Street Photography in Kensington Market, Toronto

On September 28, my good friend and fellow shutterbug, Jeff Silverman and I took advantage of a beautiful fall day to do some street photography in the iconic and multicultural Kensington Market in Toronto.

Street photography is a medium in which I consider myself a budding amateur.  It is a skill somewhat akin to hunting, both for the right people and the “decisive moment”.  Like most attempts at hunting, it requires some patience, knowing when to pull the trigger and praying your gear works as it should.  As such, this means a lot of failure.  However, since shooting digital photos is free, one gets many attempts to get it right and this time around I think I got a decent keeper rate.  I’m far from being as good as other street photographers, but each time I get a bit better at it.

One thing I don’t want to do is be that guy with a huge camera slung around his neck, pointing a bazooka size lens in people’s faces.  For street photography, a little bit of stealth goes a long way.   I took the small and superb Olympus OMD EM-5 along with two small prime lenses.   Each lens is small enough to slip into cargo pant pockets and I carry the camera on a wrist strap.  This strikes a nice balance between good image quality, portability, speed and stealth.

My Street Photography Kit. Olympus OMD-EM5, mZuiko 17mm f1.8, mZuiko 45mm f1.9
My Street Photography Kit: Olympus OMD-EM5, m.Zuiko 17mm f1.8 and m.Zuiko 45mm f1.9

Getting a good shot was a combination of some luck and a bit of skill.  Sometimes you think you have a great image, you get the camera ready and then it is ruined by someone walking into the scene or the moment evaporating because one was not quick enough.  Such is the nature of the beast in a crowded and bustling place.

Different Generations
Different Generations

Lucky for us, the streets were teaming with people thanks to the great weather.  For street photography in Toronto, Kensington Market is hard to beat.  The place is full of unique and interesting individuals and in some ways this was a bit like shooting fish in a barrel.   I also think the setting of the market itself  makes for an interesting and quirky background canvas.  This a different world than the rest of the city and it is one I embrace.  It is free of soulless high rise buildings and uninspired modern architecture, which is the Toronto I fear and loathe.   Instead Kensington Market takes one back to a post-Victorian era setting that has merged with ethnic flavours and a hipster culture.  So much more human.

Miles and Smiles
Miles is Jazz
Does not see the camera
Get off the damned phone

After the shoot, I found myself doing a lot more work in post-processing to convert the images from a carbon copy of reality into more interpretive images.  In some ways, I think the end result of this processing is closer to my own feelings as I walked around the market.  I visualized a lot of these photos as black and white or somewhat gritty and abstract.


I took 295 photos and this gallery represents 80 or so of the ones that I considered acceptable or decent.  I hope you enjoy some of them and also be sure to visit Kensington Market some day.

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