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Toronto's everyday architecture through the extraordinary lense of Lori Whelan


Toronto might not strike you as the world's most photogenic city. but look at the city through Lori Whelan's lense, and you will see the familiar spaces and places take on new life, and grow to appreciate Toronto's take on architecture and beauty.
Lori Whelan
YongeStreet caught up with Lori Whelan on a cold winter day, to tell you a bit about the person behind the camera, and share some of her work. Lori is originally from the prairies, but she called Toronto home for the last 20 years. "I have always been expressing myself in some way through the creative arts, first drawing and painting but I really fell into photography as a creative medium after taking general interest courses at Central Technical High school and then I completed a professional diploma program through the New York Institute of Photography," Whelan told YongeStreet. "The architecture unit was my favourite in the course and really drove my photographic interest. I also work in health care and my personal projects focus on engagement in creative activity to promote health and wellness, and I use photography as a medium to explore the link between creativity and wellness."

A slice of the Aga Kahn Museum reflecting on the pool in the foreground. The museum, opened in 2014, was designed by Pritzker Prize winner Fumihiko Maki in collaboration with Toronto-based architectural firm Moriyama and Teshima and Lebanon-based landscape architect Vladimir Djurovic. It is an incredible experience to watch the shadows dance across the minimalist building in the changing evening light.

How do you chose what to photograph, and what to leave out? Who are your favourite photographers doing great work in capturing the city?

I find interest in the abstract details of architecture. When composing photographs my eye is drawn to geometric patterns and lines that intuitively appeal to my minimalist aesthetic, I put a lot of thought into framing my compositions, removing anything that distracts from the rhythm of the pattern. Architecture is a natural choice of subject matter as it is a rich source of inspiration on my way to and from work in the downtown core. Paying attention to visual details such as the changing light and shadow on a building helps me to appreciate my urban surroundings and keep my perspective refreshed.

One of my favourite photographers in Toronto is Vik Pahwa, as he has one of the most extensive collections of photographed buildings in Toronto – both historic and modern, and in my mind celebrates Toronto architecture by stimulating interest in buildings that may otherwise be overlooked by the average passerby.

Your photography makes Toronto look dreamy and photogenic, our architecture more stunning than most tend to think. What are your favourite Toronto's landmarks and structures to photograph? Why?

(Thank you!) Hands down my most favourite building to photograph at the moment is the Aga Khan museum – the beautiful simplicity in its modern architectural design are totally in line with my aesthetic. I love making abstract compositions from capturing geometric patterns found in facades such as that of Bridgepoint Hospital. The architecture of Uno Prii who designed a lot of apartments in the Annex appeals to me with its interesting shapes and lines.

Describe a perfect day in Toronto, for you. What would that look like?
On a perfect day in Toronto it would first rain, which would inspire me to photograph reflections of Toronto's distinctive cityscape in puddles, and then the sun would come out in the late afternoon and I could make a composition from the interesting lines, curves and shadows found on the concrete walls of the great silos down by the waterfront.
South view of glass roof over #GOtrain platforms
Bright shelter in RegentPark frames a view of residences on Sackville

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