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Princess Joy Villa

   
 
   

The Story Behind That Picture: "The Toronto Experience"

By: Thorsten Overgaard. February 6, 2016

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Learning from Toronto

A little over three years ago I learned a lesson that I often think back to. I learned that what you photograph is more important than what you experience.

 


A lesson learned in Toronto (We met this fellow in the Diner). Leica M9 with Leica 50mm Noctilux-M f/1.0.

 

A dull experience in life may result in great photos, but an exiting experience might not.

 



An American city somewhere between New York and Montreal.
Leica M9 with Leica 50mm Noctilux-M f/1.0

 

We got on the highway but decided to hit they hay for the night and checked into Red Carpet Inn because I always wanted to try a real American Motel Experience. Dirty, sleazy and cheap it fulfilled every dream I ever had about trying a real countryside American motel and cured me completely for any desire to do it in the future.

Next morning I accomplished to get two speeding tickets within half an hour. I wasn’t driving really fast, maybe 5 miles more than it was allowed on the highway. The second officer who stopped me was a lesson in intolerance. I learned that whether you are an African prince, a terrorist or a proud Viking from the Kingdom of Denmark, you are a “foreigner” and that itself is punishable in the eyes of a redneck in uniform.

As you can imagine, we had quite an adventure already before we reached the Canadian border.

 


Some of the adventure lying ahead in Montral. Joy and Larry posing. Leica M9 with Leica 50mm Noctilux-M f/1.0


As we continued and I kept an eye on the speed, we decided to look for some breakfast. We looked at the iPad for interesting names along the route and that was how we ended up at Papa’s Diner in Queensbury, a 5 minutes drive off the highway.

We had a ball in the diner and I think they will never forget the day when they got visitors from Mars.

 

Papa's Diner
Papa, I presume, with Joy Villa in Papa’s Diner in Queensbury
. Leica M9 with Leica 50mm Noctilux-M f/1.0

 

We headed on and finally we arrived to Montreal where we had rented a great Airbnb apartment with artsy interior, lots of space and two roundtables and a large collection of music on vinyl.

We loved Montreal. We had a rooftop to our disposal and did a shoot on it the last day. Every corner we turned in Montreal we met interesting people.

 


We met fashion designer Helmer Joseph who have worked in Paris with Dior and all. Now he makes his own fashion in Montreal. We borrowed a dress for out shoot. Here Helmer is fitting one of his dresses for the photo shoot in Montreal onto Joy Villa. Leica M9 with Leica 50mm Noctilux-M f/1.0.

 

We had a rooftop to our disposal and did a shoot on it the last day. Larry and Andrew photographing Joy Villa in a dress from designer Helmer Joseph.

 

Montreal was hip, cool, adventure, friendly, artsy … it was a blast!

The day after the workshop we drove the rental car to Toronto. The photo studio with apartment we had rented turned out to be a dull place and we found Toronto a grey and dull experience compared to what wet had just left.

 


Toronto 2012. Leica M9 with Leica 50mm Noctilux-M f/1.0

 

We survived the workshop days with some fun people and managed to meet many interesting people. We also met up with Eric Kim and his workshop students and had a fun diner experience at Thompsons Diner in Toronto.

 


Thompsons Diner in Toronto. Leica M9 with Leica 50mm Noctilux-M f/1.0.

 

But overall the Toronto Experience was not an exotic memory and I sort of decided that next time I went to Canada, I would stay in Montreal.

But I should change my mind.



Thanks to some crazy people in the workshop we survived Toronto ... Here's Chadwick Bromley playing muscle game with a dog. Leica M9 with Leica 50mm Noctilux-M f/1.0.

 

The numbers

Without trying I usually do an average of 110-120 photos a day over a year. I have days where I don’t touch the camera and I have other days where I obviously take a lot of photos as part of an assignment or simply because I do. Very few times will I tell myself “You should go see what that weather outside could make of pictures” or something and then walk out simply to make something. I am always amazed how a walk without much purpose will turn in a few great photos.

 


These people were so bored in Toronto they could be classified as a still-life. Leica M9 with Leica 50mm Noctilux-M f/1.0.

 

         
 

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I met this girl in a store in Toronto during a cultural event night. Leica M9 with Leica 50mm Noctilux-M f/1.0

 


It is true that the more pictures you take, the more good ones you get. It is unpredictable when the good ones occur, and how many great ones you get in a day or month.

When I flew to Europe and a couple of weeks later finished my Montreal and Toronto pictures, I noticed that despite my impression of Toronto, I had just as many good pictures from Toronto as Montreal. In fact, I had more good ones from dull Toronto than exiting Montreal.

I counted and it was true. Toronto had the best turnout in pictures.

 


Toronto 2012, Leica M9 with Leica 50mm Noctilux-M f/1.0.

 

The Toronto Experience

I’ve looked at this experience many times since. In my workshops I will usually say that we go for the light and quiet places rather than touristy busy places like markets, water fronts and so on.

 

Lightroom Survival Kit 6

 

It’s true that touristy places will drain your energy (with or without a camera) and often it’s the most likely place to have somebody try to pickpocket you. But mainly touristy places or obvious photo opportunities are filled with action that you feel you should photograph.

Once in Singapore we spend a couple of hours on a Sunday morning in a neighborhood where you saw a car come by every 20 minutes.

Nothing happened in the world around us. We go great pictures and learned about light.

 


Toronto 2012, Leica M9 with Leica 50mm Noctilux-M f/1.0.

 


The difference is that in the quiet location, you make the pictures. In the busy locations, you photograph action. You feel you get a lot, but when you edit the photos, you realize you might have gotten a lot of pictures but you didn’t create a lot of aesthetic.

