Through His Lens

Author: Katrina Geenevasen

The Tragically Hip’s Official Photographer to Present a Tale of Love, Hope and Admiration to Kingstonians

In Support of Hospice Kingston’s THE TIME IS NOW Campaign

Photos David Bastedo

Last year, millions watched as Canada’s iconic rock band The Tragically Hip walked off the stage for the final time, bidding adieu to an extraordinary career that spanned more than two decades.

The tale of Gord Downie, Paul Langlois, Rob Baker, Gord Sinclair and Johnny Fay – collectively known to many simply as The Hip – may have ended after that final bow, but for David Bastedo, who’d acted as The Hip’s official photographer for 12 years, the story from behind the lens lived on. And it needed to be told.

The Beginnings

With a background in marketing, digital media and advertising, David’s journey with The Hip began when the band brought him on board to improve fans’ online experience.

“When I started working with The Hip, they were working on ‘Yer Favourites,’ and they needed someone new with fresh blood to push buttons and to change things a bit, and I had this idea of content.”

He began mining data, sourcing fans’ videos of the band performing at countless venues, and pairing them with the set lists from the corresponding performance. It was a welcome challenge; one he enjoyed. But there was still a piece of the puzzle missing. David was a photographer at heart, so it seemed fitting that his role eventually shifted, and he became the official photographer for The Tragically Hip.

Through My Lens: A Tale of Love, Hope, and Admiration

“A year after the final concert, after Gord died, I decided I was ready to do something,” says David. “I wanted to tell the story with the media I had. And to tell it a little bit differently.”

Ultimately, it’s how the idea for An Abridged Exploration of Love & Admiration. Part 1. Gord., was born. He’s been hosting the instillation at various venues across Ontario since then, but now, it’s Kingston’s turn.
Through My Lens: A tale of Love, Hope, and Admiration is set to take place at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts on Dec. 13.

The highly-anticipated show, set against the backdrop of a cocktail party, will feature 50 photographs that have been pulled from David’s archives; some of the photographer’s favourite images that perfectly narrate the story of Canada’s beloved band.

An interactive, multimedia presentation chronicling Bastedo’s years with The Hip will follow. It will feature Paul Langlois, Gord Sinclair, Chris Koster, Jim Bryson, and Sarah Harmer, as well as interpretive dance by long-time Downie collaborator, Andrea Naan.

Proceeds from the event will go towards Hospice Kingston’s THE TIME IS NOW Campaign, which is raising money to help fund the building of Kingston’s first hospice residence and palliative care centre.

A Cathartic Experience

Considering David had been with the band since 2004, there were thousands of images to comb through for the upcoming event, but it was a welcome challenge. Cathartic, even.

“I’ve cried and I’ve laughed and there have been many smiles; as I remember the places and events surrounding each frame – a vignette of my life – a song in my head – each encapsulating a special moment shared with friends,” David says in his blog.

David chose to sort through his archives out of order. There’s a certain beauty to randomness, after all.

“It was like opening up these treasure chests, and remembering every photograph. There was something worthwhile about each and every one. It was like waking up, and remembering a dream.”

It’s been two years of trying to figure out what it all means, he says. “To me, to other people, to fans. And I wanted to tell my story. This came out of my own process of grief.”

“It’s a series of connections, experiences, observations and reflections I have had over the years and how they affected me and other people,” he continues. “It’s not the story of the band. It’s my story, and the band intersects with it.”

Joanne Langlois, Paul Langlois’ wife, is the driving force behind the show. She was the one who encouraged David to bring his narrative to a Kingston audience; back to The Hip’s home, where the story first began.

“The void that Gord left in everyone’s life is huge, and we all miss him on different levels and people are not ready for the band to go away,” says Joanne, who stresses that she speaks for herself, not the band.

“What I like is it will breathe more life into The Hip briefly; give a snapshot of all 12 years David was there, without coming from the band itself, so it’s not gratuitous. It’s not sharing inside stories, so much as David will talk about moments…personal reflections of his own. It provides a glimpse of The Hip that you wouldn’t get otherwise, and it serves as a tribute.”

“At the end of the day, everyone knows the ending to this story; I can’t change it,” says David of the event. “I’m just adding a different perspective, a different set of eyes, a different colour commentary to how it all happened.”

Hospice Kingston’s THE TIME IS NOW Campaign

Over the span of two years, the Campaign has raised more than $9,000,000 of the $11,000,000 goal to build the city’s 10-bed hospice facility. Construction is set to begin next spring.

“There are 44 hospice residences in Ontario,” says Donna Dwyre, manager of resource development and communications for Hospice Kingston.
“Kingston is the largest community in southeastern Ontario that does not have a hospice residence.”

The city is known as a leader in healthcare with premiere facilities, specialists, leading-edge researchers and innovative healthcare delivery, continues Dwyre, and yet, the choice to live one‘s last days in a hospice residence is missing from the continuum of care. “This Campaign is about our community supporting our community,” she explains.

When asked, most people indicate they would prefer to die at home, and yet, almost 70 per cent of Canadian deaths occur in a hospital. “Most people want to die at home, however, it is often very difficult on the family and caregiver when the time is nearing,” explains Dwyre.

“At a hospice residence, the healthcare team allows the spouse to be a spouse and the son or daughter to be the son or daughter again.”

Joanne Langlois (left), David Bastedo and Donna Dwyre | Photo Stephen Wild

Finding Another Story

At the end of it all, Through My Lens: A tale of Love, Hope, and Admiration simply comes down to David telling his narrative; all in support of a great cause. “It means a lot to me, and I hope it means something to other people. I didn’t set out to do anything like this, other than tell the story.”

“It will be a poignant, heartfelt evening, and I hope everyone walks away feeling good, and inspired about something in their lives,” he continues. “But right now, there’s this unfinished story. I feel like I have to finish it for my benefit, and then find another one.”

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