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Welcome to the Toronto Star Photo Blog!

The positive feedback the Toronto Star photo department has received so far during August's Big Picture month, a photo feature on page A3 in the paper, has energized reader appetite for pictures and has also excited all the photographers on staff.

We hope that this blog will give a little insight into the photo department of the Toronto Star.

Toronto Star photographers will contribute behind-the-scenes stories of events or some of the pictures that just couldn't find a home in the newspaper or website, or just some geeky photography thing we may have stumbled on.


The kick-off page to the Big Picture Month, the info along with the pictures also includes Camera Data!

Big picture month has us thinking inside the box, a 10 x 10 inch box or 8.5 x 8.5, depending on the size of the advertisement on the page.

As photographers we usually try to avoid shooting a square in favor of the page friendly horizontal or vertical.

While it has been a challenge, it has been fun working with the shape, almost like working with a Hasselblad.

We are regularly, especially on election nights, sent out on a tight deadline with a page mock-up that includes the shape of the picture hole we have to fill.

Having a whole month of a square hole to fill on page three gives us time to plan for the shape, brainstorm for ideas and subject matter and allow our assignment editors to free us up to shoot each day.

My first and only, so far, Big Picture was for a story on the return and reopening of the polar bear exhibit and the new Tundra Trek exhibit at the Toronto Zoo.

I had gone to the media preview, but that night also included a VIP preview and the crowds welcoming back the bears was thick!


The new enclosure offers up some great new viewing vantage points that allow you to get close to the polar bears.

I arranged to return on the Friday, the day before the launch of the Big Picture.

I spent two hours at the zoo with the bears basically to myself.

The two females were in the rear part of the exhibit while Inukshuk, the male, was in the main viewing area that features an underwater viewing area.

I spent the two hours sprinting between the above ground and underwater  viewing areas, covering his movements.


Inukshuk walks along the bottom exploring his new pool.


Playful, Inukshuk spotted a small piece of construction debris in the bottom of the pool. He would catch and release the piece of metal.

I guess, to him,  it might have looked like a fish.

When he held it in his mouth it looked like he was playing the harmonica.

While I was happily shooting him playing with the scrap of metal, his keepers and a facility manager were trying to figure out what he had picked up and if it could hurt him.

Thankfully he tired of it and went off to look at the female bears in the rear enclosure.

I don't think I would have wanted the task of going in there to wrestle the piece of debris away from him.

The Toronto Star Big Picture Gallery

- Steve Russell


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