Rock, Paper, Shotgun

taken with my trusty iphone

Usually I am faced with the same recurring two choices in my day to day life: dance or shoot photos? As you may already know, my default choice usually is to dance. It doesn’t really matter what situation it is to be perfectly honest. Walk by a great live band? Start dancing. Hear an awesome song at HMV? Swing outs. Being asked a question you do not have an answer for? Solo charleston. Awkward pause in the conversation? Flail arms wildly (aka wackin’).

The past year or so have seen the slight pause of my decision making process to ask myself if this would be a pristine opportunity to get some shooting time in. This decision is actually a lot easier to make because more often than not, I forget to commission my slaves to carry my behemoth of a camera to actually take a picture. Fifty percent of the time that I think I should probably take out my camera, I don’t actually have it with me (bad photographer I know) so that only leaves the other half with the possibility of actually doing something about it.

Now that I’m living in Montréal however, a surprisingly THIRD choice has sprung up – chill the eff out and enjoy myself. Maybe it’s the culture here rubbing off on me but I’ve been less inclined to flail around or be that guy sticking a huge lens in front of your face in Montréal. Don’t get me wrong, I still do those two things all the time, but having a third option has been… liberating?

Good thing I still have my iPhone though.

Had me with Starbucks

Quick story time. The Yonge & Bloor dance studio where I run my blues dances at doubles as a private high school during the day. The school mostly consists of korean high school students (on a tangent note… gam ja tang… you need to try it) here in Canada to study english and Nayoung (who owns the building) has been very accommodating in letting us dancers call the studio a home away from home. One day while geeking out on Facebook at the studio, in comes a meek korean girl asking if I can take photos of her art work. Of course being asked personally to take a photo of something is like asking me if you want to dance – the answer is always “YES” followed up by, “right now right?”. The korean girl was super thankful for the work I was doing and multiple times tried to offer me money. But this was one of Nayoung’s students, I didn’t want to take money from a sixteen year old girl for something that took literally only ten minutes to do. I politely declined.

Yesterday I stopped by the studio on my flier dropping off spree and Nayoung gave me a bag with a small gift from that korean girl. Included in it was this very funny note (at least to me) addressed to “photographer”. I had a flash back to the first time someone asked me what I do and I answered without embarrassment, “oh, I’m a dancer”. Am I a “real” photographer? I’m not quite sure yet but this is a step in the right direction. What is a “real” photographer anyway? Is it just getting paid for your work? A nice ending of this quick story, Nayoung also told me that the young korean girl got a scholarship to an art school based on her portfolio. Good on her. :)

Did I mention that the dance studio is above a Starbucks? I know right!

Look Ma, No Flash

Taylor's Band

So I’ve been experimenting around with taking photos is horrible light conditions the past couple of weeks. A typical scenario would either be [very low light + crazy neon strobes +fog machines] or [super low light, weird lamp bulbs in a corner of a room, sweaty room]. Worst. I know. The funny part was that a year ago I was all obsessed with being a “strobist” and attaching flashes to every crook a rubber band or clamp would allow. Now, it just seems like too much work to lug them around with me.

The picture above is of my co-worker, Taylor, and his band Tea and Coffee. They headlined last night at Rancho Relaxo, which is what you would call a more intimate venue than most rock bars in Toronto. My SB900 flash would have not only blinded the band, but most likely the entire crowd as well (note: yes I still don’t know how to dial down ;). Click here for a higher res photo sample.

View from Section 126

Had a blast at the Toronto FC game last night with my co-workers and Kevin “Fats” Temple. I got hassled a bit by the security in regards to bringing my camera to BMO field – had to explain that the lens I brought did not exceed the limit of 85mm. Yes, my camera looks like a model tank replica with molded refined rubber but no where on the field guidelines does it say that the camera must fit your pocket (or even a large bowling bag). Tried not to spill beer on my camera, or at the very least, not get face paint on the view finder.

Chad Barrett scores the game winner.