Where did it all start for you as a photographer?
I started working in the film industry right after high school, followed by attending Film School in Vancouver. I spent about eight years lighting feature films and episodic television. I had always loved story telling but I was also a very technically minded person. The film industry was a wonderful combina- tion of the two.
After about eight years the sixteen-hour long workdays, five days a week, caught up with me and I was ready for a more mellow pursuit.
I transitioned into working as a photographer but I really struggled with it. After the excitement of working with experienced crews on large productions I simply didn’t enjoy shooting photographs on my own.
Then, when I had the opportunity to shoot a couple of fashion campaigns for a small eyewear company and it gave me the chance to work with a crew: a producer, an art director, hair, make-up, wardrobe, photography assistants and a retoucher, everything changed. This collaborative approach and the opportunity to tell a story through photographs was exactly what I had been missing. It was truly fun and I realized that I needed to work on larger productions that required complex logistics.
Shortly after these projects I had the chance to work on a conceptual ad shoot for DDB and I realized that this was my path. The same logistics and challenges of motion pictures, however without the epic long work days.
How do you see yourself as a photographer today?
Today I mainly shoot conceptual advertising. An art director presents me with a sketch of a concept and it is my job to execute it in the best possible way.
I am based in Vancouver but am spending more and more time working in Toronto with a production company, Kith and Kin. Toronto is fast becoming a strong market with larger, more complex projects and this is what I enjoy.
Tell us about the Lotto 649 project.
For the Lotto 649 project, the art directors, Chris Moore and John Larigakis of DDB Vancouver had come up with a brilliant concept. At first we thought it would be mostly post-intensive (computer graphics [CG] or retouching) so we approached Christophe Huett at Paris Asile, who does incredibly beautiful and complex work. Christophe suggested that in order to keep that photographic feel, we should work with model builders as opposed to CG artists. Vancouver being a large production center for feature films has some very tal- ented model builders. Most of this project was about collaborating with these sculptors, modelers and painters. The props you see in these Lotto 649 images were mostly captured in camera. The debris was shot on tabletop with an Arca-Swiss M-Monolith and a P65+ digital back. The props were shot against a set wall with a Phase One 645DF camera, Schneider lenses and the same P65+.
The images had a snap and contrast to them straight out of camera that was really exciting. The debris was small so depth of field was a challenge. Using the M-Monolith view camera we were able to use extreme tilts and shifts to capture really crisp shots. The plates of the debris were beautiful. The end usage would be billboards so we needed the resolution of the P65+. It also provided really clean files for the retoucher - Christophe. Straight away when shooting for super wide billboards at extreme aspect ratios, 2:1 or 3:1, we have to shoot wide and crop in severely. A DSLR would have had to involve stitching to achieve the necessary resolution.
I try to limit my time on the computer to an absolute minimum so my challenge is to capture as much as I can "in camera". It’s the approach I learned from motion pictures and it is a much nicer process, in my opinion. After all, my skills are lighting, taking pictures and managing a crew. It’s my responsibility to collaborate effectively with my team and capture the best images possible for my retoucher to work with.
This project was a true collaboration and such a pleasure to work on. The campaign did well in award shows and made it into a number of publications including Lürzer’s Archive, which is always a nice recognition.
You recently made the switch from the P65+ to the IQ260, how has that worked out for you?
Even though the two digital backs have the same resolution, I feel the quality of the IQ260 is superior. The images are more punchy, it is as if there is more contrast and greater details in them. I am very happy I made the transition.