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Local optometrist uses photography to share his vision of humanity

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Local optometrist uses photography to share his vision of humanity

Dr. Larry Louie discusses his partnerships with various NGOs.

Dr. Larry Louie—optometrist, humanitarian, and gifted photographer— hopes his images will shine a positive light on the vitality that exists in even the most forgotten corners of the world.

From his optometry clinic in downtown Edmonton, which sits adjacent to his impressive photo gallery, Louie leads a life dedicated to improving not only sight, but also perspective. His stunning documentary-style photographs line the walls of his gallery and clinic, providing a striking purview of his travels to remote communities all over the globe.

“I like going to places that are a little bit more on the edge, places where there may be some conflict, you know — places that were devastated by natural disasters or are experiencing political unrest,” says Louie. “I want to give a simple man’s point of view, but also to document the suffering and the trials of people living in these harsh environments.”

After placing second in a National Geographic photo contest and gaining local attention, Louie and his wife, Joanna Wong, were contacted by the director of Seva Canada, a Vancouver-based non-governmental organization (NGO) with a mandate to provide access to eye care in developing nations. The group makes efforts to both treat and eliminate preventable blindness. Louie has collaborated with Seva Canada on a number of projects, documenting the work they do, which in turn helps bring awareness and funding to the group’s initiatives.

The collaboration resulted in a surge of involvement with varying non-profit organizations, including Oxfam, First Light Photography School in Bangladesh, and the Philippines Community Fund.

“It’s a symbiotic relationship between myself and the NGOs,” says Louie,” and this allows us to have access to these different kinds of places that are maybe harder to get into or get around.”

His most recent project is with the Education Restoration Nepal Project, a fundraising campaign organized locally by a group of people, including Louie and Wong. Since May, the project has raised over $50,000 to rebuild schools in Nepal. The country was hit with a devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake in April, destroying much of the nation’s infrastructure. Donors who contribute $50 or more to the campaign are automatically entered into a draw to win one of Louie’s award-winning photographs.

Louie will be speaking at MacEwan University on Nov. 26 at 1:30 p.m. in Room 203 in the Centre for Arts and Communications. The focus of his lecture will be on highlighting the spirit and resilience of people living in developing nations, specifically in three regions: Manila, Philippines; Dhaka, Bangladesh; and Katmandu, Nepal. Louie hopes to offer an outlook that emphasizes the strength of these communities, despite their circumstances, which is a contrast distinctly evident in his pictures. Louie will also be selling signed 2016 calendars of his photographs for $25 each at the event. All proceeds will go towards Seva Canada’s projects.

“I want to allow them to see the places I’ve been to, the places I love, and to share with them my idea of humanity,” says Louie. “I want to show how people can be happy, and survive, and live great lives in the face of terrible disasters, like earthquakes, or political issues, or issues of inequality. What I love is the humanity that’s portrayed.”

Photo by Dr. Larry Louie.