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Thompson Hotels Toronto Influencers X Julie Pasila


A photographer shares her secrets. How do you make a photo pop? Here’s how…

Renowned Toronto-based photographer and visual artist Julie Pasila, whose work has been shown around the world from Finland to Iceland, talks to us about her expedition to one of the most remote places on earth, where to see the best photography exhibitions in Toronto, and how it’s all in the details.

When did you get your first camera?

My parents gave me a Canon 35 mm film camera for my 18th birthday. I signed up for a photo class with a local photographer shortly after that and I’ve been shooting pretty steadily ever since. I’m not sure I ever had a moment where I knew I wanted to be a photographer – it’s been more of a transition over the years from hobby to serious pursuit.

Where’s the most remote place you’ve been on a shoot and how was that experience?

I just spent two and a half months shooting in Iceland. Most of my time was spent on the north coast in a very small fishing village called Skagaströnd. All of Iceland feels very isolated, but the north coast in the winter is pretty special – it’s incredibly remote, quiet and dark. By the time the winter solstice arrived on December 21, Skagaströnd was getting about 3 hours of daylight. It was a challenge to shoot there with limited light – and the weather was pretty intense – but it made for an unforgettable experience.

How does one take a great photo?

I’m really attracted to light, so that often draws me to a particular place or subject. Waiting for the right light at the right time of day can take an ordinary subject and make it really spectacular. I also look for striking compositions and interesting details. I shoot a lot of landscapes and even though that often involves capturing a vast area, I think it’s important to look for the little details that set a place apart.

What are the best places to see photography in Toronto?

There are so many great places to see photography in this city. Some good places to start are: The Ryerson Image Centre, Gallery 44, Stephen Bulger Gallery and O’Born Contemporary. A great time to visit Toronto is during May for the CONTACT Photography Festival. The city is filled with photo exhibitions.

Describe your dream day in Toronto?

I instantly thought of no less than five dream day scenarios that vary by neighborhood and time of year. I live on the east end, so let’s say I’d start things off with a coffee from Mercury Espresso, a snack from Delica and a bike ride to Leslie Street Spit – it’s beautiful, quiet, and it has a really nice view of the city. I’d head downtown after that, stopping at TIFF to see an afternoon movie. After that I’d head west to meet up with friends, check out some galleries and grab dinner at the Lakeview. I’d end the day with drinks at Bellwoods Brewery.