Culture Snap - Award-Winning Photography by Henry VanderSpek: Blog en-us (C) Henry VanderSpek / Culture Snap Photography [email protected] (Culture Snap - Award-Winning Photography by Henry VanderSpek) Tue, 13 Jun 2023 19:39:00 GMT Tue, 13 Jun 2023 19:39:00 GMT Culture Snap - Award-Winning Photography by Henry VanderSpek: Blog 120 96 Seeing Red: Lomography Redscale XR Film I've enjoyed experimenting with various Lomography film types over the past few years.

Recently I tried another - Lomography Redscale XR film.

Tow Away Zone

Redscale film originated from an experimental technique tried out years ago by some adventurous souls.

They tried exposing images onto what was normally considered the back side of the film.

The results were surprising and delightful - to some at least (I'm sure others were not impressed!).

Here then are some of my results with Lomo Redscale film. All shot with my Konica Auto S3.

Lane of Light

Golden Puddle


Parking Booth

(an increasingly rare entity)


Photo of a wall sized image of "Tommie peeking out of room window" by Mary Ellen Mark, from a display at The Image Centre for their exhibit of Mary Ellen Mark: Ward 81.

This was such a powerful exhibit. Click here to see more of the images that were on display at The Image Centre.

Photo of the exhibit print of "Tommie peeking out of room window" by Mary Ellen Mark as seen in Mary Ellen Mark: Ward 81 at The Image Centre.

I've enjoyed many engaging exhibits at The Image Centre. Click here to see what is currently showing there.


Square Sky


Lomography Redscale Film has an ISO range that can be set anywhere from 50 to 200. These images were shot at ISO 200.

Analogue Wonderland (a wonderful site for film shooters) has a great write-up and video about Lomo Redscale film. Check it out here!


Something about this water tower compels me to raise my camera...


A series of images from a small plaza in Scarborough...

Here There Everywhere I

Colonial Car Wash

Charlie Brown Stairs

Glove Booth


Here There Everywhere II



Birds of the Square


Curves and Contours


Caméra Mécanique


Speak No Evil


I enjoyed shooting Lomography Redscale film. 

The results are certainly unique and add a new dimension to images that already have something interesting going on in them. I would consider shooting with this film again.

Additional blog posts featuring unique film types:

- Purple Poses: Playing Purposefully with Lomography's Purple XR Film

- Colours of Coney Island - Captured on Revelog Kolor Film

Click here to see more film photo blog posts!

Thanks for looking!

[email protected] (Culture Snap - Award-Winning Photography by Henry VanderSpek) 35mm film art photography believe in film film photography Lomography Lomography Redscale XR film street photography Toronto toronto photography Toronto street photography Tue, 13 Jun 2023 19:12:11 GMT
A Year in Colour Film - 2022 Edition Early each year I like to look back at my favourite photos from the past year.

Here are some of my favourite colour film photos of 2022. I hope you enjoy them!


Tanya Tagaq

NPR did a great feature about this award-winning singer.

Kodak Ektar 100 - Canon AE-1


Send In The Clown

Kodak Gold 200 - Nikon AF600


Repairs to All Makes

Kodak Gold 200 - Nikon AF600

Previous images of this location can be seen here, here and here!



Kodak Portra 800 - Canon AE-1


Look After Yourselves

Kodak Portra 800 - Canon AE-1


Enter Face

A Winter Station by a design team from Türkiye

Read more about the Winter Stations at this link.

Kodak Ektar 100 120 Format - Fujica GS645W


Winsom - a very talented artist I met outside the AGO.

Click here for more about my experience meeting this accomplished artist.

Kodak Ektar 100 - Konica Auto S3


Cherry Street Skyline

Kodak Ektar 100 - Konica Auto S3


Three Crosses

Holy Eucharist Ukrainian Catholic Church

Kodak Ektar 100 - Fujica GS645S


Closing Sale

Kodak Portra 400 - Canon AE-1


Beach Reach

Kodak Ektar 100 - Olympus Stylus Zoom


Kensington Cloud

Click here (and scroll down a ways) to see a similar image in Black & White.

Kodak Ektar 100 - Olympus Stylus Zoom


Caribbean Queen of Patties

Kodak Ektar 100 120 Format - Fujica GS645S


The Colours of Vintage

Odd Finds General Store

Kodak Ektar 100 120 Format - Fujica GS645S



Kodak Ektachrome 120 Format - Fujica GS645S


Imperial Pub

Cinestill 800T 120 Format - Fujica GS645S


Skyline Restaurant (A Toronto classic!)

Cinestill 800T 120 Format - Fujica GS645S


Take Away

A window of The Lakeview Restaurant that recently closed, at least temporarily.

Cinestill 800T 120 Format - Fujica GS645S

Click here to see a blog post with more Cinestill images.


Since 1860

Window at McTamney's former Church Street location, now located on the Danforth.

Kodak Ektar 100 - Canon AE-1


Roll Around Heaven All Day

(Lyrics from Lucky Old Sun)

Kodak Ektar 100 - Canon AE-1


East End Proud

Kudos to DECA for all that they do in the Danforth East area.

Kodak Ektar 100 - Canon AE-1


Long Limbs

My son and I clowning around. 😊

Kodak Portra 160 - Nikon AF600


Flying the Flag

Kodak Portra 160 - Nikon AF600


A Simple Dream

Kodak Gold 200 - Nikon AF600


Overpass Lookout

Click here (and scroll down a ways) to see a black and white view from this spot.

Kodak Gold 200 - Nikon AF600


East York Pride

This East York home was once a shoe store and has always caught my eye - so it was very nice to meet the owner and to take his photograph.

Kodak Ektar 100 - Canon AE-1


No Wake

Kodak Ultramax 400 - Canon Sure Shot Telemax


Grossman's Tavern

One of the great music venues of Toronto.

Kodak Ektar 100 - Canon AE-1


Electric Avenue

A street in Buffalo, NY - a city I loved visiting with My Pal Sammy in October 2022.

After Buffalo we went to Rochester, NY - click here for a blog post about our time there.

Kodak Ektar 100 - Canon AE-1



Kodak Ektar 100 - Canon AE-1


This next batch are ones I that I considered for my Redacted City DesignTO exhibit.

Church Redacted

Kodak Gold 200 - Nikon AF600


Lowe's Redacted

Kodak Ektar 100 - Canon AE-1


Royal Redacted

Kodak Ektar 100 - Canon AE-1


While this is one that I did include in the Redacted City exhibit...

We Scoop

Kodak Ektar 100 120 Format - Fujica GS645S


I'll close with a few atmospheric night scenes.


Cinestill 800T - Nikon F80


Fox Theatre

A wonderful theatre in the Beaches neighbourhood.

Cinestill 800T - Nikon F80



Prototype 640T - Nikon F80


Here are my favourite colour film images from previous years

- A Year in Colour Film - 2021 Edition

- A Year in Colour Film 2020 - Part One

- A Year in Colour Film 2020 - Part Two

- A Year in Colour Film 2019 - Part One

- A Year in Colour Film 2019 - Part Two

- A Year in Colour Film 2018 - Part One

- A Year in Colour Film 2018 - Part Two

Click here to see all of my film photography blog posts.

Follow me on Instagram to see a wider variety of images - both film and digital.

Thanks for looking!


[email protected] (Culture Snap - Award-Winning Photography by Henry VanderSpek) 120 film 35mm film art photography believe in film colour film film photography Kodak Kodak Ektar 100 Kodak Gold 200 street photography Toronto toronto photography Toronto street photography Tue, 14 Mar 2023 13:41:46 GMT
A Year In Black and White Film - 2022 Edition Shooting with film has remained an enjoyable pursuit since I returned to it in 2017.

Here is my annual post looking back at my favourite black and white film photos of the past year (2022).


Kodak Tri-X 400 / Konica Auto S3


The Cinesphere

Arista EDU 100 / Konica Auto S3


George Street Stools

Arista EDU 100 / Konica Auto S3

Keep supporting small businesses like The George Street Diner.


Changing Times

Fuji Acros 100 II / Konica Auto S3


Watch Now

Fuji Acros 100 II 120 Format/ Fujica GS645W

Shout out to multi-talented actor Andrew Phung, seen in the upper left corner.


Street Lantern

Fuji Acros 100 II / Konica Auto S3



Fuji Acros 100 II / Konica Auto S3


Bully The System

- For equal opportunity - For peace - For sustainability - For health

 Japan Camera Hunter Street Pan 400 / Topcon RM 300


Cherry Beach Skyline - 2022

Kosmo Foto Mono 100 120 Format / Fujica GS645W


Marlene and Winsom

Ultra Fine 100 120 Format (expired) / Fujica GS645S

It was a gift to meet Winsom, an accomplished Canadian artist, and her friend Marlene, outside of the AGO.

Click here for a colour film photo of Winsom and more details about her and our meeting.


Wrong Way

Kodak Tri-X 400 / Konica Auto S3



Kodak Tri-X 400 / Konica Auto S3


Kyiv Ukraine

Kodak Tri-X 400 / Konica Auto S3


Forgive Your Self

(posters by the very talented - and kind hearted - Adam the Illustrator)

Astrum Foto 200 / Konica Auto S3


Empty Cart

Astrum Foto 200 / Konica Auto S3


Toronto Life

(light leaks in lower right area)

Ilford XP2 Super 400 120 Format / Fujica GS645S


Since 1860

Astrum Foto 400 / Konica Auto S3


Cycling Parliament

Ilford XP2 Super 400 / Konica Auto S3


Contemplative Corner

Ilford XP2 Super 400 / Konica Auto S3


Overpass Lookout

Ilford XP2 Super 400 / Konica Auto S3


The Saint

Kodak T400CN (expired) / Konica Auto S3


Job Well Done

Kodak T400CN (expired) / Konica Auto S3

On July 26, 2022 a large portion of the Bloor-Danforth line shut down and everyone had to take shuttle buses. This TTC driver, Esau or Issa (sp?), helped to keep passengers calm during a very stressful situation through his kind, playful, and encouraging messages over the speaker system. I thanked him as we exited the bus and asked if I could take his photo. I shared about his good work and this photo with the TTC. Hopefully he hears about it and receives the photo.


Looking South on Spadina

Kodak Tri-X 400 / Konica Auto S3


Beach Pastime

Kodak T400CN (expired) / Konica Auto S3


Cohen at the AGO

Lomography Earl Grey 100 / Konica Auto S3

I loved seeing this exhibit. On until April 10, 2023.


Daily Rituals

Swan Street Diner, Buffalo, NY

Lomography Earl Grey 100 / Konica Auto S3

One of our stops during a road trip to visit the George Eastman Museum in Rochester, NY.


Po ice Station

Buffalo, NY

Lomography Earl Grey 100 / Konica Auto S3


Buy Sell

Kodak Tri-X 400 / Konica Auto S3



Kodak Tri-X 400 / Konica Auto S3


Into the Mist

Kodak Tri-X 400 / Konica Auto S3


Kensington Cloud

Kentmere Ultrafine 100 / Konica Auto S3

(I'm not sure what happened to my film to create the darkened area in the centre.)


From here on in, my photography is going to the birds...

A Bird Above

Lomography Earl Grey 100 / Konica Auto S3


Life Is Beautiful

Arista EDU 100 / Konica Auto S3


Polson Pier Goose

Japan Camera Hunter Street Pan 400 / Topcon RM 300


Gray Coach Pigeon

Ultra Fine 100 120 Format (expired) / Fujica GS645S


Sunbathing Ducks

Kodak Tri-X 400 / Konica Auto S3


Wheels, Wires, Wings

Ultrafine 100 / Konica Auto S3


Tip of the Hat

Kodak T400CN (expired) / Konica Auto S3

Sculpture by Huang Wei Zhu commemorating the life of Dr. Sun Yat-Sen

There is another sculpture of Dr. Sun Yat-Sen in Riverdale Park.


For more black and white film photos, here are my favourites from previous years:

- 2021

- 2020

- 2019

- 2018

All of my past film photo posts can be found here.

Follow me on Instagram to see a wider variety of images - both film and digital.

Thanks for looking!

[email protected] (Culture Snap - Award-Winning Photography by Henry VanderSpek) 120 film 35mm film art photography believe in film black and white film photography film photography Kodak toronto photography Toronto street photography Tue, 21 Feb 2023 17:26:18 GMT
Favourite Photo Moments of 2022 Every January, I take time to look back and remember all the good that happened in the past year.

Thanks for joining me as I share some of my favourite photo moments from 2022:


1. Exhibiting Old World Shoes in DesignTO

In January 2022 I was able to show my Old World Shoes project in Capri Shoes as part of the 2022 DesignTO Festival.

Having the exhibit in the DesignTO Festival allowed more people to see the project, and to consider the value of small and local shoe and shoe repair stores.

Participating in DesignTO led me to winning a "Best of Exhibition" award which was a big surprise!

Many thanks to Paola of Capri Shoes, and to all the hard-working business people who allowed me to share their stories in Old World Shoes.


2. Film Photography

I continued to enjoy shooting film in 2022.


A Simple Dream

Aug 2022 - Kodak Gold 200 - Nikon AF600

...Black and White...

The Cinesphere

Jan 2022 - Arista EDU 100 film - Konica Auto S3

...and less common film types were a joy to shoot with in 2022.

Stay tuned for more film blog posts in 2023! (Click here to see my past film photography blog posts!)


3. Xanap Double Exposure

In early 2022 I participated in a film exchange project organized by XANAP Filmlab of Thailand.

Rolls of film that had been exposed by photographers in Thailand were given to photographers in eight different countries to shoot with.

I was thrilled to be selected to participate by Downtown Camera.

I had a few weeks to shoot the film and then Downtown Camera collected the rolls from participating photographers and sent them back to XANAP filmlab.

In April 2022 I received the scans of the developed film. It was very intriguing to see the results.

Click here to see Instagram posts that are tagged in relation to this project.

I hope to post more about this project, but it definitely was another favourite photo moment of 2022.


4. On Notice

In May 2022 I exhibited On Notice in the Contact Photo Festival.

On Notice explored Toronto's ever-present Notice of Development signs. I owe my friend, filmmaker Simon Madore, a huge thanks for this.

Affordable Housing Now

Simon co-directed a short film called Excluded By Design that was part of Hot Docs Citizen Minutes.

The film features civic activist Dave Meslin and addresses how public notice signs can more effectively engage citizens.

House of Music

We opened On Notice with a screening of Excluded By Design along with a panel discussion which was facilitated by Dave Meslin.

L to R: Dave Meslin, Chimwemwe Alao of Mass LBP, Myself, Hanen Nanaa founder of BAM Collective and Daniel Fusca - Manager, Public Consultation, Parks, Forestry and Recreation. Thanks to each of the panelists for their insightful contributions.

I couldn't have dreamed up a better event or way to show these images!

Many, many thanks to Simon Madore and his colleagues at Dave & Moi and RingFive for helping to make it happen!


5. Newfoundland and Labrador

In the summer of 2022 my family and I travelled to Newfoundland.

A sign on the trail to Bakers Brook Falls in Gros Morne

Sunset in Bonavista

I need to do a separate post (or three!) about this trip, but needless to say it was a real highlight for me in 2022.


6. The Exhibition

In August 2022 the Canadian National Exhibition opened for the first time in three years.

As someone who has been going to "The Ex" for many decades, and made it a family tradition, it was wonderful to have it back.

I tried to just relax, camera-wise, and celebrate having the Ex back again.

Of course I did take a few fun photos though...

I went back more than once, including a visit with my friend Sammy who was possibly as excited as me to be there.

My Pal Sammy in front of the Princes' Gates


7. Meeting People

One benefit of taking weekly photo walks around Toronto is getting to meet people of many backgrounds and life experiences.

I love hearing different perspectives and personal stories so these encounters often feel like a gift.

Here are a few of the good people that I met...

Alex - Fuji Acros 100 - March 2022

City Councillor Mike Colle with Gloria and Joe outside of Caribbean Slice Restaurant - April 2022

Winsom - Kodak Ektar 100 - April 2022

It was a wonderful surprise meeting Winsom, an award-winning artist who has exhibited her work in many galleries.

I was taking photos near the AGO and Winsom called out to me. She said she could tell I was an artist. Winsom and her friend Marlene and I had a very nice conversation, after which Winsom allowed me to take her photo. I love moments like these.

I may need to do a blog post, or something more, to celebrate the great people I've met here in Toronto!


8. Being Published

I had several nice moments seeing my work getting "out there" in various ways in 2022.

An assignment I did in 2021 about two indigenous elders was published in an international faith-based journal...

Documenting Work of Two Indigenous EldersDocumenting Work of Two Indigenous EldersIn October 2021 I had the privilege of accompanying Dr. Jeff Green of the Canadian Bible Society and documenting the work of two Indigenous elders who are helping preserve language and culture by translating the Bible into Mohawk (Harvey Gabriel in Kanesatake, Quebec) and Inuktitut (Jonas Allooloo in Iqaluit, Nunavut). Images and words were published in Bible & Society Journal.

Seen on these pages is Harvey Gabriel with his daughter and granddaughter, who are assisting with the translation work, and Harvey Gabriel with members of the local Mohawk Council.

Harvey Satewas Gabriel with his family and with local Grand Chief and Council members - published spring 2022


My On Notice exhibit was featured in BlogTO

On Notice featured on BlogTOOn Notice featured on BlogTOMy Contact Photo Festival exhibit On Notice was featured in BlogTO. BlogTO article about my On Notice Exhibit - May 2022


A photo I took for a documentary by director Cat Mills appeared in the Toronto Star...

Images of the Mesdames of Mayhem, taken while working for Director Cat Mills, published in the Toronto Star.


CBC and Al-Jazeera articles included images I created for director Cat Mills for her Billboard Squad documentary.

Images for The Billboard Squad documentary on CBCImages for The Billboard Squad documentary on CBCA photo I took for The Billboard Squad, a documentary by Cat MIlls and Felicity Justrabo, was featured on

I'm so thankful for these opportunities. Click here if you wish to see more of my published work.


9. Rochester Road Trip

In October 2022 my friend Sammy and I went for a quick trip to Rochester, NY.

There was a talk by Martha Cooper on at the George Eastman Museum - a great reason to get out there and enjoy ourselves.

Myself with Martha Cooper and her latest book Spray Nation

I wrote about the experience in a blog post, which was shared by the Eastman Museum on their social media feed.

Sammy and I actually did one of our first road trips together in August 2006 to Rochester, NY.

We saw Bob Dylan play at Frontier Field, with several Texas blues artists opening up for him, including Jimmie Vaughan.

That was such a fun night. Road trips are worth it people!


10. Art exhibits

I'm thankful to have seen many great photo exhibits this past year.

