Throughout the summer, I’ve been photographing parts of the city and sharing on Instagram. As I upload my edited image on my smartphone, I began looking at the work of other photographers. I was amazed on how they captured the city: the streets painted with streaks of light, views of the iconic CN Tower and views of Toronto’s neighbourhood. To me, it was parts unknown.
However, my search was limited to two photographers in the East York area. This is their story.
Susan Drysdale is a Toronto-based photographer and runs her own website, susandrysdale.com. You can find her gallery on Instagram @drysdaleandco.
Drysdale says that her goal with capturing images is to showcase the beauty and the diversity of the physical spaces of Toronto. She also uses her Nokia Lumia 1020 as a photography sketchbook.
“I really want to show as much of the city as I can, not just the typical CN Tower and downtown places that are so popular,” Drysdale said. “There is so much more to Toronto than downtown.”
Drysdale walks over 200 km every month to photograph from one destination to the next. She says that she usually lets whim decide the direction when she leaves her house.
“My goal is to walk 10 km every day, at least six days a week. Some days when I’m feeling ambitious I could walk up to 20 km. Other days, if the weather is lousy I might only walk five or so — or not at all,” she said. “It averages out to about 225-275 each month — a little less in January and February and July and August because of the weather. My best months are always May and October. When the temperature is most comfortable, I hit 300 km this May.”
Drysdale says that she’s like to photograph East York because she’s drawn to the vast green spaces.
“I walk many valley trails in all seasons. Anyone who thinks you have to get out of the city to ‘get back to nature’ really needs to explore these spaces more,” Drysdale said. “Everything you could want is right here, within walking distance, you just have to go find it.”
Not only Drysdale likens East York for its green spaces, she likes East York for its mid-century architecture.
“You can really learn about the city’s past just by looking at some of the historic buildings — like the East York Hospital, for instance,” she said. “That’s definitely one of East York I love — you can still see Old Toronto here.”
Another East York photographer who I interviewed is Dermot O’Halloran. O’Halloran is 15 years old and goes to Don Mills Collegiate Institute. He runs a photography site called Focus416.weebly.com. You can follow his gallery on Instagram @Dermot.Photo.
O’Halloran recalls taking an image of Chicago Eatery on Pape and Mortimer Avenue.
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“As I was coming home one night from a musical event at Massey Hall, I came by on the 25 bus and got up to Mortimer and I decided ‘hey I have my camera with me. I was doing some shots downtown, I might as well do some here.’ I took shots of the street and the surrounding area and I saw Chicago Eatery. It’s got this great neon lights. It was really appealing and I managed to take a cool shot of it.”
Drysdale gives advice to people who are interested in photography.
“Get out there and do it … and keep at it. Like anything else, if you want to get better you have to practise,” she said. “You will be amazed when you look back at your progress to see how much you’ve improved. I see that in myself, and I also see it in other whose work I follow on IG. Persistence and dedication are always key to success. ”