Favourite Photo Moments of 2023

January 26, 2024

In keeping with tradition, here are my favourite photo moments of 2023!

 

1. Redacted City Exhibit

Having another exhibit in the DesignTO Festival was a real thrill for me.

(Many thanks to artist SJ Kim for collaborating with me to create a collage using elements of my exhibit images.)

 

For years I have been documenting signs that had been covered up, or the traces of their absence and this show, titled Redacted City, gave me the opportunity to show my favourite images.

Restaurant, March 2012

Hudson's Bay Company, October 2022

(Thanks to Sammy Younan for the above photo from the exhibit's opening night.)

I'm thankful for the wonderful turnout and response to the show!

 

2. SNAP Auction

Another big thrill for 2023 was having my Beauty image in the SNAP Auction which raises funds for the meaningful work of the AIDS Committee of Toronto

I was stunned as the bidding went up and up and up. My humble image (which had the lowest starting valuation) went all the way up to a final price of $2600 - all in support of ACT!

A big thanks to the SNAP Auction selection committee, including PhotoED editor Rita Godlevskis, for the opportunity to make a difference in this way.

 

3. California Trip

In May 2023 I visited my brother who lives in the Los Angeles area.

Newport Beach

It was so nice to reconnect and to have some fun visiting Joshua Tree and 29 Palms.

Driving to Amboy

Sunset view near Joshua Tree

These were such beautiful areas to explore. Hopefully I will find time to share a blog post or two about this trip.

 

4. Speaking at Photo Clubs

I had the privilege of speaking to two photo clubs in 2023 - the Barrie Photo Club in late April, and the Don Mills Camera Club in mid-October.

While I shared unique content at each club, my title for both talks was "A Pilgrimage of the Street: Finding Meaning and Creating Art on the Streets of Toronto".

(Thanks to Sammy Younan for the above photos of me speaking at the Barrie Camera Club.)

It was a real joy to meet fellow photographers and to share about my journey in photography.

 

5. Experimenting with Film

In addition to shooting with my favourite colour and B&W film stocks, I also experimented with some unique types of film and cameras....

- Lomography Redscale XR

Click here for a blog post about shooting with Lomography Redscale film.

 

- Lomography Turquoise XR

My Pal Sammy submitting to the colour shifting effects of Lomo Turquoise XR Film.

I hope to do a blog post about Lomography Turquoise film later this year. Fingers crossed!

 

I also tried shooting with

- a Lomography Sprocket Rocket camera

Many thanks to PhotoED Magazine for featuring the above two images in digital editions of their magazine. (If you love photography and or photo art, then I highly recommend subscribing to this wonderful Canadian publication.)

Click here to see my blog post about creating images with the Lomography Sprocket Rocket.

 

- I also tried a Holga 120 camera

I love how this portrait of artist Paul Collins (a serendipitous encounter while on a photo walk with Simon Remark) turned out!

 

6. Interesting Photo Assignments

I had a number of interesting photo assignments in 2023, including...

- Do You Hear What I Hear? Do You Hear What I Hear? - Hot DocsDo You Hear What I Hear? - Hot DocsDo You Hear What I Hear? is a new documentary by Cat Mills that is part of the 2023 Hot Docs Citizen Minutes series of short films. There will be a free screening of it on May 4 at 7:45 PM. Click here for Tickets!
Very happy to have my behind-the-scenes images used on the Dot Docs website and elsewhere in promotion of this meaningful documentary.

I've had the pleasure of working with Director Cat Mills to capture stills/behind-the-scenes images for a number of her documentary films.

Do You Hear What I Hear? - Hot DocsDo You Hear What I Hear? - Hot DocsDo You Hear What I Hear? is a new documentary by Cat Mills that is part of the 2023 Hot Docs Citizen Minutes series of short films. There will be a free screening of it on May 4 at 7:45 PM. Click here for Tickets!
Very happy to have my behind-the-scenes images used on the Dot Docs website and elsewhere in promotion of this meaningful documentary.
The latest was Do You Hear What I Hear?, a short film that was part of Hot Docs' Citizen Minutes program which featured Ingrid Buday's work to update Toronto's outdated noise bylaws.

 

- Safe Third Country Protest

I captured images of a protest in opposition to the Safe Third Country Agreement.

The protest began outside of M.P. Marco Mendocino's office and marched all the way down Bathurst to Lake Ontario at Harbourfront.

