Plumbing the depths of photographic inspiration
Toronto artist flush with followers thanks to new toilet-themed art project
Scrolling through Instagram, much of what we come across consists of stylized food shots, impossibly cute animals and aspirational travel photos. Something we don’t expect to see is toilets. But that’s exactly what Dan Schaumann posts pictures of.
The Toronto resident has taken it upon himself to showcase unique bathrooms all over the world on his photography blog and Instagram account, Toilography, a term he coined to define toilet photography. What began as a joke — his inaugural post was a photo of a square-shaped toilet at his brother’s house in Townsville, QLD, Australia — has morphed into a serious photography project for Schaumann, who has snapped pictures of hundreds of toilets in his travels.
“I wasn’t very selective about the toilets I took pics of,” he said. “But it progressed over the next few years to me seeking out specifically interesting ones.”
And he goes far and wide to seek the most camera-worthy cans he can find, explaining it has been an incredible experience using toilets as a focus to select his travel destinations. Much like someone else might travel for architecture or food, Schaumann does what he calls “toilet tours” through various cities, the first of which was in Chicago. He asked people online for their suggestions for interesting bathrooms across the Windy City and had a fantastic response. “It gave me a wealth of material for Instagram in the process.” There’s now a growing interest in Toilography, and he’s seeing his viewership grow. “Toilets are a mundane daily necessity to most of us, so I think it takes people by surprise when they see one that’s out of the ordinary,” said Schaumann.
Having photographed toilets all over the world, he does have several favourites right here in Toronto. “The Poop Café is my favourite because the whole café is toilet themed. You sit on toilets instead of seats. You eat out of toilet-shaped bowls, and there are ridiculous toilet-and-poop-emoji-themed cartoons all over the wall.” He’s also a fan of the graffiti-covered bathrooms at Sneaky Dee’s.
As one might suspect, he’s developed opinions on what constitutes the perfect lavatory. “An ideal bathroom, in my opinion, is any one that has a unique or unusual feature to it. It could be a piece of artwork on the wall, some witty graffiti or an interesting texture on its tiles,” he notes. “Basically, anything that isn’t a plain white washroom.”
L–R: a loo at a bar in Cork, Ireland; a toilet at Jaleo in Washington, D.C.