Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Travel Crazyness

Hope everyone is doing well.

Colleagues and other photographers often comment on how lucky I am to get to travel and working in other cities.

(breakfast in YEG and checking out my maps for the following 48hrs)

It goes without saying that when you have a job that takes you somewhere cool and the budget allows for 5-7 days then yes it’s a very pleasurable experience.

However more often than not, time and budget are very real factors one has to consider. Or you often need to make a hasty return home to shoot another project.

(god I hope my gear arrives) 

I recently booked two shoots in Vancouver and Ladysmith BC on Vancouver Island for Canadian Wildlife Magazine.  Sounded like a nice trip, but in reality it turned into a rush job with little breathing room. You see editorial budgets are not huge so you have to factor in the time it takes to shoot the project.

(this is Otto, hes my first subject) 

This is a very common situation I am faced with. Here is what the past 48hrs looked like.

May 24
530am - wake up
6am - leave for airport
630am – arrive at YEG and get into argument with WestJet employee about carry on weight allowance
730am - Quiznos turkey sub and Starbucks espresso – healthy breakfast.
930am - arrive Vancouver proceed to BC Ferry to double check my reservation for May 25morning because BC Ferry’s automated phone system sucks.
11am - Depart BC ferry and proceed to Otto’s house (My first subject)
1pm - Arrive at Otto’s house (my first subject)
3pm – Leave Otto’s house, download, edit and respond to emails.
6pm – Eat at my favorite Sushi Place.
7pm – Get home, watch the hockey game and go to bed.

(downloading before dinner) 

(sushi at one of my favourite spots, this cost 6$)

May 25
530am – Wake up, shower leave for the Ferry
630am – Arrive at Ferry on hour before departure, sleep in car.
(view from the Ferry... moments before I fell a sleep) 

745am – Pull my car onto the ferry departing for Nanaimo and sleep for the 2hr ride.
10am – Arrive in Nanaimo and drive to Ladysmith to meet my Subjects
11am – Hook up with subjects and head down to bog for the shoot

(making my subjects wade through the creek)

130pm – Finish shoot with subjects and head around town for some food and for some pick up shots.

(Ladysmith Pick up shot)

(Ladysmith Pick up shot)

230pm – Haul ass back to Ferry to make it on in time because if I miss it I miss my flight.
330pm - Pull on to Ferry, download, edit and sleep.
550pm – Arrive in Vancouver head directly to the airport.
730pm  – All checked in, waiting for my flight, at the Bar, with Honey brown Ale, writing this post.

May 26
11am - I have a shoot in studio, then another shoot for Graham Construction at 3pm.

If you enjoyed this, next week Ill be in Ottawa Ontario and heading up to Val Dor Quebec to shoot in a gold mine. 5.5 hrs driving each way. I promise to do a post on that as well.  

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Locations complete the look

Shooting musicians is always fun. Especially when they have a specific look.

The other day I shot Dan Smith, a guitar player. He had such a rad look, and I loved the jacket he came wearing. We came up with the idea to shoot Dan in an urban setting. Which I think fit the look and feel.

The night before I was scouting for a rural location for another commercial shoot I have coming up, and I stumbled upon this acreage with this old 1930's trailer on it. The old trailer had such character that I thought it would provide such a great backdrop for a rock musician.

The problem is that I was scouting at 9:30pm and didn't want to roll up to the house and ask for permission to shoot there the following afternoon.

The following day I ended up wrapping up the shoot with Dan when I told him about this location and didn't really have permission or anything but if he wanted to travel there and see if we could shoot then I was game. Nat who was assisting and has produce several of my shoots was game too... understandably given her thoughts of the idea was that its "better to beg for forgiveness then ask for permission."

We ended up rolling into the acreage and taking with the home owner. She had no problem with us shooting, but she was curious as to why would we want to shoot "that old thing" anyways we did, and I love the collection.



Wednesday, May 18, 2011

This is Sidney, shot in studio, and on location.

 Here's a bizarre story.

Sid's beginning her career as a realtor for Adam Dirksen. So Adam hired me to shoot her for her new ad materials. Sid showed up, sat in and we began shooting... naturally in a portrait session we started chatting, realizing only much later that we had worked together 3 weeks earlier on a medium cap advertising campaign.

Sid was one of the models on the 2011 Hudson's Tap House advertising campaign I shot that will span across Western Canada.

What was bizarre is that I had no idea who she was when she showed up nor did she recognize me.

It happens a lot when I'm shooting. I am so focused on getting a photograph for my art director that I have little or no time to interact with the subjects of a personal level, so It's just a blur...

What didn't help was that the 2011 Hudson's campaign was shot with the 200mm 2.0. The 2.0 is a kick ass lens but you need I basically just hid behind it, and had my assistant translate my direction to the talent... one of which was Sidney.

I had just flew in that morning from Vancouver, hauled ass to the Grant MacEwan University for 1pm to teach my studio class, then hauled ass to Hudson's Tap House for 5:30 to shoot the campaign, so when we were wrapped, I was bagged and ended up taking off pretty quick, not taking a lot of time to chat with all of the talent we were using.

Because of my horrific short term memory I am terrible with names, so I ended up giving the girls for the Hudson's shoot fun nick names; Its lightens the mood and makes people laugh... "blond", "stripes", " Thoroughbred"... So often I don't really end up knowing the real names of the talent...

