From Elementary School to the Wedding Proposal

Lately, I’ve been really busy editing photos and booking photo shoots for the next few weeks so I haven’t really been able to work on some of my plans for the holiday season. As I was wrapping up some wedding photos, I got a phone call from a number that I didn’t recognize.

The gentleman on the other end of the line mentioned that I took a photo of him at a previous event and asked if I can photograph a surprise proposal to his girlfriend. I thought to myself “Of course”. And to make it better, it was going to take place in my neighbourhood. Amazing.

A couple of days later, I received a phone call from that same number saying that he was going to go with a videographer instead of a photographer. I was disappointed but I understood his viewpoint and hey, it’s his moment, not mine.

I had a couple of events lined up to photograph on the weekend and I had thought to myself, “Maybe I’ll call him back and see if I can shoot a couple pics.” The video component is great, but with me taking pictures, I can give him and his lady almost instant results for images that they can post on their social media or email family and friends overseas.

I called him up and he agreed with me coming to cover his proposal so everything was back on. When I arrived, I saw that Joe the videographer from Fedora Films was all good to go and doing sound checks to make sure everything was perfect. I brought my old phone with me to do a brief video for my social media but I wasn’t able to connect my Bluetooth remote to it so I had to use my current phone. Everything was set, I did some metering so I knew the photos would be properly exposed so we were all set.

The lady of the hour arrived in her car and saw the love of her life and started laughing at what she saw, purple flower petals on the floor, music playing. Granted, I didn’t know these people but I could tell that there was definitely love between them just by her reaction to seeing him and listening to his wedding proposal speech. I had to move my tripod with my phone into a better position and more importantly, move myself to prepare for the big moment. As he was about to go on one knee, someone called my phone. My ringer was off, but it’s interrupting my video. I Hit “decline” frantically. So much so, that the tripod toppled over.  I got it back upright and managed to save the shot. You can view the video on my Instagram page @degreyphoto

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Everything turned out great, she said yes, I met a beautiful new couple and I’ve met a potential video partner for future projects. It was a cold, but a fabulous way to start my Sunday.

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2017 Christmas Party Recap

The end of last year was a been a bit slower than years past, but I still had events to photograph for the holiday season. I had one new client and a longtime client that I’ve been lucky to have been covering over the last few years.
The first party that I covered was a company called Onyx Fire which is a fire protection services company. I happen to have a friend that works for the company and lucky for me, they were looking for a photographer to cover their Christmas party. This was my first year covering this event but from what I’ve been told, the 2017 version took place at The Country Club in Woodbridge, ON. As the name suggests, it was a pristine venue equipped with all the amenities to handle such an event. And if you’re into golf like my Dad is, you know that ClubLink does everything top notch.

Now, I’ve covered many events for the Christmas holidays before, but I think this was the largest group that I had covered. It’s funny because whenever I see an Onyx Fire vehicle on the road, I always take a photo and text my friend about it but I underestimated how large the company was.  There was food galore. They actually had 3 different food stations. One with meat and vegetables, one with salads and sushi and one station for pasta. After everyone ate to their heart’s content, they removed the tables from the pasta station and opened up the dance floor with music being played by DJ Dom from DJ Emporium. Myself coming from the Hip-hop world, I’ve always admired DJ’s that play at corporate events because you have to have such a vast catalogue of music to satisfy both young and old and all music tastes. The key is to keep the dance floor busy and he did just that.

The second event that I covered was for Safebridge Financial. This was my third year taking photos at their Christmas party. I used to play rep baseball with one of the Executives of the company.  One day I was shooting a charity golf tournament and we ran into each other after a few years, he took my business card and said he would give me a call. Four years later, I’ve covered multiple events for Safebridge.

The latest Christmas party took place at the opulent Duncan House in North York. I was mesmerized by the decor and furnishings of the restaurant.  The building was built in 1865 and restored to house a fine dining steakhouse.  One thing that I know about my friend Chris is when it comes to his events is, they spare no expense. Especially when it comes to quality and class. Another thing about Chris that I’m always dumbfounded by is his public speaking ability without any notes. The previous event that I covered of theirs, I asked him if he knows what he’s going to say before he speaks or if it’s all off the top of his head. He told me that he has some ideas written but he’s no Jay-z of speeches.  I thought that was hilarious but I think that he is the Jay-z of public speaking.

One great thing that Safebridge does at their party is present their annual “Be Orange” award which is awarded to the person that best exemplifies an employee at Safebridge Financial. They gave the award to their executive assistant Paula and she was shocked and emotions took over her a couple of times. The food was phenomenal, the people were inspired and the party usually coincides with Chris’ birthday and this year they rented a bus to take them out for a night on the town after dinner. I wasn’t there for that part of the night, unfortunately, but it was a great evening and I look forward to next Christmas.

