Non-science: Concert Photography in Downtown Toronto

I seem to be morphing, at least part of the time, into a concert photographer.

Kai - letting it rip at First Canadian Place
Toronto singer-songwriter Kai tears the roof off.

Let me explain. Over the past few years, I’ve occasionally headed down to the financial district to catch a lunchtime concert at First Canadian Place, the home of BMO Bank of Montreal. Since my first visit to see guitarist Colin James, I’d been a few times, work schedule and musical preferences permitting. After Colin James, I saw Celtic fiddler Natalie MacMaster, Toronto singer-songwriter Kai, and a couple of song-swap double bills: Mo Kenney with Melanie Brulée, and Royal Wood with Tyler Shaw. All of these were good shows, but the one artist that really blew my socks off was Nikki Yanofsky. Under the tutelage of none other than Quincy Jones, her latest album Little Secret is an astonishing mix of jazzy soul and modern crunchy beats. And her stage performance… well, she is most assuredly The Real Deal, and a very dynamic stage performer.

As usual, I photographed her with my DSLR, but also added some good old fashioned high-speed black and white film (Ilford Delta 3200, rated at ASA 1600, in a Pentax ME F wearing a Bushnell 135mm f/2.8 lens, if you care about the details). She was even kind enough to pose in front of her promotional poster, in between autographs.

Nikki Yanofsky, FCP, Toronto
Nikki Yanofsky, indulging a passing photographer.

Nikki Yanofsky - Delta 3200
The film version. Love that grainy goodness.

Being at least passingly social media-savvy, I tweeted out a photo or two, linking to my full Flickr set. Which, much to my surprise, resulted in me being hired to photograph the next upcoming act, country musician Jimmy Rankin. And after that, three more in the summer series, and another four this fall. Along the way, I also made time for two gigs by family friend Tori Hathaway, and a free concert on Canada Day by 80’s icons Glass Tiger and Honeymoon Suite – the first real rock concert I’ve been to in many a year. That show was just for fun, as a fan – but refreshingly, in broad daylight, rather than dim-even-when-it-looks-bright stage lighting.

So here I am half a year later, with twelve concerts under my belt in 2014, and a thirteenth scheduled in November. Compared with the two race weekends and one track day I’ve shot this year, that’s a lot – making me think that maybe I’m more of a concert photographer than an autosport one. Or maybe I’m still just a pretender, and some kind of scientist at heart. Whatever the truth, this has been a challenge, good fun, an opportunity to meet some amazingly talented artists, and a great reason to fight with that light again.

Jimmy Rankin, FCP Toronto
Jimmy Rankin
Pete Murray - FCP Toronto
Pete Murray
Alyssa Reid at First Canadian Place, Toronto.
Alyssa Reid
Nicole Rayy at First Canadian Place, Toronto
Nicole Rayy
Fernando Varela at FCP, Toronto
Fernando Varela
Canadian Opera Company at FCP, Toronto
Canadian Opera Company
Greg Hanna, Waterfall Stage, First Canadian Place Toronto
Greg Hanna
Tori Hathaway
Tori Hathaway
Glass Tiger - Canada Day 2014
Glass Tiger
Honeymoon Suite - Canada Day 2014
Honeymoon Suite

Next up: Adonis Puentes and Pancho Amat. Stay tuned.


All of my concert photos, including sets from each of the First Canadian Place gigs mentioned above, are in this Flickr collection.

About Richard Wintle

I am Canadian by heritage, and a molecular biologist and human geneticist by training. My day job is Assistant Director of a large genome centre, where I do various things along the lines of "keeping the wheels on". In my spare time, I tend to run around with a camera, often chasing race cars, abandoned barns, and sundry wildlife.
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