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Thompson Hotels Toronto X Photographer Taku Kumabe

Art & Design

The Beholder of Beauty

If there is one photographer to watch in Toronto, it’s Taku Kumabe. His breathtaking shots of ephemeral landscapes, fog-laden mountains and sun-kissed skylines will reawaken your childlike awe of nature—and this isn’t even his day job!

Here the talented man himself—with over 102K Instagram followers @smaku—shares his photographic philosophy, his favorite places to connect with nature close to the city, and more. We suggest you follow him right now because his pictures will calm and inspire you daily.

You live in Toronto but you have an affinity for landscapes. Do you have a favorite place close to the city that gets you back to nature?

I live in the west end of the city so my favorite place to shoot landscapes nearby is Humber Bay Park. The park is very large with an East and West section in addition to the Humber Bay shores that stretches to the iconic Humber Bridge. All of these areas will give a great vantage point to any landscape shoot, in addition to providing an unobstructed view of the Toronto skyline. The park is home to many species of birds as well so if you’re a bird watcher/photographer, you’ll love this area.

I work in mid-town Toronto so the parks outside the core give a great break from the city’s hustle and bustle.

What’s your number one rule for composing a picture? Does this change or stay constant, when for example, you’re shooting a landscape or a chaotic festival? 

I don’t have a specific rule that I follow for my shots, apart from having a clear subject to each picture. This may change depending on what I shoot though. With my landscapes, I try and ensure there is always something of interest to attract the eye in my shot. If it’s not evident, I sometimes use techniques like leading lines or framing to help guide the eye to my subject.

When I shoot festivals, I try and capture the essence of the moment, which may involve taking overall atmospheric shots to close ups of the action.

I try my best to adapt my shooting techniques to the message I’m getting across or emotion I am trying to evoke with my pictures.

Do you have a favorite picture you’ve taken? Why do you love it so much?

My latest and ongoing photography project entails capturing the colors of the Toronto sunrise where each photo must have the CN Tower visible somewhere in the frame. One cold morning the fog rolled in giving way to one of the fieriest skies I’ve witnessed in Toronto. The colors were spectacular and the fog/low-laying clouds made it even more memorable. This is a view that you seldom get to see.

Where do you live in Toronto and what do you love most about your hood? Can you recommend 3 of your favorite local spots?

I live in the west end of the city in Islington-City Centre. Although the area that I live in currently lacks the small neighborhood vibes of some of the downtown Toronto hoods, it’s a very convenient place situated close to all the major highways and the Bloor subway line. When I’m tired and don’t feel like cooking, my default go-to place is Mekong River, a great place for Thai and Vietnamese cuisine. The Turkish restaurant Anatolia is also a favorite of mine. ReStore (by Habitat for Humanity) is a great place to pick up odds and ends and find great deals on new and used items. I’ve also donated many things to them as well.