Information Technology Services (ITS)

IT@UofT People – Russell Sutherland

Published on: January 27, 2020

The backbone of any successful team is its hard-working people. The University of Toronto’s Information Technology Services (ITS) division is privileged to employ outstanding individuals with diverse talents that extend beyond work-related education and skills.

In this segment, entitled IT@UofT People, we will get to know our IT@UofT team across the tri-campus community and find out more about their hidden or not-so-hidden talents and/or pursuits outside of work.

Russell Sutherland, supervisor network facilities, management and development, Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS).


Name: Russell Sutherland

Department: Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS)

Title: Supervisor network facilities, management and development

How long have you worked at U of T?
Thirty-one years total, with 25 years in this particular role.

Your not-so-secret hobby is photography. Can you tell me about it?
It’s a hobby and a passion. I’ve never met a subject that I didn’t really like. I’m interested in everything. It started when I was in high school; there was a dark room and I got a new camera. I had a fascination with aircraft so I used to go over to the airport all by myself, as a grade 10 student, and I’d take a few photos. That’s how it got started, I’ve always liked flight. And so that was my first camera. And then I got another camera when I was just starting my family.

Now, I never go anywhere without my camera. Just as I was walking up here [to Robarts Library], there was a military helicopter that flew over and I was ready so I got a few photos. I just find that with photography, if you’re not ready, you’re going to miss that five second thing where there’s light and there’s just someone there. It’s kind of part of my day, part of my routine now.

I notice you always bring your camera to work events as well.
I like to share my stuff and yes if people like it, then that’s good. So, whenever I’m at an event, whether a family event or in my community or when I’m at work, I offer this service. I just go around and unofficially take photos and then I give them to the management.

Have you ever thought of taking photos professionally?
With photography today, it’s just almost impossible to make a living of it. Because there’s so many cameras now. It’s so easy to get good photos. So, I just do it just for fun.

Did you have any professional training in the area?
No, but I do a lot of reading. There’s just so much information now, especially with the digital revolution. So many great books and YouTube videos, there’s no lack of information. I think I’ve learned some of the basics. That’s what I’ve learned about life, that there are some tried and true fundamentals about any discipline. And I think with photography, like a lot of the arts, it’s not the instrument.

What would you say some of your inspirations are?
Instagram, which is a huge thing now. You get to see other people doing a lot of urban photography. And there’s just thousands of amazing plane photographers. I used to look at magazines, aerospace and architecture magazines and of course National Geographic. Our neighbours had the whole set way back in the ’60s.

Do you have an Instagram account?
Yes, I’m on Instagram at: @quistian. I also use Twitter and Facebook. And I’ve posted on Teams internally. It’s just been a little bit experimental, but I found out within our group there’s quite a few plane nerds!

What type of camera do you currently use?
I used to use the Rebel, but now I use the Sony Alpha. I was able to sample it at work so I actually bought one recently, two weeks ago. I just got this little telephoto lens too and took some photos this morning that I put up, I just happened to see some military helicopters. Also, with the telephoto lens, it’s a bit easier to get a candid kind of photo. It’s just outstanding and I haven’t really scratched the surface on its full functionality.

In terms of in terms of subjects, what are your favourites to photograph?
Street stuff, birds and aircraft, of course. I do like taking photographs of people, people are the most interesting because everyone’s face tells a story. But as a photographer, kids are the best subjects – they’re natural and they’re not nervous. I come from a huge family, I’ve got 25 nephews and nieces and nine grandkids so at every function our church has, sometimes there’s like 60 kids – like last week we had a big gingerbread party — and I was one of the photographers. I think generally people enjoy the stuff that I put out there and that makes me feel like I’ve had a good day.