Women at Large 2018

The other day my friend Lisa invited me to photograph an event called Women at Large. The event was an annual pageant competition where 12 women and an alternate were selected to participate in a calendar photo shoot which is to be held at the world-famous Hedonism resort in Negril, Jamaica.

That day I left my house with no expectations, which is probably the best way when taking pictures at an event. The even was held at the Montecassino Hotel and Event Centre . The building was teeming with energy as there was a DJ, a bar and some vendors selling various goods and services. Most importantly, family and friends came out to show their support for the contestants. They brought their signs and their louse cheers. Someone even brought an air horn.

The first round of the pageant was the introduction of the contestants. I don’t know how many women entered but the organization narrowed it down to approximately 35 women from all walks of life and of all shapes and sizes. The one thing about Canada and specifically Toronto, is our diversity. It was great to see that Women at Large was really trying to challenge the notion of what beauty should look like. It can be anyone under the sun.

First round women in white T-shirts and blue jeans
Round 1
Reina Rose walking down the catwalk
Showing her stuff down the catwalk
Woman at Large in all white
Strike a pose
Women at Large round 1 women in white shirts and blue jeans
This is just the intro.

The second round of the pageant was the evening gown segment and Lisa did not disappoint. She looked regal in her blue sequins dress. I have known Lisa for approximately a year and a half and I’ve seen tremendous growth in her personally and professionally. I think her blue dress is emblematic of her future. Lisa is destined for greatness.

Reina Rose in blue sequin dress and tiara
She’s Royal
Blue Sequin dress
Intermission

Due to time constraints, the talent competition was shortened to a few contestants but they definitely brought the house down with their singing, dancing, poetry, fashion and a young lady that painted a portrait of Snoop Dogg upside down. I’m still baffled by how she did that.

There was a brief intermission and I managed to speak to Lisa briefly and she asked me if I’m having a good time to which I said “Yes” and she said, “Yeah right you’re just saying that”. But I was taking in the sights and sounds. She expressed to me how nervous she was and frankly, I couldn’t  blame her but she was doing so well for someone that’s never participated in anything like that before. I told her that I was proud of her but I think the nerves made my comment go in one ear and out of the next. Which I understood when you are so focused on doing everything correctly and you just want to get it over with.

Next was the much-anticipated swimsuit competition.  All of the ladies looked amazing. During the intermission, Lisa told me to look out for her and wanted me to take pictures of her swimsuit. I thought to myself, ” I’ll just move into the aisle so that way I won’t  have the back of someone’s head in my pictures.” What I didn’t anticipate however was her family coming to the aisle, holding signs to block my vantage point. Luckily, I was able to manoeuvre to the sides and got some images for her.

The next round was the final walk through to show all the contestants before it was time for the big vote. It went very quickly, but the crowd was in full force showing their support for their favourite contestant. As a photographer, catching those rare candid moments is what I love best. Unfortunately at the pageant I was unable to catch the final moments of when the winners were announced. That was the only part that I did not like. When they announced the winners, the contestants were backstage and not on the stage where everyone could see. I suppose it was an issue with space, but as a photographer, I would have loved to have seen their genuine reactions to hearing their names being called. Some winners were clear to me and some were a surprise. Not in the sense that they didn’t deserve to win, but I was surprised that some ladies did not win.

Coincidentally, I was sitting beside a man named Sven Frenzel who is a Still Photographer for film and television. He had me laughing the whole night. Sven told me that he liked how I approached people to take photos and said that he could tell that it came naturally to me. That was a huge compliment to me coming from someone who is an established professional photographer with 20 years of experience.

All and all, it was a fantastic experience. The stage lighting did present some challenges as there were some dark areas that created shadows but I would definitely go back next year if given the chance. I would like to thank my friend Lisa for having me there. I’m so proud of her.  The world is yours.

