Caitlin: Rockin’ It!

I first worked with Caitlin last year during the Gatekeeper band photoshoot, when she assisted with makeup and fire wrangling, but it wasn’t until I saw a selfie she posted on social media – looking like the very definition of a classic rock/ NWOBHM (New Wave of British Heavy Metal) fan circa 1980 that I realized she was the perfect person to continue my music-themed portrait series (see Shae’s Black Sabbath-themed gallery here.) Last month we spent several hours shooting in various locations throughout downtown Vancouver and, after many weeks of processing and consultation with Caitlin, who has the patience of a saint (and the enthusiasm of an ardent heavy music fan), here now are the results!

Separated into colour and monochrome galleries, these images are some of my favourite work to date. Admittedly I say that about almost every new shoot I post because I love what I do, but this series is the first I’ve shared that features many recognizable aspects of Vancouver itself. It may not be the biggest city in Canada, but its heavy music scene has a distinctive spirit that I am proud to portray visually in some small way.

Thank you, Caitlin, for your enthusiasm, feedback, and general badass self – you rocked this!  \m/ \m/

 

Shae: Pale Fire (Boudoir Series)

SHAE

Moving indoors to continue my recent shoot with Shae, I wanted a dark, severe colour palette to complement her makeup and wardrobe, but with a patterned satin backdrop to soften the overall tone. And, although my tiny home studio setup can’t accommodate an opulent full-boudoir setting, the old black leather couch provided an effective alternative set.

The average person might assume that a boudoir shoot is sexual in nature but in my opinion it works best when the images create an intimate and sensual experience rather than an erotic one for both subject and viewer.

Many thanks to Shae (and impromptu lighting tech Benny) for coming out to deepest darkest Surrey for this shoot!

Shae: Reviving 1970 (Photo Gallery)

One of the things that inspires me most as a photographer is music – everyone has experienced a virtual time-travel nostalgia trip thanks to some old song on the radio – and lately I’ve found myself mentally returning, again and again, to this image from Black Sabbath’s debut 1970 album:

Black Sabbath (album cover), 1970.
Black Sabbath (album cover), 1970.

My neighbourhood isn’t quite as picturesque as this but I’ve always enjoyed walking the trail that runs along the swampy drainage channel behind it. Evidently it reminds me of that iconic album cover and its evocative autumnal imagery never fails to transport me to that place in my mind whenever I need a break from editing photos. I wanted to acknowledge its inspirational effect by creating something similar and Shae was clearly the perfect model for the job (and stay tuned for our studio shoot, also coming soon.)

Having grown up in the late 70s/early 80s, I still remember and love the grainy quality of that era’s images, which were primarily shot on 35 mm film; however when photographers recreate that aesthetic now they tend to do so according to modern digital image standards that eschew the old grainy 35 mm texture, so for this shoot I opted to use the natural lighting effects of sunset (and my beloved lantern prop, which always seems to appear in my outdoor shoots lately) as a means to soften these images and give them a bit of grain.

Massive thanks to Shae (and lighting tech Benny) for helping to bring 1970 back to life!

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! 

Stormwitch (Part Two of the Elemental Witch Series)

From the "Stormwitch" series
From the "Stormwitch" photo series
From the “Stormwitch” photo series with Kas

Picking up where “Woodwitch” left off, “Stormwitch” follows the Elemental Witch Series from its earthy origins to the rocky shores of West Vancouver. Acknowledging both the element of water and the nomadic spirit of life on the coast, this portrait set envisions nature as a hermit whose solitary life on the beach marks a convergence of the elements – a place where water touches land and sky – and a neverending procession of ocean weather systems briskly passes overhead while each shift of the tide washes up some mysterious new bit of flotsam and jetsam.

Stay tuned for the next installment of the Elemental Witch series!

 

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!

 

Halloween-themed Portraiture: Emily of the Dead

Emily of the Dead

October is my favourite time of the year not only for the changing colours of autumn leaves and cooler temperatures but also for the seasonal festivities surrounding Halloween and Samhain. Throw in a lifelong love of horror films and you know where this is heading!

Following in the silent, malevolent footsteps of the Woodwitch photo series, “Emily of the Dead” was shot on location at the railway tracks bordering Confederation Park in Vancouver, adjacent to the local Chevron refinery. Knowing how detrimental petroleum products are to the natural environment, in my opinion there are few things more ominous than a convoy of oil tankers thundering down Willingdon Avenue after dark, transporting dangerous and destructive cargo like a virus coursing through the veins of our civilization.

From that standpoint it’s not difficult to make the mental leap to thoughts of the zombie phenomenon in popular culture: since George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead we have been fascinated by these creatures and in their various guises we continue to see dark, ruined reflections of ourselves that hint at the impending disastrous effects of climate change caused by global industrialization.

That’s a heavy load on any zombie’s shoulders, but Emily held up like a champ. Inspired by some railway imagery in a previous season of The Walking Dead TV series, I wanted to revisit Romero’s original zombie aesthetic while hinting at the aforementioned postindustrial fallout.

I’m still booking Halloween-themed portrait shoots throughout the month of October (and beyond – Halloween is every day, as far as I’m concerned), so do get in touch if you’re interested to monster up!

UPDATE: I’ve added a few select images from this series to the Factotum shop on RedBubble here.

Skeleton Princess!

The first fallen leaf of the season.

This little lady was excited to start Halloween early! Dressing up as a skeleton complete with facepaint for this shoot at Green Timbers Urban Forest in Surrey was a big hit with passersby and even one curious little dog!

Compared to working with adults, photographing kids is a different sort of challenge – they’re more prone to distraction and, given their higher rate of metabolism, they get hungry and/or sleepy faster than their grownup counterparts – fortunately, having a parent or guardian on hand for the shoot provides a focal point that kids can come back to whenever their attention wanders.

September being back-to-school season, I wanted to offer a fun alternative to the traditional class picture photo packages common at this time of year. Kids love to play and pretend and, given free rein to do so, it makes for much more animated and memorable portrait images. Myself and Port Coquitlam photographer/facepainter Katie May are currently booking “Halloween in the Woods” packages for shooting in the month of October, which this year has FIVE whole weekends before Halloween (!!!)

Enjoy the fun and spooky “spirit” of this shoot and, if you’re ready for a little adventure in the woods, give us a call!

(Click to enlarge images)

Which Witch?

DSC_0045

For those of you that use Facebook, by now you may have seen the “Woodwitch” portrait series featuring Casper Macabre. If not, here is an opportunity to view some of the monochrome images from that series and also to vote on your favourites. I’d like to make some of the images available as postcards so I’ve created a poll you can quickly scroll through and check the boxes for your favourites here.