Holly Thomas, Curatorial Director

Mkdfgary56sKXKDzrFIKF-OgxmckxsN_aHUdWdS9btMWho are you? Why??

I am many things but I tend to identify myself as an artist. While I explore various mediums I most closely identify myself as a Photographer. There’s something about photography that draws me in, it’s a place where the real can become surreal, the only place where you can freeze time and space and immortalize it in the form of an image, there’s something both fleeting and permanent about that and perhaps it’s the paradox of the medium that draws me to it.

What is your role at TUPF and what does it mean?

I have the great pleasure of being the curatorial director of TUPF. This role will allow me to immerse myself in to the world of photography in ways that I haven’t yet experienced, to find new artists, make new connections and bring new voices to the forefront.

TUPF’s theme this year is community. What does this mean to you? What does it mean for how the festival will unfold?

I think our traditional ideas about communities are changing, there was a time that your community was the people that were around you, lived in your neighbourhood, or came from the same place and those were the primary ties that bound them together, but today with advances in technology the ease in sharing your voice a community can be anything you want it to be. This allows for liked-minded people all across the globe to come together and create and share as one. It’s incredible to me to think about how people will be (and have been) able to come together to share their voice, their vision and highlight the things that mean something to them. I’m not so lofty that I think this festival will change the world’s viewpoints of the world around them, but it will create ripples in the waters of change, it will bring people together, for a day a week or a lifetime. It means the world to me that I get to take part in that.

Who is your favorite urban photographer?

I would argue that Diane Arbus is an urban photographer, it’s in her roots. She brought those that were marginal, interesting or just plain weird to the forefront and allowed outsiders to see everyone she photographed as human, another member of society, making the weird acceptable. That said It hunk the work of Vivian Maier is what resonates with me more than any other. Only a fraction of whatshe’s created has come out in recent years but her work speaks to the time and place in which she lived. She was both invisible and present, I understand the need to take photographs, the hunger she had to do it, the impulse but she did it for herself and no one else and that is tangly admirable. She is and was a ghost, no one saw her coming but her view on the world surrounding her gave her a voice, and while she tried to silence in in life it’s loud and clear today.

Is there a particular local artist you feel people should watch out for right now?

Colin Boyd Shafer, Photographer, Cosmopolis Toronto

Favorite camera to shoot with?
I have too many cameras, anyone that knows me can tell you that, but each have their own particular use, their own time, their own place. I like the methodical process that 4×5 film photography forces you in to, I like having a rugged medium format film camera like a Mamiya 646 that you can take literally anywhere (though it’s not light or ergonomic) I’m fearless with it because I don’t worry about the hardware when I have it in my hand, just the image… and you only get 15 shots per roll so it makes you be more careful about what you chose to commit to film. Every frame has a price tag whereas with my digital gear (which I love!) I tend to shoot now, ask questions later.

What sort of photography to do like shooting best?

I say I like shooting portraiture the best, in a controlled studio setting but when I loo over my favourite work I tend to gravitate toward landscape and photography that reveals humour and truth of the now and then. One of my favourite things to do is photograph people taking photos. I find photographers tend to get uneasy with that, and yet it’s that uneasiness that drives me to do it.

Do you have an animal likeness? If so, why? Is there a close second animal likeness that you would choose if your first animal likeness didn’t work out for some reason (perhaps it is close to extinction)?

I was born in the year of the monkey, I would have to say that I tend to exhibit the tendencies of that animal most, perhaps because monkeys and apes are so closely related toy our own species. Then again, there are times I feel I most resemble a sloth. Sloths are adorable creatures that adore the simple pleasures in life, sleeping and eating are paramount but every now and then they do a little dance to take care of business, they do what they need to do but they have fun doing it.

What are you most excited about for this year’s festival?
Everything. There will be some fantastic events, collaborations amongst artists and organizations we’re seeing community spirit come out in people and I can’t wait to see more.

Andrew Nguyen, Assistant Curatorial Director


Who are you?
Hi, I’’m Andrew. Why am I Andrew? Because my parents went through the 1986 list of most popular names and picked the first name not already claimed by another baby in our social circle.

What is your role at TUPF?
My official title is Assistant Curatorial Director, but like everyone here, I do a bit of everything.

What does the theme CommUnity mean to you?
Cities are big and full of people but even in the midst of all that bustling, it’s easy to feel isolated and lonely and lost in the crowd. Community is the antidote.

Who is your favourite urban photographer?
My favourite “urban” photographer would probably be Robert Frank. There’s a natural and effortless quality to his photos that really speaks to me.

Favourite camera to shoot with?
My favourite camera at the moment is the Fujifilm XE-2. It’s a very tactile camera with a lot of manual controls and dials that I really enjoy flipping and turning.

What sort of photography do you like best?
My favourite type of photography is fashion photography. Of all the flavours of photography, it is the quickest evolving; just like fashion it sells. Every time I flip through magazines like Vogue Paris or i-D, I find something new that surprises and inspires.

Animal likeness, close second?
My spirit animal is the city dwelling racoon. I’m nocturnal, a pest, and I trespass on people’s property all the time (mostly in the name of photography). Oh, and I also like to think I’m fearless.

What are you most excited about this year fest?
I’m just excited about putting together a wonderful show featuring wonderful artists for our wonderful festival goers.