Toronto Instagrammer In Focus: @smaku

Courtesy of @smaku
Courtesy of @smaku
Photo of Ady Floyd
1 December 2016

Toronto is a stunning city that provides artists like @smaku with glorious landmarks, rich history, illuminating cityscapes and picturesque nature scenes to capture on their smartphones. Taku Kumabe is a professional freelance photographer specializing in events and festivals, which has earned him the name ‘The Festographer.’ However, he also likes to show the world his artistic collection of candid and professional images through his Instagram account.

Where are you based?

Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Have a colourful weekend everybody! #NeverStopExploring

A photo posted by Taku Kumabe (@smaku) on

How did you originally get into photography?

While I started by tinkering with my parent’s old SLR, my photography really started to pick up when I started documenting my family vacations and taking photos for various events in the city. I bought my first Nikon SLR the day before flying off to Italy. I bought one roll, tested the settings to see how they affected the exposure, and developed them at the local camera shop. I came back from Italy with several rolls of film and a better understanding of what all the settings did on my camera. Around the same time, I was asked to take photos of an event since my friends knew I had an SLR (owning an SLR at the time really made me stand out from the crowd). I pursued both avenues of photography since then, and now I find myself freelancing at events and festivals while taking landscape photos during my off-times.

What does your Instagram handle mean?

My Instagram handle is @smaku. It’s a childhood nickname that was given to me from one of my brother’s friends. It doesn’t really mean anything personally, but later on in life, I found out that in Polish it means ‘to taste,’ which is quite fitting since I do enjoy eating a lot!

How would you describe the style of photography you present on your Instagram account?

Finding your style of photography can take time; I don’t even have a particular style that I call my own yet. I primarily post landscape photography on my Instagram account, although I do like to add in some urban photos in there now and then. I like vibrant and colorful landscapes, so my feed tends to be more on the colorful side. On occasion I post some muted or faded landscapes, which seem to be quite popular nowadays.

If you love something, be sure to lock it in.

A photo posted by Taku Kumabe (@smaku) on

What are you most inspired by?

I love nature and the outdoors, so when I see great landscapes (and seascapes) from around the world, it really makes me want to get out there and shoot. Unfortunately, my city isn’t blessed with white sandy beaches or wickedly violent oceans, but it does have its fair share of gems. The trick is trying to find them all.

Has Instagram changed the way you photograph? If so, why or how?

Instagram hasn’t changed the way I take photos, but it has heightened my level of creativity. There are so many talented photographers on Instagram that it’s easy to learn from them and get creative with your own photos. I don’t typically include people in my photos, so I need to be extra creative in my photography, whether that shows in how I photograph or how I post-process the images.

Did you hear? Wiarton Willie saw his shadow, which means six more weeks of "winter."

A photo posted by Taku Kumabe (@smaku) on

Where is your favorite place in the city to photograph?

My favorite places to photograph in the city would be the parks along the lakeshore. My ongoing #TorontoSunriseSeriesByTaku includes some of the beautiful sunrises that I’ve been able to capture throughout the last couple of years. I’m lucky in that in just a short drive, I can come to a park with a lake that overlooks the Toronto skyline.

Are there any particular artist(s) that influence or inspire your work?

There are many people on Instagram that inspire me: @chrisburkard, @paulzizkaphoto, and @goldiehawn_ for outdoor inspiration, @elialocardi, @corrine_t for travel photography, and @tonariki and @hagow for local urban flavor.

Don't forget to look down for another vantage point. Just don't fall off the edge.

A photo posted by Taku Kumabe (@smaku) on

What sort of message or theme do you want your images to convey?

What most people don’t know about where they live is that there are countless places for great photography — you just have to get out there and look for it. I am constantly on the lookout for new places to shoot landscapes, and I try my best to discover places around me whenever I have free time. By taking photos at various places around me, I hope to encourage others to explore their own cities as well.

How do you find subjects that you want to take photos of? For example, do you travel to locations you know you’ll find appealing, or take pictures as you experience life?

I find Google Maps to be a great companion when looking for new places to photograph! Google Maps tells me where there are parks, where there are lakes, and which roads will lead me there. Other times, I find Instagram accounts that actually feature various photo-worthy locations around where I live. If you do a search on Instagram for your city or surrounding areas, you’ll come up with photos of potential locations for you to go to yourself as well. Before I make an effort to go to many of these places, I Google them to see exactly where they are and what they offer. If I find it worthwhile, then I’ll go there myself. Just the other day I went to a conservation area that was about an hour away because I saw photos from it on another Instagram account.

Someone didn't tell me there was a meetup.

A photo posted by Taku Kumabe (@smaku) on

What motivates you to continue capturing and publishing your photographs on Instagram?

Instagram is first and foremost a social media channel. It’s a great place to build a community of like-minded individuals. I upload my photos to Instagram because I know there are people who appreciate what I upload and who take the time to converse with me. The people in this community are great to interact with. They have the same interests, want to learn, and aren’t afraid to teach others as well. That’s one of the greatest strengths of any social media outlet, and I’m excited to be a part of it all. All of this motivates me to be more creative and push myself to think outside of the box.