A Day of NUIT: Fall Collection at Mountain View

Autumn is my favourite season.  Its arrival heralds the flight of summer from the slow, creeping fingers of winter and the long, dark nights that probe one’s spirit and strength. 

Admittedly that doesn’t sound like much reason to rejoice but the endurance test it poses to the body and mind is a stern reminder that change is inevitable and time relentless in its passage – and, like the changing colours of the leaves, the spark of life is fiercest when it is tested. 

Toronto-based NUIT has been producing some gorgeous dark fashions for several years now and while I’ve long been a fan of founder Ana’s work it was her stunning collection of hooded tournure pieces that prompted me to contact her and propose a shoot.

Taking our cues from the 70s-themed shoot with Shae that I posted earlier this year, this photo series at Mountain View Cemetery with Caitlin, Marlene, and Dahlia was an opportunity to frame NUIT in waning autumn light while Vancouver’s massive murder of crows made its customary flight east to roost for the night. 

Much like that flurry of black wings overhead, the dramatic, swooping lines of these several pieces from the NUIT autumn collection – “Mythic” cowls in black black wool and jersey, black velvet bellbottoms, butterfly-sleeve kimono, bell sleeve hooded pullover, and linen ruff collar bustle top – beautifully allude to the whispering vibrance of encroaching shadows.  

Thanks again to Ana for her collaboration on this shoot and to Marlene, Dahlia, and Caitlin for their participation!

Dóiteán Cailleach (“Firewitch”): Part Three of the Elemental Witch Series

 

This third installment of the Elemental Witch photo series has been a long, long time coming; it seems only fitting to finally publish on Samhain, a traditional Gaelic festival which marks the coming of “the darker half” of the year.  

This series is as much about the land and people of British Columbia as it is about nature and magic – beginning in the forests of Surrey with Woodwitch, then following the coastline of Vancouver with Stormwitch, the “elemental” aspect of the theme provides frames within which to explore diverse landscapes and characters. 

Originally I had planned to shoot the third installment in Osoyoos, not only for its arid desert landscape but also its history – Irish-born John Carmichael Haynes was an early European settler, local dignitary, and major landowner of the town – a familiar story in the history of Canadian colonization which also reflects model Caitlin’s Irish roots; but after a location-scouting trip to Kamloops this summer I found myself smitten with its similarly semi-arid landscape and opted to relocate the shoot for aesthetic and logistic reasons.

A lot of thought and planning went into this shoot and I’d like to thank everyone that helped to realize this vision, most of all Caitlin for her commitment to the project and enthusiasm for the character.

Rather than give everything away, I invite the reader to let me know what stories you find in these images. This series continues to generate a lot of discussion among viewers and we appreciate the feedback.

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An Idyllic Afternoon at Bear Creek

Never mind what they say about sticks and stones – just looking at natural forms like rocks and trees in their natural settings is an exercise in rejuvenation!

This website has been all too quiet over the past month, but relocating from one city to another will do that. Fortunately I’m just about settled in here in New Westminster now, and while I continue to catch up on various projects, here’s a photo series from last month’s visit to Bear Creek Park in Surrey to give you a hopefully relaxing glimpse of nature to lead you into the weekend. Enjoy!

(Click to enlarge images)

Dark Festivities Continue!

It’s been nearly a month since my “Black Metal Walpurgisnacht” photo series originally appeared at Factory Worker Media (apparently setting a record for most traffic in a single day!) and, beginning tomorrow, I’ll be back in Vancouver to cover Modified Ghost Festival for the second year in a row!

To celebrate, not only will I be reposting the Walpurgisnacht gallery here (once a technical issue is fixed on the server end), but any last-minute Vancouver-area bookings for daytime shoots over the next four days (25-28 May 2017) will be eligible for a 25% “dark days” discount. Give me a shout to schedule yours now!

