Bio

Growing up in Toronto in the 1950s held many charms and opportunities. By the 1960s a pivotal moment changed the course of Edwin’s life when he witnessed the magic of an image appearing through the chemicals of a darkroom tray on a previously blank piece of paper. He began to capture the world around him on film and practice his own photographic magic tricks by bringing images to life in the dark through unschooled experimentation.

During this time Edwin was deeply drawn to music. In addition to the powerful personal impact it had, he saw the alchemy of the musician’s art as another form of magic trick. Musicians used tools often made of wood or metal to give acoustic habitation and meaning to emotions through melody in sound. He got his fingers wet processing photos taken of musicians who performed at his high school, and later captured shows in coffee houses and clubs. Eventually he became a regular at concert venues like Massey Hall in Toronto, where he entered the world stage of concert photography.

But music wasn’t his only passion. From an early age he embraced a desire for travel, first locally by bicycle, and then in 1971 he found himself in Europe exploring most of the continent on a rail pass where he photographed street life. He only later learned that what he was doing was called black and white street photography. Over time he came to believe if you can take a photograph in such a way that if someone else passed by the same place the photo was taken and were unable to recognize what you saw, you are practicing another kind of magic.

During his development Edwin earned a degree in Photo Arts from what is now Ryerson University in Toronto. And while the celebrated photographer Dave Heath was a powerful influence during his studies, some of the greatest teachers over the years have communicated to him through their work, including Cartier-Bresson, Brassai, Kertész, Eugene Smith and Robert Frank.

In the 1970s Edwin had some of his photographic work included in galleries, and several publications, but generally shied away from showing his work for many years.
In the 80s he went on to work in theatre, directing productions for the stage, followed by directing and producing documentary films.
During this time his heart remained drawn to capturing with his camera the magic of music in its making, and the poetry of life as it unfolds on the streets of his persistent travels.

Andre Kertez
Eugene Smith
Robert Frank & Dave Heath

gailits@sympatico.ca