Counterweight to apathy
Cityscape photographer captures Toledo’s identity in panorama
Dennis Sawan is an energetic law student and a clerk to a judge in Toledo Municipal Court, but Sawan spends his free time scouring satellite photos for the perfect vantage point. He is an experienced photographer able to artfully capture both people and nature, but his heart lies in panoramic architecture. “This is my way of taking a defined stand against the passage of time,” says Sawan, a life-long native of Northwest Ohio except for four years spent at Indiana University. “When I look at a city, I’m looking at topography for places the city’s residents may not even be cognizant of. I’m trying to find unobstructed views of the skyline.”
Sawan has been shooting photographs since his early youth, but never considered shooting on a professional level until his junior year of college. After a trip to New York City, a friend reviewed his work and told him he should pursue his hobby professionally. That year, Sawan set about photographing the IU campus and submitted his images for the university’s assignment book. Forty of his pictures were published in the following year’s book.
After learning how to string five or six pictures together in a long panorama through computer editing, Sawan began shooting cityscapes across the country like New York City, Chicago, Palm Beach, Venice Beach and of course Toledo. Readers may have even seen his work on billboards around town in recent months as part of a city-sponsored promotional effort to advertise Toledo’s downtown beauty. “The downtown city center is where you find the identity of a city.
I have a passion for travel photography and finding that identity in each city,” he says. “I like shooting at sunset too. For me, it’s a contrast between nature and cold metal.”
As Sawan set up a website to sell his work, PressPrints.com, the project evolved to include the work of 23 other photographers from around the globe. “I found other photographers with similar interests and styles, and through the website we represent something from every continent. Toledo is represented beside world-class cities.” Press Prints offers affordable prints of Sawan’s cityscapes, as well as those from his international counterparts. The hot item ordered on the site are frameless woodprints made locally by Toledo-based SFC Graphics.
Having returned to Toledo after college, Sawan is doing his part to help the city see itself in a more positive light. “People have taken an apathetic approach to Toledo. Lately, we’ve had an exodus of businesses out of downtown,” says Sawan, himself a downtown resident. “People identify with their skyline, and Toledo is not devoid of a skyline. We actually have a pretty interesting one. If people see the city portrayed positively in my work, they may see themselves and the community more positively. If I can get one person to change their mind, I’ve done my job.”
For more information, visit www.pressprints.com or call 419-215-6267.