180512 Recency - matthew piers robertson • photography writing creative toronto

Be Kind To Yourself

As they tend to, things continue to happen. So here are some updates to cover the past month or so.

The Toronto Focal Forum has concluded its 2017-2018 season as expected. I was treasurer for this past year, and those responsibilities included organizing the year-end banquet that happened a mere ten days ago. It was great, and people seem to think I did a lot more work than was actually involved, so that's a win-win. This was my first year on the executive, and seeing a bit more about how the club runs has made the entire experience more valuable. 

And about that: the Toronto Focal Forum is not your typical camera club. Part of that is that we don't really do anything. There are no macro workshops, no birding special interest group, no field trips to exotic parts of the city, and most importantly: no competitions. None. Instead we get together every two weeks, have social time over dinner, and then show and discuss our prints. A different moderator leads the group for each meeting, and every single member is a good photographer with interesting things to say. 

Next season, which starts in September for anyone who's interested, I'll be taking up the dual responsibilities of coordinating the moderators and writing the newsletter. I'm unreasonably excited about both, and already have the newsletter format mocked up so that I can really take the time to make sure it's right. I'm hoping to hold those roles for a couple of years, and maybe longer for the newsletter. It should be fun, and it's prompting me to go back to my books and resources for ideas and inspiration. 


My other ongoing activity is taking classes at my local meditation centre. This isn't something I've particularly mentioned here before, if memory serves me correctly, but I've done a few a year for the past few years. It's not always easy to sort them into distinct subjects, but so far they've been about equally divided between dharma teachings and contemplative arts. A photography workshop has just started, which is thoroughly outside of my ability to explain, and is keeping me busy. There's also a weekend dharma retreat coming up soon that I'm really looking forward to, taught by the same teacher who leads the contemplative photography. So I'm simultaneously spending more and less time with cameras, and none of the images are likely to show up here.

And I've also started an ongoing photo project with a friend. We're usually able to meet up with every month or so, and have chosen Dupont street as a recurring place to visit a few times a year. These photos are from our outing just last weekend, and while they're fairly comfortable for me, others have required expanding into more of a 'street' or documentary style that I'm not used to. Change is interesting.

Finger Painting

Very soon, within days if not hours, I'm going to have a new niece. I've been keeping the camera bag at least half-packed and ready to go with minimal notice for weeks. Family connections aren't my strongest ability, but I've seen how important family photos are, and this is a chance to create images that will only increase in importance over the coming decades. That's a rare privilege, and even though I am absolutely not a 'people photographer', it's one that I appreciate.

Other photographic opportunities are returning with the warmer weather as well. The butterflies will be back soon, which will have me visiting different parts of the city to spot them. My other major goal is to spend more time photographing at night, including seeing the sunrise at least a few times. I've also been reminded that while I consider the 'blog' part of this website to be my main work, the occasional visitor is more likely to want to check the 'projects' section, which I neglect. Last summer I started a lot that I couldn't finish, so this will be a chance to complete some ideas.

And there is, of course, new gear. I've sold more than I've added, but I've added more quickly than I can learn and appreciate the new tools. My Fuji kit now includes the X100F which is barely a year old, and the 18-55 and 55-200 zooms that I used with my XT10. That camera has been replaced by an XT2; it and the 16/1.4, 35/1.4, 50/2, and 80/2.8 primes are all less than four months old. That's absurd. So my acquisitions are done for a while while I catch my breath and get back to taking photos, instead of test shots, like a sensible person again. 


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