For half a century, from the mid 1930s through the 1970s, Foncie Pulice snapped photographs on the streets of Vancouver, capturing moments in time, the history of a city, and the lives of British Columbians.
Long-time Vancouverites have vivid memories of Foncie and his fellow street photographers. You can almost always find a couple of Foncie’s Fotos in their family albums. Foncie was taking photos at a time when personal cameras were rare and family portraits were expensive. Foncie and his unique camera, an assemblage of war surplus materials with movie-sized film reels and a car-battery-powered flash, provided many families with the only images they have of their ancestors.
Viewers today find both history and art in Foncie’s Fotos. We see evidence of the changing cityscape, intriguing social customs and manners, and fashions both beautiful and daft. We also see how Foncie elevated ordinary people by framing them fully and capturing their forward momentum, stepping with energy into Vancouver’s future.
His photographs recall a time when going downtown was an event worthy of being memorialized in photography. Taking thousands of photos each year, and millions photos over his lifetime, Pulice was Vancouver’s most prolific and beloved street photographer.
The photos installed here at YVR are from one of only two reels of Foncie’s negatives that are known to have survived. They give us an idea of what Foncie experienced when he stood on the east side of Granville Street, just north of Robson, in the spring of 1968.
Foncie’s Fotos: Man on the Street, at the Museum of Vancouver until January 5, 2014, reveals the life and work style of this Vancouver photographer.