Friday, October 12, 2018

The End, and Books for Sale


AFTER NEARLY FOUR AND A HALF YEARS, THIS BLOG HAS COME TO AN END. I could have stretched it out for another year, maybe two, and there might still be some interesting photos that remain undiscovered in my files. But the simple fact is that I'm tired of talking about old work, and want to devote myself completely to new work.

It was always my ambition to end the blog with something special - a souvenir I could make available to the people who've read my posts and followed me on this journey. Early this year I decided to publish a trio of photozines, and after a summer of editing and laying out, they're available for sale via Blurb's online bookshop, at the low price of CAN$14.99 per issue.

Check out my books

Going over my work for the last few years, I realized that the majority of my work appeared in newsprint, a notoriously low quality, unforgiving, and impermanent product. I had always aspired to be a magazine photographer, so I felt obliged to present my work in the format I had always dreamed it would appear - high quality, semigloss magazine stock. Each book is 32 pages long, with a short introductory essay by yours truly, and devoted to one of three themes: Portraits of musicians, portraits of celebrities and movie stars, and a collection of landscapes, travel, street photography and still life work shot in my favorite aspect ratio - the square.

I'm not finished with blogging, however - I've launched a new blog devoted to new work, and I hope that anyone who's enjoyed what I've done with Some Old Pictures I Took will join me there. Thank you for your interest in this project. It has been exhausting and dispiriting and surprising and sometimes even revelatory for me; hopefully I've been able to convey some of that to you.


Music
Music
By Rick McGinnis
Photo book
Square
Square
By Rick McGinnis
Photo book
Stars
Stars
By Rick McGInnis
Photo book

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Success

Rick and camera, August 2018. Photo by Rod Orchard.

I DON'T WANT TO END THIS BLOG TALKING ABOUT FAILURE so this post is about the very positive - and unexpected - changes that have happened in the last four years. I'm not an optimist by nature; I didn't expect much to come out of this project when I opened my first box of contact sheets, or that the end of the blog, when it arrived, would come with such a mixture of relief and gratitude.

The first people I need to thank are my family, and especially my wife, Kathleen. It was her idea that I should start digging up my old work and posting it online, but I don't think even she thought it would have such an effect on our lives. She has supported and encouraged me all along the way, especially when I might have just dropped this thread and let my old work continue to languish.

Kathleen McGinnis (née Hickey), 1998.

I'd also like to thank my friends for their interest and encouragement. I have a truly varied and idiosyncratic circle of friends, a few of which I still have yet to meet outside the virtual world. Some, however, go back to college, or high school, or even to Mount Dennis, where we all grew up near the old Kodak plant. There are too many to name, of course, but I hope you know who you are if you're reading this; I've felt alone and isolated at many different times in my life, but this hasn't been one of them, and for that I'm grateful to you.


If I have to single out anyone whose support has been germane to the evolution of this project, it's my dear friends Kathy and Arnie, who generously - and very unexpectedly - gifted me the Fuji X30 camera I was planning to crowdfund over three years ago. I was becoming interested in shooting again and was looking for a small, light and high quality camera that approximated what my beloved Rolleiflex used to do, and with the X30 they gave me I found my way back to not just portrait work, but the landscapes and street photography I'd had in my mind's eye for years.

Taking pictures, July 2018. Photo by Jonathan Castellino.

I didn't imagine I was a photographer any more when I started this blog. Four and a half years later I'm able to call myself one again, partly thanks to a network of fellow photographers - the circle of peers I never really felt I had, even when I was shooting for a living, twenty years ago. There are old photographer friends like Paul Till and Rod Orchard, and new ones like Sean McCormick, Steve Stober, Vince Lupo, Gunar Roze, Franco Deleo, Mark Peavy and Stuart Forster. Jonathan Castellino has brought a sense of fellowship to the work, while my very old and dear friend Chris Buck - so often the subject of posts on this blog - has provided criticism and encouragement whenever it's been needed.

And then there are the people who commissioned so much of the work that's appeared on this blog. That list starts with Nancy Lanthier and Dave MacIntosh at Nerve magazine, who published my first, dark, dubiously focused photos. Irene Grainger, Edna Suarez, Jesse Marinoff Reyes, Peter Dako, Brad McIvor, Tim Powis, Elizabeth Grubaugh, Marianne Butler, Bob Newman, Tom McGovern, Steve Waxman, Barry Harvey, Jane Bunnett & Larry Cramer, Carol Moskot, Richard Bingham, Jodi Isenberg, Tina Costanza, Tim Shore, Derek Flack, W. Andrew Powell, Rikki Stein, Jennifer Bain, Joel Wasson, Ian Blurton, Don Pyle - some of these people are friends, some I haven't heard from since I sent them my last invoice, but they helped create the images here by giving me an assignment, and I'm grateful.

