Having just moved to Calgary I was itching to get back into shooting more controlled, environmental portraits. At this point I was on the lookout for any interesting people that were doing some intriguing things and could use some photos. I was basically looking for an opportunity to shake off the dust and get working on my portfolio again.
Shortly after I came across this post on Bunz (an online trading platform) and thought it might be a good story to look into. I noted the restaurant name and planned on emailing them once I got settled and had some free time.
Not long after a friend from home was visiting (hey Ben!) and recommended we visited a few friends of his that had also moved to Calgary. After a bit of talking I quickly realized that his friends actually ended up being the same girls that made the post - small world! Anyways, we went for supper and they turned out to be super rad and interested in having some photos taken. Boom! Dylan's shooting again.
Raw Eatery & Market, as their website describes, is "excited to employ sustainable initiatives that naturally conjoin with eating locally produced plant based foods." It wasn't hard to get behind such an initiative when they list their goal as "creating a community where everyone can feel proud about their day-to-day choices, support one another, and promote positive social change.".
Besides the restaurants admirable goals, the power-duo behind it are are equally as inspiring. Ali and Megan are those kind of people that radiate warmth and excitement. Their passion and determination are insanely infectious and following along on their journey has been truly inspiring.
Opening a vegan restaurant in a city that is stereotypically run by cowboys could be seen as a daunting and potentially risky task but, from my perspective, it's only made me realize that Calgary is much more than the stereotype the east sees it as. Although it would definitely be far-fetched to compare us to a city like Portland I've come to realize that, although the community may be small, it's definitely passionate. Hearing of their successes and interactions with the vegan community here has made me further appreciate this city and has only encouraged me to explore what other sub-cultures it has.
And yeah, they also have amazing food. I tend to be a little skeptical when I hear 'vegan' but I can honestly say their food has been amazing each time I've had it. And, with Megan's nutrition education, I know my body and I are gonna be stoked as well. The food completely breaks the bland, non-filling outlook I ignorantly had about vegan food before.
Shooting people like Ali and Megan are what I love about photography. Using my craft to meet and learn about inspiring people is one of the reasons I've come to love photography. What other profession can you use as a creative, fun way to step into other worlds, cultures or communities? Happy to be back at it!