Seasons by Derek Shapton in Ontario

Name:Derek Shapton

Place you live: Ontario, Canada

Specific location your photos were taken: In and around Toronto, Ontario

Can you sum up Ontario: Ontario is a vast region with a few densely populated, extremely “civilized” regions, which makes it a pretty good metaphor for Canada and Canadians in general! This in turn makes for very diverse and seemingly endless image-making possibilities.

Tell us how your photos relate to Ontario: For the past year and a half, using only my camera phone and working under the Instagram nom de photo “thunder_pino” (a tribute to my father and mother, who are from Thunder Bay, Ontario and the Philippines respectively), I have been quietly documenting aspects of my immediate environment in an ongoing, daily Instagram project. The accumulated images have evolved into an unusual, diaristic body of work, equal parts photographic sketchbook and visual journal.

Occupation: Photographer

Preoccupation: I am trying to depict aspects of my immediate, everyday life and surroundings in a manner that shows their absurd, surreal, or paradoxical qualities. I hope that people who see my photos might look around and see their own surroundings in a new way.

What is your perfect day? Walking my kids to school and then wandering my neighborhood with a cup of coffee and my phone. It’s fascinating to see how very familiar places can change dramatically from day to day.

What is the best thing about your spot? We’re very fortunate in Ontario to have four very distinct seasons. In fact, the images in conditions are as much about that changeability as about the subjects in the images themselves — hence the name of the series.

What is the worst? 
 The winter! Although certainly contributing a lot to my images and to the Canadian character in general, winter can be grueling and seemingly interminable. It’s always a relief when spring finally arrives.

What would be surprising about this place to an outsider? Toronto has a hugely diverse population and as a result has a vast and bewildering selection of restaurants and cuisines to choose from! In fact, the city has quietly developed a reputation as something of a culinary destination in the past few years.

If your city was a person or character who would it be? 
Paul Henderson, the hockey player with Team Canada who scored the winning goal against the Soviet National team in the 1972 “Summit Series,” the first time the cold-war era Soviets had played a Western team.

Who are three of your favorite photographers right now? I am very much inspired by unusual “documentary”- style photographers with deeply personal ways of looking at the world, like William Eggleston, Martin Parr, and Jason Fulford.


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Name:Derek Shapton


Best place to eat?

The Ace

Best place to drink?


Best place to shop?

Type Books

Local Tip?

When traveling through suburban and even rural Ontario, it’s sometimes hard to know where to find good places to eat. When in doubt, find a local Vietnamese restaurant, the smaller and more modest, the better. Some of the best Pho I’ve ever eaten has been discovered this way.

If someone was visiting what must they do?

A visit to Ontario cottage country is a must!