiture website to view more of my he{art} work.

When the Sun comes out

I never thought I would utter these words. I loved this Opera. I saw the workshop last summer at the Queer Arts Festival in Vancouver. Well, I had to see it. I was photographing it for them. Seriously, it was not what I expected. First of all, I developed an instant crush on the lead soprano. Secondly, the male role broke my heart. Like tears in my eyes and heart crushing compassion for his story, that kind of broke my heart.

This was the largest, longest and most elaborate photo shoot I've ever done and involved the collaborative efforts of 12 people to pull it off. It was so worth it. We created some awesome images for the Opera. The Georgia Straight, Xtra and the Courier all featured the images which had enormous impact in its promotion.

The Opera is so poignant today in a 2013 world where we can still be tortured and murdered for simply being who we are.

From the Queer Arts Festival website - "When the Sun Comes Out is the world premiere of Canada’s first lesbian opera, commissioned by QAF. This ground-breaking new work is written by composer Leslie Uyeda and poet Rachel Rose, and directed by James Fagan Tait.

A story of forbidden love, divided loyalties and culture clash, the opera explores the oppression that queers face, and the risks they take, in nations where homosexuality is illegal."

when-the-sun-come-out-opera 01.jpg

From left to right: Aaron Durand, Teiya Kasahara, Julia Morgan, and Leslie Uyeda (with baton).

10x10 photography project

Once upon a time I did a photo project called the Mr/s. Movember Project and a curator named James Fowler from Toronto, Ontario discovered it online and asked me if I'd like to participate in his Project (this is the part where I reveal my special project).

The 10x10 Photography Project is a ten-year photo project currently in its third year. Each year ten photographers are chosen from across Canada to create ten portraits of LGBTQ Canadians who have contributed to the Arts.

I was incredibly honoured when James asked me to participate in the Project, and I almost said NO. I'm proud of myself for facing my fears and ultimately saying yes, because the Project has challenged me on so many levels. It has challenged my creativity, my confidence, my fear of failure, my photography skills and my communication skills. I'm halfway through the Project now and it has been a wonderful experience collaborating with talented people I so admire. We've had a blast playing in the studio and I'm excited for the upcoming shoots in April.

Alas, I cannot share the images with you until after the Toronto Gallery Showing and book launch in June. I can tell you that the concept for the Project involves vulnerability, body language, and having my people posed semi-nude. I've been collaborating with body painter Carole Lagimodiere (pictured below) and her work has enhanced the Project significantly. I am so grateful to my ten artists Amber Dawn, DJ Miss M, SD Holman, Paige Frewer, Gwen Haworth, Eileen Kage, David Robinson, Zoée Nuage, Mandy Randhawa, and Noam Gagnon. What an amazing gift it was to collaborate with you.

Queer Hero

It was my great honour to photograph Vancouver lawyer barbara findlay for Xtra West newspaper. barbara is one of many LGBTQ individuals who were recent recipients of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medal.

In the past year I have witnessed events I never imagined possible in my lifetime, and there is still much work to be done for equality. Thank you barbara for advocating for LGBTQ rights for over 30 years and for continuing to do so.

Read barbara findlay's full story in Xtra Vancouver.

i like to play with my friends

It's a perk. I admit it. Sometimes folks end up naked during my photo shoots.
I'm not really sure how it evolves to clothes being shed. I'm not complaining though.
I find the landscape of the body exquisite and when well lit, it can be breath taking.

This is my new friend Palmer. I asked them to help me practice my lighting. A photographer girls gotta keep her chops up you know.

It's my vocation to help people feel comfortable in front of the camera and to create beautiful images with them.
Have I mentioned lately how much I love my job?