My last photoshoot of 2019 was kind of unexpected and last minute. I received an email from a woman that needed some photos for her marketing and promotion of her website. I’m always curious to know how new clients managed to find me but this one was surprising as she is related to my friend and colleague Deepak.
My initial thoughts to this email were, “Why didn’t she just call Deepak? He’s a photographer and he’s in your family.” But, he was out of town on a business trip and she was pressed for time and he referred me. So I am humbled that he would trust me to get the job done.
Cooks Who Feed is a not for profit organization dedicated to supporting women in India that live in poverty by giving them employment and the opportunity to feed their families. The purchase of one apron provides 100 meals. It’s such a great initiative. Please check out the Cooks Who Feed website for more information and support the cause.
The day of our shoot, it was snowing pretty heavily and to make matters worse, I live on the opposite side of town. Seema, who was the main subject of the shoot had a meeting to attend so I knew that time was limited and she had kids that she had to get ready for school. She told me some of her ideas and concepts and we did everything in about 45 minutes. I think what made it more impressive was maintaining composure while her husband was getting the kids ready for school. They got an A+ in Parenting 101 class.
The last 3 years, I’ve started off my year shooting on behalf of RyMedia, a party called Elite at The Vue with DJ’s Marxman and Fresh Cut De Mayor. I always have a great time and cherish their hospitality.
The first weekend of the year was going to be really busy for me. It was busy despite having an unfortunate cancellation, but you have to be able to adapt to different situations.
So, with the cancellation of the shoot scheduled for Saturday, I ended up setting up a studio session at Shvrk Studio with my friend Tarik. I met him at his surprise birthday party in which I was the photographer and we’ve kept in contact ever since. He’s a Kinesiology student at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, ON. He’s also an aspiring model so we met up and did a photoshoot and I’m hoping to get him into the annual Men at Large competition which is taking place in a few weeks. This was my 3rd time shooting at Shvrk Studio and they always take care of me, so I have no problem endorsing their space so fellow photographers and creatives, please check them out. I also had my friend Azi come along and she helped me set up my equipment and record some behind the scenes video footage.
Since I had Saturday free, I uploaded the footage into Adobe Premiere for future video content. It’s my first time using Premiere as I used to use Final Cut Pro X for my video content. So at the time of me writing this, I don’t know what I’m doing with Premier but I am learning slowly but surely. Stay tuned to my Instagram page for some new IGTV content.
Just before Christmas, a friend of mine contacted me about doing a family photo shoot with her father and extended family for the new year. I was more than happy to do the photos, the only problem was there was going to be about 17 people to shoot. I usually do family shoots in my basement studio but I didn’t have space to shoot that many people at once so I suggested that we went to Shvrk and it was the best location because it was close to her dad’s home.
This was definitely a challenge for me. One, to shoot 17 people at once and two, to do it all within the hour allocated at the studio. As I was setting up, I noticed that the plug to one of my lights was missing. I intended on having a two light set up but that wasn’t possible without a plug so, like I said before, I had to adapt. I used one light and an umbrella to spread the light out. Being that I was on a time crunch, I started with the big group shot first. I wanted to make sure that they had the family photo done, just in case I ran out of time in the end. The beginning of the session was probably the time where I’d have the little ones attention the most as young children’s attention fades quickly for photographs. Fortunately, I got through all the pictures that they wanted with time to clean up. I also had my friend Cedric come and help me with some more behind the scenes footage.
Overall, it was quite a productive weekend to start the year and hopefully, this is the start of a trend of new clients and new opportunities.
This past couple of weeks has been a whirlwind personally and professionally. My family lost my uncle who was the glue of our family. He had a very long battle with Alzheimer’s disease.
A few months ago, my Aunt asked me to compile a slideshow using the photos that she had over their past 46 years of marriage. She gave me their wedding album and 2 family albums. There was so much history in those photographs. I saw pictures that I’ve never seen before including photos of me when I was a baby. I’ve always been fascinated by old photos, especially from Jamaica in the ’70s. The fashion, the colours and the colour of the film are just mesmerizing to me.
