November 30, 2008

Interesting You Say??

Yes, very interesting weekend.

There was the Ten Thousand Villages Christmas Festival all weekend at the Harbourfront Centre in Toronto (shame on you for not going! I don't care what your excuse is!)

Okay, well unless that is your dad played with the puppy and is now suffering from injuries mostly seen in young pro-athletes. Ha ha...poor dad.

Spent the majority of today sitting with dad in the hospital getting his leg looked at and wrapped up in a temporary cast. We went for the traditional crap I hurt my leg celebratory meal.. McDonalds drive through. This time however it was not marked with the hilarious statement "Oh, sorry for keeping you waiting!" uh...but I'm off my point and that's a story for another time.

So volunteering for stuff can be extremely tiring. You're up early, you put in a lot of effort, and you do the "happy networking face" even though you're dead tired for a few days solid, and is often the end result of using said "happy networking face" you get some "happy networking face results".

This is what I'm trying to get at. Had a lot of AMAZING conversations with people this weekend about my passions: language, writing, publishing and PHOTOGRAPHY!

Some interesting opportunities have presented themselves in the publishing area...although this one I'm a little hesitant to go's politicky, and maybe not the politicky that I'm okay with. But we'll see.

The photography opportunities are really really exciting though! A friend of a friend would like me to shoot some pics for their body building portfolio...OOhhhh so cool! Earlier this year, this guy won either first or second place at a competition my photographer friend was shooting one of his friends at...weird hey? Regardless, the ideas are percolating through this messy brain of mine. Potential shoot date of next weekish sometime.

The second photography opportunity is with a girl/young woman that attends the youth group I've been heavily involved with for the past five years. She goes to an arts high school and loves photography herself and had mentioned to me how fun it would be to do some shooting with me. So on Friday night when I saw her we sat down and had a quick chat about my ideas for doing a shoot real soon at my new offices.

SHE LOVED IT! So either next week, or another time real soon, she's going to come over after work and we're going to play! Can't wait!!

I also can't wait to share the results with all of you!!

More soon...

November 28, 2008

Ten Thousand Villages Christmas Festival

So this weekend I'm helping run the annual Ten Thousand Villages Christmas Festival in Toronto at the Harbourfront Centre (235 Queen's Quay W).

This is a GREAT event and since volunteering to help with setup last night I've found I'm already in a much more Christmasy mood.

There are several reasons I'm blogging about this event.

1. I'm the volunteer publicity co-ordinator for the event this yeah.. I better be marketing my own shindig!

2. I took some pretty awesome pictures of the setup night last night (see below).

3. You should seriously consider getting your Christmas shopping done before December 1st...cuz then you can enjoy spiked egg nog, chestnuts roasting on an open fire, the Colbert Report Christmas Special on Sunday night, decorating your house, sleeping, eating, breathing, not fighting with the crowds to do your shopping, and just in general having a better Christmas sesason doing Christmas things.

4. The money spent on your Christmas gifts at the Ten Thousand Villages Christmas Festival goes to help people all over the world earn a fair wage. A wage that helps them buy food, build a house, send their children to school, have clean drinking water in their village, seeds for crops so they can sustainably feed their families... you know...those things that we take for granted on a day to day basis.

5. You get to give twice. Once to your loved ones and then again to the artisan.

6. In an age where Christmas has become so commercialized it's nice to be connected to something that isn't really about profits and the latest marketing scheme. Yeah, that's right, Ten Thousand Villages is NOT-FOR-PROFIT (take that GAP and Old Navy with your slick ad campaigns!)

Anyways, enough of the jibba jabba... If you want to find out more check out the Festival's website or hit up Ten Thousand Village's page for more info about who they are and what they're about.

More soon...

November 26, 2008

Lessons I've Learned

Okay, I thought I would continue the lessons learned part of my last post on another day, but I'm feeling like I need to wrap a few things up in the next few weeks before the next stage begins and so I'll post them now. (Yes, I'm being deliberately cryptic :D).

Further things that I learned in the last year:
-To stop saying "One day I will ______" and just start doing ______;
-That practice may make perfect but sometimes perfection is elusive;
-Digital allows you to make mistakes over and over and over again until you figure out the right way to do it;
-Film is so underrated;
-Patience may be a virtue but I love getting results now;
-When you love a hobby you don't care how much time you spend obsessing over it;
-That it helps to have charged batteries when taking pictures;
-That it also helps to have empty memory cards when trying to take pictures;
-Flickr can become a great way to get praise: "Love my photo! Please tell me it's as great as I think it is! Hello? Anyone?"
-You can have more photography related magazines than you have time to read and still keep getting more;
-Suddenly you critique every picture ever made right down to the ISO, how the model did or didn't flex her foot, or the post work on her left eyebrow;
-Although I've never met them, I have weekly meetings with Kelby, Hobby, McNally, Prihoda, Talkington, Jarvis, Laforet and Ziser;
-Being nervous as hell is okay, just remind yourself that you know what you're doing;
-Making mistakes is all part of learning. Keep screwing up, you'll keep growing;
-Lens envy is a very easy disease to catch;
-So is camera envy;

But most importantly I've learned to shoot what I love.

More soon...

November 25, 2008

My Story

So the story goes like this.

I've always taken pictures, not usually of people or friends, but whenever I would go somewhere I was out taking pictures of the places, the architecture, the things I saw, what was happening around me. My parents would often comment "Weren't there other people there with you?"

