Andrew Stawicki

The unexpected can change plans. And that can cause a chain reaction. “On many assignments, I go in with a plan, maybe some ideas in mind,” says photojournalist Andrew Stawicki, “but when something unexpected happens, and you pay attention to it, that can lead to something special.”

One such occasion was a Toronto Star assignment. Andrew was asked to photograph a single mother and the realities of her day-to-day struggles. “While we were talking, I noticed her daughter off by herself, dancing,” says Andrew. “She was spinning around and around to the music in her head. There was such joy in her. I wanted others to see it, and so I shot her dancing in silhouette.”

The Toronto Star story mentioned the little girl who loved to dance, and the fact that ballet lessons were not in the family budget. The accompanying photo spread included this image. A reader saw the story and called in with an offer to pay for a year of dance lessons.

“Who knew what would unfold from that assignment?” says Andrew. “I didn’t expect to see a little ballerina, or to capture such a moment of pure joy, or to have someone respond to the picture and change a little girl’s life, and to shoot one of my all-time favourite pictures.”


Andrew Stawicki began his photographic career in his native Poland. In 1982 he brought his family to Canada, where he joined the staff of the Toronto Star. Andrew’s photographs appeared in A Day In The Life Of..., books on Canada, Japan,the U.S., Spain, and the Soviet Union. His 10-year photographic study on Mennonites was published in his book, People Apart, in 1995.
He is a gold medalist in the Society of Newspaper Design Awards and CAPIC Awards. Andrew’s professional recognition includes: The Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal, the Province of Ontario Volunteer Service, 2002; National Newspaper Award, 1993 and 2000; Gold Medalist in the Society of Newspaper Design Awards, 1996; World Press Photo, 1980.
As the founding photographer of PhotoSensitive, Andrew has helped to create a unique and powerful ensemble of talented men and women who, through documentary style black and white photography, enrich, enlighten and educate Canadians on issues of social significance.