Last week I had the chance to work with a great band out of Kingston called Chase the Light. Taking inspiration from their name, I really wanted to get a shot that expresses something about LIGHT. After some thought I came up with the idea to shoot in the Toronto subway system, maybe if I'm lucky I could capture the band in front of a train passing behind - and if I'm really lucky - the lights on the train will create some sort of cool effect.
So we braved the cold (minus 10 degree Celsius) weather and headed down under Union Station. I thought the best area to shoot in the system would be near the outskirts of town, east or west of the downtown core - where it would be less populated and we'd be less likely to get in trouble. We decided to head west toward Islington Station and I think we ended up stopping to shoot at Lansdowne Station.
Not five minutes after unpacking all my gear and starting to set up, a Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) officer approached us and asked for my permit. He was a big guy, dressed in baggy unmarked clothes and had camera and a clipboard with him. Later we all joked he looked like Denzel Washington.
What are the chances - out of the dozens of stations, the one we choose has security just waiting to bust us!? I responded to the officer, "I left it in the car..." but he didn't seem to care if I had an answer to his question and before I knew it he was on the phone with head office noting our location and telling us to leave the premises. He said due to recent "terrorist activity" that security is tighter than usual. I still have no idea what activity he was referring to. Anyway, he left us alone walking up the stairs and outside to get on a bus. I guess he was on patrol looking for people like us disrupting the fragile balance of the public transit system...(?)...I don't believe that 5 young guys and a photographer could seriously be considered a threat, but he's just doing his job.
The band didn't drive here all the way from Kingston to be sent home without the photos they were promised, so like any dedicated photographer would, as soon as security left I quickly set my gear back up and told the band we had to hurry. We might only get one or two photos before we need to pack up and leave with security hot on our heels! Trains only came once every 2-5 minutes so there was very little room for error, not much time to practice or to adjust my lighting. We anxiously stood in place waiting for the next train to come down the freezing cold tunnel - all the while keeping an eye and ear out for our friend Denzel. Finally a train arrived, zoomed past behind the band only a foot or so away and I managed to take a total of 4 shots. Below is the favourite.
For the rest of the afternoon we joked around imagining security chasing after us through the various stations and trains, bursting through walls and crowds of people with fire axes and stuff... Funny enough, the Book of Eli advertisements had just come out and were plastered all over the place with - you guessed it - life-size images of Denzel Washington! His watchful gaze was always upon us! Haha ;) Thanks to the band for being such a great group to work with! Moral of the story: always break the rules for the sake of art.
Click for larger view.