Do you know Tom? He is a freelance photo journalist and musician, the official photographer for Royal Visits in Toronto who used to shoot the social pages for the Toronto Star, and an active citizen who truly wants to leave the world a better place than when he arrived here. Tom says he is a “healing path guy” … and this is a modest way of saying he really cares, and being in his presence, you experience his energy, zest for life, interest in sharing all he can with extreme generosity, sincerity, and humour, and you feel at home. I cannot stand having my photo taken, and when TWIC member, Susan Warburton asked if I would be interviewed for her print magazine and sent Tom to my home, I was dreading it … but then Tom arrived, and it was a MOST enjoyable experience full of giggles and connection. I am so grateful for our collision on this journey of life, and feel fortunate that Tom is an active TWIC member. Maybe we need an official photographer and social pages? Tom, thoughts? 🙂 I hope you enjoy Tom’s interview … lots of wisdom and smiles.
If you’d like to meet Tom and be in community with him and other good humans, join us in The Wellness Intelligence Collective. Find all of our interviews, including this one, and so much more Wellness Intelligence.
What is a photo journalist to you?
A photo journalist to me is a documenter and witness to history. I’ve been on a mission to document the cultural and social scene of Toronto for over 30 years. It’s imperative that it’s done accurately. One of the biggest problems I have now is storing the massive amount of images I have captured over the years. I have a huge archive, in the neighbourhood of over 100,000 images some of which I’m starting to donate. I’ve just recently donated a large binder of negatives to the Hockey Hall of Fame… there will be the Tom Sandler Collection soon , it’s very exciting. Photo journalists tell stories with images, they say one good picture is worth 1,000 words.
Is it fun to be a photographer for the social pages?
Yes it’s been great fun but it’s also been very hard work, long hours, lots of stress. Social shooting is comprised of two things , you have to be very good with the camera but also you have to be very good with people. You have to connect with people very quickly, it takes a lot of confidence to do that. Your personality is key. Most people don’t feel comfortable having their pictures taken, making people feel relaxed is very important. The social scene is not nearly as stressful as doing diplomatic or royal visit shoots which I have done for many years. You work with heavy security who can shoot you back…. haha. Galas and big events are great to go to, you eat well, that’s for sure.
Who do you like to play music for?
Photography has been my livelihood for many years but music is my love. Music is the universal language , it’s felt and understood by everyone. It brings us together and can end the isolation we all feel, it’s a tonic. I come from a musical background… my mom Ruth Lowe Sandler was the women Canadian composer who wrote the songs that launched Frank Sinatra’s career in 1940 . I’ll Never Smile Again and Frank’s theme song Put Your Dreams away. I was blessed my whole life to have been brought up in that world and to be turned on to this gift of self expression. It’s something to be shared and enjoyed with others, it gives me great joy to do that.
Do you like the music that is being produced today?
I used to say I like both kinds of music Country and Western-ha ha! To me there’s really only two kinds of music… it’s either good or bad. I’m not crazy about some of the modern music I grew up with… ballads and love songs, music from the heart. I find today there’s more marketing than music in the music. I was a teenager in the 60’s so I’m a big fan of that era. Hendrix, Beatles, Stones, Clapton, the rock , folk and country classics. I have a love for folk and country, it’s so honest, I love the sound of an acoustic guitar. I loved covering country shows and awards, country artists are so friendly and real. The rock musicians for the most can be very annoying to say the least. Too many overblown egos and bad manners.
Do you have a favourite song lyric of all time to quote?
Wow, hard to pick only one, there’s so many. In my top 100 I would say In my Life by John Lennon . There are places I remember ,all my life , though some have changed. Some forever not for better , some have gone and some remain, All these places have their moments with lovers and friends I still can recall. Some are dead and some are living , in my life I’ve loved them all…one of Lennon’s greatest.
The first record I had, which my mom bought me was Honey Comb by Jimmy Rogers, an up beat , bouncy gospel type tune. I caught the music bug early in my life, it set me on the right road. It holds a special place in my heart of course for a few reasons. When I was 14 I co-wrote a gospel tune with my mom called Take Your Sins to the River a. gospel tune, the Travellers recorded it.
Sing or dance?
I love doing both. One of Jerry Jeff Walker’s songs goes , Don’t it make you wanna dance , don’t it make you wanna smile , when your down down down in the country come a sing a while.
Sunrise or sunset?
Great song from Fiddler on the roof ha ha. I kinda lean toward sunrise, it’s the beginning of a new day, it’s hopeful. I do yoga and Tai Chi at sunrise. That being said, there’s an old saying that goes “when the sunsets…the sun also rises” , it’s two sides of the same yin yang coin!
Tea or Coffee?
I like both, but more coffee I guess , tea’s kinda whimpy after a while.
What advice would you give to your 18 year old self?
I was very “adventurous” at 18, dropped out of school, hung out in Yorkville, traveled to Mexico, it was the 60’s, it was a different time. It upset my mom, she always was worried about me, she cared about me very much. I regret doing that to her, she didn’t deserve it, she was a great mom. If I could turn back time I would change that and have been more thoughtful and sensitive to her feelings.
What advice do you want to give to 18 year olds today?
Never forget to tell people who you love and who love you that you love them.
Do you like social media?
I like it, it gets us to communicate but technology’s a double edge sword. It’s our best friend and our worst enemy. We have the potential to advance the world and yet we seem to use it for selfish things. There’s a quote from a movie that goes “Human beings have so much power and so little knowledge to know how to use it.” We can’t live with =out it but we need to use it more responsibly.
What makes a good friend?
Honesty, acceptance, support, caring, affection, consistency. On the lighter side in the 60’s we used to say a friend with weed is a friend indeed!
Why do you want to grow your own food?
I love growing things, I love the magic of nature, I love the simplicity. You can control what goes in it, it tastes better. I like feeling and smell of the earth in my hands, it’s very healing and satisfying. There’s something about sharing what you’ve grown with others. It’s a blessing we sometimes over look.
What does Wellness Intelligence mean to you?
To me it means the awareness of what is good for you, what makes us healthy and happy. It’s the knowledge of being smart, looking after ourselves and our health whether it be physical, mental, spiritually or emotionally in the right and responsible way. We have a responsibility to ourselves and the planet. I’m reminded of the saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” So many people get lazy and neglect themselves, they eat wrong, they’re stressed, they’re unhappy, they do the wrong kind of exercise. I try to take a holistic approach, music plays a big part in that process, it’s food and yoga for the soul.