If you try and look at your good – or best – pictures, try to see how many you made and how many of them the environment made. Most likely you will find that you made the best ones when nothing happened. Even if you shoot racecars or dangerous animals, the best ones were most likely the most unexpected ones when nothing was supposed to happen.

But you have to get out to get inspired. If you sit in an armchair inside ... that's nice; but not what I am talking about.

 


Jeff Swanson out and about in the Toronto Workshop 2012. Leica M9 with Leica 50mm Noctilux-M f/1.0

 

This is not the exact same experience as Toronto, but I mention that because it sort of confirms the lesson that just because you are having a good time doesn’t mean you get photographic results.

Often great photos are to be made where nothing happens, because it makes you look and think. You start making photos and you slow down time. The photo opportunities are some you create and they don’t disappear in the next second.

 


Toronto 2012. Leica M9 with Leica 50mm Noctilux-M f/1.0

 

You can also train to foresee possible photos and wait for elements to fall in place. You got time on your side and you are on top of it.

 


Joy Villa is an angel. Toronto, September 2012. Leica M9 with Leica 50mm Noctilux-M f/1.0.

 

So when I decided to do Canada again this year, I decided to go to Toronto.

Of all places I choose the least exiting city. I know I promised a few people to go to Quebec and maybe Calgary in the future, but in the end I decided for Toronto because I have an unfinished battle there.

Can I make both great photos, and make it a visit to an exiting city?

 



This time I secured a nice sport for the Toronto Workshop eight months in advance.

 

This time I rented a place eight months ahead to be sure to have an inspiring place to stay. But the rest I leave to chance and I will see if Toronto is as boring as I remember it, and if it makes as great photos being bored as it did last time.

If you like to join, please do so and sign up here.

 


One of the Montral workshop students from 2012. Leica M9 with Leica 50mm Noctilux-M f/1.0.

 

I hope you enjoyed this little flashback to 2012. As always, feel free to e-mail me with questions, suggestions and comments to thorsten@overgaard.dk.

 


Leaving Toronto on an airplane.
Leica M9 with Leica 50mm Noctilux-M f/1.0.

 


Thorsten Overgaard, February 6, 2016

   

leica.overgaard.dk
Thorsten Overgaard's Leica Article Index
Leica M cameras:   Small Leica cameras:
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Leica M Type 240 and M-P Typ240   Leica CL
Leica M-D Typ 262 and Leica M60   Leica TL2
Leica M Monochrom Typ246 digital rangefinder   Leica Digilux 2 vintage digital rangefinder
Leica M Monochrom MM digital rangefinder   Leica Digilux 1
Leica M9 and Leica M-E digital rangefinder   Leica Sofort instant camera
Leica M9-Professional digital rangefinder   Leica Minilux 35mm film camera
Leica M4 35mm film rangefinder   Leica CM 35mm film camera
     
     
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Leica 21mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4   Leica SL 2015 Type 601 mirrorless fullframe
Leica 21mm Leica Super-Elmar-M ASPH f/3.4   Leica R8/R9/DMR film & digital 35mm dSLR cameras
Leica 21mm Super-Angulon-M f/3.4   Leica R10 [cancelled]
Leica 28mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4   Leica R4 35mm film SLR
Leica 35mm Summilux-M ASPH FLE f/1.4 and f/1.4 AA   Leica R3 electronic 35mm film SLR
Leica 35mm Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0   Leicaflex SL/SL mot 35mm film SLR
Leica 50mm Noctilux-M ASPH f/0.95    
Leica 50mm Noctilux-M f/1.0 and f/1.2   Leica SL and TL lenses:
Leica 50mm Summilux-M ASPH f//1.4    
Leica 50mm APO-Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0    
Leitz 50mm Summicron-M f/2.0 "rigid" Series II   Leica R lenses:
Leica 75mm Noctilux-M ASPH f/1.25   Leica 19mm Elmarit-R f/2.8
Leica 75mm Summilux-M f/1.4   Leica 35mm Elmarit-R f/2.8
Leica 75mm APO-Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0   Leica 50mm Summicron-R f/2.0
Leica 90mm APO-Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0   Leica 60mm Macro-Elmarit f/2.8
Leica 90mm Summarit-M f/2.5   Leica 80mm Summilux-F f/1.4
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Leica Definitions   Leica S2 digital medium format
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The Solms factory and Leica Wetzlar Campus   "Magic of Light" Television Channel
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What is Copyright? Advice for Photogarphers   Lightroom Presets
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Lightmeters   "Die Magie des Lichts Finden" eBook (German)
Color meters for accurate colors (White Balance)   "The Moment of Impact in Photography" eBook
White Balance & WhiBal   "Freedom of Photographic Expression" eBook
Film in Digital Age   "Composition in Photography" eBook
Dodge and Burn   "A Little Book on Photography" eBook
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How to shoot Rock'n'Roll   The Overgaard New Inspiration Extension Course I
X-Rite   The Overgaard Photography Extension Course
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Above: Flying out of Toronto in 2012. We survived, but now we come back for more. Leica M9 with Leica 50mm Noctilux-M f/1.0
© 2012-2016 Thorsten von Overgaard.

 

 

 





 


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Thorsten Overgaard
Thorsten von Overgaard is a Danish writer and photographer, specializing in portrait photography and documentary photography, known for writings about photography and as an educator. Some photos are available as signed editions via galleries or online. For specific photography needs, contact Thorsten Overgaard via e-mail.

Feel free to e-mail to thorsten@overgaard.dk for
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