I am, of course, always looking for new names to add to that list, and I'm re-launching myself out into the business with a curious mixture of enthusiasm and trepidation. The specialty with which I made my reputation - editorial photography - seems to have declined almost to insignificance, but I remain cautiously optimistic.

This is, after all, the only thing I've ever been really good at, and it's rather pitiful to admit that it took me this long to discover the joy of shooting for the simple pleasure of creating images - something I try to do nearly every day now. It's shameful that it took me so long to realize that, in the end, the work is really its own reward, and I'm looking forward to doing as much work as I can with the time left to me.

But this isn't the end - there's one more post to come.


Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Failure

Self-portrait for passport photo, 1998

I STARTED THIS BLOG OVER FOUR YEARS AGO. Whatever I thought about the idea at the time - a make-work project to force me to go through my old pictures and post what looked interesting - it has turned out far better than I imagined it would. Which is to say that, as I began going through those first boxes of prints and contact sheets, I wasn't expecting much.

The good news was that I rediscovered photos that I'd either forgotten completely about - alarmingly, if you're the person who's relying on that memory - and gave a second, sometimes profitable life to images that would have been unseen, entombed forever in binders full of negatives or on hard drives. But I wasn't expecting that to happen when I made my first posts here.

What I was most afraid of was digging up photos that would remind me of the low points, in both my career and my life. And I knew there were a few of them. Ultimately they'd lead to writing a post that summed up thirty years of life and work, which would oblige me to be honest about my successes and failures, and especially the bad decisions I might have made. This is that post, at long last, and it hasn't been easy to write.

At the analog wall, going through contact sheets, July 2018. Photos by Jonathan Castellino.

I had no idea I'd become a photographer when I bought that first camera from a pawn shop on Church Street, and I'm still fuzzy about the precise point where I thought that I might make a career out of taking pictures. I didn't go to school for photography and I never had a clue about how you made a living from photos, but I blundered ahead regardless, fueled mostly by the energy of ascending a thrilling learning curve and making better photos all the time.

I probably wouldn't have persevered as long as I did except for two financial factors - the incredibly low overhead I maintained by living cheaply (no car, no vacations) and the low, low rent I was paying on my Parkdale studio space through the whole of the '90s. There have been at least two times in my career when I wondered whether I could call myself a photographer any more. This blog forced me to confront both of those moments, and helped dredge up a lot of painful memories besides.

Many years ago, my (now-)wife and I appeared as an item in a gossip column in Quill & Quire, a magazine about the book trade in Canada. We had been seeing each other for a while; she had been an editor there once, which is what occasioned the item, while I was described as a "very successful photographer." Even more than appearing in a gossip column in a literary magazine, I was shocked to see myself described as "successful."

Never mind that my career was entering the first of those two major crisis points at the time; the fact is that I had never seen myself as "successful" as much as "struggling." I had an idea what a successful photographer looked like (though I didn't personally know any at the time) and I knew it wasn't me. Looking back, maybe having a little bit of notoriety, an established byline and no other visible means of support was what made you a "successful" photographer in Canada. If so, it set the bar pretty low. 

Scanning and retouching, July 2018. Photos by Jonathan Castellino.

For the longest time, staying in Canada was what I considered my first big mistake. I had always intended to move to New York and try to make it there - a move that was probably inspired by my brother, who went to New York in the '60s to work for Albert Grossman, manager of Bob Dylan, The Band and Janis Joplin and many others. It was the place to be a really successful photographer - a really successful anything - in ways that Toronto obviously wasn't.

But I didn't go to New York, for a lot of reasons. The first was that I never felt like I had enough of a financial cushion to take the risk, which might have just been an excuse. The other was that, just at the point when I should have made my move, I was in no sound emotional shape for it. A really bad break-up at the turn of the '90s put me in a tailspin for years, and looking back now, I was battling depression on and off for most of the decade.

Leaving Toronto would have meant a huge financial risk, to be sure, but it also would have deprived me of most of the network of friends and family I had here - not a great place if you're slipping in and out of black moods. The advantages of staying in Toronto - low rent, friends and family, work I could (mostly) rely on - outweighed the risks of potentially making a career in a place where being "successful" paid more considerable dividends, both in money and reputation.