I can recall going to an art festival at the cottage one year, and seeing these awesome black and white photos of trees in the mist. "Very cool," I thought, "but I could take that same picture, if I had a good camera;" and that's where I'd always left it.

One day at work a really nice camera arrived. I was super jealous of this really nice camera, but really excited because now I had access to a really nice camera on evenings and weekends. I would beg and borrow this camera drag it along to places when I could and even had the chance to do some really wicked shoots for work with it. But it just wasn't the same as having my own.

Then in March of this year, a few areas of my life all met roadblocks. I was looking for a creative outlet and had been joining a friend on several photowalks around the city while he worked on his photo-a-day project and then it hit me: "Put up or shut up!" I told myself.

I called my friend to meet me for lunch and to help me pick out my new camera. Linda, as she would later be called, came in a bright gold box that said D80 on the side. It was the happiest day of my life! Uhm err...okay probably not THE happiest day of my life, but it was pretty darn exciting.

This has led to many really awesome photography experiences over the last year.

I've shot:
-Zombies looking for brains downtown Toronto
-Hundreds of people bashing others with pillows
-An air race in Windsor
-A wedding
-The youth group I volunteer with on a retreat
-An independent fashion show
-A Soling regatta in Kingston, ON
-An auto show
-Friends and family for fun, Christmas cards and websites
-LOTS of architecture

I've learned:
-How to use my camera's light meter (haha)
-How to make a stick-in-a-can
-How to use studio lights
-How to get my flash off camera
-What bokeh is...and that out of focus does not equal bokeh
-How to obsess over every magazine, book and new product on the subject
-How to spend more money on photography gear in my mind then in reality
-That Starbucks sleeves make for fabulously cheap snoots
-That it doesn't matter how expensive your camera is or how many megapixels it has, you can still make beautiful photography.
-That any light source really counts as "natural" light...cuz it's still light right?
-While shooting movement, triple tapping your shutter usually brings something cool and unexpected on the second or third frame.

I've learned a lot more than that...and maybe that's another post for another time.

More soon...

Eric's Portraits

My friend Eric is a graphic designer. He asked me to shoot some portraits of him for his new website. So I surprised him one sunny November day and took him to High Park in Toronto an hour before the start of magic hour.

Was really frustrated with my SB-600. Shot with it bouncing into an umbrella but the Creative Lighting System (CLS) wouldn't allow me to shoot from all the angles I wanted to. This is twice that this has happened now and it's rather frustrating to feel constrained by your lighting system.

One of my favourite shots from that day! The SB-600 bounced finally agreed to let me shoot from an angle that turned out to be pretty wicked!

Eric having a good chuckle. He's got this great robust laugh. :)

More soon...

Moving the World?

In the middle of having a photography conversation with a friend, I realized that I hit the nail on the head.

"I don't want to take schmulzy wedding photos and portraits," I told him. I really want to take photos that cause people to rethink the world or make them uncomfortable."

And I guess that's really the crux of it. I want to show you the world, or my version of the world in a way that you've never seen it before, or thought of it before. I want to shake you up, cause you to question things, or re-examine what you know as truth.

How I go about achieving that is another matter....

November 24, 2008


It's amazing how much this area of "creativity" is actually about planning.

Planning what equipment to purchase, and where to purchase it from;
Planning your next photoshoot and the ideas behind it;
Planning how you're going to setup your new studio (and what shade of white to paint it);
Planning how many metal CD containers you're going to need to send your DVDs to people in;
Planning how you're going to make money in this mad mad mad world of photography;
Planning how your going to achieve a photographic look and style that's different and unique from all the others....

It just never seems to end!

One thing is for certain in all of this planning...there are some calculated financial risks that need to be made, and there are some strategic risks.

I've been a lucky duck lately and stumbled on some gently used photo gear: umbrella, flash stand, modelling light, felt backdrops....But I'm at a crossroads right now. I want bigger lights. Don't get me wrong, small lights are great, but I want the octabanks, the strip lights, the grids. I want to light something with 9 big lights in a massive warehouse. Sighhh...I don't gots the money for 9 big lights in a massive warehouse.

So, the calculated financial risk stems from this. I swore up and down, left and right that after I purchased my fitty 1.8 I would only buy more camera gear from the profits of any photo sales that I made. Yeah...I'm starting to think that I may have to purchase an Elinchrom kit that I've been eyeing lately. Oh, and did I mention the backdrop stands I've been eyeing? And now that I mention it....the 85 1.8 would make a perfect indoor portrait I right?

See? It's never ending. Either I need to start setting up more photo shoots with people I know, go out of pockets for models, or start selling something somehow. If I work with what I've got, is it really what I want to achieve? Is it really my photographic vision?

Not sure yet.

More soon...

Another Photography Blog?

Yeah, great...just what the world needs right? Another photography blog...cuz there's just not enough out there already. Alright so I'm not looking to make a big impact on the photographic world or to change the way anyone thinks about any of this sort of stuff, but sometimes it pays to have a place to share your musings about this lens, camera, chimping thing.

I'm hoping in the next year to see some more improvement in my picture making skills, which I'm sure there will be. I'm also hoping in the next year to have one or two paying photography gigs...fingers crossed on that one.

So really I want this blog to be about sharing my latest photographic discoveries and musings, my latest projects and what keeps me picking up my camera on a regular basis.

There are some other things in the works, but I'm just not ready to share any of that quite yet.

More later...