Here are a few of them:

Art Gallery of Ontario

- Leonard Cohen: Everybody Knows (on until April 10, 2023)

Art Museum at the University of Toronto

- As We Rise: Photography From the Black Atlantic

The Cardinal Gallery

- David Hunsburger - Saturday Social

- Joan Latchford - Love Isn't Limited

Stephen Bulger Gallery

- Jill Freedman - Social Documents

- Gabor Szilasi - book signing and film screening

The Image Centre

- Sunil Gupta - From Here to Eternity, A Retrospective

Paper Mill Gallery

- Lori Spring - Bus Station

My thanks to all of the above artists and galleries!


I'm sure there is much more to say about 2022, but I will stop there.

Thanks for sticking with me!

Click here to see my previous annual year in review blog posts!

Click here to follow me on Instagram!

Cheers and best wishes to you!

[email protected] (Culture Snap - Award-Winning Photography by Henry VanderSpek) best of 2022 documentary photography Favourite photo moments of 2022 George Eastman Museum Rochester NY street photography Toronto toronto photography Toronto street photography year in review Wed, 01 Feb 2023 18:04:27 GMT
By George! Visiting the George Eastman Museum in Rochester, New York. In late October my friend Sammy and I took a road trip to Rochester, New York, to visit the George Eastman Museum and to attend a talk by photographer Martha Cooper.

If you love photography, then a visit to the George Eastman Museum in Rochester, New York is a definite must.

George Eastman's legacy is quite vast, but amongst his many accomplishments is founding the Eastman Kodak company, which helped make film photography a popular pursuit around the world.

A display of images created with Kodak cameras, seen in the George Eastman Museum.


We began our time in Rochester though with a visit to the Rochester Public Market...

And a quick visit at Pendulum's Finds & Keeps, a fun vintage and thrift store just across the street from the Market...

The view from inside Pendulum's Finds & Keeps.

(Canon AE-1 with Kodak Ektar 100 film)


And then grabbed lunch at the Highland Park Diner - a classic old school eatery with friendly staff and a great menu.


After lunch we headed to the George Eastman Museum for the afternoon.

We started in the gardens next to the Museum, which were beautifully lit on that fall day...


A few film images in front of the Museum, fittingly shot with Kodak film...

Me in the front garden of the George Eastman Museum.

(Canon AE-1 with Kodak Ektar 100 film)

My Pal Sammy of My Summer Lair podcast.

(Canon AE-1 with Kodak Ektar 100 film)


The house, or mansion, side of the George Eastman Museum.

(Canon AE-1 with Kodak Ektar 100 film)


We started the Museum on the gallery side, planning to visit the mansion side afterwards.

The gallery side of the Museum.


A highlight of the Museum galleries was Flood Zone by Anastasia Samoylova - a fascinating look at the nature of climate change in south-eastern United States.

They did a wonderful job displaying the exhibit.

I found many images in the show quite beautiful and moving.

Flood Zone was also on exhibit earlier this year in Toronto as part of the Scotiabank Contact Photo Festival.


In the hallway outside the galleries was a wall displaying chemicals used in the production or developing of film.

It was fascinating to look closely at the many small jars of chemicals...  

After the galleries we explored the mansion.

My parents took my family to the "George Eastman House" several times when I was a kid. I have distinct memories of learning about photography from the displays I encountered. My Dad was an avid photographer, and my Mom an artist, so I'm sure they both equally loved taking us there.

The mansion is filled with many fascinating items that reflect the era of George Eastman's life.

This mansion offers additional opportunities to learn about the history of photography and of the Eastman Kodak Company.


I couldn't resist getting a few photos inside the mansion...

Photo by My Pal Sammy

The George Eastman Museum is not a funhouse, but it is a fun house!


...and more film photos of the gorgeous fall colours in front of the Museum...

(Canon AE-1 with Kodak Ektar 100 film)

(Canon AE-1 with Kodak Ektar 100 film)

The main event of our trip was a talk by Martha Cooper.

Martha Cooper, also known as "Kodak Girl" due to her collection of vintage Kodak ads, is renowned for documentating the early days of street art in New York City and beyond.

A case at the George Eastman Museum displaying some of Martha Cooper's collection of Kodak advertisements that feature women photographers.

In the centre is the Kodak Girl book (link includes a slideshow of images from the book) which shares more of Martha Cooper's collection

along with essays discussing the significance of women in the early history of photography.


Everyone was fascinated as Martha Cooper shared about the early days of meeting and photographing street artists and their creations, as well as where her work has taken her since then.

I especially appreciated Martha Cooper's honesty about originally wanting to be a different kind of photographer, and how she found her calling along the way of pursuing what she loves.

Afterwards Martha Cooper signed her latest book, Spray Nation. It was special to meet her and talk with her a bit during the signing.

Martha Cooper wearing a jacket by visual artist Wagner Wagz.

The jacket's artwork is based on a photo of Martha Cooper in her early days in New York City.


I recomend following Martha Cooper on Instagram, where she is very active posting her latest activities.


After the talk, we drove around exploring some of the city, including a theatre known as "The Little".

(Nikon F80 & CInestill 800T film)


(Nikon F80 & CInestill 800T film)


(Nikon F80 & CInestill 800T film)

My Pal Sammy is ready for his close-up!

(Nikon F80 & CInestill 800T film)


We also drove by the Kodak Tower.

Naturally I also took some film photos here...

(Nikon F80 & Cinestill 800T film)

(Nikon F80 & Cinestill 800T film)


All in all it was a great day!

If you love film, or photography in general, be sure to plan a trip to the George Eastman House. It's well worth it!

My thanks to the good people at the Museum for all that they do to celebrate and elevate photography!

Here are some relevant links:

Thanks for looking!

[email protected] (Culture Snap - Award-Winning Photography by Henry VanderSpek) film photography George Eastman Museum history of photography Kodak New York road trip Rochester travel photography Thu, 15 Dec 2022 19:53:31 GMT
Still of the Night - Toronto Street Scenes with Cinestill 800T 35mm and 120 film Experimenting with unusual film stocks can add variety to your film photography experience.

In my previous post I shared about the unique results offered by Lomachrome Purple XR film.

In this post I will share some of my favourite images captured with Cinestill 800T film.

Cinestill describes this film as "based on the same gold standard motion picture technology used by top cinematographers around the world. Designed for difficult low light tungsten situations, this flexible film is suitable for use in different lighting situations to achieve a variety of looks."


Towers and Bridges


While this film can be used in the daytime...

Good Time Coffee


All Day Breakfast


Ulster Arms Tavern


Product of the Year


...I much prefer the look it gives when capturing nighttime scenes, especially neon lights.

William's Shoe Store


The images in this post were taken from January to February and October to November 2021 (two rolls of 35mm film) and in June 2022 (one roll of 120 film).


Fatima Jewellery


Fatima Jewellery


Cinestill film uses a film type that was used by filmmakers. From Cinestill's website:

Now, anyone can use film in the same lighting situations as new blockbuster movies and TV shows such as Inception, Argo, Lincoln, all of the Batman movies, Django Unchained, Man of Steel, Les Misérables, The Master, the new Star Trek films, the Star Wars films, all Wes Anderson's films, Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead, Boardwalk Empire...


Speaking of movies - many movie scenes have been filmed at the Lakeview Restaurant. Click here for details.

Lakeview Restaurant

Take Away

Lakeview Restaurant - Cinestill 120 film

One key feature of Cinestill 800T (some would call it a bug, not a feature!) is the halation, or glow, it creates around lights. This is due to the removal of a "remjet" layer from the film. This layer served important purposes for filmmakers, but removing it allows the film to be developed more easily using the more commonly available C-41 process.

There are many great write-ups online about the technical features of this film, along with more sample images of what it can deliver.

Here are two trusted sites where you can explore more about this film:

- Analogue Wonderland - Cinestill 800T Review

- The Darkroom - Cinestill 800T Film Review


Lula Lounge


AAA Auto Glass


The Drake Hotel


Star Convenience


Distant Light


Superfly Alley

Superfly was a Parkdale bar that closed this past year.


Grand Electric Parkdale


I have to include some of what must be my favourite neon sign in Toronto...

Skyline Restaurant

Pay them a visit the next time you're in Parkdale. The Skyline is a true classic!


Rendezviews is definitely one of the best patios in the city. It is very colourful in the daytime, thanks to artwork by Clandestinos Art, but also has great atmosphere at night.


  Guardians of Queen West


Miss Jones


I really love the CHUM Radio sign at Richmond and Duncan Streets...

I captured a scene near the CHUM Radio sign back in 2014, which can be seen here in my Art Show Portfolio.


Imperial Pub

Cinestill 120 film


Lover's Glow

Cinestill 120 film


Rol San Restaurant

Cinestill 120 film

Rol San's All Day Dim Sum sign, plus their neon lights, always make me smile.


The famous neon lights of Rol San Restaurant.

Cinestill 120 film


El Mocambo

Cinestill 120 film

This historic music venue keeps drawing me back for photos.

I've seen many artists perform here. My favourite was Daniel Lanois in 2003. Such a great show.


Cocktails & Dreams

Cinestill 120 film

A bartending school on Dundas St W. Take a look at their very fun website.


I will close with one more image of the Skyline Restaurant. Perhaps my favourite of all I've captured there, and from this film type also.

Skyline Restaurant

Cinestill 120 film



If you are interested in exploring other unique film types, have a look at these:

- Purple Poses - Lomachrome Purple XR

- Colours of Coney Island - captured with Revelog Kolor film

To see other blog posts of my film photography, just click here.

And for more of my photography - film and digital - follow me on Instagram.

Thanks for looking!

[email protected] (Culture Snap - Award-Winning Photography by Henry VanderSpek) art photography believe in film Cinestill Cinestill 800t film film photography street photography Toronto toronto photography Toronto street photography Tue, 19 Jul 2022 18:10:07 GMT
Purple Poses - Playing Purposefully with Lomography's Purple XR Film "When God made the colour purple, God was just showing off."

- Mae Jemison

Engineer, Physician, former NASA astronaut and first black woman to travel into space.


Shooting film has made a big comeback in recent years.

There are many reasons why, but the twin feelings of anticipation while waiting for your film to be developed, and of surprise when you get back your images, are definitely included on that list.

Canon AE-1


Experimenting with unique film stocks - ones that have been pre-exposed or have unusual chemical formulas - elevates those elements of anticipation and of surprise.

I've enjoyed trying out several film types for this very reason. One of them is Lomography's Lomachrome Purple XR 100-400 film.

Monarch Butterfly I

In this blog I will share some images I captured with this unique film type. All were taken in September 2021 with my Canon AE-1.

Purple is rich in symbolism, often linked with royalty, but with many other associations also. I'll let you draw your own conclusions though, as you view the images shared here.

Monarch Butterfly II

The essential thing to know about Lomochrome Purple XR is that it shifts colours. Blue becomes green, green becomes purple, yellow becomes pink but reds stay as red. So it definitely offers some surprises, especially if you capture scenes with blue, green and yellow.

Butterflies enjoying the lush plant life in Toronto's Kew Gardens - on a gorgeous September day - provided me a great opportunity to try out the colour shifts that Lomachrome Purple has to offer.

A Pair of Monarchs


Others have written much more in-depth about the chemistry of this film, and of how to shoot images with it. Here are two such links well worth looking at if you are considering trying out this film:

- Emulsive's tips and users guide to Lomochrome Purple

- Matt Loves Cameras' review of Lomochrome Purple


A former Black's store in Toronto's Beaches neighbourhood

Black's is still active under new ownership as an online photo business, but their bricks and mortar stores closed in 2015.


Colours of Queen

I love the architecture of this building.


Making Space

A scene just across the street from the previous image.


In some images the colour shifts are more subtle...


One of Toronto's biggest pawn shops - seen here on Church Street but now located on the Danforth.


While in other images the colour changes are much more dramatic...

Leafy Floor

A view of the grounds of Toronto's Metropolitan United Church.


Greenwood Graffiti


Channeling Chi

Greenwood Park


Thou Shalt Not Steal

A bike with a sign noting the eighth commandment.

The bike hasn't moved in months. I guess the sign is working!


Tasty Restaurant




A Blooming Lie


Kim's Convenience


Purple on the Tracks

Workers repair streetcar tracks at Queen Street and University Avenue


Crossing McCaul


Cycling McCaul


Passing OCAD


AGO Colours


AGO Reflections


I really like how the butterfly images turned out, so I'll end with one more...

Monarch Butterfly III


If you liked this unusual film type, you might enjoy my blog post featuring images of Coney Island captured on Revelog's Kolor film.

If you like film photography, click here to see my other blog posts featuring film images.

Thanks for looking!

"Be different. Be original. Nobody will remember a specific flower in a garden filled with thousands

of the same yellow flower, But they will remember the one that managed to change its color to purple."

- Suzy Kassem, 'Rise Up And Salute The Sun'.

[email protected] (Culture Snap - Award-Winning Photography by Henry VanderSpek) believe in film documentary photography film photography lomography Lomography Lomochrome Purple XR 100-400 toronto photography Tue, 21 Jun 2022 14:36:33 GMT
Montreal on Film In the summer of 2021 I went to Montreal with my good friend Sammy.

(Check out Sammy's email, podcast and Twitter feed for all kinds of pop culture goodness.)


Canon Sure Shot Telemax

Kodak Pro Image 100

Montreal is home to the Just For Laughs festival (see image above), the Montreal Jazz Festival, and hundreds of other cultural events in the summer - nevermind all that happens there in other seasons.

I previously published a blog Bikes of Montreal from that trip.

Wheels and Hearts

Canon Sure Shot Telemax

Kodak Ektar 100

In this post I will share my favourite film photos of Montreal.

St. Christophe Street Mural

Wall2Wall Montreal has a great collection of this artist's work.

Canon Sure Shot Telemax

Kodak Pro Image 100

Sammy & I both like tea, so naturally we went by Camellia Sinensis in the Villeray neighbourhood.

Good to the Last Drop

Canon Sure Shot Telemax

Kodak Pro Image 100


Here's an alternate take on a scene I shared in my Bikes of Montreal blog post.

Guardian of the Bike

Canon Sure Shot Telemax

Kodak Pro Image 100


Seeing Old Montreal was essential...

Le Grand Roue de Montreal

Canon Sure Shot Telemax

Kodak Ektar 100

Le Petit Dep

Canon Sure Shot Telemax

Kodak Ektar 100

Old Montreal Love

Canon Sure Shot Telemax

Kodak Pro Image 100


We enjoyed exploring the Plateau neighbourhood...

Restaurant Le Fameux

Canon Sure Shot Telemax

Kodak Pro Image 100


Canon Sure Shot Telemax

Kodak Ektar 100

Hadio 514

Canon Sure Shot Telemax

Kodak Pro Image 100

A Bargain Find ;)

Nikon FE

Kodak Portra 160


Paul's Boutique

Canon Sure Shot Telemax

Kodak Pro Image 100

Restaurant Mont-Royal

Canon Sure Shot Telemax

Kodak Ektar 100

J. Omer Roy - a vintage sign that locals fought to preserve

Canon Sure Shot Telemax

Kodak Ektar 100

It's Been A While

Canon Sure Shot Telemax

Kodak Ektar 100


We did the requisite line-up for a lunch at Chez Schwartz's...

Chez Schwartz's

(Yes that's My Pal Sammy raising his arms in victory. We finally made it!)

Canon Sure Shot Telemax

Kodak Ektar 100

Let's go to black and white now. All on Kosmo Foto Mono 100 filnm with my Konica Auto S3.

Me in front of the wonderful hat store, Henri Henri!

I'm wearing a shirt by Montreal artist PLB.

Just as they do in Toronto, Montreal bikes have a way of disassembling themselves...

Streets of Verdun

Candles inside Notre Dame des Sept Douleurs Catholic Church in Verdun


Out for a Walk

In front of Notre Dame Basilica in Old Montreal

Art by French artists 123KLAN made in connection with the annual Under Pressure graffiti festival


Statue of Mother Émelie Gamelin by Raoul Hunter in the Berri Subway Station

(Fencing was around the statue due to repair work taking place.)

LKVM Studio

We were fortunate to meet these two talented artists who graciously invited us in

to their home and shared their work with us. Pay them a visit when you are in Montreal!



I'm Your Man

A mural of the great Leonard Cohen based on a photo by his daughter Lorca Cohen.

Cohen has a way of showing up in Montreal

Visit this link for more on this wonderful mural by Kevin Ledo

Visit this link for more on Cohen, Jewish history and food (and a brief mention of this mural) in Montreal

Nikon FE

Kodak Portra 160


Canon Sure Shot Telemax

Kodak Ektar 100


Poutine Lafleur

Canon Sure Shot Telemax

Kodak Ektar 100


I tried my hand at a few double exposures...

Nikon FE

Kodak Portra 160 Nikon FE

Kodak Portra 160


I met Fethy, who allowed me to take his portrait...

Nikon FE

Kodak Portra 160

Canon Sure Shot Telemax

Kodak Ektar 100


One of the friendly staff at Henri Henri

Nikon FE

Kodak Portra 160


Lions in Winter

Books being given away on the street

Nikon FE

Kodak Portra 160


Henry Birks

Canon Sure Shot Telemax

Kodak Pro Image 100

Vert Bahamas

Canon Sure Shot Telemax

Kodak Pro Image 100

Justice Needs a Bath

Canon Sure Shot Telemax

Kodak Pro Image 100

And there's Sammy - a few steps closer to securing us lunch!

Nikon FE

Kodak Portra 160

À plus tard!

P.S. Click here to see my Bikes of Montreal post

Feel free to check out my other blog posts, follow me on Instagram or to see my photo art products.

Thanks for looking!

[email protected] (Culture Snap - Award-Winning Photography by Henry VanderSpek) believe in film Canada film photography Kodak Kodak Ektar Kodak Pro Image 100 Kosmo Foto Mono 100 Montreal street photography travel photography Wed, 08 Jun 2022 15:44:03 GMT
A Year In Colour Film - 2021 Edition I am approaching five years being back to shooting film again, and am still enjoying it.

Wings Over Coxwell

Kodak Portra 400

This blog post, now an annual tradition for me, shares some of my favourite colour film images of 2021.

Jesus Loves You

Kodak Portra 400

It takes me a while to share these, but taking time helps my selection process too, I feel.

Keep Your Ambitions Moving

Kodak Portra 400


In previous years I shared my favourite colour film photos in two separate blog posts, but this year, for the sake of time, I will share just one.

Open Saturdays!

Kodak Pro Image 100

Hopefully I'll have time to blog a bit more before summer comes and things get extra busy!



Kodak Pro Image 100

Ray and I have met and talked a few times over the past two years. I shared a photo of Ray in my recent Favourite Black and White film photos of 2021 blog post as well.

