Hundreds gathered to see It Will All Make Sense Soon, the debut photo exhibit from Toronto photographer Of The Saint.
From Drake and the Weeknd, to Pressa, DVSN and Jessie Reyez, Toronto is in a Golden Era of hip-hop and R&B music. Among the creatives documenting it all is Toronto photographer Of The Saint. In the past 18 months, he has travelled to New York, Los Angeles and everywhere in between, working with major outlets like Billboard among others. He has photographed hip-hop heavyweights like Rick Ross and Nas, travelled on tour with Jessie Reyez, and was even reposted by Drake himself.
But despite his success, his road to becoming arguably Toronto’s top hip-hop photographer was anything but easy.
Of The Saint grew up in Jane and Finch, raised by a single mother. Fortunately, his gifts on the soccer pitch had him travelling all of the world, including Brazil and the Dominican Republic, eventually landing him a soccer scholarship in the U.S. He eventually started a YouTube channel and soon told his family he was dropping out of school to focus on creating videos.
“School wasn’t for me”, he told those in attendance.
His family was confused by the decision giving some insight in the exhibition’s title, “It will all make sense soon”.
Betting on himself and drawing inspiration from the creators and entrepreneurs around him, he launched out as a photographer and videographer, eventually founding Of The Saint Productions.
Now the young 23 year-old CEO is travelling back and forth between Canada and the U.S. capturing content from North America’s leading music events.
When asked by Q&A moderator and Billboard Deputy Director, R&B/Hip-Hop, Carl Lamarre if it was tough adjusting to the United States, Of The Saint recalled, “My mom gave me freedom to travel how I wanted” referring to his days as a soccer player. “She allowed me to experience the world early.”
His foray into the U.S. included sleeping on couches and floors, and doing whatever it took to be in the right rooms and access the right opportunities. He also learned some lessons the hard way through bad friendships and getting screwed over, but in the end it was all worth it.
So what’s next for the rising photographer?
First, impacting the community. Despite his growing success outside of Canada, he still feels a responsibility to help foster the culture at home in Toronto and provide a window into experiences people like him typically don’t get a chance to see.
Second, he is launching a new venture—his own media platform called the Moment Network which he announced in front of family, friends and supporters.
As if that isn’t enough, he is also going on a European tour with Connor Price and 4 Korners in February; his first time travelling to Europe.
Before leaving the stage, he offer some parting advice for the up and coming creatives looking follow in his footsteps.
“Be you. Never stop learning. Don’t be afraid to do something for free in the beginning, and once you do these free stuff, make sure to take advantage of the room…Take advantage of networking because these relationships is how you’re gonna get far.”
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