I thought I would post these because I really dig the look of these portraits

AMA and yummmmyyy Food.

For the past few years I have been commissioned to photograph the membership guide of the Alberta Medical Association. It's quite an enjoyable project to shoot and I look forward to it every year. I get a chance to work with an experienced art director and for a client who allows me to pretty much shoot what I want.

My direction changes from year to year. I end up shooting one year with hard light, the other with soft light, sometimes with tungsten while other with strobe. I want to keep the look fresh and modern.

The biggest challenge is shooting the Executive group photo. Everyone is very nice, but I'm just not a group photo shooter, so I have to plan carefully and in advance to ensure we get a shot that works.

This series was shot with Elinchrom ranger strobes, gelled with half cut CTO gels to warm up the photographs. I used soft boxes on every image, with no back light. I wanted the images to have an organic look to them.

I also shot handheld, with my Canon 1ds MARK 3 and mostly on my 85mm 1.2. The biggest challenge is that my art director really wants clean backgrounds, so I always have to keep wide eyes, and ensure there are no stray things lying around.

I just shot food for a Greek restaurant called Koutouki, which was featured on a TV series called "Family Restaurant". I will post more next week here is a teaser.


Sunday, May 1, 2011

More Technical Detail

Hope all is well with everyone.
I am going to post a few images from shoots that show a diverse discipline range. I am going to revert back to what I did in the past and discribe my shooting techniques and tech details with every image I post.
In this post you will see some Food photography from Century Hospitality, A story on Air Travel in Denver CO, Commercial Hair Product Packaging photos from Eveline Charles Salons, a stock image purchased from me for travel story on Egypt and interiors for Vons Steak House.

Add caption
This image was shot on seamless.... I used 4 lights, and a reflector. My client wanted to see the "shine" on the girls hair that the product produced. So I went with hard light. No beauty dish here. Just standard reflectors on my Elinchrom ranger heads.

Same set up as the image above.

The creative for this Air Travel sotry was simply Glam images of airplanes. So all I really needed was access... thats what the biggest challenge was... So I armed myself with various telephotos and a bunch of granola bars and went to work.

Food...... 14 dishes in 3 hrs. We ended up shooting on white to ensure the food would POP. I wanted to food to have a sense of grandeur.... So I ended up shooting low angles and tight.

I also didnt want to shoot that shallow depth of field look that almost every cook book looks like today. Its not that I dont like the shallow DOP look, infact I shoot it alot, but in this case I wanted something that had some "pop"
Vons is a steak house... so to me it said "warm" interiors. On this particular photo, I shot metering on the ambient light on the window and used a large Elinchrom Octa-bank to fill the scene. I ended up dodging the VONS carpet in post to make it pop a bit. I ended up using the ranger packs because I hate dragging around power cords when shooting interiors.

I often get emails from magazines wondering if I have any stock of specific countries to stories they are running. So rather than sending someone to say Egypt to shoot, editors often contact photographers who have worked in that country and see of they have any one off stock images they can purchase.

People often think that istock is a good option, but its really a big nono for editors. The main reason is that same image can be used the next day for any possible use. When I usually am contacted its to purchase and image for a 3month period.

This was the case when I was asked by an editor I know quite well. He specifically wanted a photograph of the Sphinx... but he wanted it from a different perspective, and not the traditional view. I send him my contact sheets and he choose this one. Shooting this was like most of my travel. Natural light, most likely a 24-70 on the 1DsMARK3. Probably at ISO 800.
Hope you enjoyed this post!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Random Ramble

Its 1am, and I really should be hitting the sack as I have a full day of post tomorrow. I need to complete a shoot for Zag creative, Avenue Magazine, Defense Contractors of Canada and West Edmonton Mall.

I am also working on my art gallery in my new home, and that seems to be taking a little more time than originally planned. Anyways, like I was saying I should be heading down for the night, but I just popped is JAWS 3.

I was in Best Buy on Friday and passed across a DVD bargain bin, with movies like RepoMen, Young Guns, a plethora of Steven Segal films and one last copy of JAWS 3. I also picked up The 1956 classic film “The 10 Commandments” with Charleston Heston. I haven’t quite mustered up the time to watch a 3hr and 40 minute epic film, but I hope to sometime in the next few weeks. 

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Cabo San Lucas and Toronto TTC

I really wish I had more time to blog about recent shoots, but I have been all across Canada shooting... coupled with moving into my new place.

Its not just the move, but I decided to completely changing the style and furnishings for my new place. I used to have an organic wood furniture with and warm tones... but i just got tired to the builder beige and warm style furniture.

So with my new place I went with grey walls everywhere and white trim. An angular black leather Barcelona sectional and modern arm chairs are pretty much as sharp contrast as one can get to my beige fiber couch and brown suede bucket chairs.

Everything is being changed, kitchen table, dining table, chairs, art, sofas, chairs, couches, stools, bathroom decor, home office, carpets, area rugs, tv stand, lighting fixtures... alot of work.

Anyways this little makeover has really consumed almost every passing moment of my free time.

I really appreciate all the "hey whats up Curtis? Where are the new blog posts?" emails I have been receiving, so I wanted to quickly post these photos.

Here are a few travel images I shot 3 weeks ago from a week long commission in Cabo San Lucas as well as a few images I shot in Toronto last week of the TTC and Yorktown mall for Pattison Outdoor.