The energy and dedication of all involved, including many connected with various NGOs that serve refugees and newcomers to Canada, was inspiring.

Thanks to Anne Woolger, the founder of Matthew House (and leader of the aforementioned protest) for inviting me to document the event.
 

- Non-Profit Organizations

I worked with a number of non-profit organizations before becoming a photographer, and am always thankful for opportunities to contribute to such meaningful work by telling their stories through images.

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. Images I captured in Iqaluit, Nunavut, for an international publication in partnership with the Canadian Bible Society.

(The above images were captured in the fall of 2021 and published in the spring of 2022.)

In 2023 I had the opportunity to work with several non-profit organizations, including The Canadian Bible Society and The Neighbourhood Group Community Services. My thanks to the staff at both for the opportunity to serve them.

 

-299 Queen Street West

I was on the red carpet at Roy Thomson Hall capturing photos at the launch of a new documentary titled 299 Queen Street West.

The film by Director and Producer Sean Menard celebrates the heyday of MuchMusic, features many of the original on-air personalities and looks at the very entertaining behind-the-scenes goings on with the launch and rising success of Canada's counterpart to MTV.

Former MuchMusic staff and on-air personalities during a post-screening Q&A with the audience at Roy Thomson Hall, September 22, 2023.

I highly recommend seeing this film!

 

- Riverdale Share

One of my final assignments for 2023 was a last minute request to capture images of Riverdale Share - a long-running annual fundraising concert held at the Danforth Music Hall.

It was a thrill to participate in this very special evening.

 

7. GO WIDE Exhibit

In October 2023 I held an exhibit titled GO WIDE: Wide Angle Views of Toronto at the Don Mills Library.

Certain images only feel right within a panoramic aspect ratio. There's just something about this format that I enjoy.

So I was especially happy to show some of my favourites in this new exhibit at the Don Mills Library. Here are some examples.


Click here to learn more about this exhibit.

 

8. Las Vegas

In October my family and I visited Las Vegas.

My boys standing over Elvis Presley's star, part of the Las Vegas Walk of Stars.

 

We went to see U2 perform in the new Sphere venue. It was incredible, as you might imagine.

A display at the free Zoo Station exhibit inside the Venetian Hotel.

 

In addition to the concert, seeing the Grand Canyon and visiting the Arts District in Downtown Las Vegas were also real highlights of the trip.

Click here to see my blog post about the Arts District of Las Vegas!

 

9. Photo Workshops & Training

For the past few years I have been offering street photography workshops.

The Silver Dollar RoomThe Silver Dollar RoomThe Silver Dollar Room - one of Toronto's truly great and historic music venues. So many legends have played there. Here's hoping The Silver Dollar Room survives a proposed condo development for the site and retains it's distinct character. The Silver Dollar Room

This past year I again had the opportunity to assist a number of people in one-on-one trainings on how to creatively create artistic images on the streets of Toronto.

Grid CityGrid CityCaptured in Nathan Phillips Square. This image is featured in the 2019 InFocus Photo Exhibit in Edmonton, AB. Grid City

If this interests you, just send me a message and we can take it from there!

 

10. Meeting People

I meet many people while walking about Toronto and many allow me to take their portrait.

This was a lot of fun for me in 2022, and continued to be in 2023.

Micheline is a super talented designer and artist and was part of CBC Gem's Best in Miniature Season 2.

See some of Micheline's miniatures here!

I met SketchNate, another multi-talented artist, at the same exhibit space as Micheline on Jan 2, 2023.

Check his work on Instagram here, and all his other links here, including a free downloadable game called "'Nump"!

I was struck by how full of joy Kathleen was in her job as a crossing guard. Click here to see my post about her, and here to visit her on IG.

I met Michael at an Indigenous Music Festival called Ziigwan that toook place in Yonge Dundas Square. He was dancing freely and so full of life and joy.

Click here to see my post about him and to find him on Instagram.

Mark Baker, aka U2Brothr - a fellow U2 fanatic, who I met at Dublin Calling for the launch of a U2 album.

Mark is a teacher, a DJ, the bass player in U2 tribute band Acrobat, and has some amazing stories related to meeting U2. It was very fun meeting him!

 

I am thankful for all the adventures and opportunities that 2023 brought me. Thank you for sticking with me and following my journey!

Click here to see more of my highlights of previous years.

Click here to see my blog posts about film photography.

Click here to follow me on Instagram.


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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