Favourite Photo Moments of 2019

January 10, 2020

2020 is here and I am excited for all that it may hold.

Before jumping into 2020 though, please join me as I celebrate my favourite photo moments of 2019.


1. Exhibiting my Work

I had the privilege of exhibiting my work in a number of shows this past year:

- InFocus 2019 (February 2019)

For the third year in a row I had images in this national photo exhibit held in Edmonton, Alberta. In 2019 I had two images - Grid City and Gooderham Snowfall (seen below) - in the show.

Gooderham SnowfallGooderham SnowfallCaptured on a beautiful snowy night in late 2017. This image will be on exhibit in the annual InFocus Photo Exhibit in Edmonton, AB in February 2019 and is eligible for the People's Choice Award.
This image is available as a print, on a greeting card, or also as a pillow.


- Nikon Contact Photo Exhibit

I was honoured to have two of my images - Grid City and Cuban School of Boxing (shown below) - selected to be in Nikon Canada's Contact Photo Festival show.

Cuban School of BoxingCuban School of Boxing

The images were on exhibit the same night as a talk by talented and accomplished photographer Caitlin Cronenberg. I really enjoyed learning more about Caitlin Cronenberg's career, which has included shooting many celebrities, such as Toronto's Drake.

Thank you Nikon Canada for celebrating Canadian photo artists!


- Streetcar Exhibit

In June 2019 the Artists' Network held a wonderful exhibit of artwork inspired by Toronto's beloved streetcars. There were all types of mediums represented - oil, collage, photography, and more.

I was proud to have my Broadview Hotel Snowfall image on display in the good company of so many talented artists.


- Elaine Fleck Gallery

In early November I had two images of my images in the Elaine Fleck Gallery's New Submissions exhibit.

It was great to have my images alongside talented artists from a range of styles, and to also share a few words about my work with those present at the opening reception.


- A Way With Words - Toronto Library Arts Program

For the month of November I had an exhibit entitled "A Way With Words" at the Northern District Library near Yonge and Eglinton.

- Photo by Sammy Younan

The show consisted of my favourite Toronto street photos where words have a role to play in each scene.

I was encouraged by some great feedback on my work in the guest book I had on display, as well as by several inquiries about purchasing images that came from this exhibit.

To read more about this show, please see my blog post about it.

To view more of my art images, including ones featured in the "A Way With Words" show, please click here.

My thanks to the staff at Northern District Library - and to those running the Toronto Library Arts Program - for this opportunity!


2. Event Photography

I worked for 15+ years in the non-profit sector, prior to launching my photography career, so I feel a strong affinity to any organization doing meaningful work for social good.

It was a gift then, to be able to capture and tell the stories of several non-profit organizations this past year. Here are some of them:


- Metcalf Foundation

Early in the year I was hired by the Metcalf Foundation to capture two important events for them.

Additional images from these events may be found on the Metcalf Foundation's website:


- Institute for Canadian Citizenship

I captured two citizenship ceremonies for the Institute for Canadian Citizenship this past year.

One ceremony was just before Canada Day in The Bentway (a unique park beneath the Gardiner Expressway), which I documented in a blog post

I captured another ceremony in mid-November at Ryerson University.

I always find these ceremonies quite moving, and a wonderful reminder of all that we in Canada stand for and represent as a country.

My thanks to the ICC for the opportunity to work for them again in 2019.


- Woodgreen Foundation

I captured the Annual General Meeting for Woodgreen Foundation at the East York Civic Centre in late September.

It was a moving night with many powerful stories of transformation. My thanks to the Woodgreen Foundation for the opportunity to capture this significant event!


3. Visiting Havana

In March I visited Havana with my family. I'm very thankful we arranged for a local photographer (Alfredo Sarabia) to guide us around, as he offered us an insider's view of Havana that we would never have had otherwise.

Havana is such a beautiful city. I would gladly visit there many more times again.

I have written about the experience in several blog posts, which may be seen here:

- Sephardic Synagogue and Malpaso Dance Company

- The Cuban School of Boxing

- Street Scenes of Havana

- Bikes of Havana

- Classic Cars of Havana

I have at least one more blog post to share - of film photos taken in Havana. Stay tuned for that in 2020!


