January 26, 2009

The fortune teller

In December I had such a fun assignment. It was to do a photo shoot for a book cover. I've always thought that this kind of project would be right up my alley, as I love books and book covers (to the point that I'm often tempted to buy a book purely on the basis of the book cover). So the thought of shooting a cover was so exciting!

The photograph will be used on the cover of a collection of short stories by a local Montreal author. The stories are about relationships that are destined to fail, and the author came up with the concept of using the cootie-catcher (aka fortune teller) to illustrate how love can make children of us all. We did a series of photographs indoors. We were able to use a professor's office in the Faculty of Law at McGill University. It's a beautiful old building, and the office had a turret with lovely windows.

At the end of the shoot, we decided to do a few photographs outside since it wasn't that cold. The following photograph ended up being everyone's favorite.

However, the author decided to go with the one below. The reasoning was that the above photograph conveyed a little too much hope and the one below reflected the characters better.

The book will likely be published in the spring or early summer.

January 14, 2009

Looking for love in all the right places

A sudden spike in sales today had me scratching my head and wondering where in the World Wide Web had a photograph of mine been featured. Luckily, a few buyers left me clues, telling me that they had seen my photograph "Looking for love" on Ali Edward's blog.

One thing often leads to another, especially on the Internet, and the photograph also ended up on the Yahoo! online magazine Shine in the "at home" section.

Thank you Ali and Charlene for making my day ... wait for it ... shine.

January 08, 2009

Baby, it's cold outside

We had a wonderful snowfall yesterday and I was determined to do some winter photography outside today. But....

* dang, it's cold
* I lost my warmest gloves recently
* it would have taken me well over an hour to dig the car out to go anywhere
* there's no hot tea out there

Once I had a sufficient number of excuses to justify staying in, I managed to do some winter-themed photography indoors instead.

Here in Montreal, the winters are nasty frigid and I need to finally figure out how to continue outdoor photography during the winter when it's colder than -7C (19F), which is most days. How long I can manage to stay outside usually depends on how frozen my fingers are. I've got a nice long down-filled coat and and very good quality boots and warm socks so I can generally keep my body and feet warm enough, but it's the fingers. I have yet to find a solution. I'm thinking of experimenting with an initial thin glove liner, some warm ski mits, and those chemical hand warmers inside the mits. I figure that while I'm not shooting, I can keep the mits on with the warmers inside and then whip them off and keep the thin glove liner on while taking photographs. If any of you photographers out there have any advice, my ears are open.

January 05, 2009

Back at work

I'm not very good at new year's resolutions, but I do have one, and it's to read more. Most of my life I've been a voracious reader, but since becoming a freelance photographer and going into business for myself, I just haven't managed to find the time (or energy) to read much. This is something I want to change this year, and I'm off to a good start. One of my Christmas presents was the book "Annie Liebovitz At Work" and I have already devoured it.

Looking back on her career, it's incredible to imagine all the pivotal moments she has photographed, from the Rolling Stones on tour, to Hunter S Thompson on the campaign trail, to Nixon leaving the Whitehouse after his resignation, and most incredibly, this very famous photograph of John and Yoko, which was taken mere hours before his murder.

The stories behind the photographs are fascinating. I loved the one about Meryl Streep, who had just become a celebrity and was uncomfortable with all the attention. She didn't want to be photographed, and, in her words, didn't want to be "anybody". Just what a photographer wants to hear during a session. Annie told her she didn't have to be anyone, and came up with the idea of the whiteface. I think that this ability of hers to respond creatively to what is happening in the moment is what makes her such a great photographer.

It was also interesting to read her take on digital technology, which she has fully embraced, and which allowed for the creation of the photograph below. She wanted to photograph the Queen of England in formal attire outdoors, but this is just "not done". The final photograph is actually a digital composite of two separate photographs (the landscape and the Queen in front of a gray screen).

I think what I enjoyed most though, was reading about the times when she wasn't so sure of herself, learning new skills as she went, and making mistakes along the way. With great artists, I think we sometimes get the impression that they always know what to do and are, essentially, perfect. Probably because we only see a selective end result. Being relatively new to a career in photography, it was reassuring to realize that things go wrong for everyone (even experts), mistakes will happen and that they're part of the process, and that you never stop learning. All things I "knew", but I guess I just needed to be reminded.