Love is Good, Good People

Kodak Pro Image 100


Friendly Corner

Kodak Pro Image 100


Refined Spaces

Kodak Pro Image 100


A number of different cameras were used to make these images. I will list them at the end of this post.

Work to Be Done

Kirkland Colour 100 (Expired Film)


Doors of St. James

Kirkland Colour 100 (Expired Film)

Work and Play

Double exposure on Kirkland Colour 100 (Expired Film)


Kodak Ultramax 400

Cops on Queen

Kodak Ultramax 400


The Danny

Kodak Ultramax 400

A few more from the Danforth...


Kodak Ultramax 400

I love book stores...

Book City

Kodak Ultramax 400

The Scribe

Kodak Ultramax 400

$5 Vintage Books (at The Scribe)

Kodak Ultramax 400


Our Greatest Strength

Quote found at From The Neck Up Massage

Kodak Ultramax 400

Danny Sunshine

Kodak Ultramax 400

I Want You...

Kodak Ultramax 400

Dressy Boutique

Kodak Ultramax 400


Email God

Kodak 400, Expired (March 2021)


Email God II

Kodak Ektar 100 (May 2021)



Kodak 400, Expired


Okay! Blue Jays

Kodak Ektar 100


That Way

Kodak Ektar 100


Pscychic Shop

Kodak Ektar 100


I keep returning to the AGO...

AGO Magic

Kodak Ektar 100



Kodak Ektar 100

I love meeting people while I'm out and about. Anthony was very friendly and we talked for a bit before I took his photo.

  Style is Eternal

Kodak Portra 160


Love is Love

Kodak Portra 160


The Rosedale Diner - once featured on Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives

Gil and Hilary were happy to pose for a few photos.

Be sure to keep supporting local places like this!

Kodak Portra 160


Danger Due To...

Kodak Gold 200



Kodak Gold 200


Needs More

Kodak Gold 200


Danforth Variety & Fruit Market

Kodak Gold 200


Storefront Faith

Kodak Gold 200



Kodak Ektar 100


Between Fate and Luck

Kodak Ektar 100


Town & Country

Kodak Pro Image 100


Danforth Sunrise

Kodak Pro Image 100



Kodak Pro Image 100


Major Convenience

Kodak Pro Image 100


Orange on the Tracks

Kodak Gold 200


Wherever You Go

Kodak Gold 200


Eyes on Spadina

Kodak Gold 200


Economy Fruit

Kodak Ektar 100


Still Life

Kodak Ektar 100


Kingsway Cinema

Kodak Ektar 100


Crossing Queen

Kodak Ektar 100


Motel Cadillac

Kodak Portra 160

  "For me it is the people" - Abeba

Kodak Portra 160



Steve's Music

Talented staff of this Queen West Classic

Kodak Portra 160


Returning Home

Kodak Portra 400

I love the reds of Kodak Ektar 100 film...

China Island

Kodak Ektar 100


Home Hardware

Kodak Ektar 100


Perfectly Free

A street scene showing a section of the Dupont Underpass Mural by multi-disciplinary artist Joel Richardson.


I created these images using a Canon AE-1, Canon Sure Shot Telemax, Nikon AF600, Nikon FE, and an Olympus Stylus Zoom.

Click here to see my favourite Black and White Film Photos of 2021.

Here are my favourite colour film images from previous years

- A Year in Colour Film 2020 - Part One

- A Year in Colour Film 2020 - Part Two

- A Year in Colour Film 2019 - Part One

- A Year in Colour Film 2019 - Part Two

- A Year in Colour Film 2018 - Part One

- A Year in Colour Film 2018 - Part Two

Follow me on Instagram to see a wider variety of images - both film and digital.

Thanks for looking!

[email protected] (Culture Snap - Award-Winning Photography by Henry VanderSpek) believe in film color film colour film film photography Kodak Kodak Ektar 100 street photography Toronto toronto photography Toronto street photography Wed, 13 Apr 2022 18:11:31 GMT
A Year in Black and White Film - 2021 Edition I have continued to enjoy shooting film since coming back to it in 2017

This blog features my favourite black and white film photos of 2021. They were primarily made with my Konica Auto S3 camera.

Staff Meeting

Ilford HP5+ 400


These images are, for the most part, presented in the order they were taken over the course of 2021.

Coin Laundry

Ilford HP5+ 400


I have included links to many of the businesses featured in my images. Please give them a visit and show them some love! They and you will be better for it! :)

A beautiful window display at The Scribe Bookstore (375 Danforth Avenue)

Astrum Foto 400

Astrum Foto film is made in Ukraine. Stephen Dowling of Kosmo Foto and Alex Luyckx of the Classic Camera Revival Podcast each have nice write-ups about Astrum film stocks.


Bau-Xi Photo Gallery, 350 Dundas St W

Astrum Foto 400

I visited the Bau-Xi Gallery in Toronto (across the street from the AGO) with my family when I was growing up and the name (named after founder Bau Xi Huang) stuck in my mind and imagination. I am glad it is still around and thriving. They expanded in 2010 to add a gallery space just for photography (seen in the above image).

Coxwell and Danforth

Ilford Delta 400 Pro


I've met Ray in my neighbourhood and enjoyed good converations with him a few times over the past year or two.

(Click here to see a colour image of Ray in my Favourite Colour Photos of 2021 blog post.)

Ilford Delta 400 Pro


Lines to Be Crossed

Ilford Delta 400 Pro


I love experimenting with different film types as each has a unique character of tone and grain.

Japan Camera Hunter's Streetpan 400 is definitely one of my favourite film stocks...

Acadia Book Store (232 Queen Street East)

Acadia is one of the oldest, and certainly one of the most unique, book stores in Toronto.

Japan Camera Hunter Streetpan 400

Shop Cat (Acadia Book Store)

Japan Camera Hunter Streetpan 400


Japan Camera Hunter Streetpan 400


Jimmie Simpson Shadows

Japan Camera Hunter Streetpan 400



Japan Camera Hunter Streetpan 400


avant garde

(Store window at the very stylish Shernett Swaby at 632 Queen St W)

Japan Camera Hunter Streetpan 400


Store Window at Monty's Credit Jewellers (1482 Queen St W)

Japan Camera Hunter Streetpan 400


Charles on Church

Japan Camera Hunter Streetpan 400


Still Alive

Super Wonder Gallery, 584 College St

Ilford HP5+ 400


Church of the Holy Name (71 Gough Avenue, near Danforth and Pape)

Taken while working on Humans of the Danforth

Ilford HP5+ 400


Meant to Last

Tote bag from PhotoEd Magazine and SPAO celebrating great Canadian women photographers

Ilford HP5+ 400


Toronto Tableau

Japan Camera Hunter Streetpan 400


Our Greatest Strength

From the Neck Up Massage, 592 Danforth Ave

Japan Camera Hunter Streetpan 400



Black Market Clothing, 347 Queen St W

Japan Camera Hunter Streetpan 400


Many of the images here and in my other blog posts are available as prints. More can also be seen in my Art Photo section. Send me a message if interested.

In Tandem

Kodak Tri-X 400


Looking Back

Kodak Tri-X 400


Old Friends

Fomapan 100


Walk the Lines II

Japan Camera Hunter Streetpan 400


Is Not

Japan Camera Hunter Streetpan 400


Now Playing

Ilford Delta 400 Pro


Our Way

Kodak Tri-X 400


Congo Coffee (298 Gerrard St E)

Kodak Tri-X 400


Riverdale Branch of the Toronto Public Library

Kodak Tri-X 400


Time is Pilin' Up

(Lyrics in Bob Dylan's Mississippi)

Fuji Acros 100


Empty Ferry Blues

(Billy Bishop Airport Ferry)

Kodak Tri-X 400


Heading North on Parliament

Bergger Pancro 400


When the Man Comes Around

(This image makes me think of a song by Johnny Cash)

Bergger Pancro 400


Sun on Spadina

Bergger Pancro 400



Bergger Pancro 400


Outlaw Josey Wails

Bergger Pancro 400


Bar Stools at Larry's Folly (1462 Queen St W)

Kodak Tri-X 400


Something to Chew On

Japan Camera Hunter Streetpan 400


Breathe Darling

(Words by poet and artist S.C. Lourie)

Japan Camera Hunter Streetpan 400


Dreamer's Way

Japan Camera Hunter Streetpan 400


Keep dreaming my friends - and keep working towards it! May you find your way there!

My favourite black and white film photos from previous years can be found here...

- 2020

- 2019

- 2018

And my Favourite Colour Film Photos of 2021 may be seen here.

Follow me on Instagram to see a wider variety of images - both film and digital.

Thanks for looking!

[email protected] (Culture Snap - Award-Winning Photography by Henry VanderSpek) 35mm film art photography believe in film black and white film photography film photography street photography Toronto toronto photography Toronto street photography Fri, 04 Mar 2022 01:48:30 GMT
Favourite Photo Moments of 2021 2021 brought many good things and I am happy to share about them in this, my annual post looking back on the previous year.


1. Kim's Convenience

I was sad to see the wonderful Kim's Convenience show come to an end. I watched it from the start and loved the stories of the Kim family and how the show represented life in Toronto.

While feeling sad, I had the unique thrill of seeing my image - one that I created four years earlier - appear more than once in the final episode of the show.

I laughed out loud when Jung (played by Simu Liu) said to his sister Janet (played by Andrea Bang), "I thought your photography was getting better?" as he handed a photo that I had taken back to her!

The photo is used in a more meaningful way later on in the episode as Jung pitches a business plan to his family that would add a variety of business opportunities to the store.


OK See You!

A film photo I captured in June 2020.

My thanks to the creator of Kim's Convenience, Ins Choi, and to all the actors, for bringing this show, that is so filled with joy, to life.

Thanks to my photo being on the show, I was able to connect with the great people behind KimBits - a group of fans who have done so much to support the community of people who love this show! Click here to follow them Twitter where they continue to spread the love for Kim's Convenience and for the show's actors as they rise in their careers.

For those who may be interested, I have a few items available at my store with the Kim's Convenience image on it, including a pillowcase, a wood block print and a tote bag.


2. Film Photography

I shot a lot of film again in 2021. Many thanks to the good people at Downtown Camera for their great work developing it for me.

Suitable for Framing

Ilford HP5+ 400

Love Is Good, Good People

Kodak Pro Image 100

I intend to share blog posts of my favourite colour and black and white images of 2021. Please stay tuned!

Update: Here are my Favourite Black and White Film Photos of 2021!

And here are my Favourite Colour Film Photos of 2021!


Unique Film Types

Every once in a while I like to try to shoot with film types that are a little different than the usual colour and black and white films that I use.

Lakeview Restaurant

Cinestill 800T

Kew Gardens Butterfly

Lomachrome Purple 100-400

I think these films may deserve a separate blog post. Stay tuned!

Update: Here are my blog posts about these film types:

- Purple Poses - Playing Purposefully With Lomagraphy's Purple XR Film

- Still of the Night - Toronto Street Scenes With Cinestill 800T Film

Expired Film

I found myself with quite a number of rolls of expired film in 2021.

Work To Be Done

Kirkland Colour 100

Crossing Queen at Spadina

Kodak Gold 400

These expired film images may also deserve their own blog post. I will try! Stay tuned!


3. Street Photography

My artistic discipline involves doing a photo walk at least once a week.

A Train to Catch

This is good for my heart, mind and soul and also good for ensuring I create interesting photo art.

Rare and Ancient Treasures

A street view alongside the wonderful Acadia Books, one of the oldest book stores in Toronto.


Street photography also helps me meet interesting people!

The friendly staff of Steve's Music

Follow me on Instagram to see my latest street images (film and digital).


4. Being Featured

- SNAP Auction

I learned in late 2020 that two of my images would be in the 2021 SNAP Toronto Auction to raise funds for the AIDS Committee of Toronto (ACT).

Screenshot Screenshot

The auction went ahead in March 2021 and I'm very happy to say that together my images helped to raise over $1200 for the AIDS Committee of Toronto's important work.

- Photo Ed Magazine

I was very happy to have four of my images in PhotoEd Magazine's issue about Black and White photography.

PhotoEd is the only photo magazine left in Canada. They are very supportive of photographers and photo artists and subscriptions are low cost.

By subscribing to PhotoEd Magazine you support Canadian publishing, Canadian artists and get to enjoy wonderfully creative content - so definitely consider doing so!


5. Montréal

I was scheduled to attend a conference in Montréal in late April 2020, but it had to be cancelled. So it was a gift to be able to travel once again in 2021 - and to be able to visit one of my favourite cities, Montréal.

My friend Sammy and I had a great time exploring many wonderful neighbourhoods and meeting up with a good friend there which made our time even more enjoyable.

I've shared one blog post from the trip - Bikes of Montreal - but hope to share more this coming year.

Mural of Willie O'Ree (seen on a wall in Montréal), the first black player in the NHL, by street artist Pints.


6. Humans of the Danforth

In the summer of 2021 I had the privilege of working on Humans of the Danforth - a project led by the wonderful people at East End Arts and the Greektown on the Danforth BIA and run in partnership with STEPS Public Art, the Toronto Library and the TTC.

Humans of the Danforth on display in Chester Station (left and right side windows).

The project was understandably delayed a few times so it was exciting to finally get started in the summer of 2021

Humans of the Danforth in Pape Library

It was challenging getting 26 businesses on board and then scheduling interviews and photo shoots all within a very short window, but I loved every minute of it!

George of Apollon Pharmacy

I heard many challenging stories from business owners as they shared about some of their hardest months of the pandemic, but I also heard many wonderful accounts of how their customers and fellow business owners showed their support.

Lina and Dustin of Greenwood Smokehouse

The exhibit lives on online thanks to STEPS Public Art. Click here to see the portraits and to listen to people's stories (scroll down to the "Walking Tour" and click on the grid of portraits to get to the tour). You can also hear them via YouTube here. Kudos to Anahita Dehbonehie as well for editing the audio from the interviews.

Click here also for a ArtSkool Educational Guide about the Humans of the Danforth project!

Me holding a photo of Stacia of IQ Living, outside of their store window

My sincere thanks to East End Arts for giving me such a great opportunity to use my skills to do what I love - celebrating people! Keep shopping local and keep supporting small businesses like these!


7. Kanesatake and Nunavut

In October I had the wonderful opportunity to meet indigenous leaders in two communities. I met Harvey Satewas Gabriel in Kanesatake, outside of Montréal and Jonas Allooloo in Iqaluit, Nunavut.

Harvey Satewas Gabriel holding a book of the four gospels in Mohawk, as translated by his great grandfather Chief Sose Onasakenrat (also known as Joseph Swan), in Kanesatake United Church

Jonas Allooloo in his office at St. Jude's Anglican Church in Iqaluit, Nunavut

I was hired to take photos of Harvey Satewas Gabriel and Jonas Allooloo as an assignment for a faith based publication which was doing a story about their work translating the Bible into Mohawk and Inuktitut, respectively.

A copy of the Kanesatake Mohawk Dictionary, created by Harvey Satewas Gabriel.

After many years their translation work is nearing completion. Finishing the translation is significant not only for local faith communities but for the preservation of language and culture as well.

Iqaluit Sunrise

A view of St. Jude's Anglican (centre) and Koojesse Inlet (right) in Iqaluit, Nunavut

There is so much I could write about this assignment that a blog post is definitely necessary.


8. Old World Shoes

After two previous exhibit dates were cancelled due to the pandemic, it was wonderful to finally have my Old World Shoes project go ahead in December 2021.

Opening Night of Old World Shoes at Daniels Spectrum, part of the 2021 Contact Photo Festival

L-R: Emmanuel Farré of Farré by Emmanuel, Peter Feeney of Peter Feeney Bespoke Footwear, George of Yiorgos the Cobbler, Henry VanderSpek and David and Richard Markowitz of DAVIDS.

Opening night was a real joy.

Peter Feeney of Peter Feeney Bespoke Footwear and myself on opening night

Emmanuel Farré of Farré by Emmanuel and I Emmanuel Farré was kind enough to loan me a pair of his beautiful hand-painted shoes for the opening night. I felt like a star!

See this page for more details about the exhibit (currently on until Feb 19th at Capri Shoes), including media coverage, as well as my thanks and acknowledgements of the many who helped to make it happen! A special thanks to Olga Schellenberg, along with other Artscape staff, who helped so much with making it happen!

My friend Sammy Younan interviewed me for his podcast about my photography and Old World Shoes. I got a bit choked speaking about my Dad, but I think it was a good discussion thanks to excellent interview questions by Sammy. Please have a listen!


9. Assisting With Two Documentaries

In early 2021 my friend, filmmaker Simon Madore, spoke with me about a project he was working on called "Excluded by Design" which is part of a program by Hot Docs called Citizen Minutes.  The theme of the film - about Notice of Development signs and how governments can improve their civic engagement, featureing Toronto activist Dave Meslin - aligned with a photo series that I have been working on. In the end I was able to contribute three of my images for use in the project. Here is one of them:


In late 2022 I had another opportunity to work with Cat Mills, a documentary filmmaker who has made a number of creative and meaningful films.

I had a great time working as an on-set photographer for Cat Mills on Big Men, Small Dogs and Mesdames of Mayhem, so when a new opportunity came up, I could not say no!

This new documentary, titled "The Billboard Squad", is about illegal billboards in Toronto and, funny enough, also features author and activist Dave Meslin's work to raise awareness and to provoke action on them.

Dave Meslin has been a leader on so many important issues regarding civic engagement, and is the founder of both the Toronto Public Space Committee and Cycle Toronto, so it was a privilege to capture images of him taking creative action on this issue.


10. Being Thankful

Like many artists, I have moments of discouragement and self-doubt. I wonder whether what I am doing is meaningful or making a difference, or where I am headed with my work. Looking back on the past year like this helps me to listen to logic over emotion, and to recognize that I have received many good opportunities, and have much to be thankful for. I feel that very much as I look back on 2021, and indeed give thanks.

I will close with this image...


"It's true today as it ever was. He who seeks beauty will find it."

- Bill Cunningham (said in Bill Cunningham: New York)

Best wishes and stay well!

P.S. If you wish to see any of my Favourite Photo Moments of past years, click the links below:

- 2020

- 2019

- 2018

- 2017

- 2016

- 2015

[email protected] (Culture Snap - Award-Winning Photography by Henry VanderSpek) 2021 art photography favourite photo moments Toronto toronto photography Toronto street photography year in review Fri, 04 Feb 2022 18:11:03 GMT
Bikes of Montreal After a long time at home in Toronto, it was a thrill to head to Montreal with my good friend Sammy (see his blog here) in mid-July 2021.

Sammy and I had plans to be in Montreal in April 2020 but that was of course not possible.

