Take Your Seat with Randy VanDerStarren

Randy VanDerStarren started his career in advertising, but it was his love for photography and the environment that launched Take Your Seat. Now, Randy spends his time traveling the world photographing iconic locations that inspire us to take a closer look at our responsibility to our planet and to ourselves.

Learn more about Take Your Seat from Randy’s perspective below.

How Take Your Seat Came to Life

Have you ever wondered to yourself, ‘How did I get here’? Sure, like any of us, you can look back at your choices in your career and in your life and rationalize why you made them. Incrementally, the effect is almost imperceptible. The sneaky reality is that year by year subtle changes have distanced you further and further from your true purpose. Now try comparing whom you thought you were a decade or two ago with whom you are now. The subtle changes, like waves against rock, have likely made you unrecognizable.

This happened to me two years ago. I had just finished testifying in front of the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce. I presented a case for a discretionary managed pension solution for all working Canadians, not just the privileged. As pages brought in tea and Senators deliberated and challenged my statement, it hit me hard. How did I get here? I love Canada. I loved fighting the good fight for a level playing field in the pension space. However, I studied advertising. My degree is in Film. Clearly, there was a disconnect. I had allowed reality to trump my passion. Life was good. But, as an ad agency I worked for had engrained in me, ‘Good is the enemy of great’. Thankfully, I still wanted great.

Take Your Seat - British ColumbiaBritish Columbia, Canada

What is Take Your Seat?

I started this journey when I finally realized I had to take charge of my life. Too often, I took my planet and my future for granted. Nature, and its dependence on humanity, taught me to appreciate my privilege while acknowledging my obligation to future generations. The yellow director’s chair that is seen in ever photo I take, became my catalyst. Each environmental journey helped me discover a little bit about myself along the way. Today, Take Your Seat has become a force for both environmental and self awareness. The photography, with its recurring chair, inspires a conversation. The viewer is compelled to continue it.

The Director’s Chair

I chose a Director’s chair as a symbol of that change. Just as Martin Scorsese or Ridley Scott determines what shows up on the big screen, you get to decide what goes up on the biggest screen of all, your life. That chair serves as both an invitation and a challenge. The locations all share a sense of urgency, the beauty of our planet is fragile. Just like our dreams, we are responsible for that beauty’s care. The journey has taken me to 8 countries and generated over 8000 photographs.

Take Your Seat - DubaiDubai, United Arab Emirates

Introducing Take Your Seat, Canada

Take Your Seat, Canada will partner with the Trans Canada Trail in celebration of Canada’s 150th. The expedition will unite a country by drawing attention to both the diversity and the fragility of Canada’s natural beauty. The Canadian Ethnic Media Association will use the work to begin a grassroots, authentic dialogue among Canada’s multicultural communities. Sponsors also include; Scotia Wealth Management, Flight Centre and Henry’s Cameras.

The work itself will have an environmental, challenging thematic that inspires all Canadians, from all walks, to appreciate their country’s natural beauty at a more human pace. Thirteen selected photographs will represent every region of the country. Nature will have a coast to coast to coast Canadian voice. Canada, the real Canada, will resound through the inspired actions of all of us.

Take Your Seat: Live the Life You Intended

The exhibit, Take Your Seat: Live the Life You Intended will be shown throughout Toronto in 2017.

First Canadian Place | March 30 – May 5

Roy Thomson Hall | June 10 & 11
In partnership with the Toronto Symphony

Toronto City Hall | July 24 – July 30
Main floor rotunda

Take Your Seat - Ayutthaya
Ayutthaya, Thailand

The hope is that by the end of 2017, individuals from every province and territory in Canada will have seen the series both online and in person.

Through the exhibition, Canadians will be reunited through their love of nature. This project continues to bring me closer to the life I intended. I sincerely hope the work inspires you to do the same.

View Randy’s talk from our past Salon, Truth, Lies & Complicity.

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