Basically I was afraid, and my lack of the classic middle-class safety net - living parents, a home to go back to - made that fear more acute. Fear and depression - not emotions you associate with "success," but maybe I'm wrong about that.

After a while I stopped making regular trips to New York to look for work there. I'd still get the occasional job from friends like Edna Suarez at the Times, but as it became obvious that I probably wasn't going to make the big move, the beginnings of a network of friendly venues over the border fell away. And when I left both my studio and NOW magazine near the end of the '90s my freelance network here had shrunk as well. So by the time I was described as "very successful" I was struggling to make my rent.

Goofing around in Michael Vendruscolo's studio, 1990. Photographer unknown.

I've been reading a lot of biographies of photographers, mostly to get some perspective on my own career in the business. In a recent book about the late Anglo-Irish photographer Bob Carlos Clarke, his friend and fellow photographer Crena Watson (born 1957) talks about the photo business as it was by the time Clarke died in 2006:
"It changed so much even from when I started. You used to be respected and paid properly and appreciated for your skill and knowledge. And that just suddenly went. He (Clarke) was like a god, and that was just taken away. The big budgets didn't happen any more, there were all these younger art directors who didn't know who anyone was, or what was good and what was bad. It changed so quickly - it was shocking. Nothing to do with digital, actually. When people say, 'It was digital,' that's rubbish. That's just a tool."

"It was in the early 1990s that things changed. They had the recession and stopped paying proper prices, and then they found that young people would do it. They could use someone who's not so good and then retouch after, so I suppose digital played a small part...Those changes frightened him enormously, and he could see that it would never change back. It frightened me too. I was on the cusp of the good times, but he had had the good times all his career, and then suddenly things drop, and no one knew who he was or wanted him much. Quite apart from the worry about money, you'd feel that everything you had worked for your whole life - all your skills and talent - is now nothing. And a lot of photographers commit suicide. It's quite common."
I used to think that, like Watson, I was there for the last of the "good times" in the business, but when I read this it occurred to me that, from her perspective, I was probably one of the "young people" who would "do it" for less money. What I do know is that my own specialty - editorial portraiture - was a notable part of the business when I started shooting in the '80s, that it was in steep decline by the end of the 1990s, and that when I reemerged as a freelancer in the late 2000s, it had effectively ceased to exist.

When I started this blog, I was resigned that I would end up telling a story about failure. The failure to get the work I really wanted, to create a career and a reputation, to make a living in the business. When I turned around and looked at my binders full of negatives - the "analog wall" I talked about in the first post on this blog - it reminded me of this feeling of failure, and promised a long, slow opportunity to revisit and confront my own failure, which is something everyone wants to do, right?

I could talk about bad luck, or the constantly declining state of publishing in Canada, or "digital" and the changes in how we consume media. That might do a lot to explain the context of my career in photography, but if I blamed them for my failure I'd just be making excuses. The simple fact is that I made decisions, and they led me to this point in my life.

The hardest part was separating all of this from the work. I'm the least objective critic of that work, but the pleasant surprise at the end of four and a half years of exhuming my old work is realizing that it stands up on its own, and might actually be on the way to being a body of work. I began this blog expecting to write a eulogy, and I'm finishing it with a sense of purpose I couldn't have imagined four and a half years ago.

And that renewed sense of purpose - I'm unwilling to call it a career by this point as much as a kind of vocation - will be the subject my penultimate post.


Thursday, September 27, 2018

Hawaii

Maui, looking west to Lanai Island, May 2012.

SO MY OLD HIGH SCHOOL BUDDY MIKE CALLS ME UP OUT OF THE BLUE and asks if I'd like to go to Maui. Actually, I misheard him and thought he said "Mali" at first; that country was in the middle of a civil war at the time, and I thought this was awfully adventurous of Mike, but I was prepared to say yes anyway. It had been a long winter and I was desperate to go somewhere and do anything.

When Mike made it clear that he was talking about Hawaii, I was somewhat relieved and asked him for details. He'd won the trip as a prize at work for leading his team to some kind of record sales but his wife, a Montessori teacher, wasn't able to take off the time. I thanked him profusely for thinking of me and got the dates from him. I was going to Hawaii. Well, at least that means that Hawaii actually exists, I thought to myself.

Maui, May 2012.

