Birthday Photoshoot

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”.

All White Forever 21 Outfit Orange Chanel Sneakers
It’s about that Time

All White Outfit Orange Chanel Sneakers Bending



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.

Checkered Suit Sunglasses Fila Shoes
Thinking Of A Master Plan
Checkered Jacket Sunglasses Finger Gloves

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.

Nike Air Force Hi All Black Du Rag Red Hat White Shirt Red Nike Air Force Hi
These guys have been friends since high school in Nigeria.
Red Hat White Shirt Red Pants Gold Chain
Final Outfit
Gold Chain Long Sleeve White Shirt Red Track Pants

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.


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

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.

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


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.



Family Ties

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.

He means business

The inaugural Sacha Classic Golf Tournament

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.

Sacha Salceda banner

Ceremonial tee shot by Francis Salceda


Jon Celis aka DJ J Class
Hole in one contest sponsored by Lexus

Sacha’s Mother and children
Dinner time

Some of the lovely volunteers

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 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.

Charity- Sugar Cane Enterprises Mother’s Day Soiree

I’ve been really busy lately covering a variety of events. From weddings to baptisms, to birthdays and everything in between.  Earlier in the week, I got a text from a number that I didn’t recognize asking if I can take pictures at a charity event on Sunday.

Friday I recorded a video with my friends Terry and Ryan of Eat Famous and I brought my friend Megan to add a female touch to the video. I do record video for my own personal projects but this is was my biggest video project to date and had a short turnaround time.

Saturday, I had to travel to Brampton to photograph a birthday party at night and work on editing the video that we recorded on Friday on Sunday morning as it had to be submitted by Monday.

I’ve known Camille many years. Going back to the 10th grade when we were both participants in a high school talent show. Fast forward a few years and her best friend is married to one of my best friends Curtis “Jus” Blaize. Needless to say, she was the mystery person that texted me and she later called me telling me that she asked other people and they were beyond her budget or cancelled on her. I told her that I’m busy but I’ll try. I knew that I probably shouldn’t do it, but I know the person that I am, I’m going to cover her event because I didn’t want to let her down as well.

After doing some finishing touches on the Eat Famous video, I headed down to the Mother’s Day Soirée that was taking place at Cube brought to you by Sugar Cane Enterprises The purpose of this event was to help pregnant teens and young mothers, who are often faced with obstacles such as poverty and social isolation. Camille and her organization collected slightly used and new clothes for children and their mothers in coordination with The June Callwood Centre for Young Women and the New Mom Project. My friend Kavita from Travel Art Henna provided a Henna for the ladies and there wereDSC_2688DSC_2689DSC_2702DSC_2714DSC_2822DSC_2830DSC_2844DSC_2846DSC_2852DSC_2861Sugar Cane Enterprises great food and drinks and raffle prizes.

Although it wasn’t planned, I’m glad that I attended and I hope the next Sugar Cane Enterprises event is bigger and better.

Family Day Photo shoot

3 generations of family members
Family Affair

This past Family Day weekend, I had plans to catch up on things that I wasn’t able to do while I was away in Kingston. I had some administrative stuff to take care of, I also had some clients to follow up with as well as edit some family portraits.

So just as I was about to start my day and my phone started ringing from a number that I didn’t recognize. I said hello and the person on the other end asked if I do family portraits, I said yes and he replied: “Ok I’ll come now”. I jumped up like “whoa hold on”. I work by appointments so a person saying they were coming to my house with their family in 5 minutes freaked me out. My batteries need to charge and my studio wasn’t set up to do a family portrait.

Father with his 3 daughters and son
Proud Papa

We agreed to meet in a half hour so I can set up the studio and charge my batteries. Ten minutes later, my doorbell rings and it was the man on the phone that said he would come in 30 minutes. He waited while I finished setting up.

Despite the impromptu plans for this shoot, the family were great to work with. There were four adults and four kids. Usually, there are challenges photographing children especially babies but I was fortunate not to have any issues with these kids.

Degrey Photography-family portrait-sikh-generations-3
Big sister protecting the baby brother

Once again I have to thank Google and Google Maps for the Mann family finding me organically. It’s always a blessing for me to have new clients find me online and I have no prior relationship or connection to them. So there was an unexpected turn to my Family Day but it turned out for the better.


I grew up in Scarborough as a kid. I moved to Markham when I was in grade 5. I cried and cried back then because I didn’t want to leave my friends and had no interest in making new friends. As I got settled in Markham, it was such a diverse community of people. Minorities were absolutely the majority in the neighbourhood that I went to elementary and high school. I also played rep hockey in the winter and baseball in the summer. My family doctor was Hindu, my dentist Sikh, my neighbours were Greek and Sri Lankan. My mom used to practice Tai Chi with some Chinese ladies at the park. I say to my best friends that I grew up with how I believe that our upbringing gave us the ability to adapt to environments better than others that didn’t grow up with such a mix of cultures.

I’ve spent the last few weeks taking graduation photos in Kingston,On at St Lawrence College. I’ve had many work situations but this was the first time that I’ve worked out of town for an extended period of time. I was kinda nervous considering I wasn’t sure what to expect and wasn’t fully comfortable with the operations of the job.

Maybe because I’m used to the big city and Toronto’s reputation of being a multicultural metropolis, I was initially surprised of the diversity of Kingston. I took photos of people from all walks of life. Not that I wasn’t doing that before, but this trip there was a full spectrum of people from special needs individuals, First Nations people, visible minorities and members of the LGBTQ community and everyone was respectful and welcoming.

It’s bizarre to me when I turn on the news and see stories of hate and intolerance around the world and I don’t understand why people think the way they do when at the end of the day, we all want freedom and to live without fear. And that’s not to say that Canada doesn’t have its problems, we absolutely do but I feel like we’re doing much better than some nations. Our diversity is our strength and my first experience working on the road reinforced that notion in my eyes.