Fresh Work: Contortionists

I recently had a chance to work with a troupe of contortionists here in Toronto with Cirque du Soliel’s Kurios. Circus performers are among my favourite people to work with, and this time was no exception. They are unbelievably strong, incredibly flexible, and outright professionals. As they defied gravity and bent over backwards, it was hard not to be inspired by the beauty and precision of their movement.

Thanks to photo assistant Drew Graham, and to Natalia Zurawska for hair and makeup.

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News: New Studio Space

I’m excited to announce that I’ve moved into a new studio space! Located in the heart of the studio district, this beautifully raw space is full of character and natural light. The century old building has been home to many photographers and artists since it’s origin as the Wrigley gum factory. With plenty of space to shoot, along with a comfy lounge area to throw ideas around and meet with clients, I couldn’t be more excited to see what 2014 will bring. Drop in anytime!

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Fresh Work: Raphael Cruz

A talented acrobat, musician, and circus performer, Raphael Cruz never ceases to to put on a show. We caught up with him in Ottawa while he was in town performing with Les 7 Doigts de la Main, a circus troupe out of Montréal. Before that, Raph was in Los Angeles performing the lead roll in Cirque du Soleil‘s production Iris. It was there where he worked closely with Danny Elfman on developing the score for the show – one that he played on the piano while simultaneously flipping and twisting to the choreography of the show.

Raph’s next stop is in Sochi, where he’s been for the past two months, assistant directing a large component of tomorrow’s opening ceremonies for the 2014 Olympic Games. Clearly Raph keeps in good company, and it’s not hard to see why when you have a chance to collaborate with him. He’s a true talent.

Here’s a look at some of the shots we got.

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Fresh work: Dave Arnold

Olympic gymnastics coach, gifted poet, and self proclaimed luckiest guy around. Enter the world of Dave Arnold. I had the chance to connect with Dave as part of an ongoing project with writer Inna Gertsberg. We spent the day exploring country roads, reading poetry, shooting guns, talking about religion, and eating fish and chips. Our own little Jack Kerouac novel. Dave provided no shortage of amazing shots. Here’s a peak at some of what we got.

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BTS: Nissan Grey Cup

It was mid October, and there we were trying to make our shot look like a chilly scene from the Grey Cup game day – not an easy endeavour given the shoot day temperature was above 10°C. To make matters slightly more interesting, our hero prop for the shot was the one and only Grey Cup – not an item to be trifled with. Thankfully we had a few tricks up our sleeve get the shot.

This campaign for Nissan came to us from Guilherme Bermejo and Nicholas Doerr over at TBWA Toronto. The main shot shows a football player kissing the Grey Cup after a chilly winning game, while his lips get stuck to the frozen metal trophy. The second shot shows players celebrating and pouring Gatorade on their coach, only what comes out of the cooler is a solid block of ice, knocking the coach unconscious.

We knew it would be the fine details that would really pull this campaign together. Beginning with the Grey Cup itself, we needed to have our talent’s lips stick to the cup, and we wanted the trophy to look frosty. Two things easily solved with a little double sided tape for the lips and some polymer special effects ice crystals for the frost. Without being sure if we could apply either of these to the actual Grey Cup, we had a backup plan to apply them to a stand-in cup we built ourselves, then transfer them to the real cup in post. In the end, we were permitted to use the actual trophy to shoot both elements, and sadly the stand-in cup never saw the limelight.

The lovely assistant Abe with our stand-in for the Grey Cup.

The lovely assistant Abe appearing with the stand-in for the Grey Cup.

Our final cold element was the block of ice we had custom flash frozen out of Gatorade.

To bring us further into a cold world, we layered in some steam for the breath and the sweaty players. We then took a layer of snow and applied it to the field in post. Our final cold element appearing in the second shot was the block of ice that came from the cooler, which we had custom flash frozen out of Gatorade.

Finally, we needed to fill the grandstands with a crowd. We opted to shoot this at a CFL game in the same stadium the night before. This gave us a seamless blend with our hero shot, and kept our budget in check by eliminating the need for background talent to fill the seats.

Thanks to Gui, Nick, Rodger Eyre and the team at TBWA for such a great creative project. And thanks to Natalia Zurawska and Kirsten Reader for making the guys looks like sweaty athletes, and to the crew: Dwain Barrick, Abe Roberto, Ian Patterson, Sam Grant, and Spencer Robertson for another long day.

The Cup caretaker carefully places the trophy onto the rig.

The Cup caretaker carefully places the trophy onto the rig.

The set on location at Varsity Stadium in Guelph.

Our set on location at Varsity Stadium in Guelph, Ontario.

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Final ad number one.

Final ad number one.

Final ad number two.

Final ad number two.

 

News: Guinness Shot in Comm Arts Ad Annual

Earlier this year I had a chance to collaborate with Yusong Zhang and Dave Barber over at Grey. They came to me with a great concept, and it was hard to go wrong. Apparently Communication Arts thought so too, and accepted the ad into the 2013 Advertising Annual. Congrats to Yusong, Dave and Patrick Scissons for the award! I think it’s time for a celebratory pint of the good stuff.

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On Location: 19 Crimes Wine

The opera music echoes around the wood paneled walls of the billiard room. Over by the fireplace someone is tweaking the position of a century old rolling ashtray. I regain focus and return to our current task of lighting the suit of armour in the corner. Minutes away from our first shot, I leave the set and stroll past the bowling alley and down the hall of the largest mansion I’ve ever set foot in. I find our hero talent in the servant’s kitchen –er… holding area. We’re ready to shoot.

What started out as a three shot campaign has somehow ballooned into seven shots and seven different setups.

We scream through our shots in the billiard room, and move on to the dining room. Followed by the grand stairway. Then the sun room. And on, and on. What started out as a three shot campaign has somehow ballooned into seven shots and seven different setups. To top it all off, we have to delicately dance around all the priceless artifacts and décor in the hundred year old mansion that is our location.

15 long hours later, the last of our gear is packed into the truck. A minor emergency ensues when we realize the wheel of cheese prop has been locked inside the mansion. I am not leaving without the cheese. The crew surrounds the house, tracks down the security guard, and the cheese is recovered. Crisis averted.

Projects this good don’t come along very often: a shoot day in a fantastic location, a great concept, a crew and creative team that push the limit to make every shot the best it can be, and above all a client that is open to such a unique campaign. My only regret is not banging out a tune on the built-in pipe organ.

Thanks to Dan Bache, Geoff Morgan and the crew at Giants & Gentlemen for such a great project. A huge thanks to our crew for making this happen: Stephen Connor at Pinpoint Locations for finding the perfect location, Anita Cane and Kirsten Reader for making the guys look their best, and to the tireless assistants Abe Roberto, Ian Patterson, Mike MacMurchy, and Spencer Robertson for all their hard work.

Oh, and I highly recommend getting your hands on a bottle of the fine wine that is 19 Crimes.

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News: 19 Crimes Campaign Launch

Back in the summer I got a call from the creative folks over at Giants & Gentlemen to work on a campaign for the Canadian launch of 19 Crimes wine. In collaboration with art director Dan Bache and writer Geoff Morgan, it’s no surprise that a gangster themed wine shoot quickly turned into one of the coolest projects I’ve ever worked on. Here’s a sneak peak of some of the work. Lots more coming soon!

One of the seven final ads.

One of the outtakes.

One of the outtakes.