The Uniiverse is full of Extraordiinary People like Mark A. Cadiz
Have you ever found yourself in front of a breathtaking or interesting image, captured a frame in your mind and wished you had your camera out and ready at that exact moment?
It rarely happens when we have a camera in hand, because we never really know where or when these picture-perfect situations are going to present themselves to us.
This is the story of a special day, the day in which I went to chase those “picture-perfect” moments, and discovered that it is quite possible to capture them, if we are careful and observant enough.
The occasion was “Shooting Strangers,” a cool group photography experience offered periodically on Uniiverse. Having registered for the class on the site, I woke up at the crack of dawn on a Sunday, and headed off to Kensington Market with my camera in-hand, not really knowing what to expect.
There were four of us, including the host/teacher Mark A. Cadiz. We all met outside a small cafe and, after a short introduction, receiving some pointers and trying to digest the basics of the art, off we went. I could tell Mark was super passionate about street photography right away, as he enthusiastically showed me a few settings on my new digital SLR that he believed would be very useful for street photography.
As we walked, scoping the environment with our cameras, Mark explained how exciting it is to get reactions from people in different surroundings. He advised us to not be shy, and warned us that there would always be people who may or may not give you dirty looks after taking their picture, but that we shouldn’t mind them too much, because it’s the people we photograph that make this experience so interesting!
Shooting passersby is deﬁnitely a form of photography all on it’s own, and a unique experience as well. The reason is that the elements of your composition are both controlled and in the hands of fate. You soon realize that some of the best shots are not predetermined, and a great picture often results from coincidence and the right timing, although a keen eye for art direction certainly helps.
Each of us experienced the event differently and through our own lenses, so to speak, but moved along as a group, sharing ideas and tips. We all received our share of laughs, smiles and, on one occasion, we were even yelled at by our subjects on the street: a girl noticed she’d had her photo taken, and hollered: “ you shouldn’t just take people’s pictures with out their permission!” giving all of us a stern look, before continuing on. (Perhaps a better zoom lens would be more suitable for next time.)
The experience differed from anything I had ever done before and, coming from an artistic background, I felt as though I had been missing out until then. During Shooting Strangers, I saw Kensington Market under a completely new light and, although I had been there countless times before, seeing it through the camera lens gave it the taste and vibrancy of a foreign city.
For those of you who have never been here before, Kensington market has a unique atmosphere, unlike any other place in Toronto. You can’t walk two steps without noticing the energy of the multifarious people browsing through the marketplace. Young and old, hip or punk, pedestrians, cyclists, skaters, dog-walkers and street performers all meet within a 3-block radius in the core of downtown Toronto.
The market screams of cultured art-forms, housing an array of shops, cafes and galleries. Tasteful street art and graffiti cover every inch of the narrow alleys and walls. On that sunny afternoon, while I turned from left to right, and everywhere in between, snapping photo after photo, the smell of churros and coffee and the beat from a bongo drummer’s melody brought life to the small hip village.
I have to say - this was by far the most enjoyable visit of Kensington to date for me, and to think that it would not have been possible without the Uniiverse platform and people like Mark really sheds light on what Uniiverse is all about!
Most importantly, the experience costs nothing and you leave with so much: new friends, skills, memories and some really cool photos! I highly recommend this to anyone with a passion for photography, art or people-watching, especially because you do not have to be a pro: thanks to the high-resolution pictures that camera-phones can take, anyone can be a decent photographer!
After walking though the pedestrian-ﬁlled avenues of the market, I had a chance to sit down with Mark and ask him a few questions. I learned that Mark grew up in Montreal, was born in Winnipeg and had just got back from a three-year sojourn in Paris. He is a photographer by night, and a videographer for advertising and marketing by day. His passions involve photographic and cinematic mediums or, as he calls it, “visual storytelling”.
He had learned about Uniiverse through a friend and, after signing up, decided to post “Shooting Strangers” as a way of meeting fellow photographers and sharing his passions and talent.
Mark explained that Uniiverse has helped his love for photography evolve by making it accessible to the public. He said that meeting with people who share his interests is great, because it allows Mark to “keep his feet grounded.” Mark also ﬁlled me in on how living in France enabled his passion for Street photography to develop: in France, pursuing art is a way of life, and people are much more encouraged to dedicate their time to it than they are in the rest of the world.
I am pleased to say that Mark will continue to offer his monthly listing throughout the summer and, when asked if we can expect “Shooting Strangers” to continue and grow within the Uniiverse community, he enthusiastically replied, “Yes, I hope for it to be bigger and better.” Mark plans to focus on new objectives and neighbourhoods, and you are welcome to attend all any of them!
Before leaving, Mark went on to thank Uniiverse for giving him a platform in which he can share his passion, as he feels it’s very rewarding to meet new artists and grow with them. I think it’s easy to say that art is all about experience, expression, sharing and passion, and that Uniiverse is running parallel along that same path. I can only imagine where that path leads and can’t wait for the next “Shooting Strangers” event! If you want to attend, book Mark’s listing on Uniiverse!
Blog post by: Nicholas Valsamis