For years I'd joked that I didn't think Hawaii was a real place. How could anywhere that sounded so much like paradise - perfect climate, middle of the Pacific Ocean - actually be real? Even when I met people from there, I kept the joke up and chastised them for leading people on about this implausible place. And now I was going.

Actually, I'm still not sure Hawaii exists, even after going there. The weather was, in fact, absolutely perfect, especially on the leeward sides of the island, which are drier than the wet, humid windward sides. In any case, a Canadian like myself gets confused by a place with growing seasons all year round, and where every plant - literally everything from lush shrubbery to the meanest little weed - produces some sort of outlandish, vivid blossom.

Flamingo, Hyatt Regency Resort, Maui, May 2012.

Mike's company put everyone up at the Hyatt Regency, one of a string of resorts on the leeward side of Maui. The Hyatt distinguishes itself by being home to an aviary; a collection of birds, including swans, penguins and flamingos, that live in the open air lobby areas and wander among the guests. Useful fact: Up close, flamingos don't look any more real than the pink plastic ones your tacky neighbour sticks all over their lawn.

The Hyatt is an excellent hotel, and I felt a little guilty when Mike set off every morning for some meeting or presentation or team-building exercise while I had the whole day to myself. I'd find a cabana or a lounger by the beach and settle in with a book. Or I'd take my camera - my Olympus E-620 with a single 25mm pancake lens on it - and go for a wander.

Hanakaoo Cemetery, Maui, May 2012.

A short stroll up the beach from the hotel led me to an old cemetery just a few yards inland, where the headstones matched the colour of the iron-rich volcanic soil. It seemed to be full of Japanese and Filipino labourers who'd died before the Pearl Harbor attack, and while more than a little bleak, seemed well-tended for a rough little patch of graveyard just a few yards inland from the ocean.

Maui, May 2012.

Mike signed us up for a hike and zipline adventure up in the hills above the resorts, where the exposed red soil would alternate with lush grass and trees covered in ochre and saffron coloured blooms. Our guides were typical of the sorts of off-islanders who ended up working there - surfer types who treated their job as a lark and probably smoked a fair amount of whatever they call Maui Wowie these days.

Silversword, Haleakala, Maui, May 2012.

With the end of the trip in sight and the daily corporate activities over, Mike and I rented a jeep and decided to drive up to the peak of Haleakala, the (apparently) dormant volcano that formed the island 750,000 years ago. The roads all over Maui were full of late model Mustangs - convertibles mostly, and the V-6 powered jobs that end up in rental fleets. We didn't get one of those, which was a good thing, because the road to the top of the volcano was quite steep in spots and the temperature dropped steeply as you headed up and through the clouds.

Up at the top we found a wholly alien landscape, with little vegetation except for plants like the silversword, which only grows near Haleakala's peak. The red soil and rocks made it all look decidedly Martian. We wandered around for as long as we could, which was a bit of a test for Mike who made the mistake of wearing shorts and sandals that day.

Haleakala volcano crater, Maui, May 2012.

It was an altogether pleasant break from what was becoming a sobering and apparently jobless life for me back home. In a couple of years my wife would give me the idea that became this blog. But the unlikely prospect of having a newsroom job again had finally struck home, and I was being forced to look at new options for whatever I jokingly called my "career" at that point.

I did come back from Maui with a vague intimation that I liked taking photos in strange new places. That this was something other people called "travel photography" hadn't quite occurred to me yet, but an idea had been planted. Now I just had to wait for somebody who wasn't a generous old friend to hand me another plane ticket and send me somewhere. For that, I'd have to wait a little bit longer.


Wednesday, September 19, 2018

blogTO

Chris Hadfield, Pearson International Airport, Toronto, August 2009

THE YEAR I WAS LAID OFF WAS A BAD ONE FOR NEWSPAPERS. The Rocky Mountain News, which had published since 1859, closed for good, while the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. in business since 1863, ceased print publication and went online only. They were just the big names. According to this story, 105 newspapers closed that year in the U.S. and 10,000 jobs in the industry were lost.

It was a bad time to be looking for a newsroom gig and while freelance opportunities were still available, word rates and assignment fees had either stagnated or declined severely. After the shock of the lay-off subsided, I realized I had to do something - anything - to keep myself writing and shooting, so I contacted the editors of blogTO, a city news and entertainment website that had been started five years earlier.