Bay Street Hoops 2017

I was honoured to be asked to be a photographer for a local charity basketball tournament at the University of Toronto called “Bay St. Hoops“. This is my second time covering this great charity and being a part of two things that I love, Photography and basketball.

When I did this event last year, I wasn’t really prepared since it was pretty last minute. Also, the tournament took place at 5 different ball courts and 3 different lighting conditions which made it a bit of a challenge. This year, I covered two days of the tournament and got used to the lighting and was more prepared and I think the photos from this year compared to last year show that.

What makes this tournament interesting to me is the skill level. You had novices in a division participating up to the highly competitive player that you can tell have experience playing at high levels competitively and are active ballplayers. Sometimes I would have to put down my camera and just watch because some of the games were captivating. I even covered a buzzer beater shot to win a critical semi-final game.

It was a tremendous event once again. This year was better than last year in my opinion and I bet it’ll only get better. I’ve met some amazing people over the two years that I’ve covered this event and some I still keep in contact with. Thanks to Desmond Rampersaud and Emma Truax for having me once again and I’ll see you next year.

Homes 4 Hope

Recently I was asked to photograph a great charity event that helps families in Africa. Fortunately for me, I have been very busy with other jobs and editing, but when Arlene, the wife of one of the founding members contacted me, I couldn’t say no.

The organization that I worked for is called Homes4Hope What they’re doing is amazing. They have partnered up with CBM   and Habitat for Humanity to provide homes to families in Africa for children living with disabilities.

What I love about this group is, they’re not just throwing money at a cause and going home to their comfy homes and their nice meals, they’re actually in these countries helping build homes themselves with their own two hands.

This past April they travelled to Malawi. I follow current events but I’d have to admit, that I don’t know a lot about Malawi. All I knew that it was somewhere in Africa. Well, I learned that 74% of the population is below the poverty line. The average GDP per capita is $220 compared to Canada which is $45,000. Many of us make $220 in a day. Just imagine $220 a YEAR. The people that Homes 4 Hope helped make about $5 per month and $3 of that goes to rent. Then imagine that you have a child with special needs on top of that? Truly heartbreaking as I write this on my computer with all the amenities that I can ask for.

But the people at Homes 4 Hope are making a difference 1 family at a time. Since they’ve started only a few years ago, they’ve raised $500,000 and improved the living conditions of over 40 families by building 40 homes.

I would like to thank Arlene Karram and the board members of Homes 4 Hope for inviting me to take photos and the wonderful staff at  The Broadview Hotel.For more information about this cause and to donate, please visit http://homes4hope.ca/

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New Families

Last weekend I had the pleasure of covering two events that celebrate life. First was a first birthday party. It’s always nice to cover kids parties because of the energy of the room. The ability of children to get along and play without prejudices or knowing each other beforehand always amazes me. It’s too bad adults don’t always do the same.

The birthday boy is too young to fully understand what’s going on, but he was in good spirits and stayed awake the whole time. I learned that he loves music and dancing. To me, two things I love with babies are listening to them laugh and watching them dance.

The second event I photographed was a baby shower. The way that people are excited to see the mommy to be’s belly and just the general feeling of love in the room is a great thing. What stood out to me about this shower was the chemistry between the parents to be. You can tell that their future daughter is going to have a lot of love around her. I was happy to be a part of it and best wishes to both families that asked me to capture milestones in their lives.DSC_8690DSC_8726DSC_8748DSC_8787DSC_8960-EditDSC_8982-Edit

What a Year!!

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Toronto Mayor John Tory
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Maternity
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Charity Event
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Vaughan Wedding

We’ve come to the close of another year. There has been a lot of eye opening moments this year. Not like there wasn’t notable moments in previous years but 2016 seemed to pile on everything at once.

As a professional photographer, I myself have had some ups and downs in 2016. One of the highlights as an event photographer was shooting an event where the keynote speaker was the mayor of Toronto John Tory. I’ve also managed to meet some great people over time and have been blessed to have the opportunity to work with them as well as past clients who have retained me to photograph their events. It’s a honour to do family photographs and watch my clients families grow and evolve.

In 2017 I would like to expand my headshot business. I’ve done photos of a few clients and I learn something new each time I photograph a professional looking to use something I’ve done to represent their personal brand.

Weddings is another field that I would like to expand as a photographer. 2016, I did less weddings than in 2015 but I think my comfort level and the quality of the photos have improved.

Everything boils down to growth and learning everyday. I think one of the biggest challenges I have as a creative is learning the behind the scenes aspect of the business. The admin work, the networking and customer service. Thanks to friends and websites like http://www.creativelive.com I am learning more as I go along.

I wish everyone a Happy New Year and all the best to you and your loved ones.