Top 10 Urban Photography/Architecture Instagram Moments in 2017

I scoured the internet to find the ten best urban photography/architecture Instagram moments of this year so far. Here are the results:

@kevinhjc

@ceeesk

@nicanorgarcia

@hirozzzz

@dirtybrite

@shotblot

@berns_ta

@visualkiev

@raufslife

@edgar_ballestas

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Top 10 Instagram Moments: Upcoming Toronto Urban Photographers

We picked out 10 upcoming Toronto urban photographers who capture the city in various heights and angles bringing our views of the city to a whole new perspective. To our fellow Torontonians, these people are a must follow! (No particular order)

1. @tgaweco

Surrounded by tall buildings, the Gooderham Building really knows how to stand out.

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2. @macklesome

What’s better than capturing the beautiful bluffs during sunrise?

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3. @brxndonbrandoff

A good mix of old and new in one.

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4. @cha.siu

Pedestrians crossing the “yellow brick road”

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5. @sashadeart

Just look up and you’ll find yourself in an urban forest.

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6. @jxkson 

Whether it’s from day to night or from rain to shine, this skyline really shows progression.

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7. @typicalmitul

This is Toronto, a.k.a the glass jungle.

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8. @aroyamotos

Everyone can take a pic of the skyline, but it’s all about how you choose to take your shot.

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9. @mattmotayne 

The gradual transition from brick buildings to glass as we enter downtown core.

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10. @to.capture

That golden hour hitting the CN Tower really did it in this pic.

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Novellahoods: A tour of the Upper Beaches

After over three years of living in Toronto, I feel like I’m pretty savvy when it comes to getting around the heart of the city. But being a west-ender, I’ve never really had many opportunities to cross over to the far-eastern side of Toronto. This whole time, the DVP has seemed to me like the Great Wall of China. What the hell is on the other side? I imagined tumbleweeds. Or maybe factories, or subdivisions for as far as they eye could see. It was all very mysterious.

But last night I finally got the chance to explore the Great Unknown that lies beyond the Don Valley: the neighbourbood of the Upper Beaches. ~TRUMPET SOUNDS~

Streetcar Developments hosted the tour — they’re the guys who build snazzy living spaces all over the city, condominiums that promote a tight-knit community amongst residents and within their neighbourhoods. It’s a really nice company who does really nice work, and their most recent project, The Southwood, is going to continue that track record right in the heart of the Upper Beaches.

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Our tour began at the sales office for The Southwood, where some bubbly was poured and we were introduced to the concept for the condominium, which will be ready for occupancy in spring 2017. Chatting with one of the Streetcar reps, I found out that they’re building on the Upper Beaches turf because the neighbourhood is gaining a lot of momentum — especially amongst the city’s young professionals.

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RoFo? Is that u?

After downing my champagne and deciding to start saving up for one of The Southwood’s south-facing one-bedrooms (SO. PRETTY.), our tour led us out of the sales office and we headed east down Kingston Road, the main street where all the magic happens.

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Yellow House was our next stop, a charming little gallery-slash-framing studio owned and operated by an OCAD grad. Within seconds of talking to her I realized there’s a huge artistic presence in this pocket of the city, and gazing at the walls of her gallery I took in some pretty incredible work. I made a mental note to take my next artistic excursion out this way.

Up next was The Art of Cheese. This place really gave me a feel of how tight-knit the Upper Beaches community is. The owner, Bill Miller (a.k.a. “The Grand Fromage”) is a retiree who opened this tiny shop as his passion project, and he could talk for literally hours about the magic of cheese. After feeding us some beautiful San De Oro cheese and local red wine (I nearly died of happiness in this moment) he divulged all the secrets of his craft. Like, the mind-blowing fact that cheese is supposed to be eaten at room temperature — if it’s too cold, you’re only tasting 40% of its flavour. (WHAAAAT.)

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The Grand Fromage in his element

After being charmed by Bill and his cheese (and his fromage-shaped foam hat), we headed to our next stop: Collected Joy. This beautiful odds-and-ends boutique is owned by Sharon Smyl, a former marketing director who worked with Minto Group and Starbucks. She lives right around the corner from the shop, and most of the brands she carries are local.

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I adored Collected Joy. Sharon kept describing things as “exquisite” and I was just in awe of her style. Maybe I’ll get her to design my new condo at The Southwood. One day…

Second-last stop was at The Stone Pizza, where my fellow media people and I had an impromptu pizza photo shoot. The pies were, as Sharon would say, exquisite. Who would have thought to put apple slices on a pizza? And who would have thought it would taste SO GOOD?