Strange objects, scrawled messages, light and shadow, and intriguing juxtapositions all call out to me when I'm walking around - but nothing quite draws my eyes the way a bike in a distinct setting does.

And so, I present to you, Bikes of Montreal! I hope you enjoy the ride! 

I love Montreal. I have great memories of many family vacations there from when I was younger, and have gone back many times since.

Bikes - even when leaning against a wall - can at times feel like works of art to me...


When they are found outside of an art gallery there's another level of atmosphere about them.

A bike in front of La Guilde, founded in 1906 to "preserve, promote and increase awareness for Inuit art, First Nations art and Fine Crafts from Canada".


The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (south side of Sherbrooke St W). "Twin 6' Hearts" sculpture by American artist Jim DIne.


The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (north side of Sherbrooke St W). The elaborate glasswork art is by Dale Chihuly.


Bikes add a stylish touch to almost any setting, whether a graffiti covered wall, or next to a beautiful mural (Montreal has plenty of those)...

A bike outside of Camellia Sinensis, a stylish tea shop in Montreal's Villeray neighbourhood.


No Justice No Peace, by artists Louis Letters and Tshoko, working together as @salesmomesmtl.


Live Free. Love Life. Art (in the above three window spaces) by Montreal artist Adida Fallen Angel.


Old Montreal offered many moments to celebrate bikes...

A bike in front of the very tempting ice cream shop Mlle Catherine in Old Montreal.

Le Petit Dep in Old Montreal.



We had fun exploring the thrift stores and funky shops in the Plateau and Mile End neighbourhoods (near Mont-Royal and St. Denis)...

Super cool vintage store Hadio 514.

Paul's Boutique has an incredible collection of music and movies.


A scene from the window of Le Fameux Deli.

Mont-Royal Hot Dog


A Montreal classic - Wilensky's.

Schwartz's Deli is well worth the trip - but so is Wilensky's.

Be sure to check them out when you visit Montreal! (Right near Fairmount Bagel, another classic worth visiting!


We had a nice time strolling the pedestrian and bike-friendly Wellington Street of Verdun...

Employees of Cloud 9?! (The fictional store featured in the popular comedy series "Superstore".)

A Peugot outside of a Loco grocery in Verdun.


Stairs are a big feature of many Montreal homes...


Just like in Toronto, bikes in Montreal also have a mysterious way of coming apart!


A few more bike images before I end...

La Belle Province Restaurant

I've only previously seen bike parking like this in Europe. Well done Montreal.

Cleverly named bike store Bikurious.

The marquee at Club Soda music venue advertises a show for comedian Rosalie Vaillancourt.

Paix Peace

I've done three other "Bikes of..." blog posts:

- Bikes of Mexico City

- Bikes of Havana

- Bikes of New York City

And here are some of my favourite images of bikes as well as my Instagram feed, where bikes often appear in my images.

Many of my images are available as prints, so if you are interested, just send me a message and I'll be happy to help.


I will end with one of my favourite images that I took in Montreal - of Leonard Cohen overlooking a lone cyclist on Crescent Street.

Click here to learn more about the mural, which was made by Gene Pendron and El Mac and is based on a photo taken by Leonard Cohen's daughter Lorca Cohen.

Stay tuned as I hope to feature more posts of images from Montreal.

UPDATE: I've added a blog post featuring Montreal on Film. Click here to have a look!

Thanks for looking and happy cycling wherever you may be!

[email protected] (Culture Snap - Award-Winning Photography by Henry VanderSpek) bicycle photography Bicycles of Montreal bike photography bikes bikes of Montreal Montreal Montréal Montreal tourism Quebec street photography Tourisme Montréal Vélos Vélos de Montréal Wed, 15 Sep 2021 16:20:02 GMT
Bikes of New York City - July 2019 For several years - until the pandemic hit - my friend Sammy and I did an annual trip to a unique city. On each trip Sammy would interview local creative leaders for his podcast, My Summer Lair, and I would find opportunities to expand my photo skills via workshops, conferences or by just exploring interesting neighbourhoods. In July 2019 our trip was to New York City.


It is spring in the northern hemisphere as I write this, and many are choosing two wheels as a safe way to navigate their hometown, so it feels timely to share images of bikes in all their glory.

Bushwick Colours

In this blog I will share:

- street scenes with bikes in them, including some taken on film, from New York City in July 2019

- info about street photography workshops in NYC

- info about bike advocacy

- links to my other bike related posts and images

My apologies if this post makes you want to shop for a new bike. If you've tried to buy a new bike this past year, you'll know how hard it is to find one given the global shortage. I wish you success if you are looking!

Brooklyn Heights Deli

Crossing Atlantic (Avenue)


Except Bikes


Psychic Crystal Readings


No Trash


Soho Grand Hotel


Amici Ristorante


Crossing Mulberry


Pershing Square

Thumbs Up

Great Minds


Crossing 42nd Street


E-bikes were not very common in Toronto in 2019, but in New York we saw them were everywhere we went.

They are much more common in Toronto now.


Sunshine I


Big Lies


Diamond Bike I

Diamond Bike II


Panama Wheels


Street Photography Workshops

Some of the images shared here were taken during a photo workshop I took one afternoon with Leanne Staples who runs Shoot New York City.

Leanne offers photo tours in a range of New York neighbourhoods. The Midtown Manhattan workshop that I participated in was a great experience. Leanne is a licensed New York City tour guide and a talented street photographer. She got to know each of the tour participants and shared personalized tips and insights and took us to unique spots that we likely would not have noticed otherwise.

Leanne is again able to offer workshops, following proper safety protocols, so if you can make it to New York City I highly recommend taking a workshop with her through Shoot New York City.

If you are interested in learning street photography in Toronto, please contact me. I run training sessions for individuals or small groups and will be ready to do so again once health conditions allow. Click here for details about what I can offer and click here to send me a message.

Business As Usual


All Year Long


Sunshine II


Spring Loaded


Bike Blues


Wings & Wheels


Ready to Rock



This next one is dedicated to my friend James, who I've shared many travel adventures with...

JAMES, New York


Shu Han Ju


Setting The Standard


Apple Parking


Defend The North


Manufacturers Trust Company


Wheels Up In Soho


Here also are some film photos of street scenes with bikes that I took in July 2019:

Brooklyn Black and White

Konica Auto S3, Kodak Tri-X 400

Golden City

Canon Sure Shot Look, Kodak Ektar 100


6th Avenue

Canon Sure Shot Look, Kodak Ektar 100


Long Island Restaurant

Canon Sure Shot Look, Kodak Ektar 100


Red Cap and Ready

Canon Sure Shot Look, Kodak Ektar 100

Bike Advocacy

If you have a bike advocacy organization in your city or region, I highly recommend becoming a member. Organizations like Cycle Toronto do excellent work to advocate for safe cycling conditions and to educate and inspire people to get out there and ride safely.


I Do Love Bikes...

Bikes have been a big theme for me in my photography.

In 2014 I did an exhibit at the Runnymede Public Library called "The Foot That Moves the Pedal"...

I've done three other "Bikes of..." posts:

- Bikes of Mexico City (2017)

- Bikes of Havana  (2019)

- Bikes of Montreal (2021)

And here are some of my favourite images of bikes as well as my Instagram feed, where bikes often appear.

Most of my images are available as prints, so if you are interested, just send me a message and I'll be happy to help.

I will end with one last image from New York City, July 2019. A timeless rule to live by...

Love Your Neighbor

Canon Sure Shot Look, Kodak Ektar 100

[email protected] (Culture Snap - Award-Winning Photography by Henry VanderSpek) bicycle photography Bicycles of New York bikes Bikes of New York City film photography New York street photography street photography Fri, 23 Apr 2021 17:35:01 GMT
A Year In Colour Film 2020 - Part II I am still enchanted

by the light you brought to me

I listen through your ears,

And through your eyes I can see

- Stuck In A Moment, U2


This post is Part II of "My Year in Colour Film 2020". Click here to see Part I.

Unless mentioned, all images here were taken with my Canon AE-1 camera.

Film types, and alternate cameras used, are indicated below each image.

OK See You

Kodak Colour Film

Canon Sure Shot Look

I was very disappointed to hear the news that one of my favourite shows, Kim's Convenience, will be ending with the current season. This show brought so much joy and laughter and will be dearly missed by so many.

I can't help but mention that one of my images will be on a future episode of the fifth and final season. (Click here to see more about my image being on the final episode). I am so excited and thankful for the opportunity.

My best wishes to each of the Kim's Convenience creators and actors as they move to new projects.

Colours at Work

Kodak Ektar 100 120 film

Fujica GS645W (Click here to see more images shot with this camera)

Terry's Milk

Kodak Ektar 100 120 film

Fujica GS645W (Click here to see more images shot with this camera)

The faded yellow sign drew me in to take this photo. It has since been replaced with a newer one, proving that the best time to take a photo is now!

Crossing Spadina

Kodak Ektar 100


Kodak Ektar 100

I took this portrait of Carolyn, who has cut my hair for many years now, in June 2020. It was my first haircut in many months.

Carolyn is an artist and a very creative person who I am thankful to know. As with many who have been out of work due to pandemic related closures, it was also a tough go for her. One way that Carolyn made use of her time while away from her profession was by serving those without safe shelter living in a nearby park.

Heading East On Queen

Kodak Ektar 100

Steve's Music

Fuji Velvia 100

I love Steve's Music, one of the original stores of Queen Street West.

True Love Café

Kodak Ektar 100

The café is closed, but true love never dies. :)

Take What You Need

Kodak Gold 200

I love all the encouraging messages that I saw on the streets of Toronto over the past year.

I shared some of them in my Colours of Love blog post, seen here.

Won't Be Beat

Kodak Gold 200

Canon Sure Shot Look

Taken in Grand Bend, August 2020

Self Portrait

Kodak Portra 160

Taken at the lovely "A Room in Paris" store on Queen Street West.

You'll Love What You Find Here

Kodak Portra 160

Secure Checkout

Kodak Ektar 100

This cart full of security cameras left on Queen Street East was a real mystery.

Heaven is a place on earth

Kodak Ektar 100

Salonica Pant Shop

Kodak Ektar 100

Rode Klompen

Kodak Ektar 100

One of many colourful things in my mother's home.

Skyline Restaurant

Kodak Ektar 100

Be Kind. Thank you!

Kodak Color Plus 200

Olympus Stylus Zoom

Passing Portrait

Kodak Color Plus 200

Olympus Stylus Zoom

I have a photo of the auto shop in the background in Part One of this blog.

And It Was All Yellow

Kodak Ektar 100

A classic car in front of the classic Downtown Camera, where I get my film developed.

To know more about this vehicle, read the comments in my Instagram post of this image.

Toronto to the Core

Kodak Ektar 100

The Avenue Diner

Kodak Ektar 100

Blue Diamond Jewellers

Kodak Ektar 100

Find The Love

Kodak Ektar 100

A wonderful mural by Bareket Kezwer

Portrait of my good friend Sammy Younan, host of pop culture podcast My Summer Lair.

Rolling Through The Six

Kodak Ektar 100

Taking It In

Kodak Gold 200

What's In Fashion

Kodak Gold 200

Click here to see a black and white version of this scene that I shared on Instagram.

Latin Fever

Kodak Gold 200


Kodak Color Plus 200

B & B Fish & Chips

Kodak Color Plus 200

We Buy Your Books

Kodak Color Plus 200 Textures of Toronto

Kodak Ektar 100

What If We All Had Love?

Kodak Ektar 100

Wait Here

Kodak Ektar 100

Olympus Trip 35

Bench and Board

Kodak Ektar 100

Olympus Trip 35


Thanks for looking! Best wishes and stay well!

Most of my images are available as prints. To inquire, just click here and send me a message.

Related blog posts:

- A Year in Colour Film 2020 - Part I

- A Year in Black and White Film - 2020

- Favourite Photo Moments of 2020

- 120 Vision - Medium Format Film with a Fujica GS645W

- A Year in Colour Film 2019 - Part One

- A Year in Colour Film 2019 - Part Two

[email protected] (Culture Snap - Award-Winning Photography by Henry VanderSpek) art photography best of 2020 colour film photography film photography Kodak film street photography Toronto toronto photography Toronto street photography Tue, 09 Mar 2021 18:35:53 GMT
A Year In Colour Film 2020 - Part I  I will not forsake, the colours that you bring

But the nights you filled with fireworks

They left you with nothing

- Stuck In A Moment, U2


Getting to know, first-hand, the unique qualities of a variety of colour film types over the past few years has been a lot of fun.

I shoot a lot more colour film than I do black and white, so will share my favourites of 2020 in two parts (as I did last year). So please stay tuned for a follow-up post.

The majority of images shared here were captured on my Canon AE-1, with a 28mm or 50mm lens. I will indicate the film type below each image, and alternate camera, when used.

Here we go...

Queen East Snowfall

Kodak Ektar 100

This auto shop has been converted into the Flying Squirrel Motorcycle Company. Read more here.


Capitalism Kills

Kodak Ektar 100



Kodak Ektar 100, Double Exposure

  Sideways Snow

Kodak Gold 200

Nikon Lite Touch compact camera


My Damn Self

Kodak Color Plus 200


Coming Soon

Kodak Color Plus 200

Ossington Love

Kodak Color Plus 200

Kaleidescope of the Senses

Winter Station by Charlie Sutherland of SUHUHA Architecture of Edinburgh, Scotland, seen on Woodbine Beach, Toronto

Kodak Ektar 100

Canon Sure Shot Look camera

This year's winter stations have been selected, but are delayed. Click here to see the very neat designs, hopefully coming soon.


Classy Corner

Kodak Ektar 100

El Mocambo

Kodak Ektar 100

If you follow me, you know I have a thing for this great music venue (link to their website).

Here's hoping live music will play there again in 2021.

Home TV Service

Kodak Ektar 100

Around the Corner

Kodak Gold 200

Morals on Church

Expired Black's 200 Film

Burt's Fish and Chips

Expired Black's 200 Film


ABC Books

Kodak Gold 200

Canon Sure Shot Look


The Saj

Kodak Gold 200

Canon Sure Shot Look

In This Together

Kodak Gold 200

Canon Sure Shot Look

Days A Week

Kodak Portra 400 120 film

Fujica GS645W camera (Click here to see more images shot with this camera)

Dolce & Gabbana

Kodak Portra 400 120 film

Fujica GS645W camera (Click here to see more images shot with this camera)

Housing 4 All!!

Kodak Portra 400 120 film

Fujica GS645W camera (Click here to see more images shot with this camera)

4 Bites More

Kodak Portra 400 120 film

Fujica GS645W camera (Click here to see more images shot with this camera)

24 HRS

Kodak Portra 400 120 film

Fujica GS645W (Click here to see more images shot with this camera)

Life Is Cancelled

Kodak Gold 200

Corona Capitalism

Kodak Gold 200

Capes For Kids

Kodak Gold 200

Classic Wheels

Kodak Gold 200

  City Bench

Kodak Gold 200

Made In Toronto

Kodak Ektar 100

Social Bubble

Kodak Ektar 100


Self Portrait

Kodak Ektar 100

New York Fur

Kodak Ektar 100

Social Norms

Kodak Ektar 100

Take Care Of Each Other

Kodak Ektar 100 120 film

Fujica GS645W (Click here to see more images shot with this camera)

Pappas Grill

Kodak Ektar 100 120 film

Fujica GS645W (Click here to see more images shot with this camera)

The Future Is Not Set (quote on poster by Shawn Micallef)

Kodak Ektar 100 120 film

Fujica GS645W (Click here to see more images shot with this camera)


Kodak Gold 200

Canon Sure Shot Look

I always enjoy meeting people while I am out taking photos. Charlene and I had a good conversation about the boarded up stores on Bloor Street that day. You can read more about our meeting in my Boards Up, Walls Down Part II blog post.

Thanks for looking! Stay tuned for a part two of this blog post.

Related blog posts:

- A Year in Black and White Film - 2020

- Favourite Photo Moments of 2020

- 120 Vision - Medium Format Film with a Fujica GS645W

- A Year in Colour Film 2019 - Part One

- A Year in Colour Film 2019 - Part Two

[email protected] (Culture Snap - Award-Winning Photography by Henry VanderSpek) 35mm art photography believe in film documentary photography film photography Kodak Ektar 100 medium format street photography Toronto Tue, 02 Mar 2021 16:21:04 GMT
A Year In Black and White Film - 2020 Edition I have continued to enjoy shooting film since I came back to it in 2017.

In this post I share my favourite black and white film photos from 2020.

Most of these images were taken with my Konica Auto S3. I indicate which film type was used below each image.

Thirsty Branches

Kodak Tri-X 400

Wherever possible, I have included website and Google Maps links for the small businesses that appear in these images.

Please continue to support local businesses and to keep local alive.


A McCaul Moment

Ilford Ortho 80


The image below of a pedestrian getting splashed by a passing TTC bus, from February 2020, seemed to foreshadow what was coming in the year ahead - a deadly virus that caught most of us quite off guard.

Pape Puddle

Kodak Tri-X 400


Tasty Shadows

Ilford Ortho 80

I have another photo from this spot that has been popular at my art shows.


One Last Text

Kodak T-Max 400


Hung Up

Kodak T-Max 400


Reverse Psychology at Work

Private Salon

1038 Gerrard Street East

Ilford HP5+ 400


I enjoyed shooting 120/medium format film with my friend Simon's Fujica GS645W.

To see more medium format photos click on the words "120 film" below any of the next three images.

Vanity Co.

824 Broadview Avenue

Expired Kodak Acros 100 120 film

Captured with a Fujica GS645W


Layers of Motion (Triple Exposure)

Expired Kodak Acros 100 120 film

Captured with a Fujica GS645W


Ordinary Streets

Expired Kodak Acros 100 120 film

Captured with a Fujica GS645W


Bring Joy

Kodak Eastman Double-X 5222


Danny's Hairstylist for Men

Kodak Eastman Double-X 5222



Kodak Eastman Double-X 5222


My Mommy is the Best

Lomography Potsdam 100


I met the owner of this classic Pontiac Parisienne while I was in Bobcaygeon last summer and he kindly let me take photos of his beautiful vehicle.

Bobcaygeon Parisienne

Kodak Tri-X 400


Danforth Free Bird

Kodak Tri-X 400


Too Much to Dream

Ilford HP5+ 400



Ilford HP5+ 400


John's Video

636 Pape Avenue

Ilford HP5+ 400


Pigeons of Parkdale

Ilford HP5+ 400


Katana on Bay

333 Bay Street

Lomography Berlin Kino 400


What's In Fashion

Fuji Acros 100 II


25% Off

Fuji Acros 100 II



Fuji Acros 100 II


Gus The Other Barber

701 Bloor Street West

Fuji Acros 100 II


Yonge & Dundas Square

Kodak T-Max 400


Going in Circles

Kodak T-Max 400


In Stitches

Kodak T-Max 400


Oppositional Forces

Kodak T-Max 400


Chair Shadows

Samaira's Restaurant

1056 Queen Street East

Kodak T-Max 400


Do You Love Freedom?

