Vicky joins the Commonwealth

by Alex Beetham on October 14, 2014

It’s a rarity for a band to stick it out for over 2 years these days.  How about 2 decades, with it’s original members no less?  It’s also a rarity to hear of bands composed of 4 song writers, all given equal share of the creative pie.  This kind of democracy lends itself to a very fitting 11th studio album title for the Halifax born Sloan:  Commonwealth.  The honour of photographing the album artwork for this record, was given to our very own Vicky Lam.

I was really excited when I heard I would be photographing Sloan’s LP cover art.  I have never had any work appear on a record before, and the idea of doing so for a great Canadian group like Sloan really made me feel happy.  As a still life shooter, I’m so used to working alone in a dark studio, so I was really excited to know that Chris Murphy and Jay Ferguson from Sloan would be there in person.  Perhaps I was even a little starstruck by the idea.  However, when the shoot day came by and I met Chris and Jay, they turned out to be the nicest and most laid back guys ever! I was even more impressed when I learned that they usually have a hand in designing all of their album art.  This one was not an exception.  It was neat to learn that each item was carefully hand picked by the band members themselves and all have personal significance and history. It’s a great feeling to know that the guys from Sloan take so much care not only in their music, but all the smaller details too. And it’s probably the reason why they’ve held such a successful and ongoing musical career for the last 20+ years.

If you look closely, you’ll notice all the items tie in to the song titles.  Can you spot them?




Jay Ferguson, putting the finishing touches on his carefully thought out composition.


You can read what other people think about Commonwealth, (Noisy, Pitchfork, COS,) but might I suggest you pick yourself up a copy on iTunes/Amazon, or give it a streamy listen for yourself!

Here’s a little trip down Sloan discography lane…


    IN PRINT | Tyler Feels the Passion

    by Alex Beetham on October 9, 2014

    paSH-uh n/
    1. strong and barely controllable emotion.
      “a man of impetuous passion”
      a state or outburst of strong emotion.
      “oratory in which he gradually works himself up into a passion”
      synonyms: (blind) rage, fit of anger/temper, temper, towering rage, tantrumfury,frenzy

      “he worked himself up into a passion”


    2. finding the right Scion for you
      Middle English: from Old French, from late Latin passio(n-) (chiefly a term in Christian theology), from Latin pati ‘suffer.’

      Use over time for: passion

    From the desk of Tyler Gray:

    One of the coolest things about working in adverting is that the surprises are never ending.  I mentioned it in one of my last posts that hearing my email ding and opening a PDF full of layouts is like Christmas morning over and over again.  Vic Bath at DentsuBos now has the unique distinction of sending me my first layout where a guy had an octopus stuck to the side of his face.  Yep, an octopus.  John and I were out in Los Angeles shooting when this came through and had some pretty good laughs with Vic about how we were going to pull this shot off.  We looked at prop options in Hollywood and were both amazed at how detailed and believable some of the options were.  We hummed and hawed over getting a live one and just throwing it at our talents’ face when he wasn’t looking, we discussed a dead one and we even discussed CGI.  In the end, we decided to go with the live option.  We named him Billy and he now lives and works with Lindsey at front reception.  He’s really good at answering phones and typing. (Editors note: Lindsey also really appreciates Billy’s suckers as an alternative to licking the postage stamps.)

    Big thanks to Vic and Ryan at DentsuBos for the opportunity to work on this.  Oh and an even bigger thanks to our client Mary at Scion for introducing the movie frozen to my Kids that day.  **Twitch**

    - Tyler

    All Ads.indd

    Peep some pixels:


    SCION_PAINTERAll Images © Tyler Gray
    Photographer: Tyler Gray
    Agency: DentsuBos
    Client: Scion
    AD: Vic Bath
    CW: Ryan Grosman
    Bryan Ulrich, Christa Michelle, Olga Kozitska

    BTS-Comp_Scion_Tyler_webAll BTS Images © Alex Beetham & John Stevancec


      +5 | Matt Howe

      by Alex Beetham on October 7, 2014

      Well folks it’s been a long time coming, but we’re back at it with a shiny new instalment of Westside’s +5. This is where we ask industry insiders for 5 essential things that keep them inspired and at the top of their games.

