Monday, August 11, 2014


Queen Street West afternoon, date unknown

I HAVE NO IDEA WHEN I SHOT THIS, though I'm pretty sure that's my friend Tim Powis walking away from the camera. Taken on Queen Street West here in Toronto, just by the corner of Peter Street, with a Rolleiflex, and printed with soft focus filters in the vignetted edges of the frame. It was in the 5x7 box, along with a few other similarly mysterious prints I took pains to print for reasons I can't remember any more.

By the early-mid '90s I'd become a bit of a Luddite, intent on holding back the computerized future, stubbornly refusing to buy a computer, still submitting work typed on my ancient Remington and striving to shoot as if it were 1958 whenever I could. The digital revolution in photography was a decade away from sweeping all before it, and whatever digital cameras were out there were experimental and expensive, so it was an easy pose to adopt. In many ways, just a few years from the dawn of the 21st century, we really were still shooting like Eisenhower was still in the White House.

Even though it's not quite twenty years ago, this photo feels like it comes from a distant era now. Nobody is looking at their cell phones, and in my mind I can recall the street as it was then - very different from when I'd first walked down it fifteen or so years before, and not at all like it is today. I wouldn't dare call it a clear and accurate document of the city as it was - a photographer like Patrick Cummins has done a much better job at that sort of thing - but for me it's a moment of vanished past, more mine than the city's, caught mostly by accident.

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