Ilford HP5+ 400


Seoul Shakers

1241 Bloor Street West

Ilford HP5+ 400


Colonialism Does Not Spark Joy

Ilford HP5+ 400


B-Side Bike

B-Side Barbers

428 St. Clarens Avenue

Ilford HP5+ 400



Ilford HP5+ 400


There are a number of black and white film photos from 2020 that I did not include here as I already posted them on Instagram. Click here if you'd like to see those ones also.

Despite the discouragements of 2020, I had a number of encouraging moments. Click here to see my Favourite Photo Moments of 2020.

Here are my favourite Black and White photos from 2019, and 2018.

Most of my images are available as prints. If interested, click here to send me a note and I'll be happy to help.

Best wishes to you in 2021!

[email protected] (Culture Snap - Award-Winning Photography by Henry VanderSpek) believe in film black and white film photography film photography street photography Toronto toronto photography Toronto street photography Thu, 11 Feb 2021 16:11:20 GMT
Favourite Photo Moments of 2020 "They tell me everything is gonna be alright,

But I don't know what alright even means"

- Bob Dylan, Trying to Get to Heaven Before They Close the Door


The above song by Bob Dylan was one of several songs that frequently came to my mind in 2020.

While 2020 was quite discouraging at times, my family and community were a great support in getting through.

Throughout any discouragements, I remained deeply aware of how much I have to be thankful for.

In that spirit of thankfulness, I share my annual post of my favourite photo moments of the past year...


Kodak Ektar 100 Film, Double Exposure


1. You Are Here Exhibit

I was happy to have my image "From Mind to Body" included in the "You Are Here" exhibit.

"You Are Here"  was exhibited in March 2020 by the University of Toronto's Faculty of Information Studies at the John B. Aird Gallery on Queen Street West.

The exhibit brought together many talented artists with a wide range of styles and methods.

I was honoured that my image was chosen for the poster and promotional materials.

2. Film Photography

I continued to shoot film photos throughout the past year...

Classy Corner

Kodak Ektar 100 Film


I mainly used my old Canon AE-1 for colour film, and my Konica Auto S3 for black and white.

Wash & Fold Service

Kodak T-Max 400 Film


One fun change for me was shooting 120 medium format film with my friend Simon's Fujica GS645w camera.

4 Bites More

Expired Kodak Portra 400 film


Click here to see my blog post about shooting 120 film with the Fujica GS645w.

Be Kind - Thank You!

Kodak Color Plus 200 Film


I recently added a blog post of my favourite black and white film photos of 2020, which can be seen here.

Here is Part I and here is Part II of my favourite colour film images of 2020.

One Last Text

Kodak T-Max 400


3. Documenting Scott Mission

In the first week of the pandemic I was able to capture images of the staff of The Scott Mission at work.


The Scott Mission, does excellent work assisting those living on the street and who are facing income challenges with a range of services.


2020 brought extra challenges to all shelter and street-serving agencies, and to those that they serve, making their work more important than ever...

The Scott Mission social mediaThe Scott Mission social mediaMy images, taken during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, are being used on The Scott Mission's social media channels to show how they are adapting in order to continue serving Toronto's vulnerable homeless population.


I am thankful that my images of The Scott Mission staff serving Toronto could be used in a large number of their email, social media and print campaigns (all of the images shown here were taken by me).

Click here to visit The Scott Mission's website, or here to follow them on Instagram.


If your organization needs help with telling your story in images and in words, I am available to assist. I have 15 years experience working for non-profit organizations, and several years more in documenting the meaningful acts that they do every day. Here are some kind words about my work. I can be contacted here.


4. Running/Phone Photography

Running (at a safe distance from others) was one of the few activities that I was able to continue doing during the 2020 lockdown.

Having my phone with me while running allowed me to document many of the changes I was seeing due to COVID-19.

Simon's Wok, 757 Gerrard St. E.


It was heartbreaking to see how local small businesses were affected by the pandemic.

Stunning Nails, 272 Danforth Avenue


I was encouraged by the many community efforts to shop local though.

Riverside Toronto BIA sign


Here are some of the blog posts I shared in 2020 that mainly feature images I captured with my phone while out running:

- Signs and Streets of the Quarantine - Part One

- Signs and Streets of the Quarantine - Part Two

- Expressions of Love in 2020

- Street Photos of 2020 - Phone Edition


5. Street Photography

Going out to capture street scenes once a week (at minimum) is part of my artistic discipline.


- in front of A Room In Paris, at 1631 Queen Street West.


I naturally had to pause my street photography once the March 2020 lockdown happened, but after a few months I was able to establish a safe approach to doing so once again.

A Yonge Moment


Love Yourself


Here are some additional blog posts of street scenes that I shared in 2020:

- Boards Up, Walls Down - Part One

- Boards Up, Walls Down - Part Two

- COVID Messages


6. A New Online Store

I normally participate in some 8-10 or more art shows every year.

Photo by Jan Willem van Swigchem

Taken several years ago at the Danforth East Arts Fair


These events are where I normally sell my photos, as well as pillows, bags and other items with my images on them.

Honest LightHonest LightA street scene outside of Honest Ed's, captured in early 2016.

Product Details:
- 20" x 14"
- Made in Montreal, QC, Canada
- durable 100% polyester canvas
- 50,000 double rub count for extra durability
- Printed with fade-resistant solvent-free inks
- YKK Zipper enclosure
- Synthetic down pillow inserts available (a small extra cost)
To order just
email me the link of which style(s) and quantity, along with your mailing address, and I will send you a quote with shipping.
Honest Light

Unfortunately I was unable to participate in any such events in 2020.

Thankfully I was able to benefit from a program called Digital Main Street/Shop Here that helps artists and businesses get their products online.

I now have a website called where almost all of my art products can be purchased!

My thanks to those who run Digital Main Street/ShopHere!

If you are an artist or own a small business and want to get your work online, be sure to check them out.


7. Good News

While 2020 was a slow year for my art and event photography, I did have at least two extra good news moments:

- Kim's Convenience

In the fall of 2020 I was invited to have one of my images used in the very popular CBC sit-com Kim's Convenience. My image, shown below, will appear in the upcoming Season 5, Episode 13. I'm so excited to see the episode and am very thankful to the Kim's Convenience team for this opportunity.

Kim's ConvenienceKim's ConvenienceA long-exposure of the storefront representing one of Canada's most popular sit-coms, Kim's Convenience.
I am so thankful that this image was used in several scenes of the final episode of Kim's Convenience. The show was such a gift of joy and laughter that comes from honest expression of our shared humanity - something all of us can share in and aspire to.
This image is available as a print and in photo art products that I sell, including a pillow. Visit for more details or send me an email to inquire.

- SNAP Toronto

I was very happy to learn in 2020 that two of my images were selected for the SNAP Toronto Auction, which raises money for the AIDS Committee of Toronto. I  have submitted images to this event once or twice in the past, but this is the first time my work has been selected.

Life is Cancelled

Kodak T-Max 400 Film

Gryphons of College Street

Lomography Potsdam 100 Film


While I received both of these good news points in 2020, they each happen, or come to life, in 2021 - so expect to see these mentioned next year in my blog looking back on 2021!


8. Shoe Store Project

Since late 2017 I have been documenting older shoe and shoe repair stores of Toronto.

Shoe Lasts at Nick's Custom Footwear & Repair, January 2020


I am thankful that I was still able to do a number of interviews for this project in 2020.

Interviewing City Councillor Brad Bradford at Aviator Restaurant on the Danforth.

Thanks to Stewart Pope for this photo.


I am looking forward to May 2021, when I will be exhibiting Old World Shoes in the Contact Photo Festival. Stay tuned for details!


9.Through Our Eyes Collective

In the spring of 2020 I joined up with several other photographers to form the Through Our Eyes Collective, thanks to the leadership of Nicole Cyhelka.

In a time of social distancing, having this group to connect with via Zoom meetings, was a real gift.

Being part of a community of photographers is something I really value, and the TOEC helped to keep that alive this past year.

In early June we did our first online exhibit featuring images each of our members captured during the early part of the pandemic.

In the fall each of us worked on interpreting the phrase "Colours of Love" in our images.

We then presented our work in our second online exhibit, appropriately titled "Colours of Love".

I shared my images from this exhibit in this blog post, Expressions of Love in 2020.

The TOEC continues to meet on a regular basis to encourage each other in our photography skills and creative vision.


10. Good Friends

For the past several years I have enjoyed an annual trip for educational and cultural purposes with my good friend Sammy Younan.

Mexico City, 2017

I would attend a conference or workshop on photography, and Sammy would interview talented authors, start-up innovators, or artists for his podcast My Summer Lair.

Sammy interviewing Ali Hassan in Toronto, December 2019.

Sammy and I were scheduled to be in Montreal in April 2020, but of course that wasn't possible. Instead we found a few times to meet up for socially distant walks here in Toronto - exploring and taking photos, much like we did when visiting other cities.

Sammy in front of Find The Love mural by Bareket Kezwer on the Danforth.

Kodak Ektar 100 film

Even though we couldn't travel in 2020, and perhaps not in 2021 either, I'm thankful for good friends like Sammy.

Seen on Sammy's website: "Batman had Alfred, pop culture has me."

If you like lively interviews with interesting authors, artists and more, be sure to check out My Summer Lair or follow Sammy here and here on Twitter.


11. Light Up Live

I observed many campaigns on Toronto's streets in 2020.

Keep Your Rent - Gerrard Street East


Toronto Speak Out

Signs against racism by East York community members posted outside Michael Garron Hospital.


Housing 4 All!!

Coxwell Avenue

Expired Portra 400 120mm film


I am thankful for all who are standing up in support of the most vulnerable, for social justice and for equality - during the pandemic and at all times.

One campaign that I had the chance to document more intentionally was the Light Up Live campaign.

Light Up Live was a campaign to raise awareness of the challenges facing the live event industry. Live music and theatre venues all across Canada took part.

Meridian Hall

While I really miss live music and theatre, I expect no one misses these as much as those involved with running these arts organizations...

Canadian Stage Company staff gather outside of the Berkeley Street Theatre on Sept 22nd 2020, in recognition of the Light Up Live campaign.

Click here to see more images of the Light Up Live campaign in Toronto.


Many issues remain, so let's stay engaged and active for good in 2021. Doing that will get us closer to finding what "alright" means.


I will leave you with this image, captured in early 2020 while on a run along Kingston Road...

Why Did The Chicken Cross The Road?


Best wishes and stay safe in 2021!

P.S. If you wish to see any of my Favourite Photo Moments of past years, click the links below:

- 2019

- 2018

- 2017

- 2016

- 2015

[email protected] (Culture Snap - Award-Winning Photography by Henry VanderSpek) art photography documentary photography favourite photo moments Toronto toronto photography year in review Wed, 27 Jan 2021 16:02:18 GMT
Street Scenes of 2020 - Phone Edition "Nothing happens when you sit at home.

I always make it a point to carry a camera with me at all times...

I just shoot at what interests me at that moment."

— Elliott Erwitt


In this blog post I share my favourite street scenes that I made with my phone in 2020.

Danny's Hairstylist for Men

I shared several posts in 2020 featuring scenes that directly relate to COVID-19 and the pandemic:

Birds of Gerrard Street East

In this post though, I only share street scenes that are free from COVID-19 events or messaging (as much as they can be, given that they are from 2020).

Rainy Skyline

Most of the images I share here were captured while out on runs - an activity I was already doing before the lockdown, but which has been very helpful for my physical and mental health.

Wok & Roast Chinese BBQ

Running allowed me to see parts of the city I would simply not have gotten to this year, given the lockdown and my busy life at home.

Free From Time

I ran at least three times a week, distances ranging from 5 or 6 kms on weekdays, to 20-22 kms on my weekend run.

So while it may appear that I took photos more than I ran, that was not the case! :)

Lucky Star Restaurant

I've always loved the look of the Lucky Star Restaurant. There is clearly such character and history in this place. Unfortunately I believe it has recently closed.


China Lily

China Lily is another place that I love the appearance of (click here to see a photo I took here a while ago).

Sadly the China Lily sign was recently taken down - a likely indicator of changes to come at this spot.


Count me in on any old school signage and typography - such as is found at the Leslieville Variety...

Leslieville Variety


Some scenes seemed to tell a story...

Altered Priorities


I live close to the Danforth, and love the character and variety of what can be found there.

So naturally I am drawn to Danforth signage...

(Each of the above images were taken on different dates.)


Pape Avenue always offered interesting scenes...

Vincent on Pape


I Acknowledge

(A land acknowledgement in a store window.)

Take For Free


At the Crossroads


Early in the summer I was in Ottawa and went for a run through the city...

Statue honouring the life and music of Oscar Peterson by Ruth Abernathy.


The Canadian Bank of Commerce on Sparks Street


Running for Office

(Canadian Parliament Buildings, view from Wellington Street)


Back in Toronto I encountered a number of things that made me smile...

The Original Tweet

Call Mom

Hello wonderful

Nooo Men

Slow Dance With Me

Free Compliments


These scenes from a summer trip to the Kawartha Lakes region also made me laugh...

No Trespassing Paul

(So specific!)


0 Assing


Some of my runs took me through downtown Toronto...

The Saj

Spadina Morning


You & Me



Dundas Dragons


Let's Go


The Solitude of Yonge

Condos Ahead!

Full Of Style

  Prince Edward Viaduct


Shopping carts made a regular appearance in curious ways...

Canadian Cart

Stay Well Toronto


Free Free Now


Secure Shopping


Broke Every Record


This early morning sky took my breath away...

And this neon scene made an evening run extra sweet...


Circus Books and Music often caught my eye...

Across the Lines


Along A Long Road


Book Ends


Curious items and arrangements caught my eye...

Fenced In


True Prep

90% Angel


First Class Seat - 2020 Edition


Lines Are Drawn


Over the months I observed changes in graffiti...

This is stupid, for good!



(This graffiti artist is very active in this area, near Woodbine and Gerrard.)


I enjoyed a number of runs along the scenic boardwalk in The Beach neighbourhood...

I'll share a few more scenes from along the Danforth...

Mary's Brigadeiro

(A wonderful Danforth chocolate shop. Click the above link to visit them online.)

Trail of Toffee

Heading East


Two more from Gerrard Street East...

Birds of Gerrard Street East II

Wheels on Gerrard


And I will end with this...

Lonely Nights In Toronto


I am very thankful I could get out the door in 2020 to run, and to take photos.

Thank you for sticking with me, and for viewing my images.

Please stay tuned for a post with my favourite photo moments of 2020. (An annual tradition for me.)

Best wishes to you in 2021!

[email protected] (Culture Snap - Award-Winning Photography by Henry VanderSpek) 2020 iPhone 11 Pro shot on iPhone street photography Toronto toronto photography Toronto street photography Mon, 11 Jan 2021 17:50:58 GMT
Colours of Love: Expressions of Love in 2020 What the world needs now is love, sweet love

It's the only thing, that there's just too little of

- What The World Needs Now, Burt Bacharach


In early December I joined with fellow members of the Through Our Eyes Collective in presenting the online exhibit Colours of Love.

Colours of Love was presented by Zahra Baksh, Nicole Cyhelka, Sabrina La Vista, Ahely Shemontee, Lorraine Stanislaus, and myself, and facilitated by Deena Rich. Each photographer brought a unique vision of the theme Colours of Love which they shared in images and their accompanying narrative.

Click any of the above links to follow these talented photographers, and here to follow the Through Our Eyes Collective.

In this blog post I share my presentation for the Colours of Love exhibit, which I entitled "Expressions of Love".

(Lights at Meridian Hall)

While 2020 has brought so much hardship, I have been moved by the many methods people have taken to spread love this past year. I have grouped these into seven points, with some overlap between them:

  1. Creative Interventions
  2. Black Lives Matter / Anti-Racism Movement
  3. Artist: Mrs. D.
  4. Support For Frontline Workers
  5. Artist: Unicorn Shannon
  6. Light Up Live
  7. Words Of Love

Many of these images were taken on my cell phone while running - an activity that helped keep me in balance during this very tough year.

1. Creative Interventions

This may be the largest category that I observed this past year - caring people using creative means to help us see the world with fresh eyes, and to free us from negative perspectives that may understandably set in due to the pandemic.

1.a - On This Day Signboard

I spotted this whiteboard off of Donlands in East York while out on a run in the spring...

...and again many times since. What a great way to engage people with thoughtful and inspiring moments from history!

Follow them on Twitter and Instagram at @UBIboard to keep up with their daily signs.

1.b Free Roses

"Have A Rose. Have A Great Day." So simple and so kind and encouraging.

(Seen a few times along Mortimer between Coxwell and Woodbine in East York).

1.c Free Plants and Seeds

This kind soul on Mortimer, a little east of Broadview, had a very organized giveaway of plants and seeds on their front lawn. The cards and messages found there were especially touching - and, as seen above, this person is also running a "bike project" of some sort!

There are clearly many wonderful people in this world that we never hear about - but who are doing so much to show love to others.

1.d Humour

I expect humour helped many of us break out of our doomscrolling, right? I've laughed so many times in 2020 thanks to memes that pointed out the absurdity of all that we are experiencing this year.

(Found in East York earlier in the year.)

1.e Kindness Rocks

If you look closely, there are some very nice messages to be found on these stones.

My thanks to all who took the time to make and to place these where we would see them and be encouraged.

(Seen in multiple locations in East York and The Beach.)

1.f Public Art

So much could be said on this point! I actually single out two artists that inspired me later on in this blog post, but the point needs to be said clearly: art was even more meaningful to many this year due to the pandemic.

The Distillery District had art with encouraging messages that many needed to see and hear.

STEPS Initiative, local BIAs like the Danforth Mosaic BIA and the Royal Bank brought public art all over Toronto via the I HeART Main Street Art Challenge. Such a great program!

Thank you to all the artists who shared their love and creative vision in 2020!

2. Black Lives Matter / Anti-Racism Movement

2020 was a massive year for facing up to racial injustice and inequality, as well as personal privilege and biases.

I was moved by the many voices and actions calling for change. I observed many of these in signs around the city...

Tokyo Smoke (formerly HMV music) boarded up in advance of Black Lives Matters protests (as many downtown stores were that weekend) due to a misplaced fear of violence.

To see more of boarded up Toronto please visit Part One and Part Two of my "Boards Up, Walls Down" blog posts.

