Photography by Caylie Warkentin
Dusk, and then Dawn
Tofino, September 2020
I intended to take a photo of a stranger standing solitary on the shoreline, looking out towards Wickaninnish Island as dusk descended on what is currently known as Tofino, British Columbia, on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territories of the ƛaʔuukʷiʔatḥ (Tla-o-qui-aht) and nuučaan̓uuɫɁatḥ nism̓a (Nuu-chah-nulth) First Nations. Instead I captured the silhouette of a man enveloped and illuminated by the burnt orange glow of a stray campfire spark that flew from the embers like a firefly and hovered, ever so briefly, before my lens. The more I look at the photo, the more memory and vision become blurred. I begin to get the sense that he is both looking outwards towards the horizon while at the same time looking before him, at the glow of a hundred campfires along Mackenzie Beach, and to the people huddled around them – familiar constellations in a new sky. When I reflect back on the photos I captured during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is this photo that remains at the forefront of my mind, of man standing alone – frighteningly small, but awash in the light of others; at times lonely, but never alone.