The beginning of something new is special. It marks hope, optimism and a fresh start. An uncertainty of where life will collectively bring us, the joyful unknown. But in reflection, the start of something is also a product of where we have come from.
For me, one-year ago I was going to my first-ever Toronto FC game. Not knowing what to expect at BMO Field, I had my camera and new lens that I bought with my dad a few days before. I made the decision that I wanted to improve my photography and learn the craft. I knew where I wanted to go, but wasn’t sure how I’d get there.
The managing editor of Waking the Red at the time, Mitchell Tierney, took a chance on me. I saw how hard he worked on the site and the amazing content that he was writing and wanted to be part of it. I knew that I could bring something to the table and we could grow together.
He gave his classmate, a 20-year-old journalism student the chance to document the entire 2016 Toronto FC season from pitch-side. And what a season it was.
It began in Spring on a lovely day at BMO Field and finished in the dead-cold of Winter in heartbreak at the MLS Cup in Toronto. The memories made - indescribable. The passion, dedication and community that Toronto FC is building is so unique within the Canadian sporting scene. I truly believe that we’re at a tipping point within the football landscape in Canada.
The lessons that I learned covering Toronto FC have been nothing short of incredible. Whether it be the veteran photographers and cinematographers giving me advice and encouraging me to keep at it. Or the young shooters who have become some of my best friends. And how could I forget about the fans and members of the organization who I’ve built relationships with. One thing that I try to encourage through my work is this simple idea - we are all in this together.
I’ve been loving the direction that Waking the Red is heading in. Oliver Platt has been doing an amazing job (no, he didn’t make me write this). While some people refer to Waking the Red as a “fan blog,” I’d dispute this; we are so much more.
Whether it’s the writing, thoughtful analysis, video content, graphics or photography - we can take pride in the work that we have done and will continue to provide as an organization. I know that the players, organization and fans appreciate the unwavering coverage that we provide.
It’s surreal to me, knowing that as I write this, it will be my final photo essay for Waking the Red looking back on the season that was. After editing and curating my best photos from last season, I’m struck with a feeling of nostalgia in all honesty. But I’m also very excited for the future. Regarding photo coverage - not to worry, I assure you, you are in great hands.
One of my best friends, Tagwa Moyo, will be replacing me starting tonight as Waking the Red’s photo editor. He’s actually one of the people who sparked my interest in photography - and he produces phenomenal work. He’s got some great ideas and has already started Waking the Red’s official Instagram. I’d highly recommend that you follow that now so when it glows up, you can say you were a day one!
I’m also thrilled to announce that starting tonight at the home-opener, I’ll be joining Toronto FC this year as a club photographer, focusing on the team’s digital content. One of the things that really excites me is the creative direction that the club is heading. It’s a game-changer in my eyes and I can’t wait to continue to embrace the city that raised me while telling powerful stories.
One year ago, if you told me that this would have happened, I truly wouldn’t have believed you. But the future is never certain - and that’s a beautiful thing that connects us all. Tonight marks the beginning of the 2017 Toronto FC season. Toronto is a city that is changing, there’s no way around it. I really do feel a sense of pride that is infectious. And it’s making its way around this town. As a collective, we can make the conscious decision to change it for the better. Rather than wait - let’s make it happen,
- Luke Galati