Official Ottawa Photos Depict Capital As You've Never Seen It

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Prime Minister Stephen Harper's security detail and limousine at 24 Sussex Drive in Ottawa. The photo is part of the Official Ottawa photo series. (Tony Fouhse) | Tony Fouhse

For many, Ottawa evokes images of the bustle of Parliament Hill, skaters on the Rideau Canal and endless rows of tulips.

But Ottawa has another, less-idealized side. The Ottawa of power and the people and places it resides.

That's the vision of the capital captured in photographer Tony Fouhse's latest series Official Ottawa.

"The look and feel of the images in Official Ottawa has been coloured by the current political climate in our country," Fouhse told HuffPost in an email. "I'm kind of amazed that there are so few (as far as I'm aware) Canadian photographers addressing the current state of Canadian politics, either directly, or through their choice of subject matter and through the look and feel of their photographs."

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The photos are almost bland, grey in tone, institutionalized. The Israeli embassy, the U.S. embassy and Langevin Block, the home of the Prime Minister's Office, where too much power has accumulated in recent years, according to opposition critics.

As for Harper himself, Fouhse did get the chance to photograph him once for Maclean's magazine.

"I don't like his policies or his way of running government, or his views on what Canada should be turned into. But I will say this for him: What you see is what you get. Unlike other politicians I've photographed, he seems the most transparent, and I respect that in a person," Fouhse said in the email.

official ottawa stephen harper

Before Official Ottawa, Fouhse's work focused on the other end of Ottawa's social spectrum.

"I needed a break after spending 4 years photographing crack addicts and another year photographing and helping a heroin addict get clean," Fouhse said. "Having shot folks on the lower rungs of Ottawa life I thought it would be good to have a look at the opposite end of the spectrum."

As for where Ottawa is headed, Fouhse is optimistic the city is headed in a better direction, the capital will always remain a product of government.

"I like the fact that Kapital City [Fouhse's spelling] is becoming more urban and open. It seems to be growing up. But unlike other Canadian cities who, so to speak, have different parents (think of Toronto's parents as being Media, Calgary's as New Money, St. John's as being Heritage or Montreal's as being a mixed marriage of The Church and Revolt), Kapital City's parents are Government."

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