24th Annual Beaches International Jazz Festival // TORONTO

The Beaches International Jazz Festival (I like the fact that they still use “Beaches” in the name, not “The Beach” as the area is officially referred to these days) for the past 24 years has had Jazz, Blues and R&B musicians doing what they do best, on stages, in parks, and on the street.  This little festival has grown exponentially from 2 days and approx. 3,000 enthusiasts in it’s first year, to over 1 million attendees (according to WIKI) over it’s 10 day course.   My favorite is always the street fest portion, as a good chunk of Queen E. is shut down for the last 3 nights and is taken over by vendors and musicians, and oh.. thousands and thousands and thousands of people walking around, enjoying the vibes, bobbing their heads, eating funnel cakes…  ok, maybe not everyone was eating funnel cakes, but you get the idea.

The above photos were taken on the last Saturday. Some along the boardwalk stages, some at Kew Gardens, and a bunch on the street.

Top/Down:

At the Latin Square, dance instructor Mike Sobreira – freestyle salsa dance lessons.

Big Smoke Big Band at the Big Band Stage.

Five-time Juno Award winner and Order of Canada recipient Liona Boyd performing with Michael Savona at the KEW Gardens Stage.

Not Affiliated Big Band

Cobra Kings

JUICE

maxin’ and relaxin’ and checking tweets.

Soul Motivators

groovin’ to Soul Motivators

Zed Head

Downtown Jazz Band / As a side note, these jazz vet’s have been here since the beginning! Solid year after year, not missing a beat!

2 out of thousands

God Made Me Funky!

Seagull All-Stars

David Rotundo Band with super special guest, The Princess of Rockin’ Gospel Blues, Sharrie Williams.  /  What a fantastic set it was.  Goose bumps man.  Goose bumps.

 

……oh and it was sunny, and hot.

 

 

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JYSK

It was either ’89 or ’90 when I first drove by this mall with my parents – we were moving to Scarborough.  Truth be told I was more interested in the Consumers Distributing (remember those?), and Toys R Us across the street.  Bought my first hockey jersey here.  Had my hair cut by Tony and Enzo here throughout elementary and highschool.  There used to be an arcade inside too.  I’m pretty sure there was a Dominion in this space.  Then the mall was renovated.  Loblaws took over for a while, and now there are new tenants.  JYSK Grand Opening at Cederbrae Mall.  First 200 people got $25 Gift Cards.

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Henkaa – Lookbook

Henkaa, a clothing company based out of Toronto, makes some really amazing multifunctional convertable dresses that ” arn’t just for weddings”  – yet they are quite popular with bridesmaids:)If I was female, I’d have one of these dresses. They’re smart, stylish and versatile and can be worn to work, for nights on the town, and of course for more special affairs like weddings – as guest or bridal party.

Here are some photos from the Henkaa – Lookbook photoshoot we did last month.  Special thanks to Joanna and her great staff in helping with the shoot.  Also big thank you to Kay who was assisting me, make-up artist Victoria Fedesoff, as well as models Sarah Lian, and Brittany.  Thanks for all your hard work!

 

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Renaud // FILM // People on my porch

When planes get stuck at Pearson International Airport, and connecting flights get missed, my friends come a knocking.  Good thing there was cold pizza in the fridge.

This is my buddy Renaud Philippe.  An extremely talented photojournalist based out of Quebec City.

You can view his work here: http://www.renaudphilippe.com

here: http://renaudphilippeblog.com

and here: http://stigmatphoto.photoshelter.com

After inspecting the roll of film, my wife suggested I should take more photos of people on my porch.  I thought it was a great idea, therefore this is the start of the series : People on my Porch.  I will also take the artistic liberty of retroactively putting this photo of George into the series.

Shot with my my wife’s Mamiya.  Illford 100 something or another.

 

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Fundraiser for Finland (actually it’s to send me to Finland)

I’m not one to ask for handouts.  But I do need some help, to send me to Finland (of all places) so that I can continue working on a long term project that started back in 2006.

As some of you might know, I have been working closely with the Canadian Amputee Hockey Committee and the Canadian National Amputee Hockey Team, documenting the sport and the pursuit of their dream of one day playing in the Paralympics.  When I started near the end of 2006 on a whim, I thought surely they will have the opportunity to play as a demonstration sport in the 2010 Vancouver Paralympics.  I mean c’mon.  What better venue to showcase their sport, than in the hockey capital of the world…. and by capital I mean country.  I mean let’s be realistic here, we in Canada bleed hockey.  It is probably the most passionately followed sport here….

….The olympics and paralympics came and went and we weren’t invited to Vancouver.  Hearts were broken and spirits were crushed, but the organization kept on believing…  In April 2010 the team won it’s 5th consecutive gold medal at the World Championships of Standing Amputee Hockey in Montreal, Quebec.  It wasn’t as big of a stage as Vancouver, but it was damn sweet!

