Updated: Dec 17, 2019
If you’ve visited the Canadian city of Toronto then you’re most likely acquainted with the iconic red and white streetcars that clamour through it’s electric streets. For regular transit users these vintage-looking cars may have lost their novelty, but for Toronto bred photographer Nick Wons, streetcars are just one of the city’s many signatures worthy of spectacle.
In a world of Photoshop and DSLR cameras, where digitally altering an image is an art in and of itself, Wons stands apart as a skillful photographer with the ability to incorporate special effects into his work without the infiltration of hardcore edits.
“I guess you could call me a sort of a purist,” Wons admits to InSpades. Though he respects the practice of digitally manipulating an image, Wons considers himself to be a photographer only, and not a digital artist. “99.9% of my photos that you see are shot in-camera.”
Yet while Wons avoids the major editing process that some artists relish, he is by no means a conventional photographer. Often featuring clean reflections and vibrant long exposure shots, Wons expertly wields his Nikon D750 to naturally achieve special effects in-camera.
“I’ve been living in Toronto my whole life and I’ve seen pretty much every nook and cranny in this city,” Wons explains. He goes on to compare the views of Toronto to a nice steak dinner, where eating the same thing every night can become a little “mundane”, just like shooting Toronto’s trademark sights repeatedly had become bland for Wons. “I add a little ‘seasoning’ to my steak dinner by creating a whole new world within Toronto and creating parallel universes through the reflection effect.”
The image “Trained Orb ” boasts of Wons’ capability. Ensnaring the image of an oncoming streetcar with a reflective orb, the piece portrays the streetcar on two planes: in close proximity and warped by the spherical reflector, and filling the background as a blurred version of itself. With mere minor edits, the in-camera technique that Wons applies is absolutely astonishing.
“I’m a full-time Toronto based freelance photographer who left my office job to chase my dreams of doing what I love for a living,” says Wons. Working in event and fashion photography, Wons uses his spare time to shoot street photography and experiment with techniques.
When asked if his professional artistic style influences his personal creative expression, Wons tells InSpades that it is in fact the opposite. “My personal work is sort of my playground where I create and discover things…a lot of the time a client will come to me because of something personal I’ve shot that they’ve seen.”
Reflection is just one of Wons’ favourite techniques in his repertoire. In a piece from his “Nocturnal Tendencies” shoot, Wons successfully manipulates time by slowing his shutter speed. Like a sacred, seductive goddess one might find painted on the ruins of a temple wall, model Kehli G splays twelve arms caught in motion. Taken in a single shot, Wons masters the long exposure effect without the use of layering in his editing process.
As a “freestyle” photographer, you can find Wons exploring his Torontonian terrain, prowling for the next serendipitous scene or compelling face to shoot.