2015- Truly a milestone year for me and my career. When I first moved to Toronto to attend Journalism School I had no idea that I would be lucky enough to have the opportunity to work for and be published by some of the most respectable organizations in the industry. Last year I got my feet wet with an internship at The Globe and Mail and got the opportunity to dive in head first into an industry that's not always welcoming.
After graduating last spring I was offered a contract position with The Toronto Star (one of those places I dreamed of working while in school) and got to experience the life of a full-time photojournalist. It was truly the opportunity of a lifetime, and one that many people in this industry wish they had. While I did spend my year shooting the usual weddings and commercial gigs, my experience with The Toronto Star is what truly stuck as memorable for me as a photographer in 2015, and that's why my look back on the year only highlights my editorial work.
For the first time in my life I actually felt like I found what I should be doing day in and day out. Don't get me wrong, like all things in life there were peaks and valleys, I got a first-hand account of how daily editorial work can be taxing on you physically and mentally, but especially creatively. Truly, the creative and grueling challenge of the work is just one of the reasons I love what I do. Walking in to a situation blind, having multiple technical adversities (like shitty light or location) to overcome, working with uncomfortable subjects in uncomfortable situations in uncomfortable environments, dealing with the requirements of the reporters/ editors / layout design etc etc. are all really fun intricacies of the job. The real reason I love it though, and why I continue to do what I do, is that I get to experience all these different things, meet all these different people, visit places I would never knew existed and take photos of what essentially are my memories and experiences. In the end, I'm the one truly benefiting from it as a story teller, artist and human being.
It may sound selfish, and it sort of is, but photography is something very personal to me, and photojournalism is unique in the sense that it sort of allows me to channel my perspective and experiences through other people's stories. I guess it seems like a backwards approach to documentary storytelling, but I was fortunate enough that my editors encouraged me to do things my way, so I did, and sort of went a nontraditional route most of the time, but I don’t regret it at all.
Regardless of what I shoot, I never take the opportunity for granted, I'm pretty damn lucky to be doing what I'm doing and to have been given such a large platform to showcase my work on. I was allowed to learn and make mistakes, be colleagues with some of the top talent and most respected photojournalists in Canada / World, it was pretty fucking cool to be honest.
It's crazy to actually look back on my year and realize that I got to work for The Globe and Mail, The Toronto Star, VICE, etc. when months prior to my contract I was at a serious crossroads in my life and basically abandoned the idea of being a photographer. However, I lucked out when I got professors who are notable photojournalists/journalists mentoring me personally and allowed the cynical me to see the glass as half-full. It was cool that Professor Peter Bregg, Lisa Taylor and Anne McNeily encouraged me to pursue what made me happy and they allowed me to be fully prepared for what I had to endure. Although they may not know, nor may they ever know how much they affected me, I felt I had to put it out there in the Universe.
It goes without saying that I couldn't have persevered through those same hardships without the help of my close friends and family, who always supported my career path, and who always give me a shout out when they see my name in the photo by line while reading the newspapers with their morning coffee.
These photos were all made for editorial purpose, mainly for the Toronto Star since I spent most of my time working for them from Spring to Fall. Some images were published in print, online, their iPad app or all of the above. Others were rejects, part of a larger photo series, used for cut outs or layout purposes, and some have never even been submitted to my editors. Some are digital, some are film. This isn't a "Best Photos" series in a traditional sense. Some photos are bad, some photos were harder to take than others (like a grieving family of 4 kids who just lost their mom to cancer weeks before Xmas). Some photos physically hurt to take (being stuck 3 times by fucking bees) and others were just straight-up hilarious (the Mannequin Man, basically a Seinfeld episode in real life). These however are the most important and memorable images I took in 2015, for one reason or another, these images, these stories, these people, situations, etc. all left some sort of impression with me, some more obvious than others, but they are all important in telling my story as a documentary photographer during that time.
Too Long - Didn't Read - 2015 - Took photos, met Jane Goodall, got soaked in beer, ate crickets , had a blast.
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