Top Ten Photo Moments of 2016

January 27, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

2016 brought me many opportunities to live out my passion of creating meaningful and engaging images, and I am very thankful for that. Here are my top ten favourite photo moments of 2016. Thank you for looking! Enjoy!

1. Disney Cruise

In March my family joined my wife's extended family in Miami to set sail on a five-day Disney cruise. I had never been on a big cruise ship before, so was a bit skeptical about what it might be like. I have to say that we had no regrets. My kids and I - and our extended family - had a wonderful time on board and in the two ports of call that we visited (Cayman Islands and Disney's Castaway Cay in the Bahamas). I'm not sure I captured any prizewinning images on the voyage, but the whole trip was very photogenic and I rose to the occasion. Here are a few photos from the journey:

DIsney Cruise - March 2016Views from a March 2016 Disney cruise.

(Port of Miami, Florida, before setting out.)

DIsney Cruise - March 2016Views from a March 2016 Disney cruise. (Sunshine on the Cayman Islands.)

DIsney Cruise - March 2016Views from a March 2016 Disney cruise. (A sign on Disney's Castaway Cay, Bahamas.)

DIsney Cruise - March 2016Views from a March 2016 Disney cruise. (Me in my element - with a bike! Castaway Cay, Bahamas.)

DIsney Cruise - March 2016Views from a March 2016 Disney cruise. (A beach scene on Castaway Cay, Bahamas.)

DIsney Cruise - March 2016Views from a March 2016 Disney cruise.

(Our cruise ship "Wonder" in Castaway Cay, Bahamas.)

2. Kids and Cameras

I had the privilege of helping document the work of Toronto photographer Diana Nazareth and her Project Kids and Cameras program, which she runs in Regent Park through ArtHeart Toronto. It was a lot of fun seeing the great work Diana is doing to help youth develop visual literacy and photography skills. I assisted by capturing Diana and her students in photos, and also by making a video about the program:

(Diana Nazareth with her students in the Project Kids and Cameras program.)

Project Kids and Cameras - Regent Park, Toronto from Henry Vanderspek on Vimeo.

 

During one of my visits to Project Kids and Cameras I had the chance to meet photographer Colin Boyd Shafer. Colin is the photographer behind the brilliant Cosmopolis Toronto project which was exhibited throughout Toronto libraries from November 2016 until January 2017. Colin was great at engaging the students in Diana's program.

(Colin Boyd Shafer meeting with students in the Project Kids and Cameras program.)

If you appreciate engaging photography, especially photography that relates to current social issues, definitely visit Cosmopolis Toronto as well as Colin's personal website.

3. Art Shows and Exhibits

I always enjoy participating in local art shows. They challenge me to select and show my best images, and I always meet interesting people who offer engaging conversations and encouraging feedback on my work. In 2016 I participated in several shows at the Hospital for Sick Kids, the Danforth East Arts Fair (my annual favourite - 5 years and counting now!) and others. Here are two photos from the Danforth East Arts Fair (aka DECAF):

(Me at my booth at the Danforth East Arts Fair. Photo by my talented Dutch cousin Jan Willem van Swigchem.)

(The view from my booth at the Danforth East Arts Fair. A local dance group performs for those present.)

I am looking forward to more photo shows in the year ahead, and am thrilled to be in a few interesting exhibits as well, including InFocus in Edmonton (February) and Contact Photo Festival (May). Stay tuned for details!

4. San Francisco/California Trip

In June 2016 I travelled to San Francisco for the first Street Foto Festival. I had a great time learning from master street photographer Vineet Vohra. Stay tuned for a seperate blog post on this experience!

(Me on a streetcar in San Francisco.)

(One of my San Francisco street scenes, taken during my street photography workshop.)

(Walking the rainbow road in San Francisco's Castro district.)

Afterwards the street photo workshop I travelled with a few friends to Los Angeles along the Pacific Coast Highway. That was just spectacular. (Stay tuned for a blog post on this trip as well!).

(One of the last views from my trip down the Pacific Coast Highway in June 2016.)

