By Stephen Weir
There are two constants at all Toronto mas’ band launches. Law number 1: The costume designs will always radically change from one season to the next. Law number 2: Don Moreland will be at every launch, photographing the models in their costumes and recording the elaborate fashion shows.
Although Moreland is not from the Caribbean, his connection to the culture runs deep.
“ My first carnival was in 1987 and I started taking pictures of the launches back in 1997. Since then I have taken over 60,000 photos and have over 300 hour of video tape in my studio warehouse (in Toronto’s Junction district),” Moreland told the Caribbean Camera.
Moreland who is the owner of Ontario Portable Display Systems, said “we set up displays at trade shows, galleries and private functions in Canada and the United States.”
” I am now 58 and I have had a camera in my hands for over 45 years,” he noted.
He said that in 1999. he rented his warehouse to a mas’ camp and ” I immediately fell in love with the colour of the costumes and the dramatic size of the king and queen costumes,”
There is a small group of photographers – mostly men – who take pictures of the shows for the Caribbean Canadian media, social media sites, the mas’ bands and for themselves. Don is popularly known as the Godfather of that photography pool.
He prides himself on having the best cameras, the tallest ladders, and the most expensive tripods money can buy. When there are two events taking place at the same time in different corners of the city, Moreland picks one to attend and hires seasoned photographers to take pictures at the other.
Come summer, he will lead a small team of photographers to cover the junior carnival parade, the king and queen pageant and of course, the August 4th grand parade.
Asked whether he had a favourite band launch, Moreland said “ I don’t have any favourite. Each launch is different.
” I love Jamaal Magloire’s theatrical flair. Louis (Saldenah) always thinks big and so it goes…”
“ I guess my concern is more about where the launches are held,” he added.
Moreland doesn’t like to take pictures in bars (ceilings too low, sight lines are restricted and sometimes there isn’t enough power to fire up spotlights).
“The better the lighting, the better the pictures. It is as simple as that!”
Moreland said that he has noticed that “over the years the mas ‘models are getting more and more skilled at posing for his camera and selling the band’s products.
“I still have to work on the men. I tell them: ‘Go Big! It is just three minutes long. Make sure they never forget you.'”
Moreland makes his pictures available to the mas’ camps and he is working at placing stand-up banners of his launch photographs that will be on display at the entrances to all the camps. He does sell the pictures as well through his website, CarnivalNorth.com