While I was working on a video about my Uncle, I received a phone call from a number that I didn’t recognize. When I answered, it was a woman inquiring about doing maternity photos. To make matters more interesting, this was a Friday afternoon and she was due on Sunday. After speaking with her husband, she decided to come to the studio on Friday evening.
She brought her family consisting of her daughter and her husband and she also invited her sister, his husband and their infant son. I had an almost instant connection with their daughter. She was always smiling and laughing so much so that I asked if I could take a photo with her. I think she’s going to be a great big sister.
After the shoot, I thought to myself, “Wow, this woman is having a baby on Sunday and I have Uncle Lloyd’s funeral on Saturday”. I attended the funeral and I saw a slideshow that I compiled playing on the projection screen and they even had some images that I had taken during his final years of life and less than 12 hours prior, I took images of a life that hasn’t started yet. It was a full-circle moment.
A few weeks ago was a big week for me. It was the 10th annual ProFusion Expo at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. For me, this is like my personal Super Bowl with all the major photo companies and other vendors in attendance. As well as the top photographers in their respective fields providing free lectures and Live Photoshoots.
Before I start with my experience, I have to shout out Jeannine from And Action media for asking why I stopped blogging. I honestly didn’t know that people paid attention to my posts so thank you, Jeannine, and to anyone else that takes the time to read posts.
I attended both days of the event and watched lectures from Mark Blinch on sports photography. I wish I could just sit with him and pick his brain. His images are incredible and he photographed the infamous Kawhi Leonard game 7 buzzer-beater shot vs the Philadelphia 76ers.
Every year that I go to the ProFusion expo, I try to plan my day around Miguel Jacob. The first time I went to one of his lectures, I was blown away and wanted to shoot right away. I always learn something new watching his lectures. I went to say hi and shake his hand and he gave me an unexpected hug. His positive energy is inspiring and I try to adapt that to my work.
I think the headliner of the whole event was Lindsay Adler. I think if you’re into photography, you’ve heard of Ms Adler. She was speaking at the Canon booth. She drew such a crowd that you could hardly see her. She’s not very tall. I got to see her speak on day 2 on a stage and I took a lot of notes. Not only did she give some photography tips, but some of the things that she was saying, you could apply it to life in general. Things like to “craft the career that you want ” and being persistent.
Of course, I picked up a couple of items on sale. In the earlier part of the year, I was hoping to get a new camera but some unexpected expenses threw a fork in that idea. Nonetheless, I purchased a Godox PL90 parabolic softbox. I was inspired by my friend and mentor Derrel Ho-Shing who has one and used a similar softbox on a photoshoot that I assisted him with. I also purchased a Zoom H4n Handy Recorder for my video projects. With these new purchases, I’ll be occupied for the new year.
Friday mornings, I usually drive to Pickering to get my haircut at All My Sons barbershop. This week, I wasn’t able to go because I was doing newborn photos of my cousin’s son. Most barbershops are busy on Saturdays but I didn’t really have a choice.
Just as I was about to get on the highway, I received a phone call from a number that I didn’t recognize. The gentleman on the other end of the line wanted to do photos for his birthday. It was 11:30am at the time and I took him to come to my studio at 2:00pm.
My client arrived a bit late, but I didn’t mind because it gave me a few minutes to eat. I texted him my address and he replied about 10 minutes later that he had arrived. I opened my door and didn’t see anyone. I stepped outside and I saw 3 young men next door waiting for someone to open the door. He informed me that the text said house number 158 instead of 156. The auto-fill feature on my iPhone was set to the wrong address for some odd reason, but the client arrived and it was time to go to work.
At first glance, I was surprised at how young my client was. I was expecting an older gentleman in a shirt and tie prepared for a business shoot. This was a much more casual shoot to celebrate his 19th birthday.
Before Paul arrived, I had switched my backdrop from black to white, again because I was under the impression that we were going to do something much more formal. His first outfit, he came out with a white shirt and white jeans and white and orange Chanel sneakers. I had to laugh to myself because I thought that I should’ve kept the black backdrop to make the white contrast more and “pop”.
