Brandspiration: The Toronto trip, July 2015

It had been about a decade since I had seen David Kwan and nearly a decade since I had seen Alex Nye, two of my earliest childhood friends. In July 2015, after tossing the idea around for awhile on Facebook, we committed to the trip.

Nye and I drove up to the Kwan's after I got out of work, and we talked the entire time. Despite years of gap time, we fell right back into our old discussions. He reminded me of stories from my past, and I his.

He's a practicing artist and photographer, somehow surviving in Santa Barbara, Calif. He mentioned that over time, he has narrowed his focus from photography, video and design down to architectural photography. It was great to catch up, but to me it was inspiring to talk with someone living out their dream full time.

We arrived in Toronto and reconnected with the Kwan family. David and his family were very accomodating and gracious hosts. His father, Bart, brother, Johann, and girlfriend Angie are all photography enthusiests so we immediately began discussing the latest and greatest in cameras and equipment. David was the odd man out for that conversation.

From left to right, me, Angie, David and Johann looking out over Toronto during lunch atop the CN Tower. Photo by Alex Nye.

The following day we walked through Toronto, visiting the St. Lawrence and Kensington Market areas and later the distillery district. I knew that I was outgunned by Johann and Alex, who brought the Leica M and Canon 5D MIII with them, respectively. I instead opted to shoot some film with my Pentax K1000 (My photos won't be developed any time soon, hence all the Alex Nye photos. Check out the rest of his work here. Although he's studying law in school, you can find Johann's impressive portfolio here).

We opted to eat lunch at the top of the CN Tower, which put us at the front of the line of tourists from around the world. We were told the 360 Restuarant makes one full rotation every 70 minutes, and we wanted to experience a full rotation. We sat for over two hours, snapping photos of the Toronto skyline and talking about our future hopes, plans and goals.

On my last day in Toronto, I revealed a book I brought that I had saved from my childhood. As I prepared to move away from the Albany, N.Y. area, where we had met as kids, I colleceted signatures, notes and photos from my early classmates.

One comment read "Wah, wah, wah. I'm losing 1 of my 2 friends (the other's Alex). -David Kwan"

David and I back in the days of cubscout pack 89 compared to now.

Alex is still wondering how I caught the fish 16 years later.

We recreated some old photos (seen above), ate Swedish meatballs at Ikea (I had never been; life changing experience by the way) and I was on my merry way. I hopped on a Megabus and came home.

I am grateful to our hosts, David and Angie, Johann, Miranda and Bart. I'm grateful for the chance to reconnect with old friends. I'm grateful to Alex for pulling the whole thing together, and also for inspiring me to narrow my focus artistically. I haven't quite nailed down what it is I do, but I'm one step closer after our weekend reunion.

-T