I’ve been travelling in India for the past month, happy to have published this portrait of a man I met while walking around Agra, India.
Last week, I got to photograph the best baristas in the country at the Canadian National Barista Championships for The Globe and Mail. It was a dream assignment for me because I love coffee culture and also geeking out to delicious coffee. It was also interesting to chat with people who love coffee so much that they devoted a significant amount of their lives to perfecting the skill of making coffee. What drives them? Why are they spending so many hours preparing for a competition?
Here are a few photos from the event, but also check out the interactive feature the Globe put out here.
TORONTO - (March 17, 2019) The twenty-two best baristas in Canada gathered at The Artist Factory to battle it out for the title of best barista at the 2019 Canadian Barista Championships. The event was held to select a Canadian representative to compete in the World Barista Championships in Boston next month.
To earn their spot to compete with the best of the best in Canada, the baristas spend months taste-testing and selecting the coffee bean they will use, rehearsing their routine and practicing to make the perfect cup of coffee. At the competition, each competitor has fifteen minutes to present to four judges their coffee creations. The baristas are judged by the taste and presentation of the cup they brew (latte art), their preparing technique, how accurately they describe the flavour profiles in the coffee they present, their efficiency and cleanliness of their coffee station and also the creativity of a signature drink they create. The event is a fun celebration bringing together fans of the steadily-growing third-wave craft coffee culture in Canada, which uses high-quality Arabica beans, usually sourced directly from a farm in a coffee-growing region, with many cafés roasting their own beans in-house.
I recently photographed the Women’s March in Toronto for The Globe and Mail. The assignment ended up being featured in the Folio section for the print edition, and I was really excited when my photos were given a double spread. I am very grateful I got to photograph such a meaningful event as the Women’s March and document it historically. While there has been so much work done in the past to further women’s issues, there is still so much more work to be done.
I recently had the opportunity to photograph a wedding in Pontypool, Ontario, an area I probably never would have visited if not for this wedding. I love opportunities like these - opportunities that you don't plan for but rather opportunities that present themselves organically to you. It's how I ended up living in Saskatoon for six weeks, road tripping to Washington D.C., road tripping to Maine, road tripping to Sherbrooke, Quebec, camping on an island in Puerto Rico, etc. etc.
In this instance, the bride's family owned an RV park in Pontypool, Ontario, where the wedding was held. The reception took place in a barn, and all the food was cooked by the groom's father. It's always fun to witness how the uniqueness of each couple is shown by what they choose to splurge on (in this case, open bar), the location they decide on, and all those choices that make up a wedding - for example, the practical, no-nonsense bride wore Birkenstocks under her dress - whereas in some other weddings I've been to, the bride had seven outfit changes.
Beyond making beautiful photos and experiencing each unique quirk about each couple, my favourite part of a wedding would be listening to the speeches; I've heard so many memorable ones throughout the years and I love hearing all those little anecdotes which reveal different sides of a person. It's truly an honour to be invited into someone's life to capture such a special day.
I recently visited my 50th country (Romania) during my recent trip to Eastern Europe.
When I first started solo travelling roughly six years ago), I didn't imagine it would take so long to get to 50 countries. That is roughly eight countries a year, which doesn't seem like a lot but sometimes you get to a place and you love it so much you need to visit it thoroughly, from North to South, because usually every region is very different.
Do I plan to visit all 195 countries now that I've been to over a quarter of them? Maybe. Certainly a few people have done it. But most people will live their lives not even seeing 25% of the impressively awe-inspiring world we are on.
It's true. Travelling is not always easy. You have to plan where you want to go, take time off from work, save up some money, book tickets and accommodation and plan out an itinerary.
However, I've found that as I've been to more places with more miles under my feet, that like most skills, travelling does get easier. In 2014 when I first went to Morocco by myself, I was overwhelmed by their aggressive culture that preyed on tourists. I was not used to having a local follow me around (for hours) and ask for money. This time, four years later, the locals didn't stop following me around, but I was more confident. After four years of travelling experience, I was better at asserting myself and telling people to leave me alone when I felt uncomfortable. I sought out interactions with locals where I felt safe - authentic experiences which didn't involve any monetary exchange. I am better at reading situations now and this helps as a photographer carrying thousands of dollars in camera gear (and as a regular traveller) - being able to spot danger and when you need to leave a situation.
I'm not done with my travels though, here's to the next 50 countries. Thanks for joining me on this journey. :)
Here's a compilation of the highlights of my travelling so far:
I recently photographed a young couple close to my heart. Jess has been my best friend since we were five years old. We played with dolls when we were young and always re-enacted wedding ceremonies with them. When I got a call one night with her excitedly telling me she was now engaged to her long-time boyfriend Matt, I was ecstatic with joy - the moment had come. We quickly organized a photo shoot.
Jess and Matt asked for a vintage look to their photos, so we decided to shoot in the Distillery District of Toronto which has an old-world feel to it with its cobblestone floor and heritage buildings. We also wanted to catch one of the last summer sunsets of the year so we drove to nearby Cherry Beach for a second round of shooting. The couple wasn't camera-shy at all and what you see in the photos is the real emotion of being in love coming through.
I am so happy to be a part of this couple's life and honoured that they asked me to do their engagement photos and to be their maid of honour. I'm looking forward to the wedding in 2016!
Gear: Canon 5D Mark III, 24-70 mm f/2.8 lens.