Cultural Partnerships

Photo Laureate of Toronto

Toronto has one of the most thriving photographic art scenes in the world thanks to the Scotiabank Contact Photography Festival, photo-based art centres and galleries like Ryerson ImageCentre and Toronto Photographers Workshop, world-class photo production centres like Toronto Image Works, major photo prizes like the Aimia/AGO Photography Prize and the Scotiabank Photography Award, and a dozen or more photo-specific commercial galleries.

Toronto's Photo Laureate serves as the City's ambassador for the visual and photographic arts; the position honours a Toronto photographer whose work displays excellence and is relevant to Torontonians. 

The Photo Laureate attends events across the city to promote and attract people to the world of photography and visual art. The Photo Laureate's mandate also includes the creation of a legacy project that will be unique to the individual.

Terms of Reference

Geoffrey James named Toronto's first Photo Laureate

Internationally admired Toronto-based photographer Geoffrey James has been selected as Toronto's first Photo Laureate. The position is the first of its kind in Canada.

“Photography is a powerful way to tell Toronto’s story — to show our city’s diversity, talent and beauty," said Mayor John Tory. "The quality and range of Geoffrey James' work makes him an ideal photo laureate and I look forward to his inspiring work in this role."

James will receive an annual honorarium of $10,000 for a three-year appointment from March 31, 2016 to March 31, 2019. He is expected to commit a portion of his working time to duties as Toronto’s ambassador of visual and photographic culture at events that promote those arts. He will also develop a legacy project, designed in co-operation with City staff, which will be unique to the individual Photo Laureate.

Internationally recognized

James is recognized internationally as a master of landscape and urban photography. Self-taught, he began making images in the early 1970s. He has exhibited extensively in Canada, the United States and Europe, and in 2012 he received the Governor General's Award for Visual and Media Arts. He is the author, or subject of, more than a dozen books and monographs, and he writes about photography. His more recent works focus on urban and suburban landscapes, and his 2007 book, Toronto, was nominated for a Toronto Book Award.

"This appointment shows that Toronto continues to be a cultural innovator and leader in Canada," said Councillor Michael Thompson (Ward 37 Scarborough Centre), Chair of the City's Economic Development Committee. "James' work over the next three years will help other cities to picture how this could culturally benefit them too."

James was nominated by a selection committee assembled from Toronto's photography and visual arts community.