The thrill of photography began for Tim Carr when he was a boy with his first camera, a point-and-shoot Vivitar that he bought with paper-route savings. Standing on the beach of Sand Hill Park in Ontario, Canada, he felt the rush of learning how to operate a complicated machine and the joy of anticipating mastery. “There is this mystery that you’re going to unravel,” he recalls.

For years, Tim continued to refine his craft. As a teenager he got his first digital camera, an HP, which he saved for while writing software for a computer shop. The digital door opened to limitless options and buoyed his confidence as a photographer. Many cameras later, mostly Nikons, Tim’s interest in photography developed into a business.

“There is this mystery that you’re going to unravel.”

While living in Switzerland, he became friends with Leon, a self-employed photographer who encouraged Tim to expand his portfolio. He did, and was soon inspiring Leon with his work.

“He became really good really fast,” says Leon, “He started doing one job after the other. “

Tim, Leon, and two other friends started their own photography business, Picture Brothers. When Leon got married, he made sure Tim would take the photos. “He captured us,” Leon says, “and my wife exactly as she is.”

Capturing people is a strong suit for Tim. His good humor and easing-going nature make him a choice photographer, able to get a wedding couple laughing when the limo dropped them off an hour late for an hour-and-half shoot.

“It’s very easy for him to make people laugh,” says Leon. Tim’s knack for laughing at himself loosens up his clients. “He does that with a camera or without a camera and that helps him get those unique photos,” says Leon.

Researching the location and storyboarding, and planning what kinds of photos to take, also help. Tim has learned that preparation pays off professionally.

Although Tim excelled at getting the photos clients wanted, it had been a long time since he’d taken photos that inspired his creativity.

“Treat it as a job, and if you’re not careful it ends up being too much about money.”

“Photography or any art as a profession can be just about money,” says Tim. “Treat it as a job, and if you’re not careful it ends up being too much about money. I didn’t let myself do anything fun.”

All this changed in March 2015. Tim was on a flight to Cancún to photograph a wedding when he decided to stop over to Cuba and do some photography for himself. Without the limits and expectations of working for a client, Tim could disregard his usual professional approach. He was free to make his own decisions.

He showed up wide-eyed and photographed what he now considers his favorite shoot, street photography in black and white.

Tim spoke no Spanish, had never been to Cuba, and spent no time researching it. He showed up wide-eyed and photographed what he now considers his favorite shoot, street photography in black and white.

“It was like falling in love with photography all over again,” Tim remembers.

When he developed the photos, he was delighted with his work instead of feeling his usual disappointment and criticism. The photos confirmed he still had creativity flowing.

Havana was “the awakening of me remembering the noncommercial side of photography,” said Tim. This came at a pivotal time. That same year, Tim moved home to Canada, and also returned to his original love of photography, less as a business and more as an art form.

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Catherine Pearson

Catherine Pearson is a feature writer for A Thousand Different Colors. She has recently added motherhood to her list of life adventures. She now enjoys merging the joy of family with her draw to the refugee and immigrant community.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Catherine, thanks for telling Tim’s story! I love hearing the story behind the art. Knowing what was going on in Tim’s life as he took these pictures make them all the more special. Tim, these pictures are AWESOME. I love the contrast, and especially the way you capture faces. Thanks for giving us a powerful glimpse into life on the streets of Havana.

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