It was a practitioner of what was being called "hyperlocal journalism," which I'd been vocal about praising in my column at the free daily. Initially Tim and Derek, the editors, were skeptical about why I was approaching them for work - it was usually the sort of venue recent j-school grads and youthful urbanist types would work for to build a resume of work. I was - and would remain - the oldest person on their staff the whole time I worked there.

Building 9, Kodak lands, Toronto, June 2009

It took me a while to get up to speed with my posts. It had been years since I had gone out several nights a week or knew what the best new places to eat or shop were. Working for the free daily and raising two small children, my world had shrunk to a few well-worn routes and a few square blocks of the city I once knew so well, and I had to make an effort to reacquaint myself with my own hometown.

My first really successful post was about Building 9, the last remaining part of the Kodak Canada plant where my family had worked since the '20s. The then-owners had left it unguarded and it was inevitably broken into, wide open for vandals, renegade club and event promoters and urbex types. I made my way in with my camera and recorded the damage, then wrote a post about my own history with Kodak and the neighbourhood. It was probably one of the most popular things I wrote for many years.

Beach Motel, Toronto, April 2011
Beach Motel, Toronto, Nov. 2012

Another ongoing story I attached myself to was the final days of a strip of venerable but run-down motels on Lake Shore Boulevard that was being redeveloped into a thick cluster of condominium towers. I lurked around the area for about a year or two, interviewing the last people trying to make a living there before the inevitable. I was there on the morning the last motel was demolished, my post just one of a bunch of elegaic stories about the city's relentless transformation.

Canary Restaurant, Toronto, 2010.
Evergreen Brickworks, Toronto, 2009.

There were a lot of stories like this, like the closing and gutting of the Canary Restaurant, a worn-out greasy spoon in an old industrial area in the east end that was being turned into an athlete's village for the Pan-Am Games. I also got a look at the Don Valley Brickworks when it was being turned from an abandoned industrial relic into a eco/foodie destination.

Rotman's Hats final sale, Toronto, 2009.
China House neon re-lighting ceremony, Toronto, 2010.
China House contents auction, Toronto, 2011.
Valhalla Inn contents auction, Toronto, 2009.
Sutton Place Hotel contents auction, Toronto, 2014.

And there were more stories about the passing of an older Toronto, like the final sale week at Rotman's Hats, one of the last remnants of Spadina Avenue's Jewish merchant history. I wrote several stories about China House, an old-school Chinese food restaurant that seemed to get a new lease of life for about a year before it was inevitably closed and demolished for more condos.

I also covered the contents sales of two closed Toronto hotels. The Valhalla Inn was one of the first really glamorous airport hotels, opened in 1963 and designed in a style that took Scandinavian contemporary to its roots with a Viking theme. The Sutton Place was another modernist high point, and a hotel I knew intimately from shooting musicians and movie stars there for nearly twenty years. I didn't have much history with the Valhalla Inn, but watching the Sutton Place disappear actually gave me a pang of loss I didn't expect.

Imperial Oil Building, Toronto, 2011.

I also had an opportunity to tour the old Imperial Oil headquarters in midtown - an imposing tower built on the highest point in the city from plans reputedly rejected for Toronto's city hall. I had always wanted to get inside, and blogTO's credentials were enough to allow me a guided tour as workmen stripped out the offices and boardrooms to make way for - yes, big surprise - more condos. I was particularly taken with the gold tiles on the walls of the sky lobby outside one of the big main boardrooms - an unusually luxurious expression of midcentury modernism, I thought.

Looking back, I shot a lot of ruins and wreckage and demolition in my years at blogTO. It's not a surprise - my city was undergoing the latest in a series of radical transformations, with construction cranes all over the horizon and whole districts either being changed utterly or created out of parking lots and abandoned buildings. It's a boom that still hasn't wound up, and I'd be lying if I said I had unmixed feelings about watching - and documenting - the erasure of the city where I grew up.

Portlands, Toronto, 2010.
Corso Italia Festival, Toronto, 2013.

Working for blogTO forced me to concentrate on street photography, a style that I had never explored much in all my years of shooting portraits and news for NOW, eye, the Globe & Mail, the National Post or the free daily. Their posts featured photos as much, if not more, than words, and I had to learn to produce shots that could stand alone on a web page.

Ripley's Aquarium opening, Toronto, 2013.

BlogTO's credentials also got me into events like the media day before the opening of Ripley's Aquarium, a major tourist attraction right next to the CN Tower. I relished these opportunities, not only for the photos they allowed me to take, but for the sense that I was still part of the media, showing up and providing my coverage. Being laid off had felt like a sort of banishment from the profession I'd laboured in for so many years, so I was happy for any chance to hang a press pass around my neck and do my job.

