2011 was an epic year for me in so many regards. My Top 5 of 2010 seems like a life ago; I've accomplished so much in the last 12 months:
1. Travelling for over five months to Hong Kong, China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia, and Australia. I got meet a lot of incredible people along the way, but also spent a lot of time reevaluating my life and its priorities.
2. Discovering my roots by visiting the abandoned island refugee camp in Malaysia where I was born and being able to share my experiences with others who once called Pulau Bidong home.
3. Continued to explore my city with my good friends Tomms, Stinky Tofu, Zen, JenT, Hi-Lite, Jono, and Proletar1at. Without any prejudice, I must say that we're all on top of our games right now.
4. Visited Detroit on multiple occasions and being inspired by the works of people like Brian Day, Rob Monaghan, and Jon DeBoer -- three of Detroit's finest.
5. Had my first, second, third, and forth public exhibitions.
6. Established a growing love and appreciation for street photography thanks in part to an introduction to the work and passion of Eric Kim. Eric and I have since become BFFs.
7. I wrote an eBook on Urban Exploration Photography. More than 3,500 downloads. Not bad.
8. Finally made the decision to make photography dream come true by shooting full time.
As you can see, I have a lot to be grateful for this year and am extremely optimistic for 2012. I tried to narrow my images down to the Top 5, but only managed to cut it to eight. So here's the Top 8 of 2011...
8. WALKING INTO THE SUN
Cracking the top 8 this year is perhaps my most successful commercial image to date (which isn't saying much!). It is appearing on the cover of a Canadian infrastructure magazine early in 2012, my second magazine cover in the last 12 months. The publisher also purchased a 32x48 inch print for their office and it is one of the nicest prints I've had the pleasure of delivering. Plug to 44 Wide for there exceptional print services. Highly recommended.
7. FISHING FOR NYPD
I visited New York at the end of September and stumbled upon the Occupy Wall Street protest. The Occupy Movement was in its infancy at the time, so much so that I didn't even know about it prior to arriving in NY. During one of my two visits to the protest, I saw a man with a fishing rod and realized he had a donut attached to the end of it. I snapped one frame before the donut fell apart into pieces on the ground.
It wasn't until I got home that I realized there was an NYPD officer walking by in this scene. I like how it illustrates the whole idea of the "decisive movement" in street photography...as well as the concept of luck.
6. THE CITY IS CHROME
978 feet. That's the highest rooftop in Canada. A select few got to shoot it. We didn't spend a lot of time up there, but it was memorable in so many beautifully random ways. This is as high as you can go in this country. There was something very poetic about this whole experience.
5. ON LOOKOUT
When I first started photography, I didn't really have a style or niche to call my own. I arguably still don't. My goal during the early stages was to make the ordinary seem extraordinary. I was inspired by Sam at Top Left Pixel and his ability to produce quality images on a daily basis -- typically of scenes that we regularly pass by each and everyday. I went away from that style the last year or so, but still like to think I have the ability to capture beauty in the mundane...such as this shot looking down on the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Shanghai.
4. RIP OFF/STOLEN MATERIAL
When I first saw this image executed by Hi-Lite, I was completely floored. It had become one of my favorite images taken by one of my peers. At the time that he took this, I didn't think I had the skills (aka balls) to replicate it. Once I gathered enough courage to dangle off the corner of this building, I realized that I had overcome a huge hurdle...fear. I still get pretty spooked out sometimes when I go rooftopping, but it is this fear that keeps me alive. I am glad I was able to replicate Hi-Lite's shot, but this is very much stolen material/a rip off.
3. YOU'RE MY NEW FAVOURITE
Last year, I managed to capture a pretty iconic image of the Farwell Building in Detroit. The problem with that shot is that it isn't original. Everyone and their mother (maybe even grandmother) has that image framed and composed almost in the exact same manner.
I had the opportunity to go back to the Farwell Building with the goal of capturing an original image. The image I captured second time around was one that I had not yet seen from this location, a small yet significant change in composition. It remains one of my favorite images to date.
Note: there was some recent news that the Farewell Building had received some funding to undergo renovations/restoration. At around the same time, it had been further vandalized with the railings from the first 3-4 levels being removed and thrown into the bottom of the atrium.
2. PIGGY BACK
While waiting for a friend for dim sum one afternoon, I happened to see an unbelievable scene play out before my eyes. There was a cube truck with a fridge full of dead pigs waiting to be hand-delivered to a Chinatown BBQ restaurant. I caught this image during one of his trips from the truck. I like how the pigs are perfectly on top of one another almost with playful grins on their faces. It's images like this where you can "smell the streets". These are the everyday street scenes of my life that define my city and documents my personal growth as a street photographer.
1. RACCOONS ARE MORE THAN CAPABLE ROOFTOPPERS
This year in roofopping, I incorporated the use of reflections quite often. Toronto's glass towers offer the perfect reflective surface of the streets below. Most people didn't realize that the bottom left of this image is actually a reflection of the city. There was also some confusion with regards to the title of this shot, but it is really straightforward -- we ran into a rooftopping raccoon.
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