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John Rathwell is a self-taught action sports photographer based in Ottawa Ontario. With John’s series Little People Big Landscape he’s found a unique, and striking style and of action photography where the individual – whether it’s a kayaker or mountain biker – takes up a small part of the photo allowing the landscape to dominate.. According to John, “I like shooting this way because it allows the viewer to dream and put themselves in the location.”
Toronto is one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world. More than half of its 3 million inhabitants are born outside of Canada.
The challenge: photograph someone born in every single country of the world who now calls Toronto home.
Photographer Colin Boyd Shafer accepted the challenge. And over the course of a year (June 2013 – June 2014) captured Toronto citizens, along with a prized possession that trace their origins and represent tangible connections to their past.
Born in Kitchener, Colin Boyd Shafer is an award-winning documentary photographer, winning the 2013 Human Rights Watch Film Festival’s Photography Competition in London, UK, and the 2014 Toronto Urban Photography Festival’s Global Building Giants Award. His work has been featured on the cover of Asian Photography Magazine and F-Stop Magazine as well as international publications like Salon, The New Internationalist, Foto8 and BBC News.
Meet Colin Boyd Shafer
What is your background/education?
I have a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) from Queen’s University in Environmental Science and Psychology Bachelor of Education from York University Masters of Science in The Political Economy of Violence Conflict and Development from the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London
How did you get your start as a photographer, did you have a special mentor?
I have a long family history in photography. My great great grandfather opened his town’s first photography gallery. My mother put herself through Dental school photographing children on ponies.
I didn’t have a special mentor, but my mother bought me my first DSLR which was the true beginning of this journey in photography.
What/who (where?) inspires you to shoot?
I love telling stories, and photography is my way. Photography that has a social implication inspires me – and this is why I am always leaning towards the documentary side of this art.
Who are your favourite photographers?
I love the portraits of Danny Street and Richard Renaldi, the documentary work of Dominic Nahr and GMB Akash, and the beauty/ feel of Mel Tjoeng’s work. I follow these photographers.
How did you come up with the concept of Cosmopolis Toronto ?
I was inspired by four things:
1. My interest and capability with portrait photography.
2. My longing to come back to GTA, spend time with Grandma (she is 89) and do a project in Canada.
3. I have an interest in migration (I started a project called Everyone Has Hope working with refugees in Malaysia, and my Master’s degree focused on the Stateless Rohingya of Burma).
4. Finally I think we say ‘diversity’ quite often but rarely (maybe never) are there ‘real stories’ about the individuals involved. I guess the aim of the project is to visualize/capture the diversity of this great city, and create an accurate picture of Toronto today.
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