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Lessons from the Street

Ask anyone born and raised in Toronto what colours they bleed, and they'll tell you they bleed blue and white for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

I also bleed those colours, and for most of my life, a Leafs game was the only reason to venture downtown. The beauty of the city, the heart and soul, were things I never saw.

Picking up street photography changed that and eliminated a lot of excuses. For instance, rainy days became a mood to capture, no longer framed as dreary and aversive. Further, art became both an adventure and an escape. Days were spent either with friends or alone in search of moments, locations or pockets of light I'd never seen before.

Patience

The two most significant things street photography taught me were how to be patient and more present.

For the first time in my life, I could sit still for hours at a time - often in one location, waiting for a decisive moment.

This type of patience is required for "fishing a scene." As described above, in street photography, "fishing a scene" requires one to sit in one spot for some time to capture a decisive moment.

Above is an example of fishing a scene. My knees still ache when I think about the 45 minutes spent knelt by that puddle, waiting for the chef to finish his smoke break and head back to work.

Here's another example of "fishing a scene," a gentleman returning to the office with his venti coffee in front of the Commerce Court.

Presence

Furthermore, street photography also taught me how to be present by forcing me to learn how to "hunt." When you are "hunting" for a shot, you take in everything - the light, the expressions of those around you, the energy of the city, the sounds of cars passing by. To some, this may sound overwhelming, but for me, it became more similar to a flow state.

For example, I wouldn't have captured the image above without having my head on a swivel, taking everything in. I remember seeing this gentleman in his tailored suit and slick-backed hair and thinking he'd make a great subject, but when I noticed he had not one, but TWO phones - I had to get the shot. To this day, it is still one of my favourites.

Street Photography has taught me so much and allowed me to experience the beauty of my hometown. Although Toronto is my home, I can still find an escape within the city when I have my camera by my side.

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