In keeping with the notion that the position of the Photo Laureate is an honour bestowed rather than a position of employment, photographers are not invited to apply for the position. A selection committee of experts will be convened prior to each Photo Laureate’s term to nominate and recommend each appointment. The committee shall include the previous Photo Laureate plus four more individuals from the photo arts community.

The following duties and terms of the Photo Laureate were approved by Council at its meeting held on September 30, 2015.


The term of the Photo Laureate is three years.

Appointment Process

The Photo Laureate is appointed by City Council on the recommendation of a citizen panel of photography experts.

Every three years, a panel of five experts, including the out-going Photo Laureate, is convened by City staff in Economic Development and Culture (EDC). Panelists put forward names for a long list which is then reduced to a shortlist of three to five candidates. Through debate and discussion, the panelists reach a consensus and propose a nominee who is then recommended to Economic Development Committee in a confidential attachment. Pending Committee approval, the nominee is then referred to Council in the form of a confidential attachment for Council to approve. Council is responsible for the appointment of the Photo Laureate.

Selection Criteria

The Photo Laureate must be a Toronto photographer who has produced a body of work that:

  1. displays photographic excellence;
  2. includes photographs of Toronto and Torontonians; and
  3. has influenced other photographers.

The Photo Laureate must be willing to serve and have the ability to be an ambassador for the visual and photographic arts.


The Photo Laureate will receive an honorarium of $10,000 per year. Travel and incidental expenses associated with performing the Photo Laureate’s duties shall come from that sum and will not be reimbursed. The City of Toronto gives the money to the Photo Laureate outright and will not audit expenses.

Administrative Support

Administrative support includes a mailing address and support for routine office tasks and correspondence.

Intellectual Property

All photographs and other original materials produced during the tenure of the Photo Laureate remain the property of the individual, who shall retain all rights thereto.

Publicity and Promotion

The City of Toronto undertakes to use its communication resources to promote the post of Photo Laureate. The City makes extensive use of its web page and will maintain a link within Arts & Culture Services’ existing site.


The Photo Laureate is a photographer and must be given the opportunity to create and curate work. The Photo Laureate will commit approximately 15 percent of his/her working time to duties as the Photo Laureate. The time is to be devoted to serving as Toronto’s ambassador of visual culture at events that promote the photographic and visual arts, and to creating a legacy project for the people of Toronto. The duties of the Photo Laureate do not include photographing civic occasions (the City has staff photographers for this purpose). The Photo Laureate will develop a legacy project, designed in co-operation with City staff and will be unique to the individual Photo Laureate. City staff will assist in finding resources to support the legacy project.