      This instalments focus is centred around a collaborator of the highest order. He has that eager enthusiasm of a fresh face in the industry, yet he has been at it for almost 2 decades. Perhaps his positive outlook is because he has lived several lives already, or that keeping outrageously busy is enjoyable to him. Matt Howe has a foot firmly planted in two worlds. By day he works as an art director at MacLaren McCann, and by most other waking hours he is creative director at The Baitshop.  Keeping up with either of these role’s responsibilities would drive many to an early grave, but Matt seems to only excel and thrive in these conditions. Perhaps it’s because he chooses not to see these two worlds as separate, but by drawing from them both equally he allows the creative process to flow amongst them freely.

      Or maybe Matt just wants to make cool shit with rad people and enjoy the journey.  There is only one man who knows for sure…

      Ladies and gentlemen, Matt Howe.

      Matt HoweImage © Dave Delnea

      Matt Howe – Art Director @ MacLaren McCann

      5 People That Inspire The Hell Outta Me

      Like a lot of people, I’m inspired by a ton of things all the time: Designers, Directors, Photographers, Writers, Athletes, Musicians, Painters, Fashion, Skateboarding, and Food. But the biggest inspiration that moves me most is people. The people I meet and become friends with, or the people who are just out there DOING IT.

      Ted Wilson
      This man’s been my closest friend for years. He’s constantly raising his game in life and in his career – and always with great panache. He’s been a fundamental part of my success and who I am today. He’s a drummer from hell and a vault of nerd information from Metal to Middle Earth. An on air personality you can catch him on the boob tube on the Space Channel’s Inner Space, or Discovery Channel’s Never Ever Do This At Home. Follow Ted on Twitter.

      +5, Westside Studio, Matt Howe


      Greg Rodriguez
      If you’ve ever heard of the Toronto brand and screen printing company The Baitshop, you now know the co-founder. This man has been a great friend and creative partner who believed in me to design clothes, make ads, videos and whatever else we’ve been up to together… and for young skateboarders no less. He gave me my first directing opportunity, and is generally one of the most rad people in Toronto bar non. Greg is also big supporting part of the Toronto skateboarding and art communities a like. or on Instagram @TheBaitshop

      +5, Westside Studio, Matt Howe


      Evan Gatica
      An LA native I met years ago Evan’s a tower of talent and knowledge in film, music and basketball… and his love of Virgin Mary paraphernalia is exceptionally badass. As a film editor and former underground MC, Evan’s always had my back and helped me on several projects I’ve been involved in. Check some of his work here.

      +5, Westside Studio, Matt Howe


      Damian Abraham
      This gentleman is a Toronto and Global punk rock god, and he would give you a high five on the subway if you said, “What’s up Damian?” Another incredibly hard-working, humble creative tour de force, and the lead singer of Toronto’s very own Fucked Up. I met this dude a few years ago and was moved by his personality, performance and passion. I’ve had the pleasure of photographing him, and seeing a bunch of his live shows both here in Toronto and in Europe.  This is what he’s been up to lately.

      +5, Westside Studio, Matt Howe


      Pascal Shirley
      One of the most undiscovered talented people I have ever met. When you’re riding the subway to work on Monday morning, thinking to yourself, “Ahhh I just wish I loved what I do… Or I wish I were on a road trip… Or sitting in a hot spring,” this mother f%^&*r is likely out there doing just that. And doing it incredibly well, with a smile on his face. Pascal’s photography is some of the best imagery I’ve seen. A camera is really just a camera, but he uses it as an extension of his life. Check out his work on his website.

      +5, Westside Studio, Matt Howe

      +5, Westside Studio, Matt Howe

      Check out some more of Matt on his site.


