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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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.

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.

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
maternity-farm
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.

Paul & Nellie

I got a call from my cousin Patrick to shoot my cousin’s Paul’s wedding the night before the wedding. It totally caught me off guard but I agreed and got my things together. Just as I was 2 lights away from the church, my car just shuts off on its own. Which was the beginning of some car trouble but I made it on time thankfully?

Just like my cousin’s personality, the wedding was low-keydsc_9143-editdsc_9321dsc_9327-editdsc_9549 and subdued. It was a bright and sunny day and I’m happy that he made this leap to being a family man.Congratulations to Paul & Nellie Thomas.