The world championships take place every two years, which brings us to 2012, where the team will be competing for a 6th straight championship in Finland at the end of April 2012.  Unfortunately for the team, it is not funded by any big sponsors.  Whether they be big companies, corporations or organizations like Hockey Canada (wink wink nudge nudge).  All the players, coaching staff, and support staff have to fund-raise through mostly self initiated initiatives, to help keep the sport and team alive.  No one is paid to do what they do.  We all volunteer our time and efforts, and do it for the love of the sport and for the love of the team family.

It is a family.  An organization filled with amazing, talented athletes who have overcome some pretty serious obstacles in their lives.  It is their shared experience of disability from birth or accident that bonds them, but it is their will and attitude that distinguishes them and casts them as role models and examples that we should all take inspiration from.  They are genuine individuals who proudly don the maple leaf and honorably represent this Country, and the sport millions of us love.

I could go on and on talking about the organization and the team, but then I won’t have anything to write about when I launch my new website (oh it’s coming… so close I can taste it) and when I present the project thus far.  I will however talk about why your support matters.

As mentioned earlier, I have been volunteering with the team for a while now.  The photographs and moments that I capture help illustrate the story, but they also help the team in a number of ways.  The photos are for the team, and it’s players, to use to promote themselves and their cause.  Awareness is key, and without proper, professional imagery to go along with the story, it’s a much more difficult and arduous process to receive support and recognition.  This ongoing story, in my honest opinion needs to be documented as I believe it has the potential of opening doors not only for this team, but also for other athletes with disabilities.  Not to mention, it can be used as a source of hope and inspiration for countless individuals who may feel that life is throwing them an unnecessary curve ball, with no light at the end.

So…  why do I need your support, and why does the team need your support?

Well the team is comprised of athletes from all over the country.  It costs money to travel for training camps.  It costs money to pay for food and motels while with the team.  It costs money to rent ice time, meeting rooms, and to pay for all the necessary expenses that help train, equip and constitute a winning National team.  Players and staff all have day jobs (ok for the most part.  Some are full time students), and when tournaments and training camps come calling, they lose out on work as they need to take the time off.  In the current world economy any lost pay for a family can prove very difficult.  If you would like to donate to the team directly, please do so.  Simply go on their website and click the donate button, and viola, you’ve made a difference!  http://www.canadianamputeehockey.ca/

Below are just a dozen or so photos from the 2010 Championships.  This is just a tiny tiny little fraction of the work that I’ve done on them

So why should you support me?  Well because I need to continue working on this, and the 2012 ISIHF World Championships are taking place in Tampere, Finland, and I believe it is important for the organization and the sport as a whole that it gets documented.  The Finnish organization, to the best of my knowledge, is one of the best funded organizations in the Standing Amputee Hockey world, thanks to a generous donation from a former Finnish NHLer who shall remain nameless.  Thanks to his contribution, the team has improved by leaps and bounds, and will probably once again be in contention for the gold medal.  The fact that the Finnish organization has received some generous support, should be used as an example for the rest of the federation how time, will and money can exponentially transform a team.

As I said, I’m not looking for handouts, but I do need to fund-raise so that I can continue working on this project.  I thought the best way to do this, would be to sell some prints from my archives, of work that has important meaning to me.  I chose three separate pieces, as I felt that I needed to show something for everyone.  Different strokes for different folks, if you know what I mean.

The prints are big, and they really are beautiful.  They are printed on photo paper, through an exposure and chemical process.  These are not inkjet prints.  They are not Giclee.  They are much better:)

I’m selling 3 prints of limited edition print runs of 50 copies each.  Each one will be signed and numbered and will never be printed at this size again.

Personally I think they are quite affordable, compared to what it normally costs to purchase a fine-art print, and to extend the affordability even further, you can simply get an Ikea frame: http://www.ikea.com/ca/en/catalog/products/30134630/#/20132523 (I recommend black) and the prints will fit perfectly in them.  No need for a matt board, the photographs are sized exactly for those sized frames!  Alternatively, you can get them custom framed to really showcase the beauty of the images.  Why am I selling them so cheap?  Well, truth be told, I need to make $4000 to fund this trip.   To pay for flights, hotels, food, transportation and rental of a 300 2.8 for 10-11 days.  I figured if the price point was accessible, people would be more susceptible in picking up some art to hang at home or in an office, and if I sell 80% of the prints, my plan will become a reality.

The prints are available at my Etsy shop: http://www.etsy.com/shop/pochwat?ref=seller_info

They will be up until they sell out.  They make great gifts for yourself, friends or loved ones, and you can sleep easy knowing that your support is is not being taken for granted.  All the profits go directly back into funding this project.

Thank you very much for reading up to this point.  It’s past 4am, and I think I should go to sleep.

If you should have any questions, comments or criticisms, please feel free to contact me anytime at pochwat(at)gmail(dot)com.

Mike.

p.s.  I leave you with the three prints that are part of the fundraiser

 

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