Yasin Osman, portrait

Photo: Yasin Osman@yescene

Meet Yasin Osman, Toronto’s Game-Changing Photographer for Peace

I always gravitated towards people, talking to people, and capturing emotion and happiness.

Yasin Osman is not what you’d expect.

An award-winning, much-buzzed-about Toronto photographer (whose clients include Adidas, VICE and UNICEF) should be cavalier, or at least tough to get a hold of. But who you’ll meet is an open, uncommonly considerate, wise-beyond-his years young man, brimming with positive energy and skilled in the lost art of listening. Yasin is the kind of person who makes you want to share your life story within 20 minutes of meeting him, which, along with his keen photographic chops, make him the perfect storyteller to lead Indigo’s #ExperienceIndigo campaign.

Many photos of smiling people holding books

Photo: Yasin Osman@yescene

“When I started getting into photography, I had to ask myself ‘what do I love about taking photographs?’ And I always gravitated towards people, talking to people, and capturing emotion and happiness,” said Yasin when we met for a mocha latte (his first ever) on a particularly chilly February afternoon in downtown Toronto.

We tasked Yasin with visiting multiple Indigo stores to ask customers why reading is important to them and share their story on his Instagram feed. Not surprisingly, people opened like a book to him and the result is a series of authentic and heartwarming posts.

Two boys smiling with a soccer ball.

Photo: Yasin Osman@yescene

“This is the greatest photography opportunity for me because it’s not often when I get to talk to people about reading,” says Yasin. “I thought it was really cool that so many people had so many different experiences with reading. We just assume that everybody is just like us—and that’s a problem.”

Not everybody is just like Yasin. As a photographer, humanitarian, early childhood educator, student (he’s learning sign language), and founder of #ShootForPeace, he swaps his black Roots toque for more than a few other hats on a regular basis.

Yasin founded #ShootForPeace two years ago after kids in his Toronto neighbourhood asked “the guy with the camera” to teach them about photography. Today the group meets on Sundays to walk, connect, snap pictures and learn about photo editing and image technology.

“We tend to forget that just as much as we are able to teach children, we learn so much from children as well,” said Yasin. “Being brave, being creative—these are things that I learn from kids.”

And what’s the impact he’s hoping to make?

“I want to make positivity cool again.”

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