New Families

Last weekend I had the pleasure of covering two events that celebrate life. First was a first birthday party. It’s always nice to cover kids parties because of the energy of the room. The ability of children to get along and play without prejudices or knowing each other beforehand always amazes me. It’s too bad adults don’t always do the same.

The birthday boy is too young to fully understand what’s going on, but he was in good spirits and stayed awake the whole time. I learned that he loves music and dancing. To me, two things I love with babies are listening to them laugh and watching them dance.

The second event I photographed was a baby shower. The way that people are excited to see the mommy to be’s belly and just the general feeling of love in the room is a great thing. What stood out to me about this shower was the chemistry between the parents to be. You can tell that their future daughter is going to have a lot of love around her. I was happy to be a part of it and best wishes to both families that asked me to capture milestones in their lives.DSC_8690DSC_8726DSC_8748DSC_8787DSC_8960-EditDSC_8982-Edit

Attica, USA 1971: Images and Sounds of a Rebellion

This weekend I took a trip to the Ryerson Image Centre in downtown Toronto. I saw an ad in the paper about this photo gallery and I told my friend @ryhanks that we should check this out because that’s right up our alley being into Photography and African-American history. The problem with the society that we live in, is there are so many distractions so I forgot about the exhibit until I was deleting some photos from my phone and I saw a picture of the flyer that I took while I was on the TTC and I saw that the last day was April 9th.

I took the subway to Dundas station and walked over to the Ryerson Image Centre. It was my first time there and it was a nice clean building with all the amenities. I first saw a video board and a short film by a former Black Panter. It was mind blowing that you can still see the bullet holes in a house from a shootout that took place in 1968.

Although I am a photographer, for some reason I find it strange to take photos of photos or art so I left my camera at home and just used my phone. They had a guided tour of the exhibit but you were also free to walk around as you pleased so, I did a quick lap before the tour started. There were a lot of powerful images and some were definitely not for the faint of heart.

The Attica rebellion took place before I was born and I heard of it but I didn’t know very much about it. When I listened to the tour guide speak about it, I was in disbelief of the living conditions that the inmates went through. 63 cents for food a DAY, 1 bar of soap and one roll of toilet paper per MONTH. The Latino inmates that received letters from their friends and families automatically got thrown out if it was written in Spanish since none of the correction officers read Spanish and all correspondence were read before reaching the intended receiver. The prison was predominantly black and latino.

43 men lost their lives during that period in September 1971 and they were killed by the authorities. Litigation carried on until 2015 and the State Government paid $8,000,000 to the families of the victims of the slain prisoners and $12 Million to the families victims of the prison employees. But I think most importantly, never admitted any wrongdoing for the incident in the first place.

As a black man and watching the world that I currently live in, this situation was eerily similar to what I see going on today with Police brutality and the American prison industrial complex. Just when things start to move in the right direction, a powerful corporation or lobbyist group tries to pull the world backwards and tries to convince us as the human race that everything is fine how it is. And because most of the protesters do not have the ability to sway the politicians and the politicians are afraid to go against the lobbyists, we get thrown into this ugly cycle of hate and injustice. I think the biggest difference between 1971 and 2017 is that middle-class whites now see what’s happening with visible minorities and a lot of them don’t agree with the injustices with drug laws, police killings are now on camera, the Dakota Access Pipeline affecting the ways of life of the First Nations people and the environment as a whole. We are truly in a time where the whole world is watching and the decisions of many are made by the few.

Who got the Props

This weekend I went to the Eaton Centre to run some errands. A couple summers ago, my brother bought me a Swatch watch and last week I realised that the battery was dead so I went to get a new battery. I asked the clerk how much it cost to replace the battery and he took it and said, “Nothing. Free”. I was pleasantly surprised by that news.

Then I went over to Uniqlo to get a hoodie. Unfortunately, they didn’t have my size, but I  managed to get 2 shirts. So not a total loss.

I was feeling hungry so I was going to get a sushi burrito from Rolltation. As I was walking, I saw that Canadian Tire had a sale on some stuffed animals. I went inside and saw a bunch that I thought would be perfect for my friend’s son’s 1st birthday and maybe a prop for my home studio. The only problem was, that they were too big to carry around Downtown Toronto at the dawn of rush hour.

