Phae: Mysterious Semblance at the Strand of Nightmares

Phae (from the series, "Mysterious Semblance at the Strand of Nightmares")

For those of us whose lives are ruled by various creative preoccupations, whether they involve our own creativity or that of others, at the center of our enthusiasm is a genuine appreciation for that which inspires us.

You don’t have to be a musician to love music, but it’s unlikely that a music fan would ever profess love for any music to which they felt no personal connection. Music often expresses words and emotions much more eloquently than any of us ever could on our own and throughout history the universality of its expression has earned music a special place in the hearts of billions.

As a complex, multifaceted person with abiding interests in heavy music and animal welfare, Phae is a steadfast champion of both. While our shoot was primarily focused on the implementation of a wall-sized concert poster for our backdrop, her dog and snake also wagged and wriggled their way into the shoot to help evoke the many faces of Phae.

Ian, On-Location

Like Cheen, Ian needed bio photos for an upcoming music release but he wanted to incorporate imagery that evoked a deep, personal nostalgia for him. How would I convey that feeling to other viewers? With that question in mind, I followed Ian’s lead from location to location and listened as he relayed details about each site and its significance.

Though I was still considering different possibilities, the impression that had begun to emerge was of the sort of storytelling one often hears on old folk records. When we stopped for lunch after the shoot and an old Jim Croce song that both Ian and I recognized came on the radio, I envisioned grainy images in slightly muted colours, like the photos in my parents’ heavy old spiral-bound photo albums that I used to flip through when I was a kid; the resulting style isn’t timeless exactly – more like saving time in a bottle.

Cheen at the Park


Cheen wanted a portrait for her solo album that would encapsulate her impressions of Canada for friends and fans in Egypt. She chose the general location of the shoot (Burnaby’s Central Park) and I chose this particular setting next to the Lower Pond because of the array of fall colours still evident in the late-November background and the contrast between them and the subtle hints of snow suggested by her wardrobe.

Cheen has worked very hard to keep her multiple music projects active during her Canadian residency but despite her determination and focus in pursuit of those dreams, there is always a mischievous glint in her eye – like she could run off into the woods at any moment, to live with the squirrels – and this sense of levity is the intersection which all of her ambitions and motivations must cross en route to their destinations.