Happy New Year everyone! 2017 was a wonderful year of growth and discovery, trial and error, and meeting incredible people. I can't tell you how lucky I feel to have seen my little photography gig, what used to just be a hobby, grow into something that has introduced me to so many adventures and new faces that have grown to be a part of my life. Sometimes a photoshoot can almost feel like a blind date between photographer and client: the session always begins simply as a job for me and a necessity for the client; but through the lens, we to get to know each other so well. I think it's important for a photographer to be able to look past a person's outer appearance and be able to sense what makes that person on the other side of the camera tick, to get to know their story. With some clients, we talk a lot; with others, who they are is conveyed from the little movements they make in front of the camera, what makes them crack their first natural smile, the candids between poses, etc. Good angles, lighting, and editing are important, but I feel like I do my job well when I succeed in capturing what someone is really about, or what the moment really was. Through this process, I've made some great friends and gotten to know people I admire and am inspired by so much.
First of all, I have taken pictures for so many incredible musicians, and I even got to enjoy their playing in some of our sessions. Some played multiple instruments really well, and some of them have highly prestigious positions with major ensembles, or are accomplishing huge things and winning competition after competition. I got to photograph someone who dedicates their time to healing others with the power of music, as well as people who are making differences in young peoples' lives and music education. While musicians are definitely my biggest client base, I've also enjoyed taking pictures for extremely bright lab technicians and lawyers, mothers, famous gamer gurus, and even Santa!
So I just want to say thank you to all the clients who trusted me with their photography needs. Thank you for sharing life experiences, vulnerabilities, and strengths with me. Being photographed isn't always an easy, breezy occasion, so thank you as well for your bravery! Lastly, thank you for lighting up my year with your beautiful smiles and radiant personalities! It sounds like a bunch of cheese, but I mean all of this very sincerely. Photography is a joy for me, sort of a break I take from the musical side of my life, and I can't think of better people to have spent that time with.
Here are a few of my favorite shots from this year. I cherish every shot, but these are just a few that popped into mind.
Here's to a great 2018!
KayPea is the real deal! Boasting 125k+ followers on Instagram and 77k+ on Twitter, KayPea is not only beautiful but a model gamer that everyone should follow. I'm basically photographing a celebrity; how lucky am I? Check her out @kaypeahd (Instagram) and @kaypeaLoL (Twitter and Twitch).
Here's our session at the Toronto Christmas Market! So nice to meet you KayPea!
Meet Han, my fellow Crow DMA and incredible violinist!
A native Taiwanese, Heng-Han’s professional violin career has seen him performing around the world including Taiwan, Japan, Hong Kong, China, Israel, Argentina, America and Canada. For solo violin, he has played in pubic masterclasses for notable soloists such as Berlin Philharmonic
concertmaster Noah Bendix-Balgley and esteemed violinist Midori Goto. Heng-Han also has considerable experiences in chamber music and orchestra playing. He has attended chamber master classes with internationally renowned ensembles such as American String Quartet, New
Orford String Quartet and Ebene String Quartet. He also played in numerous professional orchestras such as National Taiwan Philharmonic, Canadian Opera Company, Kitchner-Waterloo Symphony and Windsor Symphony Orchestra. He received his master’s degree from New England Conservatory in Boston and now pursuing his doctorate degree in University of Toronto and holding teaching assistant positions for
Toronto Symphony Orchestra concertmaster Jonathan Crow and University of Toronto Symphony Orchestra.
So happy to meet and get to know the lovely Rachel yesterday!
Rachel is pursuing her undergrad with Gabe Radford at GGS. She just spent her summer touring Canada with NYO, and is now preparing to compete in the semifinals of the OSM Manulife Competition in November.
Otherwise, she really enjoys riding her bike, eating hummus, buying plant friends, and listening to records with pals.
A few weeks ago, I got to photograph a very talented young cellist, Dale Jeong!