So I went the following day (Saturday) and got 2 animals, one for my studio and one for my friend’s son. As I was walking back to the subway, I noticed a lot of people

Shopping
Plush toys on Sale at Canadian Tire

looking at me. Kids eyes would light up and women would give me that “he’s so sweet” face. I have a feeling that they thought I had these toys to give to my Valentine since Valentine’s Day is coming up. But no it’s just a birthday present and a studio prop.

 

 

No Muslim Ban on Stolen Land

This weekend, I woke up on Saturday morning and turned on CP24 as I usually do to check the weather for the day. I saw that there was a rally scheduled outside the US Embassy so I automatically perked up and saw an opportunity to take photos.

I intended to take the TTC but I was afraid of being late so I drove downtown and walked to the protest location.

I was surprised at the vast number of people that attended of all walks of life that were all united against the US travel ban. There were members of Black Lives Matter, Leaders of the Chinese community, the Muslim community, a Holocaust survivor and others all united against Donald Trump’s foreign policies. I saw people of all races, sexual orientation, young and elderly all against the Travel Ban. The dissent that I have noticed in the last few weeks is definitely eye-opening, not just here in North America but worldwide. I watch TV sometimes and think “Is this really happening?” I see people on social media obsessed with selfies and filters on Snapchat and wonder if they are aware or care about the things happening around us. But I digress, everyone needs an escape and luckily for me, photography has become mine.

I hope you enjoy these images from Yesterdays Muslim Ban protest in Toronto

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Holiday Cheer

Yesterday I received something in the mail. The envelope was handwritten, so I figured that it was a Christmas card. I opened the envelope and I was right it was a Christmas card but what made this special was the family that sent me the card is one of my clients using images that I shot.

I always feel good when people use my photography for their cards or social media profiles. As a photographer, it’s quite satisfying to see that people are happy with my work.

Paul & Nellie

I got a call from my cousin Patrick to shoot my cousin’s Paul’s wedding the night before the wedding. It totally caught me off guard but I agreed and got my things together. Just as I was 2 lights away from the church, my car just shuts off on its own. Which was the beginning of some car trouble but I made it on time thankfully?

Just like my cousin’s personality, the wedding was low-keydsc_9143-editdsc_9321dsc_9327-editdsc_9549 and subdued. It was a bright and sunny day and I’m happy that he made this leap to being a family man.Congratulations to Paul & Nellie Thomas.

Gentlemen’s Expo

Thanks to my partner in crime Ryan Hinkson (@eatfamous), I was lucky enough to attend the 2016 Gentlemen’s Expo at the Metro Toronto Convention centre this weekend.

As a photographer, there were so many interesting things to capture at the Gentlemen’s Expo. Both myself and Ryan love fashion and the Gentlemen’s Expo did not disappoint with tailors, handmade pocket squares and ties. Ryan, being one of the men behind the Eat Famous brand got to see different foods and they had a live cooking show for your viewing pleasure.

I also got to learn about some beverages that I previously wasn’t privy to. As I was walking around I saw a friend of mine that was working at the Innis & Gunn beer booth. Innis & Gunn is a Scottish beer that I couldn’t get enough of. In fact, I went to the LCBO the next day and bought some. Also,

King & Bay Custom Clothing had a mixologist making Old Fashioneds. Now, I’m not sure if I’d had them before but I think that’s my new drink.

All in all, it was a good evening and I’m looking forward to a bigger and better Gentlemen’s Expo in 2017.

Back to School

It’s been a while but I managed to make it back to school at George Brown’s Continuing Education program. This time I’m taking the Photography of People course to try to improve my portraiture skills. I’ve always enjoyed taking their classes as it challenges me to think outside of the norm as well as learning the fundamentals. I’m always learning and I don’t think I’ll ever get to a point where I think I know it all, but learning is something I’ve always enjoyed and I’m always trying to grow as a person.IMG_1965IMG_1967IMG_1970IMG_1971IMG_1973