Sean Patenaude

Square sepia photo with light scratches and stream of light across the sky with buildings in foreground.

There are four lights

Pigment print
20x24 ed 1/3
$1320 framed; $960 print only

BUY (framed)
BUY (print only)

Exhibiting in the gallery April 1-14

Square photo of red filtered image of city building with stream of light across the sky

200 sunsets

Pigment print
20x20 ed 2/3


Online only

Square photo of fish eye lens buliding with light stream in the back.

There will always be a storm.

Pigment print
20x24 ed 1/3


Online only


The works I’m showing in Being Scene 2022 are solargraphs – multi-month photographic exposures captured through pinhole cameras I made myself. These images were made between 2019 and 2021, taken from various locations on the CAMH site, documenting the construction of two new hospital buildings. The streaks of light in the pictures reflect the passage of the sun across the sky during each day of the exposures. I love this process for how it collapses a year into a single frame.

Because of the super-long exposures involved, the original negatives, recorded on traditional silver-based photo paper, remain light-sensitive and can never be made permanent. They can’t be developed or fixed without being destroyed, for the paper has been pushed beyond its limits. Even the light from the scanner used to record the pictures for printing damages them during the scan.

I made these because I wanted to express how each day marks us in ways we can only see in retrospect. The building of a hospital echoes the experiences of those who will attend it. Healing takes time, and patience, and the changes mark us like sunlight on paper, glimpsed through a tiny hole in the dark.

There are four lights: exposure July 2018 – September 2019, 425 days

There will always be a storm: exposure May 2019 – September 2019, 114 days

200 sunsets: exposure July 2019 – February 2020, 203 days


Sean Patenaude works in a combination of film and digital processes to capture striking, emotional images that invite the viewer to imagine the story beyond the frame. 

Since 2013, Sean has been deeply involved with the mental health community in Toronto, leading photography workshops at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, World Pride, Workman Arts, and other organizations. His photography has been central to his own wellness and recovery from depression and anxiety, and his greatest joy lies in helping others discover their own talent and creativity through image-making.

Sean has made images for Workman Arts, the Rendezvous with Madness Film Festival, the Suits Me Fine Fashion Show and many other organizations. His work has been displayed at Hart House, Artscape Youngplace, the Gladstone Hotel, and the Contact Photography Festival. 

Sean's pictures have been published internationally in books, magazines and online. In 2018, Sean was commissioned to create a Therapeutic Art Installation documenting the construction of two new buildings at CAMH. The resulting six large prints, collectively titled “watching the time pass by the sun” are on permanent display in the McCain Complex Care and Recovery Building

Artist Instagram:


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