Make It Kitchener

Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic recently held his annual State of the City event at the former Double R Steel factory here in town. The city’s economy was the main subject of this year’s event, focusing on both Kitchener’s manufacturing history as well as the new wave of digital innovators and creators.

Mr. Vrbanovic spoke at length about the growth our region is experiencing, touching on everything from infrastructure to restaurants to the booming tech sector, including the new Toronto-Waterloo Region Corridor. He also made a point of the importance—a “must have”, as he put it—of arts and culture and made a pledge to invest in it. He noted the hassles of construction of the future LRT that basically everyone in the city suffers from but emphasized that investing in this new transit system will only help the future of the region.

The evening was catered by the downtown restaurant, The Berlin, headed by executive chef Jonathan Gushue who was busy all night bringing in tray after tray of impossibly good food. A number of local companies and organizations including Perimeter Development, Palette Gear, and Maker Expo, among others, were on hand to show off their work and give us in attendance a taste of what our region has to offer.

The event also included a handout, created by the local design firm Intent, that went into greater depth of the economic development plan with stories and profiles of local businesses, artists, and creators. This is where I come in. For the brochure they wanted to show the connection from past to present by showcasing the new Google building and the renovated Breithaupt Block. We had a pretty tight timeline mostly due to the weather, but with the help of the city, I was able to get into the still-under-construction 1 Victoria to get the desired vantage point. We discussed shooting from the other direction, but this view turned out to be the best, both from a logistical standpoint as well as what they visually wanted to show; overall it’s a composite of three or four images. The sky was brightened up and saturated a bit more for the cover instead of originally having a more blown-out look.

A fun little feature of the cover is the main title. Instead of being printed, each one was individually stamped which gave each copy its own hand-made look.

Own It

Late last year I was contacted by the Downtown Kitchener BIA (thanks, Hilary!) about doing some photography for their new Own It publication which tells the stories of some of our downtown’s business leaders and go-getters. Everything from new restaurants to a movie theatre revival to an arts and culture hub are covered in this issue.

My contribution was shooting Vidyard’s future office space, 8 Queen, as well as some portraits of the developers, brothers Steve and Frank Voisin of Voisin Capital. I shot in late January when it was still under major construction, but that still led to some nice photo ops for the portraits both of the brothers and the space.

Frank and Steve gave me a tour of the whole building which is the former Goudie’s Department Store. I was surprised at how large the space was, but considering it used to be a department store, it kind of makes sense. There’s talk of possibly having a restaurant near the back of the building, along with a glass entrance off Goudie’s Lane. The top floor, covered in tarp at the time, will have a wall of glass facing Queen Street which should be pretty spectacular. The book has a rendering to show what it’ll look like; I can’t wait to see it finished.

I was pretty thrilled when I was asked to contribute to the magazine, and happy to see some friends including Cindy, Darin (see his post here), Dean, Sylvia, Jude, and Jon as a part of the issue as well. There’s a lot going on downtown and this magazine shows off a lot of what’s happening. It’s an exciting time to see the core going through such a major transformation. Get down there!


I haven’t had much to post of late, but that’s what happens when you have a four-month-old on top of house-sitting for your in-laws for three weeks while your bathroom gets renovated.

Anyway, this is just an interesting thing that happened to me last week. On my lunch break I had to deliver a few prints to a customer who happened to have a wrap-around balcony on the 20th floor of her apartment building. She also happened to invite me to bring my camera so I could maybe get a few shots of the view. As it turns out, the weather wasn’t great, but I took some photos anyway. She said on a clear day you can pretty much see Guelph and that the sunsets, as I imagined, were spectacular.

As I was shooting, I noticed something interesting. Those in the area have probably noticed the plethora of high-rises being built, specifically in Waterloo. It’s even more noticeable from 20 storeys up. Looking northwest towards Laurier and UW, the skyline was filled with tall new buildings along with a bunch of cranes. Even on a dreary day it stood out. I took a few shots, tweeted it, put it on Facebook and got a few notices but didn’t really think much of it after that.

Later in the day I found out that the image had made its way to Reddit in two different threads. Both threads, although one had much more commentary, covered everything from fire codes to student wealth to the glut of student housing. It went off the rails pretty quickly.

I took the photo because I liked the composition of construction completely taking over the horizon, but I completely understand how it sparked a much bigger debate. If anything I would’ve appreciated the second Reddit tread to give credit to me for the image—the first one did—but at the same time I’m not surprised that this didn’t happen. I’m quite happy my photo reached so many people—is this what going viral is like?—but giving credit to the source is pretty easy.

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