Bay Street 2016-2020

40 images Created 13 Apr 2020

In early 2016 I felt a strong need to photographically explore a 15-block area in Toronto, known as the Financial District. I wanted to better understand the environment where 250,000 people worked and commuted each workday, in its unique Canadian context. In particular, I wanted to understand the people who worked in this district, the characteristics of our society reflected in this influx of working people, and the nature of Canada’s largest financial district.

Toronto’s financial district, a concentrated 15 block urban area consisting of the tallest buildings and highest urban density in Canada, is a critical driver of the Canadian economy. It is the headquarters for all of Canada’s big six banks and is the second largest financial district in North America after New York City. Further it is the eight largest financial districts in the world after such cities as: London, Hong Kong, Singapore, Tokyo, Seoul and Zurich. Toronto’s financial district contains the highest concentration of workers in the country, most being employed in the financial and insurance industries.

The importance and distinct nature of this highly concentrated district to Canada and the mass movement of people in and out of the district daily intrigued me as a photographer. It is a unique phenomenon to the Canadian culture, one that hasn’t been extensively photographed. I set out with a camera in early 2016 to capture the district and the people that inhabited it during the workweek. Having photographed for over 40 years, I was however new to the genre of street photography, the style in which I wanted to photograph this project. Workshops with two master photographers and an extensive study of the history of photography had shown me the importance of including people in my photographs. Making photographs of people on the street seems simplistic, as it is easy to capture people walking in a busy urban area. Yet the reality of this form of photography is that it is difficult and extremely challenging to obtain good photographs. Candid moments that capture emotion, humour and unique gestures, are moments in time difficult to find and almost impossible to photograph successfully.

The more time I have spent photographing and strolling in this district the more familiar the area has become resulting in better photographs. Capturing the true character of this 15-block area, has involved making photographs of the commuters, people walking, taking breaks and interacting. Support workers and financial workers. Photographing in the lobbies, through the windows, on the streets and back alleys. Walking, exploring and keen observation have conceded many interesting moments, some compelling, while others just part of ordinary life, yet all genuine and real. Undeniably what I love most about candid street photography is the moments shared that are part of everyday life, unfiltered and seen by me, the casual observer.
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