No Smoking in the County of York


Photography is an odd hobby. Perhaps all art is that way. I suppose it can be compared to writing music. A band puts out one or two great albums (yes, CDs, I know) and then struggles to put out another album that doesn’t sound the same as the first two. Artists always strive to be different, both from other artists and from their own past work.

When I first started in photography, I found that the percentage of shots that I was really pleased with from an outing was much higher than it is nowadays. In the beginning I’d go out and snap off hundreds of photos, sometimes closing in on 1,000 for the day. And I’d be happy with maybe 10% of them. That’s 100 photos I thought were good, maybe even great! (They weren’t, of course, but I was new to the hobby.)

Six years later, if I shoot over 200 photos, that’s a big day for me. I’m far more picky about what I like and what I consider shot worthy. And my loose rule nowadays is that if I get a single shot that I’m excited about, then it was a worthwhile outing. I always seem to make it home with perhaps 10 in the camera that I can’t wait to process, but all I’m really looking for is one for the day. (This isn’t that “one” for the day, I should mention.) The funny thing is, I often see things in the street that in my early days I would have been thinking “now there’s a great shot,” but with experience I no longer find it all that interesting. I almost get nostalgic about it. I’ll think, I remember the day when that would have excited me.

After 63,000+ photos — yup, that’s roughly how many I have in my library — the issue nowadays for me isn’t getting a shot I’m happy with, but constantly working at not repeating myself. Simply, I don’t want to put out another album with songs on it that sound the same as my first two albums, if you get my meaning. And I’m not talking about just the composition and scene and subject matter, but also the location. I have my favourite haunts in this city and most of my photography has been taken during walks through the same old parts of town. Just think about how often I’ve shot Kensington Market, for instance. I think it’s important for artists to recognize when they are repeating themselves, and make a concerted effort to push the boundaries, to “shoot” outside of their comfortable old box.

And this brings me to this photo. Back in the day I might have discarded this one, thinking that it’s a “missed” shot, but nowadays I see it a little differently. It’s odd and fresh, compared to most of what I shoot and share. I like it because there’s a bit of a quirkiness to it. Not sure if it will make it to my upcoming book, but you never know. The one thing I can say about it is it is unique for me, and that’s never a bad thing.

Anyway, sorry for the long rant. Hope you like the photos.


This entry was posted in Black & White Photography, Street Photography, Toronto, Urban Photography and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to No Smoking in the County of York

  1. Ardean Peters says:

    Very nice!

  2. Ardean Peters says:

    I should add, that I totally agree. With a few years under my belt, I too notice a difference in what I keep and throw in both portrait and light photos. I often walk by a shot thinking, “it’s nice” but not “great” or that “I’ve shot that before”. And now the pleasure and challenge is in seeing something new; different. 🙂

  3. Don’t be and it is always good to experiment I find. Different is really good I found! Rick =)

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