Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Two positives and a Negative:

I had my anniversary recently with my girlfriend and we headed up to my parent's farm in Pemberton. I finally got to hang the three hammocks I bought in Central America, and carried all the way here. That valley is so stunning, I had to take a photo to try and do it justice. This is going to be my zen spot where I can collect my thoughts and watch the summer sunsets down the valley. This image is a composite of 3 separate exposures which I later combined.

The other positive is that I finally, after 6 months, have finished my first video editing project. Compiling the footage from a 6 week backpacking trip and three separate cameras was one thing. Learning Final Cut Pro X was another. While totally intuitive (and unfortunately a dead end for advancing in professional video editing)

Back to blogging and body painting...

It has been months since I've posted, and my reader(s) have been asking for new material so here it goes. My last post was about the body painting portfolio pieces I was helping a makeup artist create. It was an amazing but trying experience. I also spent two months travelling and shooting in South East Asia, specifically Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, and Malaysia. So here are some photos from the body painting sessions I did. I learned a lot from doing these shoots, primarily that when a makeup artist tells you it will take 6 hours to complete the makeup, it will really take 8... and she will show up two hours late every day... or the model won't show up at all... or she will show up and have no idea that body painting involves being topless and having your body airbrushed and will strongly object.

Luckily I just have to shoot after this is all ironed out.

I did also meet some fantastic models who I have worked with numerous times since.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

A strictly verbal, slightly exhistential post before more images come down the pipeline.

It has been a while since I've posted and I've been shooting lately so there will be many images to blog about shortly but I've been thinking (it's rare) lately, about photography, and need to articulate.

I've been crafty lately and have organized a space that has made for an amazing temporary photography studio. What made me seek out this facility was a makeup artist who contacted me. She wanted to shoot a series of bodypainting portfolio pieces. With each design taking 5 hours of makeup work, an hour or so to shoot, and with ten different designs/models to shoot, I was going to need a dedicated studio space. For those of you who are uninitiated, bodypainting involves painting and airbrushing onto a models bare skin so in the end they appear fully clothed. Scantily clad models + photography = guy photographers dream... Right?

Only problem was.... I hated bodypainting photography. Or at least, every photo of bodypainting I'd seen, was totally boring. Insert white backdrop, insert model, light everything, pose model, click. Boring. It's about displaying the 5 hours of makeup artistry, not the photography. So what did I do? I got a neutral gray backdrop, which you can light to be anything from white to black, shot some safe shots of the amazing bodypainting displays, and then improvised as many different lighting setups as possible before the models and I were too exhausted to go on. And it was amazing.

And I realized something.

All the photos I currently enjoy creating are dark.

And maybe one's artistic style says more about the creator than their conscious mind would care to admit. But that's a whole other conversation.

For me right now, it's all about shadow. Photographers essentially have two tools when lighting. Shadow, and highlights. Everything in between is the subject matter, is exposed appropriately, and is just documenting what exists in front of the camera. The use of shadow and highlights is how the photographer wraps that subject and presents it to the viewer. As a human, I've always been attracted to the shadow. It's the intrigue, the mystery, the thing that makes you lean in a litter closer for a better look. Its also where untapped and unknown potential lies. For a wannabe full-time shooting professional, that's the part I'm trying so hard to explore and bring into the light. Most of my favourite take away shots from these bodypainting shoots have been complete spur of the moment experiments, trying to test all the principles of light that I've read about. I'm sure ill grow out of this dark phase, or at least chill out a bit, but for now I'm really enjoying exploring the dark side.

In two weeks I leave for two months of travel through South East Asia. Ill be bringing along a camera, one flash, and one light modifier. I will be taking portraits of many I encounter, to try and tell a small part their story using portraiture. I'm extremely excited since personal projects are always the most fulfilling. I am taking these 2 months because I vowed to myself that I would always work to live, not the other way around. So every year I aim to take 1-2 months to travel and experience the world. Without that, this lifestyle we lead in North America, with all it's trappings, can serve to box one in mentally and you tend to see the world through a very narrow set of glasses. I notice it most when I come back home from travelling and spend time with my friends, and less and less the longer I've been home. That latter part is the part that scares me.

So I depart to explore part of the world. To paraphrase the editors of my favourite publication, National Geographic, the truth about exploring is that while it can be as close as your own back yard it can also be profoundly life affirming.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Lessons in headshots... and rants. Mostly rants.

In my quest to dabble in every type of photography; to understand different aspects of and approaches to lighting and composition, I am now engaged in headshot photography. Why? Good question. Our film industry in Vancouver is wilting and heading to Toronto, we are in a recession, and broke actors are not about to shell out for an unproven photog. So I'll put together a portfolio, on the cheap. If I get good, the money will follow.