4. Magazine Features

My Silver Dollar Room image was featured in Photo Life Magazine's regular feature called "Showtime".

I was thrilled to have several of my film images featured in a two page spread in PhotoEd Magazine's online edition also.

Thank you to Photo Life and PhotoEd magazines!


5. My Photo Art Pillows on TV

Thanks to the wonderful folks at Funkyture in Toronto's Junction neighbourhood, I had set decorators purchase my pillows for two different TV shows. My Gooderham Snowfall and BUY pillows were bought to be on the sets of In the Dark and of Glamorous.

While Glamorous was shot as a pilot only, and has not been broadcast, In the Dark aired a full season of episodes. I managed to get a screen capture from that show where you can see one of my pillows in the background:

That's my Gooderham Snowfall pillow on the couch in the background! To see all my pillows please visit this link.


6. Visiting New York City

In July 2019 I visited New York with my good friend Sammy Younan, host of a very engaging podcast called "My Summer Lair" (found here on Apple podcasts, and here for online listening) .

We had a great time visiting many corners of the city.

I try to find learning opportunities wherever I travel, and this trip was no exception. I had an excellent time joining Leanne Staples of Shoot New York City on a mid-town Manhattan photo walk. I hope to share more about that experience in an upcoming blog post.

Here are my posts so far from that trip:

- Vision and Purpose: The Inspiring Life of Jamel Shabazz

- Colours of Coney Island - Captured on Revolog Kolor Film

- New York Subway Scenes

- City of Liberty: NYC Street Scenes Shot on Colour Film

I expect to have at least two more blog posts about New York City, including film photos, so please stay tuned!


7. On-Set Photography for "Mesdames of Mayhem"

In 2017 I worked for director Cat Mills as on-set photographer for her very fun "Big Men, Small Dogs" documentary.

In 2019 I had the privilege to again work for Cat Mills on her latest short documentary, Mesdames of Mayhem. It felt good seeing my photos in a number of spots on CBC's website...

It was very fun learning more about this collective of authors!

Be sure to check out the documentary here, and to learn more about the mystery authors at their website, here.


8. Film Photography

I only shared two blog posts of film images in 2019:

- Colours of Coney Island - Captured on Revelop Kolor Film

- City of Liberty - NYC Street Scenes Captured on Colour Film

I shot a lot more 35mm film in 2019 though than what I've shared in the above two posts. All of it was developed by the good folks at Downtown Camera.

I've recently added Part One of my Favourite Colour Photos of 2019.

Please stay tuned as I will share more of my favourite colour and black and white photos of 2019 in the coming weeks.


9. Photography Training

In 2019 I began offering street photography training.

I enjoyed providing one-on-one sessions with several individuals in Toronto.

Thanks to an invitation from Diana Nazareth, founder of Project Kids and Cameras, I also was a guest photographer with the Crescent Town Club's PhotoVoice project.

While there, I had the opportunity to share about doing documentary work and to coach participants on approaching people to share their stories and to have their portrait taken, as a way of telling the stories of their neighbourhood. It was inspiring to see the students succeed in taking on this challenge.

I also ran a week-long summer camp for my daughter and her friends in August.

The camp included...

Visiting The Stephen Bulger Gallery, and getting a tour from Stephen Bulger himself. Meeting and learning from local photo talents such as John Jethi.

And visiting Gallery 44's darkroom, as well as other significant Toronto photo galleries and organizations. My thanks to each of them for opening their doors to us and helping my students learn!

I look forward to doing more photo training in 2020. If interested, please contact me for details.


10. Documentary Work

Since showing my "Taxi Drivers of Toronto" exhibit in 2017, I have been working on a new project that celebrates older shoe stores of Toronto.

In 2019 I visited ten different shoe selling and shoe repair stores to document their work, some of them for repeated visits in order to interview customers and/or their students.

It was a joy to learn of their stories and how they have contributed to Toronto's rich cultural life.

I have a few more stores to document in early 2020.

I am planning for an exhibit, but dates are still to be determined. Please stay tuned for details.


Thank you!

It has been quite a year. Thank you for being part of it!

To stay connected just message me with your email (I send only 6-8 emails a year) or follow me on social media:

- Instagram

- Twitter

- Facebook

Best wishes to you in 2020!

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