Some horrible acts of hate occurred at construction sites around Toronto, including at the Michael Garron Hospital in East York. The local community responded powerfully with signs and messages of defiance of these acts, and in support and of love for all people.

These signs and messages really made me proud, and showed the deep well of love that resides in local citizens of Toronto.

A very detailed mural in Scarborough that shows the heartbreaking loss of Black lives over the years.

(Seen while out for a run. I believe this was by Rosetta McLain Gardens on Kingston Road, south of Danforth Avenue).

(Seen a few blocks north of Broadview and the Danforth).

I saw similar additions to several of these signs in East York.

(On Haldon Avenue by the entrance to Taylor Creek Park.)

Use Your Love! Not Your Hate.

(Michael Garron Hospital)

Thank you to all who stood up against hate and for love of all people in 2020. May we continue to do even more for justice and equality in 2021.

3. Artist: "Mrs. D"

One of my running routes this year took me past a post that was regularly updated with fresh artwork...

They were all signed by someone known as "Mrs. D".

I especially love those birds with the big eyes.

My thanks to "Mrs. D" for taking the time to share her art all throughout 2020 for all to see. You shared love with many and it made a difference!

(See on Woodfield Road, near Wapole Avenue in East York)

4. Support For Frontline Workers

A very clear expression of love this year, shown throughout the world, was all the messages in support of Frontline Workers. Here are some that I observed...

A number of trees and lightposts along Mortimer Avenue had rainbows on them, all in support of essential workers. This was done in connection with a campaign called Abbey's Goal (click the link to learn more about this great campaign).

Homes in East York

Seen at Michael Garron Hospital

(Seen on Mortimer Avenue, between Coxwell and Woodbine.)

(Seen in a storefront window in The Beach.)

Thank you Frontline Workers!

Thank you to all who shared love and support for them as well!

5. Artist: Unicorn Shannon

I noticed this great artwork on the wall at Michael Garron Hospital wall earlier this year.

Later I began seeing this artist's work in other places around East York.

East End Arts (a wonderful Local Arts Service Organization!) did a nice feature on Unicorn Shannon earlier this year, which helped me to know who was making this lovely artwork.

Thank you Unicorn Shannon for bringing love and creativity to Toronto!

Follow Unicorn Shannon on Instagram @unicornstudiostoronto.

6. Light Up Live

There were many dedicated campaigns this year in support of those most vulnerable during the harsh economic reality brought about by COVID-19 closures and restrictions. I am thankful for each of these and the love and passion put into them.

One campaign that I documented more intentionally this year (with my Nikon DSLR) was the #LightUpLive campaign.

Meridian Hall, lit up in red for Light Up Live

Light Up Live was a national campaign in support of live event workers of all types - in the music industry, theatres and beyond - all who have lost their livelihoods due to the shutdown of the live event industry.

Live event venues across Canada lit up for one night, on September 22nd, to raise awareness of their struggle.

Workers at the Canadian Stage Company gather outside the Berkeley Street Theatre in recognition of the Light Up Live campaign.

As someone who loves live music and theatre, and has photographed many live events, I dearly miss this industry and all the joy that they bring to our lives.

My thanks to the Light Up Live organizers for engaging Canada with this important campaign. May we attend live events once again in 2021!

(To see more images of this campaign please visit my Light Up Live blog post.)

7. Words of Love

Much of what I have shared here could fall under this category, but I needed a separate section to share the random messages of love that I encountered throughout Toronto in 2020.

So here goes...

It's Okay To Have A Bad Day

Love Yourself

Live More Worry Less

(Lomography Potsdam 100 Film, by Foot Locker on Yonge Street)

Be Kind - Thank You!

(Kodak Color Plus 200 Film, at the Queen Street East Value Village)

Spread Love! Not Hate! Seriously!

(Parliament Street near Lakeshore)


It seems fitting to close with the question raised in this next image:

What If We All Had Love?

(Kodak Ektar 100 Film, near Lakeshore & Leslie)

Indeed, what if we all had love?

Perhaps the best way to find out is to keep on showing love to those around us?

Imagine what 2020 would have been like if no one had shared all of the above creativity? Imagine what 2021 can be like if we see even more of this?

If you have an idea for a creative and artistic intervention - consider making it happen 2021!

Art by Unicorn Shannon

Thanks to all who brought love in 2020! Let's keep it going in 2021!

Best wishes to you for a healthy and successful New Year!

[email protected] (Culture Snap - Award-Winning Photography by Henry VanderSpek) 2020 art photography Colours of Love COVID-19 Expressions of Love Toronto Toronto street photography year in review Thu, 31 Dec 2020 17:00:12 GMT
My Favourite Photobooks - Great Gift Ideas! With this being gift-giving season, it's the perfect time to finally write about my favourite photo books.

Each of these books will make a great gift for the photographer or photography lover in your life.

As life is still in lockdown for many of us, what better to curl up with and enjoy than a wonderfully engaging photo book?

I am including eleven books, each chosen based on what draws my interest and what I enjoy. They are not in any particular order.

I will start with a Canadian legend of colour film...


1. Modern Color by Fred Herzog

The late Fred Herzog was an early pioneer in shooting colour film. He captured Vancouver in a way that few have done then or since. His work is a real inspiration to me and how I capture street scenes.

Fred Herzog is represented by Equinox Gallery in Vancouver, B.C. I noticed that Modern Color is on sale on the Equinox Gallery website until December 19th, 2020.

If you love street or film photography, or just art that reveals unique human moments and insight, then I highly recommend this book.


2. San Francisco Noir by Fred Lyon

I saw an interview with Fred Lyon on an Adobe Youtube channel a few years ago and fell in love with his wonderful images of San Francisco.

There is something about Fred Lyon's timeless black and white images that is so engaging.

I highly recommend San Francisco Noir. Even if you don't buy his book, do pay a visit to Fred Lyon's website to enjoy more of his images.


3. Small World by Martin Parr

Many years ago I told a few friends how I'd love to see a coffee table book about tourists - not just about the destinations that tourists love to visit. I had lived overseas for a while and had seen all kinds of painful behaviour by tourists where I was living. So when I encountered the work of Martin Parr many years later - thanks to a photography class I took at Ryerson - it was a real "Yes!" moment.

Small World shows images captured by Martin Parr of tourists - and the tourist culture that surrounds them - in all of their absurd glory.

I heard Martin Parr speak at the AGO and had the chance to meet him afterwards also - a very fun moment.

There is so much more that could be said about Martin Parr's work. I recommend exploring the large catalogue of books that he has released over the years.

If you appreciate poking holes through false surfaces, or have a taste for the absurd, then give Small World a try, or at least visit Martin Parr's website.


4. Music Makers by Lisa MacIntosh

I first met Lisa MacIntosh several years ago through Twitter. Before we even met in person, it was clear to me that Lisa is a wonderful human being - the kind who takes time to say kind words and to give encouragement, even to those she has not yet met. 

Lisa knows many in the arts community in Canada and well beyond. Her photo book Music Makers: Portraits at The Great Hall is a testament to this fact. Even more so, Music Makers illustrates how skilled Lisa is at creating unique and delightful portraits.

Whether you come for the portrait skills, or for the musicians you know and love, Music Makers: Portraits at The Great Hall is well worth buying and enjoying. Unfortunately it is sold out! You can still see many of the Music Makers portraits on Lisa's website though. I recommend following Lisa on Twitter and discovering her fantastic ASK series on Instagram. Thank you Lisa for being a bright light to so many.


5. Fashion Climbing by Bill Cunningham

If you love New York City, or photography, and haven't watched "Bill Cunningham: New York" then you are missing something vital. I highly recommend it. The story of this lovely human being and dedicated New York street fashion photographer is inspiring and very moving, I guarantee it. (The film can be seen on Kanopy for free if you have a Toronto Public Library Card - click here to sign in to Kanopy).

Once you get that done, and perhaps wipe a tear or two away from your eyes (OK, maybe it was just me?) then there is a good chance you will want to know more about Bill Cunningham's life. If so, then you will enjoy reading Fashion Climbing. It is not a photo book, but it is a touching auto-biography of the life of Bill Cunningham and how he moved through the world of fashion to become the person you see in Bill Cunningham: New York.

Bill Cunningham shares some incredible stories and insider information on the world of high fashion. I really enjoyed reading this book.

If you want a book that shares Bill Cunningham's street photos directly, then have a look at Bill Cunningham: On The Street (click the link for a great write-up about the book). It is on my Christmas list for this year!


6. Steve McCurry Untold: The Stories Behind The Photographs

I can hear critical voices responding to this selection. Isn't a bit cliché to suggest the work of classic National Geographic photographer Steve McCurry? Isn't he from another time? His type of photography out of date?

Well perhaps yes, but I still admire Steve McCurry's work. His images will be undoubtably with us forever and the stories of how he got his most famous photos remain inspiring.

Hard work, ingenuity, people skills and even good luck will always be important for any photographer who wants to succeed, and Steve McCurry's stories prove this to be true. This book adds much insight into his journeys over the years, and includes artifacts and elements that add to the whole story of his life and work.

(By the way, I met Steve McCurry a number of years ago. It was quite a fun moment. I may have to blog about it some day!)


7. Street Photography: A History in 100 Iconic Images by David Gibson

I received this book as a gift a while ago, and found myself a bit skeptical given its title. "Who can really tackle the history of street photography in 100 images?" I found myself thinking. I was still grateful though for the thoughtful gift and for the chance to continue learning about a genre of photography that I love.

I enjoyed the book's layout and found myself pleasantly surprised at the wide variety of photographers that were included - not just the "usual suspects" that I often hear about but a solid range of international photographers whose work does not receive the attention of as the likes of Joel Meyerowitz, Garry Winogrand and other prominent names in street photography.

I found a balanced review of this book at which echoed my concerns and raised some valid points, but still in the end gives it a recommendation. If you want to go wider than some of the usual names, but aren't ready for a heavy duty text book such as Joel Meyerowitz's Bystander (which I'd also recommend if you're up for a heavier tome), then this is a great book for you or a friend.


8. Bathers by Ruth Kaplan

Ruth Kaplan is a skilled Canadian documentary photographer and an instructor at Ryerson University and at Gallery 44. I feel privileged to have taken a few courses with Ruth, and to have received guidance and input from her on my Taxi Drivers of Toronto project.

A while ago I purchased a copy of her book Bathers. This piece from Artbook gives a good description of Bathers:

"Bathers, by Toronto-based photographer Ruth Kaplan, explores the social theater of communal bathing. Kaplan’s journey began in the nudist hot springs of California in 1991. By participating in the baths, Kaplan gradually became accepted and was able to make photographs of her fellow bathers, occupying the dual role of voyeur and participant. From California she then traveled to Eastern Europe, seeking a more traditional form of the practice in the spa towns of the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Hungary and Romania. The unique display of individual body types and ages became a component of the work, as did the decaying architecture of the interiors. She then traveled to higher-tech spas in Germany, France, Italy and Denmark, completing the series in 2002 in Moroccan hamams and Icelandic hot springs. Hedonism, sensuality, innocence and social bonding are some of the underlying themes that emerged."

In 2020 PhotoEd Magazine (a great Canadian photo magazine worth subscribing to!) put out a call asking people to submit names of Canadian women photographers that everyone should know. Many names were submitted and a vote was held to select the top five, which were then put onto a tote bag.

I was very happy when they announced the final list and learned that it included Ruth Kaplan. (You can read a list of those who were selected or considered here.)

Explore Ruth Kaplan's work, and consider buying a copy of Bathers as well.

Please note that there is nudity in Bathers.


9. 100 Ideas That Changed Photography by Mary Werner Marien

If you want to get a wider understanding of where photography has come from, and in many cases where it is headed back to (exploring old film processes is very popular now), then this book is worth a look.

It is divided into easy to digest sections that bring forward the most interesting points about important developments and innovations in photography over the years. You can jump in anywhere in this book and find something fascinating to read about.

100 Ideas That Changed Photography is a great book for anyone who wants to broaden their understanding of the history of photography. As I mentioned earlier, many of the techniques and processes listed in this book are still being used or reinvented today.


10. How to Read A Photograph by Ian Jeffrey

When I got this book, I thought it would do as the title says - teach me how to analyze images by each of the great photographers found within. What it does do is offer great insights into each of the photographers' works, approaches, and the times they lived in - which may be the next best thing.

While a history of photography textbook can be daunting (something I may have experienced while studying History of Photography at Ryerson University), a book like this allows meaningful insights into each photographer without committing to forty pages of dense reading.

This is an enjoyable book for anyone who loves classic photography and learning more about the moments and themes that shaped each photographer's creative work.

11. Coincidences by Jonathan Higbee

I was aware of Jonathan Higbee's very fun street photography work, so when I came across this book at a local thrift store it was an exciting moment.

The beauty of Higbee's work is making his images look like just that, coincidences.

Having seen Jonathan Higbee apply his skills in a YouTube video, it is clear that he works very hard, even over several visits to the same location, to get the kind of image that he is after. He is very dedicated.

If you or someone you know enjoys playful street photography, then this book is well worth a purchase.

In Conclusion!

There are so many photo books out there. What I have shared here is just what I especially enjoy from my own collection. I hope this list is a useful starting point, but keep exploring - you are bound to discover so much more.

As a random example - have a look at these fun photo books about cats and dogs in Hong Kong by Dutch photographer Marcel Heijnen.

Here is a handy directory of Canadian booksellers for finding one near you. Consider supporting independant booksellers when making your purchase. Small retailers give personal service and contribute to warm local culture that is so vital to any community.

Enjoy curling up with a good photo book this winter! Thanks for looking!

[email protected] (Culture Snap - Award-Winning Photography by Henry VanderSpek) book lovers Christmas gifts for photographers gift ideas gifts for photographers photography books Fri, 11 Dec 2020 16:48:22 GMT
120 Vision - Medium Format Film with a Fujica GS645W Camera Earlier this year my friend Simon Madore - a talented filmmaker and director - lent me his very nice Fujica GS645W camera.

- photo by Simon Madore


The Fujica GS645W shoots 120 medium format film and has a fixed 45mm lens, which is roughly equivalent to a 28mm field of view on a 35mm camera.

- photo by Simon Madore


I often use a 28mm lens on my Canon AE-1 (a 35mm film camera), so framing images with the GS645W felt familiar to me.

The Danforth Music Hall

Expired Fuji Across 100


I had two rolls of 120 film in my fridge that were overdue for usage (expired by 8-9 months) so I appreciated the opportunity to borrow Simon's camera.

Naturally I bought two fresh rolls of film so I could make the most of my time using this camera!

City Dig

Expired Fuji Acros 100


In this post I share some of my favourite images from those four rolls of 120 film, as well as a few comments on using the GS645W.


Expired Fuji Acros 100


The GS645W creates images with 6 x 4.5 dimensions, hence the "645" in its name.

Each roll of 120 film gave me 14 exposures, vs 24 or 36 images from a 35mm roll of film.

Vanity Co.

Expired Fuji Acros 100


Ordinary Streets

Expired Fuji Acros 100


The GS645W is relatively compact compared to many medium format cameras - something I appreciate as I often carry more than one camera on my photo walks, and don't want to be too weighed down.


Here is a series of images shot on the GS645W with Kodak Ektar 100 film, the first three are from on The Danforth...

See You All Soon!


Body Blue


Pappas Grill

I live near Danforth Avenue and love the great shops and restaurants found there.

Check out the Broadview Danforth BIA and The Danforth Mosaic BIA websites to explore and plan a visit.


Thank You


The Future Is Not Set


120 film is much larger than 35mm film so each exposure offers a higher level of resolution and detail - something us photographers tend to enjoy.


Here are some of my favourites from a roll of expired Kodak Portra 400 film...

No Bills


Days A Week


Dolce & Gabbana

To see more boarded up Toronto click here and here.


Canadian Drycleaners


Housing 4 All!!

Click here to see more "COVID Messages"


4 Bites More


24 HRS


I shot a second roll of Kodak Ektar 100 film, one of my favourites film types...

Shut Down Hate

I am proud of my community in East York and Danforth East. People have risen to the challenge of hateful acts with determination and with love. The signs posted above were made by many, many individuals who wanted to show what our community overwhelmingly stands for.

Toronto East Anti-hate Movement, or TEAM, are one of the groups leading these actions. The good people at the wonderful Old's Cool General Store are also great leaders in this movement.

Thank you neighbours and all who are standing up against hate with love and positivity.


Continuing on with my neighbourhood, here are a few images from Woodbine Avenue...

Woodbine Auto Service

Kodak Ektar 100


New Stars Video

Kodak Ektar 100


Terry's Milk

Kodak Ektar 100


Beer Store

Kodak Ektar 100


Terry's Milk Part II

Kodak Ektar 100


A favourite landmark in the east end...

Wheels East

Kodak Ektar 100

The last image I'll share is one that I find quite intriguing...

Layers of Motion

Expired Fuji Acros 100

This is an accidental triple exposure that I somehow created in-camera.

The scenes in the above image are as follows:

1) runners passing Bloor Street United Church

2) a cyclist near Spadina Avenue

and 3) a person crossing McCaul street with their dog.


I loved using the Fujica GS645W camera and am very happy with the images it helped me to create.

To see more film images by me, please explore my blog.

Thanks to Simon Madore for lending me his camera, and thank you for looking!

[email protected] (Culture Snap - Award-Winning Photography by Henry VanderSpek) 120 film believe in film film photography Fuji Acros 100 Fujica GS645W Fujifilm Kodak Ektar 100 Kodak Portra 400 medium format film street photography Toronto toronto photography Toronto street photography Tue, 27 Oct 2020 13:52:22 GMT
Light Up Live - A Call to Action for the Live Event Industry "Red, I love you and the world"

- Red, by Daniel Lanois


It was a Tuesday night when Canada went red.

On Tuesday September 22nd, 2020, live event venues of all kinds lit up red in acknowledgement of the crisis facing the live event industry.

The Light Up Live campaign brought together "Organizations, grassroots groups, and individuals..." to illuminate live event landmarks in red in order to bring light to "the many performers, creators, technical, logistical, and management support personnel who drive a $100 billion Canadian economic engine."

There was an amazing list of organizations that participated. Click this link for a map showing venues in every area of Canada (zoom in to see details).

With close to 70 venues participating in Toronto alone, there was no chance I could get to all of them, so I planned a route that would take me to some of my favourites.

One of my first stops was the Berkeley Street Theatre, where I encountered a friendly group of Canadian Stage Company staff hanging out together in recognition of the Light Up Live camapign.

Young People's Theatre was clearly showing their support...

Meridian Hall (formerly Sony Centre, formerly Hummingbird Centre) had a great array of red lights...

The great lights there compelled me to stay and capture a few more scenes...