Canadian National Exhibition, Toronto, 2009.
Canadian National Exhibition, Toronto, 2014.

In many ways, working for blogTO wasn't terribly different from working for a daily newspaper. We'd still cover news events like the opening of the Canadian National Exhibition at the end of every summer, and I was given that assignment for several years running. I had never done those ritual news calls before, so ironically it was working for the all-digital "new media" - which was supposedly speeding the decline of print dailies - that saw me covering stories like the annual Air Show, or interviewing and photographing the mayor at press conferences.

Helio Castroneves, Honda Indy, Toronto, 2012.
Honda Indy, Toronto, 2013.
Pit crew, Honda Indy, Toronto, 2014.
Honda Indy, Toronto, 2015.

One of those annual stories was the Honda Indy - the weekend long summer car race that takes over the CNE grounds. I'm a motorsport fan, but I had never shot a car race until blogTO gave me the credentials and I began spending a whole weekend at the track with my cameras. It was an opportunity I cherished, and a chance to ascend yet another steep learning curve as a photographer, learning to execute all the standard shots required for car race coverage, and perhaps even try something new.

World Cup celebrations, Etobicoke, 2014.
Rob Ford, election nght, 2014.

The funny thing was that blogTO made me more of a straight news photographer than I'd ever been before, assigning me to cover stories like fans reacting to Germany's World Cup win, or the end of the Rob Ford era in city politics. I even got the assignment of writing Ford's obituary for the site - a post that I'm still proud of today as a relatively objective assessment of his legacy in a time and place where nobody (especially in my business) was anything other than rabidly partisan.

Which reminds me of the worst thing about blogTO, at least in the early days: The comments thread on posts was famously vicious, a hangout for trolls and keyboard warriors who obviously thought they could do the job better than you could. I made the mistake of engaging in my first year or two posting there, and it was never a wise or prudent move. On the worst days, it was as ugly as the comments section on a YouTube clip, and eventually they found a way to make commenting less visible or encouraged. So much for the dream of "online communities" and reader engagement.

Hotel bartenders, Toronto, 2010.
Crazy Steve, Kensington, Toronto, 2011.

The one thing I didn't do much of at blogTO was portraiture - my specialty as a professional photographer. I had been forced to strip down and reinvent my style at the free daily, and had just arrived at something intriguing when the lay-off made me drop that thread and, one more time, start all over again.

I ended up doing something more like environmental portraiture, shooting people in a setting or context, like astronaut Chris Hadfield by the tail of the vintage F-86 Sabre he flew in the 2009 Air Show, or "Crazy Steve" Goof of local punk rock legends Bunchofuckingoofs by the entrance of what was once Fort Goof, the band's stronghold in Kensington Market. Or the series of portraits I did for a story on the 12 best hotel bars in Toronto, where I photographed each bartender in the same position behind the bar - a time-consuming assignment that I conceived mostly as a challenge for myself.

The pay at blogTO was ridiculously low, and I'm not sure that the time or effort I put into most of my stories ever made much economic sense. I'm not complaining - I definitely didn't do it for the money as much as a chance to keep working and publishing at a time when nobody seemed interested in hiring me, either in a newsroom or as a steady freelancer.

BlogTO let me test myself and my capabilities as a photographer and journalist, and if what I earned per post was essentially a nominal fee or honorarium - there's no way that the $40 I got for covering a whole weekend at the Honda Indy covered even a fraction of my time - at least I was working, at a time when many of my peers were (quite sensibly) leaving the business.

There was no definitive end to my time at blogTO. I had always felt like mutton dressed as lamb working there, and knew that the particular skill set and enthusiasms of an old journalist would sooner or later be superfluous to their needs. Eventually the assignments got as occasional as my story pitches and a redesign/revamp of the site moved away from long form stories to more lists and short pieces - exactly the sort of work that interested me the least. I knew it was probably time to go the year they said they weren't interested in covering either the auto show or the Honda Indy any more.

I'm not bitter - blogTO was a flag of convenience for me at a time when I just needed to keep working and shooting until whatever next move I needed to make made itself apparent. I'm grateful for the chance to do as much as I did under the banner Tim and Derek provided for me, and for hitching a ride into the world of online media that seems more like the future now than it did when I was jettisoned from the world of newsprint.