The Best Places to Shoot: Toronto

Hailed as the younger sister of New York City, Toronto is an eclectic mix up of stark high rises sprinkled with pockets of gentrified charm. The distinctive skyline of the fourth largest city in North America is thriving and quickly becoming an iconic view. Here are my favourite places to shoot in Toronto.

Toronto Islands

The ferry ride from the harbour front to the island is an opportunity in itself, providing unobstructed views of the skyline over blue water on one side, and the greenery of the island on the other. But once you take in the clean shot of the city from the landing dock, you may also find it difficult to choose which was your favourite. The island provides a few angles of the city – the landing dock frames it in a typical tourist shot, but if you take a quick walk to Hanlan’s Point, you will find the lakeshore and sunset to be far superior.

On the other side of the island, take in open views of Lake Ontario from one of the many rough rock piers and white sand beaches. The water here is still clear and blue, and the white lifeguard boats and station conjure up a Baywatch feel to the little slice of paradise. Try to arrive before the crowds as this is a popular location in the summer.

Sugar Beach

A manmade beach overlooking the lake from Toronto, this little gem is nestled between condos and a sugar factory. While tiny, the pink umbrellas over the blue water and white sand create a cotton-candy type of feel.

Rouge Park

48 miles of unobstructed nature makes this an adventure park for photographers. Used mainly by cyclists, joggers and hikers, this trail takes you from Rouge Dam to Scarborough Bluffs in a wooded bliss. The park boasts countless species of plants and trees, and come Fall, looks as if it were ablaze with the orange, red and yellow leaves. The only thing this park is missing is a waterfall or two.

Scarborough Bluffs

I mentioned it before, but this needs it’s own place as it is magnificent. The bluffs cascade over Lake Ontario and provide unbridled views of both the beaches below and the islands across the water. Perfect for sunrise and sunset shots, there really is no time of the day to not be in awe of this spot. It is not exactly a secret, so expect a lot of traffic as it is a popular photo spot.

Humber Park Bridge

Slowly becoming a popular photo destination thanks to the unknown artist who leaves their coiled branch creations on the jetty (first it was a ‘Toronto’ sign and most recently it was a magnificent female figure in recline), this is another spot for scenic skyline views in a beach/park setting. Mostly shaded and only come upon by joggers and cyclists, it used to just be a quick selfie spot but has now evolved into a coveted backdrop for local photographers.

Casa Loma

The castle itself is a high traffic tourist attraction, but the area surrounding it is a trove of untapped potential. A little used church resides a block down, sandwiched among the beautiful (and wealthy) homes in the neighbourhood. A few streets down will find you at an abandoned railway bridge constructed of rusting red iron, and a deserted car garage worked over by street artists.

Graffiti Alley

In the hip Queen Street neighbourhood, you can find the quirky Graffiti Alley. Home to hundreds of murals, the alley has been featured in many local band covers and music videos, as well a provided the backdrop to more than one high profile interview. Expect to spend two hours here just taking in the options and wondering if it ever ends.

Toronto itself is a hotbed of fun spots to shoot, so don’t be afraid to take a solo adventure to Kensington Market for some funky yet charming shots, to the cobbled streets of the Distillery District for amazing red brick backdrops reminiscent of old England, or to the lakeshore for some yacht spotting. It seems like every day you can stumble upon something new here, so keep our lens peeled.

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