Yesterday was one of those super pleasant days, start to finish. Most credit goes to the beginnings in Regent Park, where I had the pleasure of chatting and working with the inspiring young shooters of Project Kids & Cameras, a children's photography workshop in the neighbourhood. Being the last class of the season, I was surprised how attentive they were through my chat. Also, their zest, curiosity, and joy of snacks was immensely contagious.
Had you asked me five years ago about doing something like this, I think the only response would've been a blank stare and head-shake, but as I continue to learn more about the photo world and editing, chugging online tutorials and using friends as practice subjects, I'm finding this new avenue of guest speaking at schools and programs over the last year is something I've valued immensely, and I can't wait dive in more, working with more classes over the upcoming year. ❤️📷
My father ordered har gow/siu mai at dimsum today... which was slightly shocking, as they aren't typically in his order repertoire. "I thought that food was just for me and gwai los (white people). When did you learn to eat that?"
His response? A simple, "Sometimes you change."
I laughed, but then, when the dishes arrived, he delicately poked his chopsticks into the har gow basket and sighed. "We used to buy these for Ma when she was sick."
I nodded. "Yeah."
And just like that, it all made sense.
That moment when you're posting old photos and realize that one of them includes Spike Lee in camo. I was giving myself a hard time about not noticing him at first, but as a contact on Facebook remarked, "I still don't see him. Must be the really effective camo."
The folks behind Girls Rock Camp Toronto launched their inaugural Rock Camp for Grownups at the Tranzac last month. Kudos to all of these amazing ladies for going with the flow and being absolute naturals in front of the camera!
TIFF's interactive digiPlaySpace returns this weekend with tons to keep the little ones (and their guardians) occupied, just in time for Family Day! As a young kid at heart, I was kind of jealous that I couldn't put the camera down myself and join in. Get in on the lights, movement, and sounds from February 18-April 23 at TIFF Bell Lightbox.
Finally got a chance to see Blind Date, the long-running improvisational stage show by Spontaneous Theatre. Pairing a trained improviser who plucks a volunteer from the audience as his or her "blind date", the 90-minute adventure dives deep into dating, relationships, and intimacy, and takes both the participant and audience on a charming and hilarious rollercoaster ride.
Originally catering to the heterosexual crowd, the show recently underwent a queer makeover, making its debut at Toronto's Buddies In Bad Times Theatre this autumn. Verdict? Absolutely wonderful and overdue. Kudos to creator Rebecca Northan and actors Julie Orton and David Benjamin Tomlinson for pulling this off!
Blind Date returns to the Tarragon Theatre in Toronto in June 2017.
You know those middle-aged women who see babies and immediately turn into Jell-O, mouths spouting an endless stream of infantile jibberish, phones filled with selfies with other people's children? That's me. But not with kids. I'm all about the dogs.
The great thing for someone like me is, thanks to my circle of dog-owning friends, I've entered a new world of fellow dog lovers, which has fortuitously landed me in an emerging career as a pet portrait photographer. I've been doing this for years and never once considered this "a thing". But it is "a thing".
It's only been a couple months since my first fundraiser shoot for Coveted Canines Rescue, which I'll admit I felt so unqualified for, but since then I've done some work with both Park 9 Liberty Village and Mars Pet Care, and I LOVE IT. Though it seems like fun and games, these subjects are adorable but absolutely challenging -- but despite having to keep their attention, getting them to stay still, or preventing pee or poop on the seamless and/or devouring all of my props, I can't think of a sweeter species to work with.
Dream job? Pretty much. And frankly, I can't get enough: if you're looking to get some private images of your pooch or your organization wants to hold a pet photo day, get in touch. COME ON, MAKE MY DAY: email@example.com
Norway's Royal Couple, Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit are in Canada this week, here to strengthen relations between our two countries. Their stop at MaRS Discovery District yesterday, where they met with both Canadian and Norwegian medical start-ups, promoted discussion on start-up culture and investment in the innovation sphere.
Four years ago, I spent time with the Toronto chapter of Democrats Abroad, watching nervous American expats teetering on the edge of their seats, ultimately witnessing President Obama earn his second term in office.
Interesting what can happen in four years -- a woman has finally worked her way to the top Democrat ticket, albeit with administrative scandals and a sexist backlash in tow, challenged by a self-proclaimed Republican and entrepreneurial misogynist, who lacks not only political experience but the maturity and diplomacy required for the role of President, alienating people in his own party and substantiating and promoting close-minded, backward, inhumane behaviour.
Though elections are generally nail-biting affairs anyway, the campaigns leading to Tuesday's big event have unfurled a disturbing battleground, exposing the worst sides of modern society. Antagonism reigns, tempers and nerves on fire.
Dear friends in the USA: Good luck. The world is watching.
Last night, I attended the first lecture in a series on gentrification in general, but more specifically, how it affects the neighbourhood of Parkdale in central Toronto.
