Photo tour reveals Toronto through the eyes of disadvantaged teens

TORONTO — It was a chance for teenagers to see their city differently, and for everyone else to see the streets through their eyes.

A collaboration among several groups gave the teens the opportunity to tour Toronto with a professional photographer.

They got lots of tips and a new perspective on the city they call home.

“It was probably the most amazing experience I’ve ever had,” said 19-year-old Dionne Quintyn.

The photo walk was a partnership among Toronto production company, Hinge, Toronto Guardian and the Kiwanis Boys and Girls Club.

Quintyn grew up in Regent Park, but said heading out on the streets to take photos gave her a new appreciation for her city.

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“I’m typically the person that takes selfies, but I think taking in the actual surroundings, I think people don’t take in how beautiful your surroundings are,” she said.

The idea was to give the teens a different outlook, not just on their community, but on life.

“We really want to allow kids to explore their creativity and maybe see it as a potential career path for them in the future,” said Dale Tidy, creative director at Hinge.

They wanted the teens to focus on every frame, so to teach them the value of a single photo they traded in digital cameras for disposable ones with film.

They had only 27 shots to last the day.

“We made sure that we slowed them right down, and we made them try and focus in and try and find the special moments, and really use each photo,” said Tidy.

It worked.

“You get to kind of look at the surrounding and think, is this worth the one shot that I have,” said Ellen Klassen, a 13-year-old student from an Etobicoke arts school.

The photos were placed in an exhibit and contest.

But Quintyn said for her it was about meeting new people, and showcasing her hometown.

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“I feel like photography lets people and be aware of the beauty of everything around you,” she said, adding it taught her to see opportunity, even in something that doesn’t look perfect and in places others might not see it and pass right by.

“It’s inspired me to chase my dreams.”

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