News / Winnipeg

Winnipeg Flash Photographic Festival reaches new heights

Rooftop photography tour of the Exchange District sold out in 60 seconds.

Sixty lucky photographers will get the chance to grab shots like this from an Exchange District rooftop Saturday Oct. 28.

Leif Norman / Supplied

Sixty lucky photographers will get the chance to grab shots like this from an Exchange District rooftop Saturday Oct. 28.

A fresh feature of Winnipeg’s annual Flash Photographic Festival is taking participants to new heights after attracting more interest than ever before.

Before kicking off the October-long event series, organizers gauged interest in what would be a festival first – a rooftop tour of the Exchange District on Oct. 28.

“We put up every event for October on Facebook, and for this particular event where people can say if they’re going or interested, (3,900) people said they were interested,” executive director Leif Norman said. “So we were like, ‘OK, we have to ticket this.’”

Because the tour can only fit a finite number of people on the Exchange’s historic rooftops, about 30 bodies, two tours were scheduled and 60 spots were made available.

When tickets went live, they sold out in 60 seconds, said Norman.

"It was shocking,” he said. “This is the most ridiculously popular event we’ve ever held in four years.”

A seasoned photographer himself, Norman said he remembers climbing fire escapes “in the good old days” to get a bird's-eye view of city streets, but he didn’t expect rooftop photography to be such a hit with local photographers.

“I thought it would be a fun little thing, but it just exploded,” he said.

Norman thinks social media might be behind the demand.

“People see other’s photos when they’re in amazing places," he said. "So people want to go to special places to get a good angle."

Part of it could also be that rooftop photography, or “rooftopping” as it’s often referred to online, has grown in popularity in recent years.

Though Norman notes many photographers avoid it, since it can be dangerous and is, in many cases, illegal.

For those unwilling to break the law or be too risky, Saturday’s tour offers a “legit” way to gain new vantage points.

Norman said the tour will definitely be a fixture of future Flash festivals, and the overwhelming interest could even spark more frequent tours in cooperation with the Exchange District BIZ

“It’s a possibility, for sure,” he said.

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