Meridian Hall's sign at Yonge and Front also helped to spread the campaign message...

From there I went to one of my favourite spots - the Princes' Gates at Exhibition Place, which was also lit up in red...

My final destination that night was Ontario Place, which allowed me to get more images of another favourite structure, the Cinesphere...

While the main Ontario Place sign and the Budweiser Stage were lit in red, the Cinesphere wasn't, so I made some adjustments to help it join the campaign...

On my way back to my car I captured skyline photos of Toronto, with the CN Tower lit in red for the Light Up Live campaign.

May each of these venues - all of them across Canada - be back to full steam creativity reaching thrilled audiences once again soon. To paraphrase Neil Young, "Long May They Run".

Thank you for reading this post. If you share it on social media please use #LightUpLive and/or #EclaironsLesScenes.

Please continue to support local art in whatever way that you can. Keep Live Alive!

Click here to see more of my blog posts.

Best wishes. Masks and social distancing work. Stay healthy and stay well friends.

[email protected] (Culture Snap - Award-Winning Photography by Henry VanderSpek) documentary photography Light Up Live Live Events Toronto Live Music Toronto Toronto toronto photography Toronto Theatre Scene Tue, 06 Oct 2020 18:05:59 GMT
COVID Words: Pandemic Messages Found On Toronto Streets Got down on my knees
Grabbed my pen and bowed my head
Tried to summon all that my heart finds true
And send it in my letter to you

Things I found out through hard times and good
I wrote 'em all out in ink and blood
Dug deep in my soul and signed my name true
And sent it in my letter to you

- Letter to You, Bruce Springsteen


In the months since we went into lockdown I have seen many messages on Toronto's streets.

Freeze Rent, Coxwell Avenue


In this post I share messages found on the street that address the COVID-19 pandemic, or issues that became more severe during the pandemic.

Unlike Bruce Springsteen's Letter (see lyrics at the start of this blog post) these messages are not signed. They are anonymous and are not associated with any business, nor approved by the city or the property owner where they are posted.

Unless indicated, all images taken with my iPhone 11 Pro.


Some incorporate art in their messaging...

Whatever, Artist Unknown, McCaul Avenue

Lomography Potsdam 100 Film

Konica Auto S3 Camera

If you know this artist, please share their social media contacts so I can properly credit them!


Wash Your Hands, Coxwell Avenue

(definitely referencing The Simpsons character, Milhouse)

By an artist named Cosmo Cam of Scarlet Begonias Tattoo Studio

Virtual Reality, Pottery Road

Keep Ur Distance

(Very Banksy-like)

Seen on the bridge connecting Riverdale Park East with Riverdale Park West

Stay Home, Stay Safe, Stay ?

Jones Avenue

Stay Safe

Queen Street West

(I see pieces by this street artist a lot around Toronto.)

If you know any of the above artists please share their contact info so I can credit them here.


Some are discouraging...

Life is Cancelled, Millwod and Overlea

Kodak T-Max 400 Film

Konica Auto S3 Camera


Life is Cancelled

Kodak Gold 200

Canon AE-1 Camera


Some are upset...

"How are we supposed to wash our hands frequently???

Washrooms at Queen's P(ark) and City Hall are open.

Here the washrooms are closed. Why?"

- Found on the Beach Boardwalk


Some spread conspiracies...

Messages found on Gerrard Street, east of Carlaw.



Gerrard Street East and Victoria Park Avenue

Wake Up!!

Kingston Road

Some feel angry and keyed up for a fight...

This is How It Starts... Fear(Less), Woodbine Avenue

I suspect someone added the "Less" as it looks quite different from the rest of the text. Fight or Obey, Woodbine Avenue

Don't Belelieve This Shit, Woodbine Avenue


Others (myself included!) are more concerned...

I Give A SHiT


Some spots have a clash of voices, sending mixed messages...

People Over Profit

Danforth & Donlands Avenue

Some encourage political activism...

Housing 4 All!!

Coxwell Avenue

120mm Kodak Portra 400

Fujica GS645W Camera

Or question our economic order...

Corona is the Virus, Capitalism is the Pandemic

Eastern Avenue

Kodak Gold 200 Film

Canon AE-1 Camera


And challenge our opposition to systems that are more compassionate and just...

"When I give food to the poor they call me a saint.

When I ask why the poor have no food they call me a communist."

- Helder Camara

Dundas Avenue East


Some address how society has changed...

Social Norms Has Been Reset to Factory Settings

Queen Street West

Kodak Ektar 100 Film

Canon AE-1 Camera

I found these words and scene very engaging, so took a number of photos there...

Also a couple in black and white...

Ilford HP5+ 400 Film

Konica Auto S3 Camera


While many messages were intended to challenge and provoke, thankfully many were made to encourage and inspire...

Coxwell Avenue

Donlands Avenue

Woodbine Avenue

Spread Love! Not Hate! Seriously!

Cherry Street and Lakeshore Boulevard East

Live More, Worry Less

Yonge Street, across from the Eaton Centre

Lomography Potsdam 100 Film

Konica Auto S3

Love Yourself

Gerrard Street East

" is the courage to continue that counts."

- Winston Churchill

Sammon Avenue

We Love You Ever!

Woodbine Avenue

Don't forget to Be Kind...

Be Kind - Thank You!

Kodak Color Plus 200 Film

Olympus Stylus 35-70 Zoom camera


I'll end with this heartfelt message...

You've Got A Heart of Gold

Logan Avenue

Let's all live up to that and show our hearts of gold.

There's no doubt that we need more love and kindness these days, especially as the pandemic carries on much longer than any of us would like.

Thanks for reading and viewing this post!

Visit some of my recent blog posts for more:

- Boards Up, Walls Down In Toronto - Part One and Part Two.

- Remembering the Raptors Victory Parade

- Signs and Stores of the Quarantine - Part One and Part Two.

[email protected] (Culture Snap - Award-Winning Photography by Henry VanderSpek) documentary photography documenting the pandemic film photography graffiti inspirational messages street art street photography Toronto toronto photography Fri, 18 Sep 2020 15:15:09 GMT
Boards Up, Walls Down in Toronto - Part Two Multiple protests against anti-black racism took place in downtown Toronto on June 6 and 7, 2020.

(iPhone image captured near Lawrence and Avenue Road)

The protests followed in the wake of the killing of George Floyd and many other horrible events that unfolded in the United States, but were also in response to the death of Regis Korchinski-Paquet here in Toronto, who died while police were present.

(iPhone image captured the morning of June 6th, 2020)

Out of concern for violent actions taking place during these protests, many businesses in downtown Toronto boarded up their storefronts. Thankfully these fears were misplaced, and no such violence took place.

(iPhone image captured the morning of June 6th, 2020)

In my previous blog post I shared images of a boarded up Toronto that I took with my phone on the morning of Saturday June 6th, 2020.


In this post I share images taken in the late afternoon of Saturday June 6th.

The majority of images in this post were taken with my DSLR (Nikon D750). A few others were taken on my iPhone or on film, and I have indicated this below those images.

Sign outside of Aritzia: "How Does Canada Treat Its Indigenous"

Sign outside of Aritzia: "Canadians Are Racist Too" (iPhone image)

A group of friends read and discuss the signs outside of Aritzia.


Van Cleef & Arpels (a view of Birks Jewelry Store)

Maison Birks

All Merchandise Has Been Removed

Banana Republic


Sephora Sign

Welcome to the Future

Holt Renfrew Men

The Most Reliable Way


Beam of Shadow

Royal De Versailles

Dolce & Gabbana


While outside Dolce & Gabbana I met Charlene Ashby.

As Charlene was approaching, I heard her expressing her feelings about the stores being boarded, so I started a conversation with her.

Charlene had come downtown to shop and expressed how she's "disgusted" and "disappointed" at the stores being boarded up and closed for the weekend.

I learned that Charlene has lived in Toronto for 25 years, and had appeared on Kenny & Spenny when they came downtown to film for an episode.

Charlene mentioned that "right now I'm trying to set something up with Drake, because Drake knows me" and how Drake's "on Instagram right behind me".  

Alternate portrait of Charlene

(Kodak Gold 200 film, taken with my Canon Sure Shot Look)

I enjoyed meeting Charlene. She carried on her way, and so did I with my photos...

J. Crew


Mulberry sign

Winners / HomeSense


Gucci Escada

Bloor - View From Above

Max Mara

Mont Blanc

I crossed the road to the north side of Bloor and headed east...

Louis Vuitton

Tiffany & Co.

I chatted with a security guard* outside Intermix.

She was on a long shift - which saw no violence - and was looking forward to finishing.

(*Unfortunately I misplaced her name, so cannot share it here. I will update this post if I find it.)

Winners / HomeSense

Brooks Brothers

J. Crew

I crossed back to the south side of Bloor for a few moments, as there was something about the light and colours there that caught my eye...

Dolce & Gabbana

Dolce & Gabbana

(Fujica GS645W camera with expired 120mm Kodak Portra 400 film)

Royal De Versailles

Royal De Versailles


Holt Renfrew Men

Holt Renfrew sign


I headed north into Yorkville...


lululemon sign


(Kodak Gold 200 film - taken with my Canon Sure Shot Look camera)

Yes We're Open

Brunello Cucinelli



(Fujica GS645W on expired 120mm Kodak Portra 400 film)


Christian Louboutin (red store in background)

Yorkville is always great for spotting beautiful cars. The 1958-62 model Corvette - as seen above - is one of my favourite classic cars.


I headed back to Bloor and east towards Yonge...

Harry Rosen

Banana Republic Banana Republic sign

Nordstrom Rack

(Kodak Gold 200 film, taken with my Canon Sure Shot Look)


I'll end with this image...

Welcome to the Future

Click here to see part one of this blog post.

To see more of my work please follow me on:

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- Facebook

And/or join my email list to find out about my latest exhibits and events. I only email 6-8 times per year. To join, just click here and send me a note that you'd like to join and include your email.

Thanks for looking and stay well!

[email protected] (Culture Snap - Award-Winning Photography by Henry VanderSpek) black lives matter boarded up documentary photography Fashion District street photography toronto toronto photography Yorkville Wed, 22 Jul 2020 16:04:47 GMT
Boards Up, Walls Down in Toronto - Part One I recently published two blog posts which document the signs and storefronts of businesses in East Toronto during the coronavirus lockdown.

Simon's Wok (797 Gerrard Street East)

I found these handwritten and personalized signs very moving. (Click here for part one, and here for part two to see more of this photo series).

John's Hairstyling (742 Broadview Avenue)

In this blog post I share images of stores that were boarded up due to a perceived threat of violence that might occur during protests against anti-black racism that were planned for the weekend of June 6 and 7 2020.

Aritzia (50 Bloor Street West)

While violence did occur in Toronto ten years ago during the G20 protests (an event I was present at and documented elements of) - mostly due to a group of "Black Bloc" actors who infiltrated the protests (see this BlogTO article for more on the "Black Bloc") - the Black Lives Matter marches and protests that happened June 6 and 7 were peaceful and free of any violence.

Roots Eaton Centre (220 Yonge Street)

I was unable to attend the protests, though I would have liked to so I could listen, learn, and show my quiet support.

The images shared in this post are from a run through downtown on Saturday morning, June 6th, and are all taken with my phone.

I returned in the late afternoon that same day, and captured more images of a boarded up downtown with my DSLR and on film. I will share from those images in a second blog post in the next few  weeks.

Royal De Versailles (101 Bloor Street West)

Winners and HomeSense (110 Bloor Street West)

Gucci (130 Bloor Street West)

Max Mara (151 Bloor Street West)

The white Ghost Bike is in acknowledgement of the death of Darcy Allan Sheppard.

ARC is the most current site I can find for more information about ghost bikes in Toronto.

Visit CycleTO for current information on safe cycling in Toronto.

Louis Vuitton (150 Bloor Street West)

I headed south off of Bloor and came across this sign at College and Spadina...

Seeing strong advocacy movements and activism always makes me encouraged for the future of Toronto.

I headed east across Queen Street and made a quick stop at Toronto City Hall...

Lone Pigeon

Sunlight on the Square

I then headed east on Queen and back up Yonge Street.

Sweat and Tonic (225 Yonge Street)

Burger King (243 Yonge Street)

Roots Eaton Centre (220 Yonge Street)

Shoppers Drug Mart (279 Yonge Street)

Formerly Friar's Tavern, an important site of music history in Toronto.

Who Is With Me?

10 Dundas East Shopping Centre

  Rogers Store (302 Yonge Street)

Tokyo Smoke (333 Yonge Street)

I'll always remember this address as the site of HMV, one of the great music stores
on Yonge Street that I loved to frequent along with Sam the Record Man

and Sunrise Records (which is thankfully still in business, although no longer on Yonge Street).


Some businesses were not afraid to remain open...

Ginger Viet Famous Food (355 Yonge Street)

Zanzibar (359 Yonge Street)

Some businesses were boarded up well before the June 6-7 weekend, due to the coronavirus lockdown/quarantine,

and had artists/artist collectives such as make amazing artwork on their boarded up exteriors.

Here is a great write-up - "The Art of Appreciation" - about with lots more details about these.


While fear led to the boarding up of shops, a quote that I saw along my run on the morning I took these photos seems quite appropriate - for the weekend's circumstances, and for the times that we are living in...

"Here is the world.

Beautiful and terrible things will happen.

Don't be afraid."

- Fredrick Buechner

From "Beyond Words: Daily Readings in the ABCs of Faith"


I will share another post soon with images captured later this same day (June 6, 2020) with my DSLR and my film cameras.

Let me end with a photo I saw (not during this morning run) on Avenue Road, north of Lawrence, which delivers the message that was being communicated during the protests happening on June 6 and 7, and at events since then - a message that I/we need not fear, but acknowledge and face up to and take action based on...

Visit these links to learn and to take action:

Black Lives Matter

Across Boundaries


[email protected] (Culture Snap - Award-Winning Photography by Henry VanderSpek) Black Lives Matter boarded up documentary photography Toronto toronto photography Toronto street photography Mon, 29 Jun 2020 14:12:37 GMT
Remembering the Raptors' Victory Parade One year ago today the Raptors celebrated their victory in the NBA Finals - and all of Canada joined in the celebration.

It certainly felt like all of Canada was present at the parade in Toronto. The crowds were incredible.

My family and I arrived early on University Avenue, a little after 9:00 AM, and settled into place. We heard that the parade should come by around 10:30 - 11:00 AM. It soon became clear that that wasn't going to happen.

We waited with a very friendly crowd in the hot sun for hours. People shared snacks and water. It was a great atmosphere. People did the wave...

The crowd built up over the hours and seemed to fit into every possible spot...

It wasn't until after 1:30 PM that Superfan Nav Bhatia came through.

Soon after came a boom camera, a very upbeat Masai Ujiri, and then Nick Nurse.

The Raptors' mascot took the stage and streamers fell from the sky...

Then the players came through and the crowd really went wild. I'll let the photos speak from here...

Many thanks to the Raptors for the amazing accomplishment and the joy that it brought to our city. Go Raptors Go!

[email protected] (Culture Snap - Award-Winning Photography by Henry VanderSpek) celebration NBA Champions parade Raptors Toronto victory parade Thu, 18 Jun 2020 03:50:45 GMT
Signs and Streets of the Quarantine - Part Two In my previous blog post - Signs and Streets of the Quarantine - I shared images of storefronts in East Toronto and their hand-written or more personalized signs regarding their closures.

In this post, Part Two, I share images of a wider range of signs and scenes in East Toronto.

I captured all images in this post with my phone, while out for socially distant runs, between mid-March and early May 2020.

In order to make shopping local easier to do, I have attempted to include websites and street addresses for every business or organization featured in this post.

As the situation is continually changing, please check directly with each business or organization to find out their current status.

While it is now commonplace, in the early days of the lockdown it was a bit jarring to see masks and hand sanitizer for sale in convenience stores.

Platon Variety and Dollar Store

781 Danforth Avenue


Donation boxes covered with tape to prevent possible contamination was also a new sight.

And this sign, in the window of the above organization, OASIS Movement Addiction, Recovery and Employment Services (921 Danforth Avenue), is likely one of the toughest signs I have read:

Thankfully the sign below it notes that staff are still available.


I noted many churches with messages to communicate...

Greenwood Gospel Chapel

949 Greenwood Avenue

The IEMELIF Church of Canada

719 Greenwood Avenue


Danforth Community Church

1050 Danforth Avenue


Forward Baptist Church

1891 Gerrard Street East


Danforth Mennonite Church

2174 Danforth Avenue


I noticed the Madinah Masjid (1015 Danforth Avenue) thanking frontline workers and reaching out to help those in need:

Sign near Madinah Masjid

1015 Danforth Avenue

And while messages of fear and conspiracy are out there...


Many are doing great work to help those who need it most...

St. John the Compassionate Mission (155 Broadview Avenue) runs many meaningful programs, which can be read about here

I first discovered the mission through their bakery - which offers delicious sourdough bread and other goods - many years ago at the East York Farmers Market.

St. John's Bakery also serves as "a place of employment for individuals less fortunate".

The bakery remains open at 153 Broadview Avenue.


Some wonderful businesses along the Danforth had messages to share...

Lalibela Cuisine

1214 Danforth Avenue


The Dylan

1276 Danforth Avenue

Red Rocket Coffee

1364 Danforth Avenue


This poem by J.G. Lutes on a bike post (Danforth Avenue, a little east of Woodbine) caught my attention.

I don't know if this was posted before or after the lockdown.

Either way, the poem takes on added meaning in our current context.


Vintage Depot

2777 Danforth Avenue


Lisa Nails

2831 Danforth Avenue


Farther east along the Danforth, a gas station signaled their change in service...

Danforth Gas and Wash

3561 Danforth Avenue


I admired the Riverside BIA's messaging in support of local businesses.

One of those Riverside stores had this great artwork in their window...

Untitled Toronto

792 Queen Street East


A little further east, in the Leslieville BIA area...

Good Neighbour (935 Queen Street East), with its stylish clothes and home products,

shares a positive message it their window:

"We are all in this together."



The stores in "Olde East York Village" on Coxwell (between O'Connor and Plains Road) were also communicating their status:

A fun window display of pet names at

Tails My Pet Store

1035 Coxwell Avenue

I discovered that Tails is now closed.

They are referring customers to Wag on the Danforth (1918 Danforth Avenue).

I know one of the owners of Wag on the Danforth - he is a talented photographer and a very nice person.

Please support their store, if you can!

Pulp and Paperie - a wonderful local gift shop

1042 Coxwell Avenue


I found the sign in this barber shop window rather surprising...

The coronavirus is definitely more than just a "seasonal outbreak".

C'Gents Barber Shop

1000 Coxwell Avenue


The signs at my local library branch, S. Walter Stewart, also caught my eye...