Past winners of the Men at Large and Women at Large. Red tuxedo jacket and lady in lady in a blue dress and tiara
King and Queen
Reina with family and friends holding signs
Family Support
winners of the Women at Large competition. 13 ladies holding trophies and swag bags
Congratulations to the women selected.
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You Win Some, You​ Lose Some

This past weekend I was taking photos at an event and I realized that my flash wasn’t working properly and I had a boat cruise to cover the following night so I went to Vistek and rented a Nikon SB-900 Speedlight.

The event went relatively smoothly and I thought to myself, “I gotta get me one of these” I went online on Kijiji.ca to see if I can find a used SB-900 as it is now discontinued. I found someone that had one but they were in Kitchener-Waterloo area. It wasn’t the most ideal scenario but desperate times call for desperate measures. I kept looking and I found a gentleman that was in Barrie, which is closer and had the flash for a lower price.

I had to follow up with some potential clients for photo shoots. So I emailed 3 of them and just my luck, all three made alternate plans. That really ruined my morning.

Photo of the collaborators for a bridal project
The Team (missing Malynne Maloney)
Nikon SB-900 with Nikon SLR Camera
Nikon SB-900

During the early afternoon, my friend and frequent collaborator Megan McDonald organized a bridal shoot with a team including a Makeup artist, hairstylist, videographer and models. We went to historic Main Street Unionville for the shoot. It was a beautiful day. I was in charge of the photos, while Shivani was heading the video portion of the project. Everything went well but I wasn’t in the best mood as the cancellations were on my mind as well as the thought that I was going to be late heading to Barrie because the shoot was running behind schedule.

After the shoot, I dropped the ladies back to the house and headed north to Barrie. The beginning of the trip was a lot of traffic but once I got outside of Markham it was a pretty smooth ride.

Once I got to my destination, I had a little trouble finding the gentleman that was selling me the flash but he was very understanding and helpful.

So with all that said, I didn’t have the best day but thankfully it was over and tomorrow is a new day.

First shoot of 2018

Real Estate headshots
First Headshot of 2018

Happy New Year everyone. I hope you all had a great holiday season. Mine was relatively quiet as usual. Had a nice family dinner with my parents and their family friend from back home in Jamaica. On boxing day, I went to Markville Mall and upgraded my phone, then I went to Pacific Mall to get a phone case. It was great because J was back home by 11:00am.

On New Year’s Eve, my friend Ricky of RyMedia referred me to take photos at The Vue for DJ Marxman’s Elite 2018 dinner and dance. The food was provided by Twilight and was so good that I had to take some home with me. I started at 7 pm and didn’t get to sleep until after 5 am so it was a very long night but I had a good time.

On Tuesday I received an email from a new real estate agent inquiring about headshots. My ears always perk up when I get contacted by someone asking for headshots as I know that these photos will represent not only them but also their business and company. Another key is it sets the motion for other opportunities and building a long-lasting relationship with that agent. I’m very lucky to have agents from Royal LePage Signature in Mississauga contact myself in Markham to take their photos when there are literally hundreds of portrait photographers between Markham and Mississauga that they can go to.

I was happy to have Sean as my first client of 2018. He was easy to work with and a great attitude to become a successful real estate agent. He’s originally from the London area and has a graphic art background so I think he had an understanding of what I do and I think the fact he’s was raised outside of the big city gives him the interpersonal skills that are key to thrive in the competitive real estate market. I wish Sean all the best in his new career and everyone all the best in 2018.

