The family I broke the law with: photography in High Park

the caption on this one should be, “Sassy toddler doesn’t want a conventional photo taken”. I agree, little one. I agree.

the caption on this one should be, “Sassy toddler doesn’t want a conventional photo taken”. I agree, little one. I agree.

Can a law really be broken, if no one is around to enforce it? 🙈

Alright, I’m no rebel, really. As you might be aware if you’ve been reading this blog long enough, I grew up in communist Bulgaria, which means I really do not like to break the law, or any rules. I get nervous around police-officers, or border-crossing people, or even security guards (perhaps especially security guards). One time, as a teenager, I got pulled over for speeding, and asked to hand over my license and registration. My hand shook so terribly that I had to lean it against the open window when handing the office my license. True story.

Anyway, on this beautiful sunny day in June, when I was eagerly awaiting yet another family photography session in Toronto, I only inadvertently broke any rules. Because I didn’t know the rule existed.

The rule is simple and banal: you need a permit to photograph as a professional in High Park (or most other parks in Toronto). People share stories of being kicked out of places when photographing without a permit.

It’s far more obvious when you are a traditional wedding photographer, mind you, because you might be bringing along lights and other equipment, and you might be posing the couple, who might be very obviously clad in wedding attire, and being followed by a wedding party…

Instead, on that summer day, it was just me and a family of four: mom, dad, and their two little kids.

It was green as can be, a summer downpour had just ended, the parking lot and trees still wet, and I arrived from Kingston a little early to take a walk and capture some scene-setting photographs. (I’ve noticed that I’ve started to take fewer of these types of photographs, and now I remind myself that it can be important to capture details to complete the story. Mental note: take more detail shots. But not boring ones. 😜 Never the boring ones.)

Anyway, since this was a three-hour family session, we took things slow. It’s the only way you can really take it with a newborn and a toddler. Enjoy the moment, pause to strap on a shoe, hydrate from a sippy cup, all that jazz.

We walked around High Park for a long time, played on the swings (I captured one of my all-time favourite photographs of mine, ‘the Girl on the Swing’, which went on to win me an award…), then drove back to their place for more fun.

And just think: a High Park security guard (do they exist?) might have stopped me! She might have asked me to immediately cease taking photographs! GASP. The potential horror of this situation makes me wince.

AAAANYWAY. I’m only half kidding. I really do get stressed when someone tells me I’m doing something I shouldn’t. I’ve become better at it, though. For instance, just last year, I photographed WITHOUT a permit at the Beaches in Toronto. For a WEDDING. (CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?!)

What have we learned, folks?

Back to this very green, very sweet documentary family session in High Park. The photographs reveal a number of activities we captured, but they also reveal something else about documentary style family photography, which I keep harping on about: that each family is unique, each session is equally unique, and that life ought to be lived in any way that brings you joy. (Although the photograph of baby puking - that’s something most babies do, and it’s just an extra bonus if I can get it on camera 😂)

I’ve selected a few of the photographs from this session to show you. I have re-edited some of them slightly, and I am choosing to present all the photographs today in colour. This meant I had to convert some of my black and white edits back into full colour. I don’t mind doing this. Over the years, this is another thing which has changed: my preference for colour over black and white.

I’ll probably write more on that another time.

For now, I hope you enjoy the photographs, and if you have ever done something against the rules inadvertently (or intentionally), feel free to leave me a comment with your story. I bet it’s way more epic than mine…

And say it with me: EACH FAMILY IS UNIQUE!

If you’ve made it this far, and it’s given you ideas about how you might spend an hour or three with your family, while I take some very natural and carefree photographs for you to have for ever, give me a shout, or click on the button I’ve created below which is a direct way to get in touch with me. (bonus tip: early June is a BEAUTIFUL time for outdoor photos, as you might be able to see from the photos above.)

If you’d like to bounce ideas off me, I’m totally cool with that. Just put it all in the bottom-most text box. :D Or leave me a comment and I promise to get back to you.