all by myself

Yesterday, I left Raspberry with Lucas and went to Toronto to see some CONTACT by myself for a little over eight hours. Before that, the longest Raspberry had ever been away from me at a time is probably two-and-a-half hours, so I was a bit nervous about doing eight hours (it was supposed to have been more like seven hours, but traffic was a bitch). Also, I’ve taken Raspberry to every CONTACT festival since she was born, so I kinda wanted to take her, but kinda didn’t, because, as you might expect, it’s infinitely easier to gallery-hop sans child. But, I usually make two or three trips to CONTACT through the month, so I can still take her on the next trip. I thought I’d be thinking about them the whole time and truthfully, I was thinking a lot about them on the bus trip there and back, but once I was actually in Toronto, I pretty much had my mind on the art. When I came home, the apartment, child and partner were intact and not screaming, and I couldn’t help but feel relieved.

I haven’t been to Toronto on my own in years, so it was quite liberating to do so again. I could’ve done and seen a lot than I actually did, but my goal was to be efficient and be out of the city by three o’clock (lest Raspberry start throwing a fit at me being away for so long). I nixed the window shopping I usually do when I’m in Toronto, and just focused on the exhibitions and on taking pictures.

I seem to take my best pictures when I’m in Toronto, possibly because it’s bustling and a wonderful change of scenery from the dreariness that is Hamilton. I know I’ve said before that I was going to stop using my Elan because it was acting up, but I’ve dearly missed using film, so in the absence of another SLR, I popped the lens back on and together with three rolls of film, took it out for the day. It’s been such a long time since I’ve concentrated on doing street photography and I’ve been aching to get back into it for a long time. It’s hard to be quick with a camera with a kid strapped to your back and a huge backpack strapped to the front (in those instances, for the sake of convenience, the camera tends to mostly sit inside the backpack too). Yesterday, I was able to have my camera out all day, the strap loosely wound around my wrist; I’m one of those people who absolutely refuses to have a camera hanging from her neck. Even when it drizzled (even though the meteorologists promised it wouldn’t), I tucked it under my coat rather than put it away. Having the camera much more accessible allowed me to be bolder in my street photography than I normally would be when I’m with Raspberry, and it was almost thrilling. Bolder I was, but I still didn’t have the nerve to get closer and aim my camera toward someone’s face. I think a lot of my pictures were backs or sides or from afar. The next time, I’m going to try to be a bit braver and at least get more frontal shots.

My goal yesterday was to concentrate on street shots and get through at least one-and-a-half rolls of film. It took a little bit to get back into, but at the end of the day, I ran through most of three rolls, less four exposures. It was so refreshing to walk through the city, pay a keener eye to my environment, and best of all, actually have a chance to photograph small moments I might otherwise have overlooked or dismissed while with Raspberry. One rather disturbing thing I noticed was the high proportion of people on their phones — either talking or texting. In 2006 or 2007, the last time I was so engaged with street photography, I really don’t remember seeing that many people on their phones. I started documenting the sense of isolation with so many people so close to each other, but all caught up in their own little technological bubble, but at some point, I realized that if I had too many pictures like that, it’d become trite and even I’d be bored by it. But that still didn’t stop me from being drawn to such scenes with an almost mesmerizing fascination.

Most of the pictures I took yesterday were street or candid shots. At one point, about halfway through the day, I remember thinking how I hadn’t taken any other kinds of pictures, how strange that was and how I ought to diversify a bit, at which point, I started looking at everything with a different eye. It’ll probably be at least another week or two until I get the film processed but I’m excited to see what kinds of pictures I took. I love the surprise and anticipation that comes with waiting for film to be processed. Seeing that I’m just getting back into this, I’m not expecting wonderful pictures, but I’m looking forward to seeing the grainy quality that film produces. For some reason, I’m never fully satisfied by the pictures from my dSLR — they’re too pristine and there’s a sheen about them that I quite dislike (and yet despite this, it’s the primary camera I use for photographing Raspberry… perhaps I should change that). Anyway, I’m hoping that I’ll get back into the mindset of using film over digital; I find that I’m more deliberate and less careless with the kinds of pictures that I take with film and I generally like the pictures I take with film better, which in themselves are very good reason to transition, despite the cost.

Oh, the exhibitions I saw yesterday were all right. Some were better than others and there were a few that I really did enjoy, but for the most part, nothing really blew me off my feet. Disappointingly, compared to previous years, there doesn’t seem to be as many exhibitions in this year’s CONTACT that have grabbed my attention. There has been little that I’m actually dying to see. Maybe it’s just the theme, or more likely, the way it’s been interpreted. Well, I plan on checking out more exhibitions either next week or the week after, so there’s still hope. I haven’t yet figured out if I want to take Raspberry with me (the only reasons I would do so are so she and I can take our annual photobooth picture at the Drake, a tradition my sister Clare and I started in 2005, and also so she can check out Queen Street West, an artsy strip that she found more or less interesting last year). Maybe I’ll toss a coin closer to the day to help me decide. ‘Till then.


4 responses

  1. yay! how long is the bus trip there?

    good to read all of this!

    May 14, 2011 at 2:51 pm

  2. :)

    On a good day, the bus trip is about 50 minutes. The other day, the bus took longer likely due to both rush hour and accidents on the highway and it took about 1h 40mins. I was worried about Rb and Lucas and it felt like the longest trip of my life.

    May 14, 2011 at 4:14 pm

  3. i can’t wait to see what you took, your photographs are incredible.

    May 16, 2011 at 2:15 pm

  4. Thanks :) I thought I might be able to get the pictures processed this week, but it’ll be another week before I do so. I can’t wait!

    May 22, 2011 at 3:23 am

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