Kevin Lanthier | 49 Langarans Award Recipient

Award-winning photographer reflects on his start as multimedia programmer

Langara grad goes from programming CD-ROMs to career in commercial photography

Kevin Lanthier may have been one of the first people to go through the Langara College Professional Photography program who used Photoshop before ever “seriously taking photos.”

His first career out of high school was in interactive multimedia design.

“It’s a phrase that sounds so painfully dated now,” Lanthier said. “I programmed interactive multimedia CD-ROMs for a few months in the early 2000s.”

He often needed to have photos to work with.

“Back then you couldn’t just go on Unsplash,” he said of finding copyright-free photos. “I had to take them myself.”

As he developed a love for photography, he applied for the two-year diploma program, having never stepped foot in a darkroom.

“I really started with Photoshop and photography came after,” he said.

After graduating in 2007, Lanthier first worked as a photographer’s assistant, something he said was a lot easier to do after completing a practicum placement.

“That was one of the major benefits of the program,” Lanthier said of the opportunity to get out and work with photographers in the industry. “Knowing who to contact, who the photographers in town are who use assistants, is really valuable. Forging those relationships is really important.”

He went on to become a commercial photographer and retoucher as well as an educator. With his company Cake Imagery, he works with top creative agencies and advertising photographers in Vancouver as well as around the world. He teaches photography with Langara College Continuing Studies.

He is also an artist, something he hadn’t originally planned, but came about anyway. Represented by the Ian Tan Gallery on Granville Street, he mixes his technical foundation from the commercial world into his fine art pieces, creating visually compelling photo composites.

His current work focuses on distilling and amplifying narratives found in urban spaces via highly controlled, concept-driven compositions, exploring the experience of the wildlife living amongst us in our cities. His recent exhibition series The Special examined Vancouver’s history and culture by combining separately photographed structures into hyper-real, imaginary streetscapes.

“The rows of houses in the photos analyze or tell stories about different neighbourhoods, architectural styles in Vancouver,” he said.

The series was widely exhibited in both group and solo shows throughout the city. An addendum to the series, wherein the same process was applied to imagery Lanthier shot in Istanbul, was selected as a finalist for the Saltspring National Art Prize.

About Langara College’s 49 Langarans Celebrating its 49th year on 49th Avenue, Langara is honouring 49 Langarans; those who are making an impact in the community and have helped shape the College into what it is today. From theatre directors and journalists to small business owners, community advocates, and dedicated employees – the stories of the award recipients are as varied as the College’s journey over the past 49 years.

Meet the 49 Langarans at beyond49.langara.ca

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