Toronto Houses by Kevin Morris
Morris is currently working with fellow Toronto photographer Shane Fester on a new project called The Architecture of Empty debuting in May 2013, as part of Scotiabank's CONTACT Photography Festival in Toronto—the largest in the world.
What draws you to the exteriors? Does it make you want know what is inside?
You'll notice the houses cover a huge range of styles, condition, size, everything. For me, I'm looking for an 'interesting' factor. To be specific, that means artifacts that paint some type of picture of what that house has seen throughout it's life—the people and families that live there, their lifestyle. I have a wild imagination and it lets me get lost in what might be happening inside the walls of that particular house. As for going inside, I have two answers. Personally, yes, I'm always dying to see the interior. As a photographer, though, I like that the inside is left up to the imagination. I think that's why people have gravitated towards the project, quite honestly. We all see something in each house that speaks to us, just like portraits of people speak to us. The rest is created in our minds through the lens of our own stories, experiences, and lives growing up in the houses we knew.
How did you shoot these?
I used my iPhone 5. It's light, and when I'm on the go exploring the city it makes it the most ideal way to create great images. The iPhone is also great for sharing and that's the important factor—I have a community on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter that can all keep up to speed on the latest house as I post it. We often have great discussions afterwards too about what people love and don't love. More often than not, it's my followers who point out things I don't notice myself—once a bush that was trimmed in the shape of an elephant, sometimes a quirky trim detail, and other times things in the window or background that I've totally overlooked.
Do you have a favorite house?
Such a tough question! I think the one that stands out in my mind is 50 Heath Street West. As an architecture lover, it's a rarity in Toronto as Prairie style houses never quite took off here like they did in the U.S. with Frank Lloyd Wright or in Ottawa, Ontario by Francis Sullivan (who apprenticed under Wright). The geometry and layout has so much personality, yet it's very tasteful and understated.
Any photographers that inspire you?
There's some really great photography coming into the world right now and lately I've had a huge appreciation for Toronto-based Jeff Bierk, who photographs these great images that have created a beautiful narrative of addiction and loss in Toronto. The other photographer I respect a lot is Alec Soth who has taken this great documentary approach to photographing the honest, quirky nature of different people and places throughout the midwestern U.S.
Do you plan on exploring other cities after the project is complete?
Absolutely. I've already included some on the site as I've traveled to San Francisco and Germany. To that end, I don't know that this will ever quite 'finish', but I imagine a point where I'll really branch out and explore other places. I'd love to hear from Dwell readers where I should go next. Some of my best house portraits have come through the suggestions of my followers, because I can't possibly cover every neighbourhood on foot.