5. Air Guitar

I had a great time supporting the Canadian Air Guitar championships with my photography in 2016. I captured images of air guitar performers at Steamwhistle Brewery (one of Air Guitar Canada's major sponsors), and also covered their Toronto and Canadian championships. The national event draws regional championship winners from across Canada and raises funds for Right to Play. The Canadian champ (Blake "The Canadian Tuxedo" Johnston for 2016) then goes to Oulu, Finland to compete in the World Air Guitar Championships. Here are a few highlights of my Air Guitar Canada coverage for 2016:

Don't miss out on this coming year's Air Guitar Championships! Stay tuned at www.airguitarcanada.org for details.

6. Taxis

In 2013 I began a project taking portraits of taxi drivers. It started out as an assignment for a portrait photography course but has grown into something more. Here are two of the taxi portraits that I took in 2016:

(Akber, driver of the "Cosmic Cab", Kensington Market, May 2016)

(Anwar, Regent Park, December 2016)

I am excited to see my taxi project bear fruit in 2017. Stay tuned for details!

7. Buskerfest

Buskerfest is such a fun event to attend. My kids love it, as do I. This past year, after visiting with my family during the day, I came back in the evening to catch the Australian group called Flame Oz. On my way to see them I caught the last part of an acrobatic group called The Silver Starlets. Here are a few photos from my that night:

8. Teaching Photography

In September 2016 I had the privilege of teaching photography to students in Orillia, thanks to my friend Hoa Truong-White. Hoa is doing research on citizenship development through the use of photography in students in Canada and in Viet Nam. She is doing great work and I am thrilled that I could have a small part in it. I don't have many photos to share of the experience, but here are a few:

(Photo by Hoa Truong-White)

9. Saying Goodbye to Honest Ed's

Yes, Honest Ed's is making it's way into my annual photo favourites again (also in my 2015 list)!

This year I took all my kids to Honest Ed's, just two days before it closed. I felt compelled to bring a thank you to one of the senior staff there, Frank Mirabelli. I had met Frank when covering the final turkey giveaway in December 2015. By December 2016 Frank had worked at Honest Ed's for 48.5 years. (Wow!) I presented Frank with a photo I took of Honest Ed's in the summer of 2015 (one that currently hangs in City Councillor Mike Layton's office.). He was very touched and expressed his thanks in words, and by giving my kids and I each a sew-on patch that says "It's Fun to Shop at Honest Ed's". It was a great experience for my kids and I.

Here are a few photos of Bathurst Station, and of long-time Honest Ed's employee Frank Mirabelli.

To see more of my Honest Ed's images please click here, here or here.

10. Street Photography

I started 2016 with a goal to be more disciplined, in all areas of my life. This led me to run a half marathon (which I managed thanks to the support of a Running Room clinic that I joined, and the encouragement of my amazing wife Suzi).  I also decided to do a street photo walk once a week for the entire year. As a father of three kids, this wasn't easy, especially in the summer and in December. Some weeks my photo walk was more of a 15 minute jaunt, while other weeks it was anywhere between ninety minutes and three hours. Some weeks I got two photo walks in, and some weeks none.  In the end I did sixty-one separate photo walks, so I think I accomplished this goal. Here are three street photos from 2016, the last one being my favourite of 2016.

(Nota Bene, May 2016)

(Passing Travellers, February 2016)

(Wonder, May 2016)

Getting out there and shooting is actually the easy part for me. Finding time afterwards to edit and process my images is much harder. As a result watch for more of my 2016 street photo images appearing here on my blog, on my Facebook page, or on my Instagram account, in the year ahead!

Thanks for your ongoing support of my photography! Stay tuned for more by following me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or send me an email and I'll add you to my infrequent email list about my upcoming events (Only a few emails per year, I promise!). If you like what you see here, please also visit my art photography for art prints and photo pillows!

P.S. I plan to keep up the weekly photo walk habit in 2017. :)


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Culture Snap Photography features the work of Toronto-based photographer Henry VanderSpek. Henry specializes in documenting the work of local and international non-profit organizations, special events, live music, street and art photography. To hire Henry for an assignment, please click here to get in touch.
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