And this chalk graffiti (enhanced to make the words more apparent), at the same branch, made me smile:

S. Walter Stewart Library

170 Memorial Park Avenue


Some people are especially committed to sharing a "stay safe" message...

Seen off of Don Mills, south of Eglinton.


Unfortunately some are missing a key point of the stay safe messaging...

I see this poor behaviour so frequently while out running that I stopped taking photos it early on in the quarantine period.

I've seen many social media posts expressing frustration and amazement at this phenomenon.

Why do people improperly dispose of PPE - used to protect themselves - and potentially expose others to the coronavirus?

To quote Mr. Mehta in the wonderful CBC show Kim's Convenience, "The mind boggles."


Thankfully some are communicating the need to stop such ignorance...


I'll end with some words of encouragement that I've found along my runs...



To see more signs and streets of the quarantine, click here for my first post.

In the coming weeks I will share another post of street scenes that I've captured recently.

Thank you for reading this post. Please continue to support local small businesses as you are able in this tough time.

[email protected] (Culture Snap - Award-Winning Photography by Henry VanderSpek) COVID-19 documenting the quarantine in Toronto life under lockdown in Toronto quarantine Toronto Toronto documentary photography Thu, 14 May 2020 15:57:25 GMT
Signs and Streets of the Quarantine As I write this post we are into our sixth week of the stay-at-home order in Ontario, Canada.

The April 1st, 2020 Toronto Star, with a poem by Toronto Poet Laureate Al Moritz on the cover.


My experience of this time has likely been similar to many others: it is hard. Hard to not go to one's favourite café, hard to miss exciting work assignments and associated earnings, hard to be at home - especially home with active kids (whom I love dearly!) - all day long.

Maintaining good health has never been more necessary, but also never more challenging.

One important part of my physical, emotional and mental health over the past several years has been running.

My view heading up the Verrazzano Bridge while running in the November 2019 New York City Marathon - the biggest highlight of my running journey so far.


Since the social distancing and stay-at-home messaging began, I have found solo running - done at a safe distance from others - an even more vital part of maintaining my overall health.

Shooting street photograpy weekly has been part of my artistic discipline - and has contributed to my emotional and mental health.

As I can no longer explore unique corners of Toronto with my larger digital and film cameras - I recently began capturing images with my phone while running.


What caught my eye early on was the many closed stores, and the signs posted in their windows.

While the signs on corporate stores, such as the one above from Tim Hortons, communicate necessary messages, it is the hand-written signs and the personalized notes in windows of small businesses that are especially touching.

They are heartfelt, moving and only serve to deepen my concern for the future of small businesses in Toronto.

Bell's Martial Arts at 2200 Danforth Avenue.


This blog post features images of stores in East Toronto, and their associated signs.

Wherever possible I have included links so that you can, if you wish, support these small businesses during this challenging time. (At the end of this post I suggest additional actions you can take to support local businesses.)

Images shown here were taken between March 17th to April 21st. Businesses may have updated policies about their services so check directly with them to get their latest news.

The Handwork Department, 1884 Danforth Avenue, one of my favourite stores along Danforth East.


Queenie's Cards at 1808 Danforth Avenue, another of my favourite Danforth East shops. (There are many!)

Click through and see all the unique stationary and gifts that they have!


Simon's Wok at 797 Gerrard Street East.


CH Hardware at 789 Gerrard Street East.


Mi Mi Restaurant at 688 Gerrard Street East.


Farside Toronto at 600 Gerrard Street East.


Easy Living Depot at 328 Broadview Avenue.

Love the name and love the look of this place. They seem to offer almost everything.


John's Hairstyling at 742 Broadview Avenue, just south of The Danforth.


Mike's Music at 105 Danforth Avenue, just east of Broadview.


La Di Da on The Danforth, at 128 Danforth Avenue (Currently offering free delivery on orders of $25 or more.)


Stunning Nails at 272 Danforth Avenue


La Diperie at 372 Danforth Avenue.


All About Eve Boutique, 602 Danforth Avenue.


Circus Books and Music, 866 Danforth Avenue.


Meating on Queen 1160 Queen Street East.


The Framemaker at 1171 Queen Street East.


Sweet Bliss at 1304 Queen Street East.


Ritz Restaurant, 310 Donlands Avenue.

Ritz was the last restaurant I ate in before the lockdown. It was my first time eating there and I loved it.

The staff and customers were very friendly and the food was delicious.

I look forward to eating there again after the stay home order ends.


Since I started documenting local stores, news of small businesses closing due to financial hardships has been on the rise. A recent survey by the Broadview Danforth BIA found that "61 per cent of Toronto small businesses will close within three months unless further rent relief programs are implemented."

Small businesses are truly what make our cities, and our neighbourhoods, unique and vibrant. It would be devastating to local culture to have so many close.

There are some things that we can do:

1) Sign this petition to support small businesses.

2) Shop at local stores, if it is safe for you to do so. Many have safe-distance shopping policies and/or offer take-out or contactless delivery.

3) Some businesses are offering gift cards which can be redeemed later. This allows them to survive now.

3) Share ways to support small businesses with your social media feed. (Your local BIA will normally list this information.)

If you know other ways to support small businesses let me know and I will update this list.

I will share more blog posts of images captured while out running, as time allows, in the coming weeks so please stay tuned.

May 14/20 Update: Click here to see Part Two of this post, with a wider range of signs and scenes of East Toronto.

Please stay home, stay well and take all necessary precautions for essential outings.


P.S. I don't have photos, but I want to offer a shout out to Legacy Indoor Cycling Studio (1506 Danforth Avenue). My wife and I have been members for several years and Andy, the owner, hosts a gallery of my work there, which I am very thankful for. Legacy has been hosting live workouts on their Instagram and Facebook feeds. Be sure to follow them and to join workouts - a great way to stay healthy during life under lockdown!

[email protected] (Culture Snap - Award-Winning Photography by Henry VanderSpek) COVD 19 Danforth East documenting the quarantine East End Love East Toronto Gerrard Street East Quarantine signs of COVID 19 Toronto Photography Toronto store closures Toronto street photography Fri, 24 Apr 2020 14:07:01 GMT
New York in Black and White Film I had some good adventures in New York City last summer with my friend Sammy Younan, host of the very engaging podcast "My Summer Lair" (also found here).

I've made a few blog posts from that trip already (links found below), but have a few more that I'd still like to share.

Here are my favourite black and white film images from NYC taken in July 2019. All except three were taken with Kodak Tri-X 400 film.

I am writing this post during winter, but it is worth mentioning that New York City was in the midst of a full out heat wave while we were there. Every day was sweaty with the only relief being the air conditioning found in major chain stores, which we naturally visited often to cool down.


We started by hitting the gritty streets of Brooklyn...

Wheels and Shadows

Kodak Tri-X 400


Which included passing through Broadway Junction Station...

Broadway Junction Station

Kodak Tri-X 400


And seeing the Brooklyn Heights Deli...

Brooklyn Heights Deli

Kodak Tri-X 400

By the way, if you love film photography, be sure to look up Brooklyn Film Camera when in Brooklyn! They're only open on weekends but are very nice people and have a great selection of film!


We added thousands more steps on the streets of Soho...

Bikes on Broome

Kodak Tri-X 400


The following five images were captured while on a Midtown Manhattan photo walk with Leanne Staples of Shoot New York City.

Lowering Prices

Kodak Tri-X 400


Boots, Beard, Beret.

Kodak Tri-X 400

Tony Fung

Kodak Tri-X 400

Tony shoots with a Graflex camera during his lunch break. He shared how he gives young people rolls of Ektachrome as a way of encouraging them to try and shoot film. It was great to meet him and talk film photography for a few minutes before moving on with the photo walk.


Kodak Tri-X 400

Sport & Diamonds

Kodak Tri-X 400

If you want to explore New York City with a camera I highly recommend joining a street photo session with Shoot New York City. They offer a photo walks in a number of different areas of the city as well as creative workshops, such as abstract street photography. I had a great time with them.


After the photo walk I passed by a protest about immigration policies near the Central Library. Some protesters were arrested and taken away on an MTA bus.

On the Bus

Kodak Tri-X 400


Greenpoint Avenue Station captured my imagination...

On Delivery

Kodak Tri-X 400


We caught a train to meet the incredible New York photographer Jamel Shabazz...

Platform A

Kodak Tri-X 400

Sammy Younan interviewing Jamel Shabazz in his home

Kodak Tri-X 400

Jamel Shabazz

Kodak Tri-X 400

Sammy Younan and Jamel Shabazz in Jamel's office

Kodak Tri-X 400


This visit was a real gift. To see and learn more about Jamel, please see my blog post "Vision and Purpose: The Inspiring Life of Jamel Shabazz".

In that post you can also find a link to Sammy Younan's podcast interview with Jamel.


We visited the local architecture-for-instagram's-sake phenomenon known as the Hudson Yards "Vessel"...

What Next?

Kodak Tri-X 400

Focal Point

Kodak Tri-X 400

Below the Vessel

Kodak Tri-X 400



I captured some street scenes near the Javits Conference Centre...

Between Two Shrubs

Kodak Tri-X 400

Cash Only

Kodak Tri-X 400


New York Minute

Kodak Tri-X 400


Who is Oliver?

Kodak Tri-X 400



Kodak Tri-X 400

Food Town

Japan Camera Hunter Street Pan 400


Japan Camera Hunter Street Pan 400



Japan Camera Hunter Street Pan 400



Japan Camera Hunter Street Pan 400


Thanks for looking!

To see more of my NYC photos, please visit these blog posts:


[email protected] (Culture Snap - Award-Winning Photography by Henry VanderSpek) believe in film black and white film film photography Japan Camera Hunter Kodak Kodak Tri-X 400 New York City New York Street Photography Street Pan street photography travel photography Tue, 03 Mar 2020 15:56:15 GMT
Havana on Film I had a great time visiting Havana in March 2019, and have posted several blogs about it (see below for links).

In this new post I share my favourite film photos captured in Havana.

I used three types of film, as indicated below each image.

Hope you enjoy!

Havana Skyline

A panorama of two images stitched together

Kodak Ektar 100


I loved seeing the old architecture of the city...

Pillars of Home

Kodak Ektar 100

Palms and Arches

Kodak Ektar 100


We had a great visit to the Sephardic Synagogue and Malpaso Dance Company...

Leg Up

Kodak Ektar 100


Visiting the Cuban School of Boxing was a great experience...

Gimnasio de Boxeo

Kodak Ektar 100

Escuela Cubana de Boxeo

Kodak Ektar 100


Seeing the classic cars of Havana never got boring...

Pink and Blue

Kodak Ektar 100

Old Red

Kodak Ektar 100

Silver and Grey

Kodak Ektar 100

Road Worthy

Kodak Ektar 100

We passed by some Havana hot spots...


Kodak Ektar 100

Lafayette Restaurant

Kodak Ektar 100

We met friendly locals...

Se Vende La Casa

Kodak Ektar 100

Havana Style

Kodak Ektar 100

Exploring back streets and capturing street scenes was perhaps my favourite thing...

Havana Shadows

Kodak Ektar 100

Sun and Shade

Kodak Ektar 100

Sidecar and Sidekick

Kodak Ektar 100


I captured a few frames on 120mm film with my old plastic Lomography camera...

Sliver of Light

Lomography Colour Negative 400 Film

An accidental exposure captured while visiting a produce market.

The colours on the left are from my shirt, and on the right is Cuban photographer Alfredo Sarabia, who was our very helpful guide.

The dots and numbers seen in these two images is due to the film's backing paper fusing to the film (which was well past it's expiry date).

Shades of Blue

Lomography Colour Negative 400 Film


I captured a few frames on Kodak Ektachrome as well...

Window View

Kodak Ektachrome 100

Ron a Granel

(Bulk Rum)

Kodak Ektachrome 100


Kodak Ektachrome 100

One last image to share...

Open Line

Kodak Ektar 100


Thanks for looking!


To see more images from Havana, please visit my previous blog posts:

[email protected] (Culture Snap - Award-Winning Photography by Henry VanderSpek) 120mm film 35mm film Cuba Cuba photography film photography Havana Havana photography Kodak Kodak Ektachrome 100 Kodak Ektar 100 lomography Lomography Colour Negative 400 street photography Thu, 20 Feb 2020 17:48:24 GMT
A Year in Black and White Film - 2019 2019 was another good year in film photography for me.

I shot quite a few rolls of colour film, and a lesser number of black and white ones.

I recently shared my favourite colour film photos of 2019, in two posts (found here and here).

Here now, are my favourite black and white film images (of those taken in Toronto) - of 2019...


Park Discount

Ilford HP5+ 400

Bamboo Drapes

Ilford HP5+ 400

Sud Forno

Ilford HP5+ 400

View From St. Lawrence Market

(Click here to see a colour film version of this scene)

Kosmo Mono 100

Matador Club

Kosmo Mono 100

Hudson's Bay Bike

Kosmo Mono 100

Time is a Train

(A U2/Zoo Station reference)

Kosmo Mono 100


Old school Yonge continued to draw me in...

VIP Billiard Club

Kosmo Mono 100

Yonge Street Mission

Kosmo Mono 100


I returned to City Hall with black and white film...

Kosmo Mono 100

Kosmo Mono 100 Kosmo Mono 100 Luminous City

Kosmo Mono 100 Crossing the Square

Kosmo Mono 100


Ilford HP5+ 400 Share the View

Ilford HP5+ 400

Free Day Care

Ilford HP5+ 400

Stretch Out

Ilford HP5+ 400 Breaking it Down

Ilford HP5+ 400 Stairwells to Climb

Ilford HP5+ 400

Union Pillars

Japan Camera Hunter Street Pan


Island Airport View

Japan Camera Hunter Street Pan

Cutting Clouds

Japan Camera Hunter Street Pan


Fuji Acros 100

Ahead of the Curve

Fuji Acros 100

Nuit is Near (B&W Edition)

(see a colour view of this scene in this blog post)

Fuji Acros 100 On Notice

Fuji Acros 100

Due West

Fuji Acros 100


I thought I'd make a rare appearance..

Selfie, captured in a mirror-like utility box at Berczy Park.

Fuji Acros 100

Skyline Restaurant

Ultrafine 100

The Report

Ultrafine 100 Heart and Soul

Ultrafine 100 Serano Sunlight

Ultrafine 100

Weather Like This

Ilford HP5+ 400

Princes' Gates

Ilford HP5+ 400 Out of Order

Ilford HP5+ 400

Roncscevalles Shadows

Ilford HP5+ 400

Gifts Come True

Ilford HP5+ 400 Crossing Dundas at Broadview

Ilford HP5+ 400


Thanks for looking!


To see more film images, here are some additional links:


To follow my latest work and learn about upcoming events, follow me on social media:

- Instagram

- Twitter

- Facebook



[email protected] (Culture Snap - Award-Winning Photography by Henry VanderSpek) 35mm 35mm film believe in film film photography street photography toronto toronto black and white film photography toronto photography Thu, 30 Jan 2020 21:44:02 GMT
A Year in Colour Film 2019 - Part Two I had a good year capturing film in 2019. I previously shared part one of my favourite colour film images of 2019.

This post is part two, featuring colour film images captured from late June until the end of December

As with part one, this post only includes Toronto street scenes. I am sharing film photos captured elsewhere in other posts (such as here and here of NYC).

OK, here we go...



Kodak Ektar 100

Eddie's Convenience

Kodak Ektar 100

Renfrew Reno

Kodak Ektar 100


Kodak Ektar 100

The Kingsbrae Diner

Kodak Gold 200

Crossing McCaul

Kodak Gold 200

Good Luck Buddha

Kodak Gold 200

Stan Wadlow Sky

Kodak Gold 200


Kodak Gold 200

Keeping Live Alive

Kodak Gold 200

High Wire Act

Kodak Gold 200

Last Quarter

Kodak Gold 200

Dundas Crossing

Kodak Gold 200

Ossington Bikes

Kodak Gold 200

United Drug Mart

Kodak Gold 200

Buddhist Association of Canada

Kodak Gold 200 Jazz Bistro

Kodak Gold 200 Never Meet Your Heroes

Kodak Gold 200


Kodak Gold 200 Toronto Supreme

Kodak Gold 200 FO5H Was Here

Kodak Pro Image 100 Big Smoke Brass

Kodak Pro Image 100 Nuit Is Near

Kodak Pro Image 100

Sunset Grill

Kodak Pro Image 100


Kodak Pro Image 100 King Spic & Span

Kodak Gold 200 Simply Beautiful

Kodak Gold 200 Icy Souls

Kodak Ektar 100

Eagle Gas

Kodak Ektar 100

Bike Sale

Kodak Ektar 100

Light Maintenance

Kodak Ektar 100

Sauntering Through

Kodak Ektar 100


Kodak Ektar 100

A Friend With Wheels

Kodak Ektar 100


Thanks for looking!

Stay tuned as I will soon share my favourite black and white photos of 2019.

In the meantime, here are some of my other film photo blog posts:


[email protected] (Culture Snap - Award-Winning Photography by Henry VanderSpek) believe in film favourite film photos of 2019 film photography Kodak Kodak Ektachrome Kodak Ektar 100 Kodak Gold street photography Toronto Thu, 23 Jan 2020 17:51:01 GMT
A Year in Colour Film 2019 - Part One 2019 was another good year in film photography for me.

This is part one of my favourite colour film images of 2019.

The images in this post were captured from January through June 2019.

All images shared here are from Toronto. Images I captured elsewhere are shared in other blog posts (such as here and here of NYC).

Here we go...

Coxwell Snowfall

Kodak Gold 200 Temple Gates

Kodak Gold 200

Colour With Me

Kodak Gold 200 We Create Illusion

(artwork by the wonderful Time and Desire, also known as St. Marie Walker)

Kodak Portra 400 Crossing University

Kodak Portra 400 We Create Illusion, Pt II

(artwork by the wonderful Time and Desire, also known as St. Marie Walker)

Kodak Portra 400



I did a number of photo walks between Bloor and Queen in 2019,

capturing what remains of old school Yonge Street.

Here are just a few images from those walks.


Kodak Gold 200 XTC

Kodak Gold 200 The Big Slice

The Big Slice was very popular for late-night pizza on Yonge Street.

Sadly it closed in 2016 after forty years in business.

This was one of my more popular film images that I shared on Instagram in 2019.

Kodak Gold 200 Doors on Yonge

Kodak Gold 200

Disassembly Required

Kodak Portra 400


I experimented with Ektachrome for the first time in 2019...

Fashion Choices

Kodak Ektachrome E100


I keep coming back to the El Mocambo...

Since 1948

Kodak Ektachrome E100 City Business

Kodak Ektachrome E100