Cadillac 

There’s an establishment that I frequent in Mississauga on my downtime’s. One night I saw this beautiful sky blue Cadillac sitting in the front of the parking lot. I thought to myself, “Man, I’d love to do a shoot involving that car.” I went another night and the car was there again so I asked an employee if they knew the owner of the car and they said, “Yeah it’s the dude the booth over there. “ It’s funny because I’ve seen him many times before but I’ve never spoken to him. I told him that I loved his car and I’d love to do a photo shoot involving his car. Without hesitation, he wrote his name, number and the make and model of the car, 1980 Cadillac.
From going to that bar, I’ve befriended one of the bartenders there. I met her one night when the security guard said that “there’s a bartender that is requesting your services. “ I was confused because I never had any previous interaction with her. Even the bouncer, I was thinking “how did he know that I do photography?” Anyhow, she wanted to do a photo shoot but had no experience. Needless to say, everything went well and now, she always bugs me to do another photo shoot. Over time I’ve become close and oddly protective of her. I remember she liked a guy and I saw him and told him “I don’t know about that guy. You deserve better than him. Fortunately, she moved on and now she’s in a happy relationship.
In the summertime, I was asked to take party pictures for Wayne Warner. For those that know him, Warner is a Toronto party legend so I was super nervous to take pictures at his events. I saw two ladies and asked to take a photo of them. One said to me, “Warner never posts pictures of me”. I was thinking “Why not? You’re very pretty. “ We exchanged contact information and I told her that I would like to use her for a photo shoot involving an old Cadillac and she said she was down. YES!!
So I have the models, I have the car, now it’s to find the time where we are all available. It wasn’t until 3 months later where we were able to do the shoot. I originally wanted 2 models but one cancelled the morning of so I had to use only one.
The sun was going down pretty fast so I tried to work quickly using ambient light along with flash to make things pop. I was lucky to have my friend Malynne around to help me with styling and adjusting the light setup. Everything went well overall. We got some great shots, the only drawback is that I wish that we started to earlier in the day to take more advantage of the natural light.
Overall I’m pleased with how everything went and special thanks to Adil for not only providing the car but going the extra mile by showing me locations and offering to do things that I didn’t ask him to do and making sure everyone was comfortable. we were able to meet up.

Who got the Props

This weekend I went to the Eaton Centre to run some errands. A couple summers ago, my brother bought me a Swatch watch and last week I realised that the battery was dead so I went to get a new battery. I asked the clerk how much it cost to replace the battery and he took it and said, “Nothing. Free”. I was pleasantly surprised by that news.

Then I went over to Uniqlo to get a hoodie. Unfortunately, they didn’t have my size, but I  managed to get 2 shirts. So not a total loss.

I was feeling hungry so I was going to get a sushi burrito from Rolltation. As I was walking, I saw that Canadian Tire had a sale on some stuffed animals. I went inside and saw a bunch that I thought would be perfect for my friend’s son’s 1st birthday and maybe a prop for my home studio. The only problem was, that they were too big to carry around Downtown Toronto at the dawn of rush hour.

So I went the following day (Saturday) and got 2 animals, one for my studio and one for my friend’s son. As I was walking back to the subway, I noticed a lot of people

Shopping
Plush toys on Sale at Canadian Tire

looking at me. Kids eyes would light up and women would give me that “he’s so sweet” face. I have a feeling that they thought I had these toys to give to my Valentine since Valentine’s Day is coming up. But no it’s just a birthday present and a studio prop.

 

 

No Muslim Ban on Stolen Land

This weekend, I woke up on Saturday morning and turned on CP24 as I usually do to check the weather for the day. I saw that there was a rally scheduled outside the US Embassy so I automatically perked up and saw an opportunity to take photos.

I intended to take the TTC but I was afraid of being late so I drove downtown and walked to the protest location.

I was surprised at the vast number of people that attended of all walks of life that were all united against the US travel ban. There were members of Black Lives Matter, Leaders of the Chinese community, the Muslim community, a Holocaust survivor and others all united against Donald Trump’s foreign policies. I saw people of all races, sexual orientation, young and elderly all against the Travel Ban. The dissent that I have noticed in the last few weeks is definitely eye-opening, not just here in North America but worldwide. I watch TV sometimes and think “Is this really happening?” I see people on social media obsessed with selfies and filters on Snapchat and wonder if they are aware or care about the things happening around us. But I digress, everyone needs an escape and luckily for me, photography has become mine.

I hope you enjoy these images from Yesterdays Muslim Ban protest in Toronto

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