Born in 2002, Dale Jeong is a 15 year old cellist who is in his 4th year at The Phil and Eli Taylor Performance Academy for Young Artists. He is a scholarship student at the Academy and is currently in the studio of David Hetherington. He has participated in numerous competitions such as Kiwanis Music Festival and Canadian Music Competition. He was a member of the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra(TSYO) since 2015. At the age of 14, Dale became a winner of the 2016/2017 TSYO Concerto Competition, and will be performing as a soloist with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra in December. In June, he also won the first prize at the OMFA’s 2017 Provincial Finals Competition for the Strings Diploma level. His cello teachers include Audrey Nodwell in Vancouver and Susan Gagnon in Toronto. He has participated in masterclasses with Igor Gefter, Adrian Fung and Andrés Díaz.
Dale currently plays on a cello made by Guy Harrison.
Meet the Ezra Duo, a viola and piano duo with Jacob Clewell and Sasha Bult-Ito!
Formed at the Glenn Gould School in 2016, the Ezra Duo quickly established itself as a performing ensemble of the highest caliber. The duo racked up a string of early performances, including Britten’s Lachrymae in a masterclass for violist Hsin-Yun Huang, and Hindemith’s Rhapsodic Sonata Op. 11, No. 4 for the Arts and Letters Club of Toronto and again in Mazzoleni Hall at the Royal Conservatory of Music.
Ezra made its debut in Koerner Hall with the same sonata, performing in a prelude concert for the Royal
Conservatory Orchestra. The duo has had the opportunity to play for distinguished artists such as Leon Fleisher, James Ehnes, Richard O’Neill, James Dunham, David Louie, and John Perry. Jacob and Sasha have represented the Glenn Gould School in an outreach recital for members of Baycrest Hospital, and were featured in a Koerner Hall postlude recital for Nicola Benedetti and the Venice Baroque Orchestra. This summer, Ezra appeared at the Scotia Festival of Music in Halifax, Nova Scotia, performing on the Young Artist recital Series. Most recently, Ezra was announced the first-prize winner of the Golden Classical Music Awards (USA) and Grand Prize Virtuoso (Austria) competitions. Upcoming concerts feature programs highlighting women in music, including sonatas by Jennifer Higdon, Libby Larsen, and Rebecca Clarke, among others, in a reengagement at the Arts and Letters Club of Toronto, as well as on recitals in Toronto, Atlanta, Santa Fe, and New York City.
Meet the beautiful and talented Julia Mirzoev!
Born in 1996 in Toronto, Canada, Julia Mirzoev playing violin at the age of two and a half years with her father. Shortly after, she began studying with renowned pedagogue Jacob Lakirovich up until she began her undergraduate education with Jonathan Crow, the Concertmaster of the Toronto Symphony at The University of Toronto, where she holds principal positions as well as Concertmaster in the University of Toronto Symphony orchestra and the University of Toronto Opera orchestra. A winner of multiple first prizes across national and provincial competitions; including first and grand prizes at the Canadian Music Competition and the esteemed President's Trophy award at Toronto Kiwanis, Julia has also received the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra concerto competition first prize, granting her a series of solo concerts with the Toronto Symphony orchestra. Julia has also performed solo with the Scarborough Philarmonic, Sinfonia Toronto, and the Canadian Sinfonietta. Julia is an avid orchestral, chamber, and solo musician, as well as a participant in international music festivals, such as the Orford music festival as well as the Aspen Summer Music Festival this past summer. She is currently a fourth year student at the University of Toronto.
In her free time, Julia enjoys quality time with friends, sunny beaches, racquet sports, and fishing with her father (even though she is allergic to fish...)!
It was so nice to meet the talented and adorable Naoko Sakata!
Naoko is pursuing her undergraduate studies in piano performance at the Conservatoire de Musique de Québec in the class of Suzanne Beaubien. She has won awards from numerous music festivals and competitions. Earlier this year, she was awarded the Beaudoin Trophy and the Violons du Roy Prize, which will enable her to perform as a soloist with the Violons du Roy next season. In the realm of chamber music, last year her duo received the Southern Ontario Chamber Music Institute Prize which enabled them to participate in the Rolston/Szekely Program for Young Musicians at the Banff Centre on full scholarship. Previously, she was a full-scholarship student at the Taylor Academy of the Royal Conservatory of Music under Li Wang.
Naoko is also the founder and executive director of Musicians’ Dream Aid, a charity which offers financial aid to young musicians. In her spare time, she also enjoys performing at local senior homes and hospitals.