This photo series is a cool way to see some of the changes that a major Canadian city has gone through over the last century or so. It all started when photographer Harry Enchin went for a drive with his mom about 15 years ago.
"We visited the Junction neighbourhood, where she used to live, and her childhood home was no longer there," he told Strombo.com. "That got me thinking about memory and the history of the city."
A few years later, when Enchin's mother started experiencing problems with her own memory, Harry decided it was time to start on a project that would pay tribute to the city's past with images that contrasted the old days with the present. That project became Toronto Transformed, a photo series that includes the collection Toronto Time, on exhibit at Akasha Art Projects until Octorber 26 and appearing at the Bezpala Brown Gallery at the Toronto International Art Fair October 25-28 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.
The series features photos of the City of Toronto gathered from the city's public archives digitally combined with modern pictures taken by Enchin. His process began with a trip to the archives, where he searched through thousands of images of the city for shots that resonated with him.
"I looked for subject matter I thought people could relate to," he told Strombo.com. "Once I found shots that I liked, I would work on the story or narrative and then visit the exact spot where the original picture was taken."
By carefully matching the perspective of the original photo, Enchin took a shot of the same place in the modern day and then digitally combine the two images. He says the project has changed since it started: when he began, Enchin was mostly focused on architecture and streetscapes, with the old picture on the left and the new one on the right. But his more recent pieces tend to include human figures, and make a commentary on how life has changed for the people of Toronto.
One example is the piece titled "Dundas & Ossington 1923/2011". Enchin says that through the workers in the picture, he wanted to tell a story about how "social mores, dress and culture" have changed: "they are wearing no protective gear, unlike workers today, and if you look closer at the picture, you can see that they are showing so much pride in their work."
Another little example of how things have changed? There were no ads for George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight back in 1931.
If there's one lesson he has taken away from the project, it's this: "Change is constant." He says he's been very encouraged by all the positive attention his work has received, and he's hoping to add more pieces to the collection. Check out a selection of his work in the gallery at the top of this post, and visit Toronto Moments in Time to read more about his work.