The rental and housing market in this entire city is depressing. I'm sad about this on a personal level, but I'm working and have no interest in having children, so I can suck it up and just accept the urban life consequences.
But it breaks my heart that the ones who are the most threatened in this housing landscape, on a massive scale, are newcomers, indigenous people, single moms, seniors, and those with disabilities -- the people who already have a rough go at life as it is.
We need some low-income housing policy changes soon. Let's get writing.
Thanks to Parkdale Neighbourhood Land Trust, Trinity College, Toronto, Faculty of Divinity, Anglican Diocese of Toronto, Jeremiah Community, and Epiphany and St. Mark, Parkdale for making this happen.
Last night, I just spent another normal night following Kling-ons, dodging Vulcan nerve pinches, and weaving through dancing aliens at TIFF's annual fundraiser, Boombox, themed to celebrate 50 #$@%ing years of Star Trek.
Sigh. I credit Bar Volo and its annual event Cask Days for first challenging my tastebuds, introducing me to decent beer, and being consistently warm, welcoming, trusting, and fun to work with.
Alas, all nice things come to an end: Volo closes its doors for good tonight, making way for another condo development at Yonge and Dundonald. (grumble) And though it will be great to hang at the new Birreria on College and the upcoming iteration of Volo on Church, this joint is considered an institution and will be missed by many in the community.
Farewell, Volo! Wish you a good hangover tomorrow.
A group of Syrian moms have recently taken over The Depanneur, a local Toronto kitchen, to do what they do best -- cook delicious Syrian food for the masses, while earning an income at the same time. This program is a brilliant idea, but requires some extra funds to turn this into an official employment program for not only Syrians in Toronto, but any newcomer groups in other cities, too.
Most of us who live in any large city can empathize with the ridiculous costs of transportation, daycare, and rising rents... even those of us who have a relatively decent income aren't immune. I can't imagine what it's like for people who are truly struggling to find funds to pay for all of this, but are also simultaneously forced to deal with a new country, culture, language, and discrimination. And that's why I think this program is incredible.
If you have a few dollars and can sacrifice a dinner out this week, please toss your money over here. Sweet fundraising incentives, too!
Check out their Fundrazr page and donate soon -- they're running out of time and low on funds!
Visiting Koh Tachai was, hands down, the most obnoxious travel experience I've ever had. My disdain for beach culture and tourists was not only at an all-time high, but the larger environmental impact had me fuming.
Set a little further from Phuket than the other day-trip islands, Koh Tachai is touted to have one of the more pristine beaches. Clear water, yes, but the numbers of entitled tourists and motorboats they allow in to stomp all over its beauty is heartbreaking. The sell of this remote island, horrible snorkelling, and playing on our need to escape is largely an attempt to convince largely Russians, Chinese, and Euros they'll reach that faux zen moment of their Instagram dreams.
In October, this particular island will be closing indefinitely, as tourism has wreaked enough havoc on this part of the world; authorities are finally realizing it's gone past its breaking point. And it pains me, in my long separated visits to Thailand, how I see the country deteriorating as a result of the industry that keeps them alive, not having stricter environmental regulations in place to maintain that, and the "douchebag tourism" that seems to plague a lot of these tropical destinations worldwide. Ugh.
It's strange thinking back a year ago and realizing how much my family's life has changed without Ma.
Happy Mother's Day to all, whether you're here with us physically or not: you all deserve it!
James Barnor discusses being a photographic pioneer in mid-1900s Ghana. His show, Ever Young, appears at BAND Gallery for the next month -- an off-the-beaten-path must-see at Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival 2016.
Today, on this gloveless, bike-friendly morning, I attended Wychwood Barns' Saturday market for the first time in a year. If it weren't for those damned hills north of Davenport, AND if I had a farmers' market friendly budget, I'd be there more often! [shaking fist]
Back in 1995, I was visiting friends in Oshawa, and they dragged me to my first concert as an adult. It was a chatty, slightly annoying all-ages affair, until some guy named Hayden got up on stage and ordered us to sit cross-legged on the beverage-coated floor and shut the hell up. I can't remember if everyone did -- damned kids, after all. But once he started playing, I recognized this was far from anything I'd ever heard, and I spent the hour, lips sealed, forgetting my friends were even there. Little did I know that this and his current album at the time, Everything I Long For, would frame my obsession with local live indie music through the '90s.
Tonight, this same Hayden played at the intimate Trinity-St. Paul's Church in Toronto, capping off a 20th anniversary tour, where he ran through the contents of that classic album in order -- but this time in front of a 30-40-something crowd that sat on (dry) chairs, in total silence and reverence, and didn't have to be told to do so. It's interesting what two decades can do.
Thanks, Hayden, not only for an amazing, goosebumps-inducing night, but for also providing a great soundtrack to us all for that era and beyond.