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Finally, we found ourselves at The Beech Tree restaurant and bar. This cosy, beautifully decorated spot is like the “Cheers” of the Upper Beach. The owner, like a lot of the shop owners in the area, used to work at a desk crunching numbers all day and abandoned that job to pursue his passion. The Beech Tree blew me away — literally everything is made in-house. Not one ingredient enters the store in a bottle or package. The mayonnaise, the syrups, everything is handcrafted from scratch in their little kitchen. Swoon. Oh, and the gnocchi can attest to the quality. I was almost reduced to tears while eating this. In a very good way.

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(I couldn’t get a good photo of the gnocchi because it was dim and my photography skills are not on point)

On the walk to our ride home, we were pleasantly surprised by one final Upper Beaches experience. Farmacia Juice Bar‘s tiny cooler-on-wheels rolled up to the sidewalk and served up some scrumptious house-made juices, smoothies and freezies. As if I hadn’t fallen in love with the neighbourhood already, the owner told us that a few weeks prior, when their cart was stolen, the community banded together to find it and bring it back. It’s like the whole Upper Beaches ‘hood is #squadgoals.

So, my dear west-of-the-DVP-ers, here is my advice to you: if you’re getting bored of downtown and want to make a little escape from the city without going too far, go to the Upper Beaches. It’s not as swanky-snotty as the — er, Lower Beaches? — but it’s equally as beautiful and full of boutiques that will steal your heart. I’d live here. And maybe one day I will. I mean, who wouldn’t want to live in a charming small town that’s hidden in a huge city?

How to invest in art without breaking your budget

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A few weeks ago my friend Amelia was telling me about her plans to go art shopping that day.

Art… shopping?” I repeated as my brain nearly combusted. Both of those words belong to a language that’s far too pricey for most people of my age and income bracket, let alone pairing them together. “Like, shopping for actual original art?”

Amelia nodded. “My mom always told me that once I become an adult, one of the most important things I can do is to invest in one piece of art annually,” she told me, as my eyes probably bulged from my skull. This was like, next-level adulting. I’d never known any of my 20-something friends to have the means to bring real life art into their homes, let alone the determination. I mean, sure, we’d all love to nail a nice painting to the walls of our tiny living rooms, but the odd time we find a couple hundred bucks in our pockets, it’s going towards our poor people expenses, like food, or new bras.

But as soon as Amelia said it, something clicked in my head. How awesome would it be to bring a masterpiece into my home? And do it every year? Not only would I be supporting a starving artist like myself, it would make me feel cultured and inspire me on the daily. Plus, I’ve heard that art increases in value as the years pass, so CHA-CHING.

“Enlighten me with your savvy art-buying secrets,” I breathed, scrambling for a pen and paper.

So, my friends, here are some of the tips I gathered for how to invest in art (like a real grown up!) without breaking your tiny little budget.

  1. You don’t have to go all-out and drop a month’s rent to invest in a piece — there are tons of incredibly talented up-and-coming artists in the city whose prices are reasonable for mere peasants like us. Find a treasure that speaks to you and your bank account by keeping an eye out for indie art shows. If you live downtown, chances are you have at least one artsy friend who can keep you posted on the next showing. If not, find events on Facebook!
  2. Hit up an art fair. There’s still a month of summer left, which means you’ll be able to find some outdoor fairs where you can meet artisans and find a nice little masterpiece to take home. Since art fairs are pretty accessible to everyone, and feature a huge variety of work, it’ll be a lot easier for you to fid something in your budget here as opposed to at a gallery.
  3. Hit up a cafe that showcases art. Even as I write this at El Almacen on Queen West, there’s a collection of creepy-cool creations on the walls that are for sale for like, $300-ish apiece. RSquared at Queen and Tecumseth also has interesting, affordable works of art on display.
  4. Save! Of course you’re going to hunt for a bargain, but you don’t want to cheap out too much on this. Artists have worked hard to earn the prices they put on their art, and as a (probably amateur) art lover, you’ll want to support them by paying that price. So, if you’re serious about buying something they’ve created, find out how much it will be and develop a payment plan. This should be a lot easier if you’re making this an annual thing — save up for 12 months, and then at the end of the saving term, splurge on a masterpiece. Imagine how accomplished and adult-like you’ll feel then.
  5. Some artists might be interested in swapping their work for yours. This obviously isn’t a common thing, but it still happens. For example, if you’re a tattoo artist and a painter likes your work, you could cut each other a deal. Or if you sell cameras or bikes or whatever — maybe you have something than an artist needs. Help each other out, and it’s a win-win!
  6. Go cheap. Like, really cheap. If you’re just too broke but still really want some art in your home, you really don’t need to be all official about it and buy it off an artist. Scour your local thrift store and you just might find a painting or sculpture that speaks to you. Bring it home, maybe invest in a pretty frame, and cherish it. I mean, it could very well be a piece of crap, but who cares? If you love it, it’s a masterpiece. (This is my broke girl logic.)

Happy art-ing!