Last summer while on my annual visit home, I spent several hours over two days on Toronto's Dupont Street, making a series of photographs documenting life in all its incarnations on this fascinating artery in the city's north end. It's a street I've driven on countless times as a resident. But this one August day, as an observant passenger in the car travelling from its starting point at Avenue Road all the way out to the west-end suburb of Etobicoke, I came to appreciate the eclectic blend of people, cultures, industry, residences, art galleries and studios, independent restaurants, cafes and shops, architecture and just generally curious and unusual sights - including some fantastic street art - that this thriving stretch has to offer. A place of contrasts, you get both the shiny and the gritty, with multi-million dollar developments juxtaposed with dilapidated buildings, which somehow adds to, rather than abates, the area's charm. The street's diversity is probably owed to the fact that Dupont passes through nearly every major north-south running street west of Yonge, creating a series of unique and vital cross sections of the city. Next summer I'm going to explore one of the other 'Duponts' that make Toronto so vibrant and endearing.
With a fortitude I seem to only possess with a camera in hand, I went out early the next morning, braving the already 33 degree Celsius heat and sticky humidity, and began a three-hour exploration starting at Dupont's most westerly point at Dundas West in Etobicoke, covering half of its 5km of road before my neck gave out from looking up (I try to remember not to ignore what falls above and below eye level but it comes at a price). I went back out the following morning and picked up where I left off, the weather not even slightly more forgiving than the day before. I mention this because I usually succumb to high humidity and heat with extreme lethargy and therefore avoid spending time outdoors in these conditions if I really don't have to, but the energy of Dupont and the allure of its morphing blocks kept me consistently motivated and moving.
I hope my photo series will convey the dynamism and charm of this great street and make you fall in love with it as I did.
We'll begin with the locales that offer refreshment. Rather than take you on a sequential tour, I've decided to present these dozens of photos into digestible posts, by the themes that revealed themselves when looking over the collection, to create a sense of what Dupont Street is all about, as least through my eyes and lens. This small selection of photographs doesn't come anywhere near to providing a proper survey of the myriad restaurants, cafes and specialty shops found all along the way; rather it is merely revealing something about the places I chose to walk into and spend a few minutes when I needed to cool down or fuel up, and I didn't stop too many times for fear of not covering Dupont in its entirety before leaving the city. Besides, there's only so much you can eat and drink, even on a hot day!
That's it. For now. I just may have to do a special foodie tour of Dupont next year...there is a place that makes fantastic Italian sandwiches and so many others worthy of a visit and leisurely linger.
Today's designskool lesson: When photographing a place, especially one that is packed with many sights in one area, go beyond the obvious subjects that everyone else can see and explore what's in front of you - and beside, behind, below and above you - from different vantage points to offer a fresh and exciting perspective. If you look, you will likely find great content that can elevate your photos from mere records to artistic expressions. Do this consistently to sharpen your creative eye and develop your own unique style of photography.
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Photos © Denise Grayson