Thanks once again to everyone who participated in and showed their support for the Walpurgisnacht project (which was just the beginning – keep an eye out for more details)! 😉

Alternative Surrey: Beauty with an Edge (at Phoenix Tattoos, 21 January 2017)

Alt Surrey #046

Naturally one might assume that counterculture only thrives in big cities (people only go to the sleepy satellite towns and suburbs when the party’s over, right?) But given the ways that the high cost of living continues to drive Vancouver’s working class away from the city I thought, why shoot there? When so many creatives are forced to take refuge away from the traditional centers of culture, why continue to support the culture of a city that seems to have a vested interest in kicking out everyone that contributes to the varied richness of its communities?

For those familiar with the Phoenix Tattoos studio here in Surrey, it’s no secret that the second-floor shop at the corner of King George and 108 avenue is a sanctuary for local creatives, as the bright mural at the top of the stairs suggests, welcoming customers with its flaming orange tendrils and icy waves of silver-blue.

I like to update my portrait portfolio on a regular basis and rather than make another trek out to Vancouver while the transit system seems to be at its most unreliable (who knew an inch of snow last month would bring an entire fleet of trains and buses to its knees?!), I thought it high time to turn the spotlight on Surrey.

The three models pictured below were undaunted by a location far from the center of the Vancouver universe (for some, it was actually a rare opportunity to work much closer to home,) patiently smiling and posing despite the lateness of the after-hours shoot, for which I’d like to thank Phoenix for allowing us extra time to get all the technical details right.

And, of course, thanks to stunning models Reshmi, Shelby, and Siena for their energy and enthusiasm, as well as my industrious lighting assistant Rhys for illuminating us all! 

Engagement Season Blooms Early This Year!

Engagement Party

Now that the holidays are over and the dreary, grey midwinter weather is upon us, most creatures in the northern hemisphere have to wait until Groundhog Day for a cheerful bit of good news – but not these lovebirds! They started building their forever nest together with an engagement party at Bombay Banquet Hall in Surrey right after Christmas, from which these shots are taken (our congratulations to the happy couple.)

And, much to my surprise, they’re not alone – just a few days later I received a call from another couple already keen to book ahead for their summer nuptials! 

If you haven’t guessed already, the moral of this story is that the early bird really does get the worm – if you’re planning an engagement party or wedding for the spring, best get in touch now!

Woodwitch (Part One of the Elemental Witch Series)

From the "Woodwitch" portrait series with Casper Macabre

As I’m just about to post the second photoset in the elemental witch series, here is the image that inspired my personal creative direction for the year, photographically speaking:

"Woodwitch"
“Woodwitch”

An introductory essay about the set appears alongside its photo album on Facebook, from which I’ll quote here:

The main inspiration for this series came from walking through various wooded parklands and forests in Surrey, Vancouver, and Squamish, and watching how people treat these spaces as harmless sites for personal recreation – often in a very casual and disrespectful manner. For anyone that has ever been alone in the woods at night, there is the distinct feeling that life is stirring all around us, unseen in the shadows. It’s easy to forget that when the sun is shining and we feel safe, but as we recall when we breathe the smoke of distant brushfires or feel the earth quake beneath our feet, we remain subject to nature’s law – our privileged place at the top of the food chain isn’t guaranteed at all – we survive because nature allows it. The figure of the woodwitch is the archetypal “dark mother” who appears to remind us that there is indeed a price to pay for disrespecting her rules – so it’s best to stay on her good side.

That said, here again are several of the images first seen in the Facebook photo album, along with a few new additions – also check out “Stormwitch“, the next installment of the elemental witch photo series!

 

Barnston Island at Sunset

As a photographer summer vacations may be few and far between, but occasionally one does like to get out for a nature shoot at sunset. Nestled on the Fraser River between Surrey and Langley to the south and Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge to the north, Barnston Island isn’t exactly isolated but it remains a largely rural settlement presided over by the Katzie First Nation.