I quickly encountered my pet peeve: flaky people. I setup a doozy of a shoot with 4 men and 4 women in one day. The goal, to develop a consistent and effective portfolio. One of my early influences being Peter Hurley. I think he gets it. The highest paid headshot photographers in Van generally have dreamy, over-makeuped, over photoshopped images. A casting agent wants to know what you as an actor will look like walking into their audition, not what they will look like in a scene from The Chronicles of Narnia or Lord of the Rings. In my opinion it should be naked, just the talent, their expression, and the camera. All other peripherals are erroneous. We are interested in the person, the mind behind the eyes. The film production team will then imagine them in the role they have, we don't need to impose a role on them.

Oh yeah... flaky people. I had a hair and makeup artist was stoked to work on the project and to have it for her portfolio. Until she got offered money for another shoot. So she pulled out and 9 people had to re-arrange their lives so she could make $100. While bitching, my girlfriend said: "fair enough" and I was inclined to agree, but it irked the professional in me. There are a million photographers just like me out there and there are a million models, hair stylists, and makeup artists out there. None of us are making any money. So how do we set ourselves apart? By being absolutely indispensable to the people who may hire us, regardless of the compensation. Because a career is bigger than any one shoot or any one relationship. It is a professional persona, separate from your personal self, that exists in a very small and fickle community. We must be technically impeachable, passionate, personable, available, hard working, and most of all reliable. I would not hire someone for $200 a day if I knew there was a chance that she will pull out last minute because she was offered $250 the same day elsewhere. Nor would I ever work again with someone who has shown they will put their own meagre personal gain ahead of an entire creative team working towards a purpose. To be fair this rant comes at the end of a laundry list of models etc. who have pulled the same shit. Such is life before you get off the ground and separate yourself from the overnight industry participants who will be gone tomorrow. The irony is that I later realized she flaked to work on a promo shoot for two good musician friends of mine. I had to laugh.

So I had no shoot for the women but I was going to shoot the guys and make the best of it. Then the day I was going to email and schedule the guys I cut my arm open very badly while demolishing a tile shower and had to get stitches. I was released just in time to head to my music gig that night.

Now for every 25th flaky person, there is one person who really gets it and is a complete joy to work with. There are two people I will count among them thus far. The first is Rhi Yee who also has another port HERE. She has pulled double duty for me before as both a model and hair stylist, and she's a sea of calm in the frenzy of a shoot. The second is Joshua Genkai. He was on me to shoot a headshot and  was the one person who followed through on being available for the shoot and showed up as planned. He's a young soccer player from France of congolese parents who is now modelling and acting. He works great in front of the camera and took direction perfectly.

I wanted to rim light him, and have a large soft box as a main light and have a dedicated background light. The rim light was both for dimension and to accentuate his great symmetry. Alas, I have but 3 lights. So I moved the rim lights back closer to the background and there was a bit of spill onto Joshua which provided a softer, more pleasing rim. The main light was at 45 degrees over his head, straight in front and a reflector sat at his waist on a stool. I wanted more light under his chin but we always want what we can't have. I also wanted 10ft high ceilings for my boom stand but I was in my apartment's living room.

Here is the first shot I've retouched from the shoot.

Monday, December 19, 2011

You wish your 3 year old was this rad.

There are two kinds of parents in this world: the kind of parents who will dress their 3 year old like a rock star, complete with smokes and booze, for a photo shoot as a Christmas present for Dad, and the other, lame parents.

My friend Rich had this concept for a shoot the second he bought this little Marshall practice amp that looks like a full size Marshall stack. His friend Kate wanted some pics of her 3 year old for Dad for Christmas; and thus the shoot was born.

I shot it with one soft box dedicated to the amp which also served as a rim light for our model Jackson. The second soft box was set up as the main light for Jackson. I got the opportunity to take 1 shot before Jackson had a meltdown because he hated the wig. After about 20 minutes of scream-crying and no progress made he agreed to shoot without the wig and hat and magically LOVED having his picture taken. What an artist...

It was all going really well until I suggested we give him a couple shots of Jack to loosen him up and try the wig again. Hence the last picture. We called the shoot.

(Kidding. No 3 year olds were intoxicated in the making of these photos.)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Cutie Pie Wax Bar Round 3

My good friend Lindsay at the Cutie Pie Wax Bar has been loving the Vajazzle shoots we've done. More importantly her clients are loving them and there's actually a buzz happening on the North Shore around Vajazzling. Never considered having glitter and Swarovski crystals placed on, around, or near your nether regions? It's time!
So here is round three which features some seasonal Christmas vajazzle stencils. The entire photo collection is now featured in a coffee table "look book" available in both the Cutie Pie reception area, and my apartment!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Tall Tree Festival video is finally here!

I've never been so stoked to be involved in a project. It combines all of my passions including my newest passion... videography. This is's video from the Tall Tree festival in Port Renfrew, BC. Mark Zealand, our host and editor spent over 50 hours on this with no budget. He's created some magic here.
Quite a few of the clips in there are mine... they're the shaky hand-held shots :).

This festival blew me away... tiny, relatively unknown, but the best experience I have had to date at a festival. 1200 ppl on top of a clearing overlooking the town of Port Renfrew, with all proceeds going to save a local old-growth forest known as Avatar Grove.