By anyone’s definition, Antony Creary and I are newbies to Toronto. We grew up in the reaches of the burbs, dipping in and out of the city as adolescents, giving us a skewed view of the city. We used to think big cities meant big roads, more traffic and skyscrapers — not tree-lined streets and beaches. This is what any sensible human living in a lakeside, world-class, city would hope for—yearn for.
Unfortunately this is not the case. Now, as Torontonians, we’re seeing more and more traffic and skyscrapers, less trees and beaches.
Try as we might, by bike and foot and ferry, we realize covering the ground and being part of the sound doesn’t necessarily mean we know why Toronto is the way it is today.
Reading free newspapers, engaging in lively and/or liquid courage conversation, schlepping across TTC tracks in the winter by bike or following and tweeting about the latest of Mr. Ford’s foibles does not bring us any nearer to the city’s beginnings but instead, it collectively and unrelentingly brings nourishment and a sense of familiarity; a feeling of being a part of present-day Toronto.
As much as we admire her influence, devoted disciples of Jane Jacobs we are not. Our opinion of Toronto is a mishmash of the culture, skyline and landscapes and relationships we ingest and digest – with which we attempt to nurture ourselves and on good days, the city.
Whether or not you’re a fan (we are) of what Trinity Bellwoods has become, or what Hanlan’s Point Beach is for many, it’s our opinion that a breezy, balmy or wavy place to relax is a small, albeit pulsating, part of the relationship between dweller and city(scape).
As photographers—or the more admirable label we prefer, Earth dwellers–we remind ourselves we don’t need to live in Mumbai or Paris or New York. All of it can be a feast if we are attuned to our surroundings—not active, but reactive. Or, like the best movers will attest, “Dance is not a choice, but a reaction.” A reasonable mantra, we agree.
Our attempt to once and for all fuse our relationship with the city to the way we see the city was to deliberately insert a blank canvas into landscapes we see as “Torontonian.” We think it’s a simple way of saying, “What do you wish you saw, and what do you see?”
For all the good we have to say about the city (and there’s plenty) we admit parts of it could be better. The skyline, condos for days and underutilized waterfront come immediately to mind. “If your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough,” Robert Capa once said. This is something we try to remind ourselves.
So, by broadening our scope, narrowing our focus (read: direction of lens) we’ve attempted to ask ourselves what else is out there to see, worth seeing. We used a Hasselblad 503cx because, well, things look better when looking through a Hasselblad.
If we could afford to give a Hasselblad to everyone in Toronto, we believe people would see the city in a different light (how about it Mr. Ford?). Instead, this ongoing project takes a stab at seeing Toronto differently than ‘we’ normally see it.
We realize all of it is Toronto. Maybe, we’ve just been looking at the wrong Toronto, dancing the wrong dance?