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Oops, I (we) did it again!

Steve Russell, Staff Photographer

Comedian Stephen Wright once quipped, "It's a small world but I wouldn't want to paint it." 

At the paper photographers always keep our eyes open for pictures that go by a variety of names depending on the photographer.

These pictures are referred to as weather, enterprise, stand-up, feature or stand alone pictures to name a few.

These pictures can find a home anywhere in the paper but usually make it into the Greater Toronto section to dress up a page with stories that do not lend themselves to good pictures or they might end up in the daily online gallery.

So, last week while I waited at Nathan Phillips Square for Mayoral candidate George Smitherman to appear for a portrait, I stubbled across Richard Thomson hand feeding some sparrows. Ding! The feature bell went off in my head.

Richard Thomson of Toronto feeds birds near the pond in front of Nathan Phillips Square. Thomson has been feeding the birds at the square two to three days per week for the last five years. 

I shot a variety of images before approaching him for his name.


Mr. Thomson chuckled and told me he had been in the Star doing the same thing before and pulled a carefully folded news clipping out of his wallet.

There it was, 2006, Richard Thomson feeding a sparrow at Nathan Phillips Square.

Lovely shot of him taken by former Toronto Star Year-long intern and now a staff photographer at the National Post Aaron Lynett.

Aaron Lynett's 2006 picture of Richard Thomson feeding a sparrow at Nathan Phillips Square. 

Well, I thought, that was three years ago and maybe if we needed the picture it could be used.

When I got back to the paper and filed my pictures I looked up Mr. Thomson in the paper's archive.

Well it seems that he was shot another time as well.

Earlier this summer by then Toronto Star year-long intern Pawel Dwulit, now a Canadian Press Stringer in Ottawa.

Pawel Dwulit's picture of Richard Thomson! 

Mr. Thomson has been feeding the birds at Nathan Phillips Square a few times a week for six years now, I'm sure I will not be the last Toronto Star photographer to shoot him!


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These pictures are so beautiful. The one of just his hand and the sparrow is like a painting. Bravo!

Nice dude. These are wicked.

Apparently, a lot of photographers are inspired by Richard Thomson!


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