Friday | Departure | Airports

I say goodbye to my wife outside of the airport, my heart filled with conflicting emotions as always.  The excitement I feel for travel, for new photographs and new friendships, mixes with the sadness that comes from being away from my girls.  I have fought a dichotomy like this my whole life: musician and paramedic, paramedic and photographer, family man and educator.  It is par for the course when you pursue multiple passions I suppose… but it never gets easier.

In a few hours I board a plane to Paris, where I’ll be teaching a 5 day travel photography workshop with my friend Spencer Wynn.  I’m traveling light this week, shooting with a Fujifilm X-T3 and a pair of small lenses (the new Fujinon 16mm f/2.8 and the 23mm f/2).  I could do this trip with just one lens of course, my preferred gear pack for travel, but I’ve been looking forward to putting the new 16mm through its paces.  Add in my iPad, a few changes of clothes and a toothbrush and I am good to go.

Wheels up at 1:30pm… definitely time to make a few photos while I wait.

We land at Charles De Gaulle airport the next morning at 8:00am local time.  A lost day; a world away.  Early morning sunshine beams through the windows as we exit the plane and I am compelled to shoot a few frames before exiting the terminal. 

I speak to the customs officer in broken French, meet Spencer outside, and our week begins.

Note:  I will be blogging this trip a little bit differently than previous entries on this site; think of it more as a daily photo journal rather than the long structured articles I usually write.

I hope you enjoy it.


The Wall – Revisited

Last year I posted a series of images called “The Wall”, taken while I was in Toronto for meetings and a workshop.  The series, which can be viewed HERE, features night time silhouettes photographed against a brightly lit wall.  This is a location that offers a variety of shooting opportunities:  faster shutter speeds allow you to catch some lights turned off as they recycle, creating interesting and often uncontrollable compositions.  Slower shutter speeds, however, produce a pure white wall that is perfect for placing the focus on the silhouetted subject.

As a reminder, here are a few images from last year’s shoot:

I love returning to fruitful shooting locations, so when I was back in Toronto this past summer I made a point of working on the series while out with my students.  This time I decided to focus more on the silhouettes themselves, so I set my shutter speed to produce a consistently white background and spent my time looking for interesting subjects (and combinations of interesting subjects).

Here are a few images from these sessions…

You often see the same people pass by when shooting along the wall, as it is next to a very popular and busy square in Toronto.  I spoke with the gentleman below for a few minutes when he asked me for money to buy a drink, then made a quick portrait of him.  Because we were standing very close to the building the wall acted like a giant soft box and gave us beautiful soft light:

And, people being people, after we parted ways I looked back to see him posing for me one more time with a smile on his face:

My students and I talk often about how fabulous people are, all over the world, when we give them a chance.  Sure, we may meet the rare bad apple, but it is amazing how often we are rewarded with a wonderful conversation and a photo or two when we reach out to a stranger.  That was most definitely the case with this gentleman.

And yes, he did get his drink:


Photographs that feature silhouettes like these are quite easy to make.  You simply expose for the bright background, lock your focus where your subject is (or is going to be), and time your shot to get a clean silhouette (this is the most important part).  You don’t need a full wall to make photos like this either, you simple need a brightly lit background large enough to fully surround the subject.  Here are two more photographs, taken while a subject walked in front of a sign in another part of the city:

There is an aesthetic and a visual strength in photographs like these that I like, but it is even better when you can add a storytelling element to the photo as well.  This last image is a good example of this, and is one of my favourites images from the series:

I like the composition and the silhouettes in this photo, but there is also a narrative derived from the main subject asking for assistance as the crowds blindly approach and then walk past him. 

…photography really does offer us an endless world of possibilities, doesn’t it?

Until next time!


The Streets of Toronto

I am finally home, after a whirlwind 3 months that saw me travel from Vancouver to Amsterdam to Paris to Vancouver to Toronto and finally back to Vancouver.  My time was spent teaching workshops, shooting engagement sessions, capturing weddings and attending to the assorted tasks that keep the business running smoothly.  It was an amazing and successful summer, one that I am so grateful for, but I am ecstatic to finally be home with my girls for a while.  And, finally, I can get back to writing more consistently on this blog and sharing the work that has been sitting on my hard drive for months now.

Toronto is a wonderful city for photography, with beautiful architecture and amazing people.  I was fortunate to teach two workshops while I was there: my weekend street photography course, followed immediately by a new, five day storytelling travel workshop with my friend and fellow Official Fuji X Photographer, Spencer Wynn.  

I don’t shoot a lot when I teach street photography, as I believe that if there is a photo to be made it should be one of my students taking it.  Still though, I occasionally make an image to illustrate a point or when I find a quiet moment while my students are on assignment.  In this post, I’d like to ease back into the blog with a series of new street images from this world class city, the first of four articles featuring new work from Toronto.

I left my Fujifilm X100F at home for this trip (crazy, I know) and shot everything with my X-T2.  I did stay with my preferred 23mm field of view though, using the Fujinon 23mm f/2 for all of my street work.  I also had the 16-55mm f/2.8 zoom lens with me, which saw a lot of use during the travel photography workshop (more on that to come in a future post).

I hope you enjoy these little vignettes from the streets of Toronto.  I look forward to sharing more with you soon and hope you all had a wonderful summer!