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Last year I quit my job and became a stage hand while pursuing photography freelance. I never thought that doing this work part time would lead to some of the greatest friendships and open up so many doors. This series of photos is a look at the behind the stage version of life with our crew at the music festival Boots and Hearts this past August. Enjoy :)
Remember that guy at every party that can easily make friends and can roll a perfect joint in seconds? Well, I'd like to introduce you to my friend Daniel, also known as DJ Bradshaw, or more simply, Bradshaw.
I hadn't known Bradshaw long before I told him that I wanted to do portraits of him, being his friend on Facebook already, he somehow trusted me to take his photo. Besides, is there a better way to bond with someone new other than shooting a portrait with them?
Shooting film is a nerve racking feeling when you haven't used it in over a decade. Sure I had shot rolls of 35mm, but nothing compares to shooting Medium format film and using completely manual lenses. Goosebumps. This was the first test of my camera, I wasn't even sure the shutter speeds were calibrated properly. Now that I had a subject in front of me I had to trust my training to get the photos that I wanted. Nothing is more humbling than film.
The entire shoot was full of good vibes and good conversation. I photographed both Bradshaw and my neighour Jimmy that day in April. Not only am I lucky to have had so many frames work out, I am also lucky that after sharing his time with me that afternoon we bonded through the glass of a lens.
Also, I'd like to take a moment of silence for Bradshaw's dreads with were sheered off not too long after we did our shoot.
R.I.P. - Bradshaw's Dreads
The myth about living in a big city living like Toronto is that you are a small fish in a big sea, but the truth is, big cities are more like schools or pods of fish. A community of like minded individuals that choose to live in this crazy town because as big as it is, we also like to create our own small towns within our neighbourhoods. I have lived in Toronto for nearly ten years, I have networked in many different circles and have made new friends every year. Why do I bring this up? Simple, I can’t explain my latest creative without explaining my love of community and Toronto.
If you are close with me, or have been following my journey for the last year, you’ll know that I have gone through some big changes. I left my full time job to pursue my passion which has been my dream job for as long as I can remember. Freelance photography can be amazing and heartbreaking at the same time. I feel I can never turn my brain off of seeing life in frames. I have always said that I see portraits before personality. I love talking to people, I love learning their stories of where they come from and how they got here. I am one of those people that try and talk to as many people in the day that I can, usually annoying someone in the process. What can ya do?
Community is something that has your back when you don’t even realize that you need it. With all the change that I been through, I had doubts, depression, anxiety, mixed with crazy hours of working stagehand gigs to pay the bills, while trying to live my dream. I had come home from a gig around 2:30am and decided to take my dog out and sit on the lawn. It had been a rough week and I was feeling low. I sat down on the front lawn and suddenly started crying. There I sat for what felt like forever, crying with my dog at 3am, feeling truly pathetic.
Thinking I would be alone, I seemed to have forgotten that the rest of the world still exists and I heard the side door of the building open and out came Jimmy with his sweetheart of a dog named Betty. I had seen him out this late before, he works at a restaurant and has just as crazy hours as I did. I was immediately embarrassed and hoped that I could hide the fact that I was crying. I suck at lying so I am sure it was quite obvious. Instead of ignoring me, or pretending he didn't see me, Jimmy came over, sat down and started talking to me. Never once bringing up my tears or making me feel weird about it. We ended up joking around and laughing for a bit. It made me feel a lot better and put some light on my darkness.
As we were sitting on the front lawn, in the middle of the night with our dogs by our sides, suddenly Jimmy stopped talking and stared off behind me and said “Holy crap, is that guy naked?” Confused I looked around, and sure enough, there was a naked man in the street. Just wandering down the street looking very drunk and very lost. Standing up Jimmy asked if he was good, to which the naked man responded “yeah man, just having a bad night.” I guess I wasn’t alone after all. Afterwards, I kept saying “did that really just happen?” because it really was insane. Naked man walking, calmly I should add, down a small street in Toronto in the middle of the night. This is city living.
I find life as a way of putting things into perspective when you needed it the most, I wasn’t the naked guy in the street. The greatest part about friendships that start randomly like this, is that you will always remember the way someone made you feel. Jimmy did not have to come and sit with me, he could have easily let his dog do her business and gone to bed, but he took the time to hang out with me. That’s a good man.
I am thankful to have met Jimmy. Not only does he work hard, he has a great sense of humour, he loves his beautiful girlfriend Rita and their dog Betty, and he too is following his heart and working to become an actor. The test of someone’s humanity is to see how they treat others that have nothing to offer. I don’t have much, but as a thank you to Jimmy for being kind when I needed it the most, I can offer to take awesome portraits and I truly hope that he can take these with him throughout his acting career which I know he will be successful at.
Thank you Jimmy, not only do I love this series, I am grateful to have you in my community of hard working artists and friends.