After coming back to live in Toronto and living outside of Canada for the past 12 years, I feel like I am a newcomer to this city I have always known as home. It feels odd to come back to a place I was once so familiar with and suddenly feel like a stranger.
Now that I am more submerged in the photography culture, I am looking at the city in a whole new perspective. I am involved in social media networking with like minded people. People who share similar photography interests primarily through Instagram, Flickr and more recently 500px. Through these media outlets, I slowly began to follow people mostly from the cities I have lived in and cities I have visited that are most familiar to me. I slowly began to become reacquainted with my city. I wanted to find where the best places to shoot were and educate myself on the newly developed areas of Toronto.
First on my list was to revisit the areas I was once familiar with. The most obvious spot and the photo I wanted was the Toronto skyline at night. Easy enough, right? Wrong! How the hell do you get across the lake in the dead of winter when the lake is frozen and you need to take a ferry to get across in summer? I was frustrated I already had to do research to find what I thought was the most obvious and accessible spot in the city. With a little google searching I came across a helpful blog http://www.blogto.com/toronto/lists/the_top_views_of_toronto/ which was a great place to start. The skyline can be viewed without crossing the pond at a place by the name of Polson Pier.
My memories as a child and spending my summers sailing on the lake, I remember looking at the Toronto skyline which was primarily developed east of the CN Tower. The west side looked underdeveloped and sparse. Now that I am rediscovering downtown, the west side of the CN Tower is becoming overly congested with an abundance of high-rise buildings and condos as far as the eye can see.
If you are interested in arts there are galleries and museums to visit including the most popular like the ROM or AGO. There is also Casa Loma which was originally a residence and now a Toronto landmark. In addition, there are many smaller galleries that have opened more recently in areas such as the Distillery District. Once I started doing some investigating I found something completely unconventional in Toronto: this bizarre single family home decorated with countless dolls and stuffed animals. This was a must see for me at least once.
In the warmer seasons it is much more enjoyable to explore the city and people watch. The city is congested with people caught up in their busy lives and therefore presents a great opportunity for those who like to take candid photos. Just watching the expressions on peoples’ faces seeing something new for the first time always presents great photo opportunities. There are street performers throughout the city, most of whom are quite talented.
When I started paying closer attention to Toronto images, I noticed that many people were posting photos of graffiti. In all my years in Toronto I had never seen nor heard of this colourful location which is right off a main street I used to frequent as a teenager. It is tucked behind a bustling main street with brightly coloured graffiti covering every inch of both sides of the alley. Anytime I have gone, I have seen people shooting the artwork or doing photoshoots in front of their favourite work. I never would have thought that Toronto would have an area designated to exquisite street art.
Towards the end of August, the Canadian National Exhibition comes to Toronto. There are rides, numerous food trucks, games and shopping to name a few. I love photographing here both day and night because of the brightly coloured stands and the brilliant bright lights. If you don’t want to wait until the end of summer, there is always Canada’s Wonderland theme park which begins early spring and offers a similar vibe but on a much larger scale.
For a change of scenery, just outside the city in every direction you will be sure to find different architecture such as the Absolute World Condominiums commonly known to locals as the Marilyn Monroe towers because of the curves of the buildings. If you travel a little further south you can head to Niagara Falls for the spectacular view and lights that reflect The Falls at night.
Through searching the web and social media sites, I was able to slowly compile a list of locations I wanted to shoot at. I have always told people that Toronto would be the best city in the world ONLY if the climate was warmer. But that’s just my opinion. There are plenty of options when it comes to photography here no matter what your interests are. After being back here just about a year now, I am still finding new things I want to capture through my lens.
I hope you are intrigued and learned a little more about the place that I call home and gained insight on what Toronto has to offer from a photographer’s perspective.
Till next time,