This capture of Mount Baker framed by the Salish Sea sculpture near the Oak Bay Marina earned Oak Bay resident Bill Smith provincial recognition.

Salish Sea scores photo kudos

Oak Bay man named finalist for Photographer of the Year

Mount Baker framed by the weather-worn iron of the Salish Sea sculpture by Chris Paul earned one Oak Bay photographer a provincial nod.

Bill Smith is among 70 finalists in the 2015 Next Generation Amateur Photographer of the Year contest, sponsored by London Drugs, the Abbotsford International Airshow and Black Press.

“My goal was to help Chris Paul. Although it’s a nice photo it’s the content that makes it special,” Smith said. “The goal for me is basically to support the whole idea of the Salish Sea and the work so many people in the community are doing to make Victoria a better place in the next 25 years.”

The sculpture first graced the shores adjacent to Turkey Head last summer, on loan by the artist, and is still in place because of a campaign for Oak Bay to purchase the artwork as its first piece of publicly owned fine art.

“I fell in love with the Salish Sea sculpture on the waterfront at the Oak Bay Marina,” Smith said. “It opened my eyes to two things.”

Not only did the work enhance his need to know more about the Salish Sea – the waters off coastal B.C. officially renamed five years ago – but it also provided his first personal interaction with a First Nations person as he developed a growing friendship with the artist Chris Paul, Smith said.

Smith has been actively promoting the artist’s work since, and is even taking a giclée based on the Salish Sea sculpture to a Sri Lanka university in August.

“This iconic image of Oak Bay is going international and bringing together people from all over the planet,” Smith said.

The trip to Sri Lanka, which includes a paper presentation, is slated for the week after the airshow, where the photographers will snap shots for the final competition. Smith laments he won’t have the time to head for Abbotsford and battle for the title.

“I’m completely overloaded with personal challenges in August,” Smith said. “It’s a really bad time.”


The contest garnered more than 2,000 entries from throughout the province. Finalists are to attend the Abbotsford airshow Aug. 7 to 9 and tasked with filing four photos for final competition.



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