It's still summer weather here in Toronto. Last year this time I was brand new to the city, bright eyed and bushy tailed! I am as excited now about life and my future as I was then, keen and eagerly looking for opportunities! My first new friend in Toronto was also a photographer so we decide to grab our cameras and go explore. Tate is from Toronto, born and raised, and I am from Halifax (a town that is learning how to city) on the east coast of Canada so it was a great opportunity for him to show me streets of Toronto. The following is a collection of images from that hot afternoon and a bit of personal reflection.
1. Just when you think you know what you want, another option can appear - stay focused but consider your options.
We meandered down back alleys and snapped away happily at graffiti and grime. This particular image was intended to be just of the pigeon however as soon as I grabbed focus the door started to open. I reframed to include the person on their phone and got the shot. I like the shallow depth of field and the ambiguity of the person in the background.
2. Even in a city this big you can't hide dirty laundry so keep it clean always.
The back alleys also gave us a pause from the hustle and bustle of the streets. There were rarely any people in these back alleys, and because it's so sheltered from the street there was a lot less noise. It was sort of .... relaxing? I took my time with this shot, framed it up a couple different ways, but settled on this image. Just like the reprieve the alley was offering from the street, the imagery of personal artifacts was a break from the public content of passing cars, streets signs, advertisements and general city buzz.
3. You can't fix everything.
We weaved our way in and out of streets, through alleys, through markets, chatting and shooting the whole time. We interacted with one another but very little with the rest of the world. You almost don't have to in a city this size, it's amazing how surrounded you can be by people but alone with yourself. Some of the small interactions we made were with space and art. I asked Tate to raise his hand, making this shadow for me. I love the way it turned out, it makes me picture reaching for a solution even when you don't know what that solution is.
4. Reflections can tell you a lot.
Though people were always around, and we weren't interacting with them directly, it doesn't mean we weren't indirectly interacting with them. This man watched us cross the street towards him, I smiled and nodded at him as we got closer. From the reflection here I could tell he watched me frame up this shot and photograph him. Meanwhile he was looking directly at me. I don't think he realized I was taking a photograph that included him in the reflection.
5. There's no harm in asking for what you want/need.
Shooting on the street, surrounded by the public can sometimes encourage me to reach out and ask for an image. This particular day I asked two or three folks if I could photograph them, and two said no. This man said yes. I like shooting portraits on the street, it's usually a brief interaction and off I go. Sometimes it turns into more, they want to know why I want to take their photograph, or where they can see it, or maybe they enjoy photography too and they want to talk about that. I am open to engaging, it's nice to get to know the people you have photographs of, but it's not necessary. This exchange was "May I take a photo of you and your puppy." "Yes." -click, click click- "Thank you, cute puppy." "Thank you, have a good day."
6. What you want isn't always what you end up with and that's okay.
This image took some time. I was originally waiting for a cyclist that all seemed to disappear as soon as I decided that's what I wanted to photograph. I was so determined that's what I wanted that I didn't even notice this person coming. I peered through my viewfinder to check exposure, getting ready for all those imaginary cyclists, and just as I did this person started passing through my frame. I was pretty certain my settings were correct but I needed to act quickly or I would have surely missed this shot - so I pressed the shutter. A single image, better than I imagined. I am very pleased with this shot.
7. Look closer.
I was first drawn to this space because of the clutter and textures of all the things for sale, it was the woman framed by the door that made this a strong image for me. I took one and knew right away I was pleased to I decided to push my luck and I got a little closer for a photo of just her. The photo below is before it registered that I was taking a photo of her. Her reaction wasn't a pleased one, but she just waved me off pleasantly, like she was too shy.
Toronto is exciting! Especially for someone new here. There's so much, so many new sights, so many things, people, movements, ideas and opportunities etc .... I am grateful for my time and the success I've found here but looking forward to the next chapter of my life, closer to my roots, back home.