Bartender Fred

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Earlier this week I shot a portraiture of Fred for his upcoming Bols Bartending Championship competition in Amsterdam. Shooting inside bars is always an exercise of light management and this shoot was no different. Warm lamps and various coloured track lights that are usually embedded throughout the main bartender areas to draw focus of patrons to the shiny drinks end up being little puzzles for me to solve. Do I leave them on and have a bit of colour ambiance to the picture or turn them off and have a more neutral but consistent picture? For this shoot, I decided to shoot with the ambient lights on and to also shoot lightweight – by not bringing external strobes. This allowed me a faster turnaround in the shoot and use that extra time to do what I consider the best part of shooting bartenders – drinking the free showcase mixes! Thanks Fred!

UPDATE: Fred made it to the finals!

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Funky Locker at Bust-A-Move 2014

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Some days I really miss locking and my friends in the funk scene, especially when I see dancers like this dude tearing it up at Bust-A-Move in Montréal. I fell in love with this style of dance, and really the combination of athleticism and personal expression when I was first starting to learn solo dancing at Harbour Dance Centre in Vancouver. Those days seem so long ago but when I see a dancer coming in to a dance competition with a costume that is a cross between Raiden and a mime, I’m instantly teleported back to my memories of those crazy times.

Soft Light and Baby Baskets

What's that over there?

Last week I shot my first baby portraiture and wouldn’t you have guessed… the baby didn’t explode into a million pieces! *achievement unlocked*!

Truth, when I first got the request to shoot baby Jane, I was a bit nervous. I’m fairly positive that my home insurance wouldn’t cover exploding babies as a workplace accident. Babies smell fear and uncertainty. Or so I’ve been told. So overcoming those feelings of uncertainty for me is about being overly-prepared.

To make sure I had my chops ready for the day, I shot various test shots and lighting setups with my trusty angry bird plush doll (which is a bit bigger than the actual baby) and settled upon a beauty dish acting as a big softbox (with the cloth diffuser) and a second light to separate the subject from the white background. For the overhead shots, it was a bit easier. I simply moved the main light slightly overhead and turned off the second light.

All in all I’m pretty happy with the results of the shoot. A nice baby basket & blanket, some well positioned soft lighting, and an adorable little baby and you got yourself a quick and fun portraiture set.

The lighting setup:

Baby Jane Light Setup

Mimi Honey

Mimi Honey

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Last week it was negative fourty degrees celcius here in Montréal so I did what most Canadians do and headed down south. However, I only went a little bit south-west and ended up in Toronto. At least, negative ten is a lot better than negative fourty! I had a lot of fun editing this quick portraiture of Myriam at the Distillery District in Toronto and used fun nice pastel photoshop actions to make the scene feel a little less like a Canadian winter. What was interesting in the editing process was figuring out how to diffuse the background without losing the colour tones of her clothing, hair and skin. I ended up doing painting her out with a colour mask to separate the background a bit more and just a touch of sharpness. Check out the little catch light glint in her eyes :-P

Bessie Smith the Cat

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As a freelance dancer and photographer, some days just waking up and starting work in the morning is a big accomplishment on its own. It’s very easy to just sleep in and let the morning slide on by. As independent workers know, that’s a bad rabbit hole to follow – unless of course you like sleeping all day and working all night. In my house however, my two cats (Frankie and Bessie) has got stuff to do in the morning (work? who knows?) and wants to be let outside to go about their day. This has led to some fairly annoying mornings of being woken up by cat meows but today Bessie just wanted to hang out with me in the kitchen table. Using my trusty 50mm, I positioned my camera so it’s angled looking down into Bessie and the camera gods must have been looking after me today because Bessie didn’t move an inch.

A fun photo of my kitty that I like that took 3 seconds to take.

Quick Thought on Curating

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How do you strike a balance between your signal and your noise?

I’ve been thinking a lot these days of curating my photography before posting them up on social media sites like Facebook, and to even more to an extent, on Hamfats.ca. I like to think in my own head that describing the process for choosing which photos to showcase and which photos is akin to black magic or alchemy – it doesn’t make any sense but in our imagination it does. It’s a constant balancing act of trying to find the right ingredients to catch people’s eyes or just saying fuck it and run with what I’ve got.

In the world of independent artists (read: our income depends on constant lead generation), people’s attention is a finite resource that must be smartly used. We all have those friends that constantly just post things non-stop (whether that is about dancing or another art) that their voice just becomes noise. At the same time, there is a need to show our progress and work to the world due to genuine excitement for our own progress as artists. Hmm…