Exploring Calgary with the Urban Exposure Project

I was first inspired to learn about photography because it helped me capture and share the story of my travels. Nothing is worse than taking a bad photo on a trip that may happen only once in a lifetime. When I thought about it more, I realized that every moment in life is "once in a lifetime" and that exploring where I am right now is just as important.

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When I was scrolling Instagram one day, I saw a post about the Urban Exposure Project from Gen Next Calgary. It was right around the time I started this blog and I was ready to take my photography skills to the next level. This was also the perfect chance to learn more about social issues in Calgary and the support United Way provides.

Here's how the Urban Exposure Project (UEP) helped me see Calgary and the people that live in it from a different perspective. I wrote a description for each photo that captures a different "moment" in Calgary and shared these during the UEP exhibit last week. 

Moments of Pride

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One of the key ways to build strong communities is creating a place where it is easy to come together, connect and share a common perspective. The pride that Calgarians share in common landmarks helps create unity and a sense of belonging. This is one of the most photographed landmarks in Calgary and it can be enjoyed by all - which is not the case for many of the things we experience throughout the day. Although it has been edited to bring out the blue in the photo, it was inspired by a mistake I made adjusting the white balance settings on my camera. This mistake helped renew my appreciation and pride in this landmark, and the city I call home!  


Moments of Colour

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In any place, there are times where you have to search for colour amongst darkness. Whether that is darkness that comes with the state of the economy or a long winter, sometimes you have to look harder for those moments of colour. One thing I have realized while learning to edit photos is that darkening an image actually makes the colours pop. I like to think that symbolizes that moments of colour don’t always show up in good times, and that you will be rewarded if you look harder for the bright side of things.


Moments of Simplicity

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The Urban Exposure Project taught me that simple moments matter most. Did you know that the United Way has helped 1,641 families overcome financial crisis? When you are struggling to make ends meet month to month, it’s simple moments like reading a book by the river that can add a bit of brightness. There are so many free and simple pleasures to enjoy in Calgary. Even though they don’t cost a cent, they can inject a bit of calmness into the otherwise intensely stressful life of someone living in poverty.


Moments of Support

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United Way’s All In for Youth program provides support to youth facing barriers that prevent them from completing high school. After hearing the story of Bryanna, a program participant now studying at Bow Valley College, I realized that there are so many moments where you have the opportunity to make a difference in someone’s life by providing mentorship, financial support or helping them see a different path. The hustle and bustle of life can keep you from seeing the hardship than someone else is enduring and how close you are to being able to offer a solution.


About the Urban Exposure Project

This annual photography program, organized by United Way Calgary & Area, allows participants to learn about social issues impacting our city, while learning how to tell stories through photography. The program includes technical photography training and explores topics like poverty, vulnerable kids, and community building. 

Learn more about the Urban Exposure Project here