Love The Theatre. Hate The Lighting

Photography's Godfather of Costume Launches
Don Moreland lives to take Mas pictures
By Stephen Weir Caribbean Carnival

There are two written-in-stone constants at all Toronto Mas Band costume launches.  Law number 1? The costume designs will always radically change from one season to the next. Law number 2? Photographer Don Moreland will be at every launch photographing the models in their costumes and recording the elaborate fashion shows. 

WOW the people who put on these shows are amazing!” Moreland told the Caribbean Camera. “ 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)”.
“I am the owner of Ontario Portable Display Systems,” he continued. “We set up displays at trade shows, galleries and private functions in Canada and the United States.  I am 58 and I have had a camera in my hands for over 45 years. In 1999 I rented my warehouse out to my very first Mas Camp and 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 – most are men – who take pictures of the shows for the Caribbean Canadian media, social media sites, the mas bands and for themselves.  Don is the Godfather of the photography pool. He has 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 camps he can’t cover.
Come summer, Don will lead a small team of photographers in coverage of the Junior Carnival Parade, the King and Queen pageant and of course the August 4th Grand Parade.

“ I don’t have any favourites. Each launch is different.  I love Jamaal Magloire’s theatrical flair. Louis (Saldenah) always thinks big and so it goes,” he continued. “ I guess my concern is more about where the launches are held.” 
He 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 makes his pictures available to the Mas Camps. As well he is working at placing stand-up banners of his launch photographs that will be placed at the entrances to all the camps.  He does sell the pictures as well through his website to,

photo by Moreland
When asked, Moreland will photograph the models for the mas camp advertisements and brochures. He is finding that each year the Mas Models are 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 3-minutes long, make sure they never forget you!”.
Don Moreland isn’t Caribbean, but his connection to the culture runs deep.  His long time partner, police officer Susanna Noel, is originally from Grenada and has been a volunteer at the annual Children’s parade.  Moreland is stepfather to her grown children Ivell, Juede, Divahd and Llevi.  Llevi Noel plays for the Grey Cup champion Toronto Argos, and one day brought the cup to a community event as pictured above.



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