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Young Island photographer captures small town life during a pandemic

Alexis Kelly has been documenting the COVID-19 changes in the Alberni Valley
A photo taken outside of No Frills in Port Alberni. (ALEXIS KELLY PHOTO)

A young Port Alberni photographer has spent her time during the COVID-19 pandemic documenting the way the virus has changed her hometown.

Alexis Kelly, 16, is an amateur photographer who has created a photo essay entitled “Small Town Amidst a Pandemic.” Her photographs show images of life in the Alberni Valley since COVID-19 measures were enacted in March.

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Kelly has been taking photos since she was “very young,” she said.

“I’ve always had a strong desire for the arts,” Kelly explained. “I found that photography was a way to express myself and capture the things that caught my eye. It’s a thing that relaxes me.

“Photography is a hobby for me,” she added. “I take part in contests when I can.”

She prefers to take candid shots, looking to capture emotion in her photos, and using little to no editing or filters.

“Our town is so beautiful,” she said. “I really like nature—that’s a big part of my style.”

Kelly is currently a Grade 10 student at Alberni District Secondary School and uses photography to document her daily life with a Canon passed down from her grandparents.

“I’ve always been inspired by history,” said Kelly. “I’ve been following the virus since the first case in January. Before spring break, on the last day of school, all the shut-down measures started to come into action. I thought, ‘I’d better start taking pictures of our town.’”

She has seen photo essays of larger communities, like Vancouver, but wanted to capture the feeling of life in a small town during a pandemic.

“Our town is really small and special,” she explained.

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Kelly has captured more than a dozen photos while still maintaining social distancing requirements, with many of the pictures taken from the family car or from her bike. The photos—mostly in black and white—show the city slowly closing down, from playgrounds wrapped in caution tape to empty streets to falling gas prices.

“I try to capture things in the moment,” she said. “I’ve been using a lot of black and white. I think it gives things a timeless feel.”

Kelly will continue adding to her photo series as the COVID-19 pandemic progresses. You can find her work online at

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The seating area at McDonald’s may be closed, but the drive-thru is still open. (ALEXIS KELLY PHOTO)
All playgrounds in Port Alberni and the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District have been closed. (ALEXIS KELLY PHOTO)
Alexis Kelly is a teenage photographer living in Port Alberni, B.C. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)

Elena Rardon

About the Author: Elena Rardon

I have worked with the Alberni Valley News since 2016.
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