The second outfit Paul brought out was a checkered jacket with matching pants courtesy of Forever 21. As a photographer, this definitely caught my eye and I was thinking how could I get some creative shots incorporating his outfit with the equipment that I have at my disposal. I used a Red gel filter from Rogue to add some colour to the image. It was pretty exciting considering that I haven’t used these effects since my photography class at George Brown.
The final outfit was the original outfit that he walked into my house with. With this outfit, he wanted to include his friend and unofficial fashion stylist Bilbo.
Thanks to Paul for calling me and coming to my studio to take pictures to commemorate his birthday and once again to Google for appearing in their “photographers near me” search query. Happy Birthday.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Recently, I went on a trip to the United Kingdom to visit my brother and his children. I’ll post about that in the future. I was tying up some last minute things before my friend Veron was picking me up to take me to Pearson International Airport. There was a set of wedding photos that I had to send in the mail because I didn’t have enough time to deliver the photos personally. I was also sent some photos from an event that I covered a couple of days prior.
As I was working on my computer, I received an email asking about headshots. So I responded and thought the name looked familiar but I wasn’t really concerned. I told the potential client that I was going to England today and leaving in about 90 minutes and returning in 10 days. He replied telling me that he needed a photo to present by the end of that week. He also told me that I did a business headshot of his mother, Petra a couple of years ago. THAT’S where I knew the name from. However, he wanted to come that day. I really didn’t have time as I was getting ready to leave the country. Not only that, but he didn’t have a tie on him so I had to run and grab a few that might match his shirt.
As he arrived, I brought him straight to the studio and turned my lights on. While I decided to make a minor adjustment to my hair light, my flash accidentally fell and went into pieces. Fortunately, there was no damage but it was nerve-wracking nonetheless.
We got the shots in and due to the time constraints, I told him that I was only able to edit two photos and do the remainder when I return. I edited the two pictures with about 20 minutes to spare and got to the airport on time. Thank goodness.
I’m a huge sports fan, in fact in a fantasy world, I would be a sports photographer. I’ve always been intrigued by sports photos in various publications. My interest in sports definitely came from my dad. When I was a little kid, I would sit with my dad while he watches Hockey Night in Canada or whatever was on tv. He would drink a beer and I would sit beside him drinking my juice out of a bear shaped cup. One sport my dad didn’t watch was golf. He thought it was dumb and boring. One day my dad went to a charity golf tournament to help out his friends. They bugged him to play, he did very well for his first time and he’s been hooked ever since.
I used to go to tournaments with him and play with him and his friends but now our schedules don’t allow me to play golf with him anymore. But this photography thing has always kept me connected to the game.
My latest golf outing brought me to Station Creek Golf Course in Stouffville, ON. I saw that my friend DJ J Class was holding a charity golf tournament on social media and I just asked if he needed a photographer to cover the event. He spoke to his committee and they approved having me as their photographer.
This was the inaugural Sacha Classic golf tournament. It was a great turnout for their first event with about 70 players.
Sacha, the namesake of the tournament has two beautiful children and the proceeds of the event is going to their RESP funds so they can pursue their education when they get older. Which should help ease the financial burden on the family.
The committee spared no detail to honouring Sacha’s memory providing each golf cart with a bag of Sacha’s favourite, Sour cream and bacon chips and other things that we’re authentically Sacha.
Another example of their attention of detail was one, them having a ceremonial tee shot. I’ve seen them on tv during tournaments such as the Arnold Palmer Invitational but never for an amateur tournament. Sacha’s brother, Francis initiated the tournament with the ceremonial tee shot using Sacha’s favourite club which he named the “Heavenwood” which was a Callaway 5 wood. They spared no detail and it was a great touch to use a club that belonged to Sacha and made the players that knew him personally, feel his spirit around them.
I would like to thank Jon (J Class) for having me come in and take photos at their inaugural tournament and hopefully I’ll be back next year and years to come.