Thunder Bay, Ont., photographer praises city's culture, tradition

For professional photographer Patrick Chondon, it's not just culture and tradition that makes Thunder Bay noteworthy — it's the fact that it can be experienced so easily.

Patrick Chondon shares his love of Thunder Bay

Thunder Bay photographer Patrick Chondon said he appreciates the city's tradition and culture. (Gord Ellis/CBC)

Patrick Chondon loves Thunder Bay. He grew up here, moved away and came home to raise his family. 6:36

For professional photographer Patrick Chondon, it's not just culture and tradition that makes Thunder Bay noteworthy — it's the fact that it can be experienced so easily.

"I think it's a little big city," Chondon told CBC News. "You can go anywhere you want within Thunder Bay in the span of 15 minutes, but you can see so much. Whereas when I lived in Toronto, in order to see the lake and, you know, cottages, you'd have to travel through rush hour for five hours."

Chondon is one of the Thunder residents featured in the I Love My City video series, produced by CBC Thunder Bay and Theymedia.

"There's so much to see," Chondon said. "There's so much culture. There's so much tradition, as well. You can go from one side of the city to the other, and it's completely different. There's the old, there's the new."

Chondon said the city has a lot to offer shutterbugs, too. In fact, despite the fact that he's been working as a photographer in Thunder Bay for years, he said there's a lot he hasn't seen yet.

"Through other local photographers, I'm even seeing a whole other community that I didn't even know existed, from a mountaintop to a cave or abandoned train tracks," he said. "Everything being so close, it's amazing, and I love that about Thunder Bay."

Chondon photographs weddings as a source of income, but his passion is capturing images of the Thunder Bay environment. Often, Chondon will simply take his camera and just go for a walk, he said.

Photographs capture history of city

"Don't get me wrong — I love weddings, I love portraits, I love people," Chondon said. "I just like seeing the history of Thunder Bay, but also where Thunder Bay is going."

"That's what really makes me love Thunder Bay," he said. "Just seeing all of those different aspects, whether it's in a back alley or the top of an old building that you don't really notice until you really look, that's been there since 1908."

A photograph taken by Patrick Chondon at the Kaministiquia River Heritage Park in Thunder Bay. Chondon says he loves to carry his camera with him while he treks around the city, looking for striking images in ordinary places. (Patrick Chondon/Chondon Photography)

Thunder Bay does have its challenges, Chondon said. But, he added, "it also has its beauty."

"I'm not afraid of this city," he said. "I embrace it for what it is."

Appreciates city's diversity

"I've been with my wife for about seven years, and she's Aboriginal," Chondon said. "That's opened up a whole new culture to me, and I think that's also given me a newfound appreciation of all the different ethnicities in Thunder Bay."

That, he said, is why he appreciates some areas like the east end or the south core.

"I'll walk up to people and I'll ask for their street portrait," Chondon said. "Sometimes I'll get told off, other times I'll start up a conversation for 10 minutes, and I think that's what makes Thunder Bay so great. In a big city, you might not be able to do something like that."