        Who You Gonna Call?!

        by Alex Beetham on October 2, 2014

        We’ve all heard the panicked recordings.  The breathless cries for rescue in life’s most desperate moments, such as when you’re stuck on a tricky homework problem, or when Burger King doesn’t get your order quite right.  As entertaining as this sample of the human condition are, calling emergency 911 lines for non-emergency matters is a growing issue.  From Cossette:

        Approximately 25% of calls to 911 are non-emergency police matters. These calls tie up emergency lines, taking resources away from where they’re needed most. This public education campaign addresses this issue with a simple but powerful juxtaposition between a non-emergency situation and a real one.

        Clean executions of clear narratives resonate with audiences, leaving lasting impressions. Anthony and team delivered just this for E-Comm 9-1-1, and paired with a print ad makes for an impactful campaign.

        Client: E-Comm 9-1-1
        Advertising Agency:  Cossette, Vancouver
        Creative Director:  Michael Milardo
        Associate Creative Director:  Lisa Lebedovich
        Art Director:  Lisa Lebedovich
        Copywriter:  Pierre Chan
        Agency Broadcast Producer:  Philippa Groom
        Production House:  Redpath Studios
        Production House Producer:  Anthony Redpath
        Dolly Grip:  Darin Wong
        Gaffer:  James Walker
        All Images & Video © Anthony Redpath


          Westside’s Summer Intern Army

          by Alex Beetham on September 22, 2014

          Each spring as the weather gets warmer and the days get longer, students fix their dreams on a few months free from the numbing routine of classes and assignments. Some will hit the beach and laze heavy in the sand while others party their faces off trying to distance themselves from a years worth of responsibility. But Not all students. Each summer Westside is fortunate enough to welcome a fresh crop of interns from some of the best photography institutions in the country. They come to spend their days learning the trade secrets of dust management and trash compaction, but they also get a first hand look at the day to day lives of our kick ass roster. We learn a thing or two from each other. They (usually) bring an infectious desire to learn, which helps remind us as to why got into this line of work in the first place. It’s challenging, creative and just plain awesome. This years gang was top notch, some of the best yet. But just as long summer days give way to cool autumn mornings and with the school year back up and running, we with heavy hearts have to return our five incredible studio interns back to their respective institutions of academia.


          Christa_SnapsChrista stepped up as our resident horse whisperer, and became Nikki Ormerod’s muse.

          “I’ve had such an awesome and unforgettable summer interning at Westside. I’m grateful to have had so many opportunities to work with such talented and diverse photographers on set. I’ve met the coolest people here, and always looked forward to coming into the studio because of its positive and friendly environment. Each day held something new and exciting and I was so happy to be around. The great relationships plus the knowledge and experience I will take away from this experience holds such importance to me.”
          - Christa

          Spencer_SnapsSpencer keeps Nikki’s subject in great light, and keeps Shanghoon’s Mandu on his best behaviour.

          Working at Westside this summer has been one of the greatest highlights of my time as a student. For our program we’re encouraged to seek out a placement that can offer us viable training in the photographic industry, working with clients, and learning what it takes to bring a big production together in a professional manner. Westside does all of this and more, as they are simply a group of good-hearted, passionate people who genuinely want to teach you the way of the industry all while making you feel at home.

          Every day is different, and I’ve had some amazing experiences both on location and in-house. Working with this team, I feel more confident than ever taking on a career in the photographic field. If I could sum up this job into one word, it’s awesome. I’m definitely looking forward to what lies ahead!
          - Spencer

          Olga_SnapsOlga throws a mean sledgehammer & wrap-photo gang sign.

          Westside has given me valuable hands-on experience assisting on set and working with talented photographers and crew. I really enjoyed my internship at Westside and happy to have met some great people along the way.
          - Olga

          Hassan_SnapsHassan learned that occasionally you need to rig a 3rd story window light, and got to meet the boys.

          My time spent at Westside was nothing short of amazing. I couldn’t be more grateful for the opportunity to work along side such talented photographers. – Hassan

          Kate_SnapsKate helped Spencer perfect his “Blue Steel,” and very much enjoyed being photographed down to size, pre-lighting for toddlers with Vicky Lam.

          Here’s the crew (missing Kate) on their final day:


          On behalf of everyone at Westside, we can’t thank you enough for all your help this summer, and we wish you nothing short of the best in your next chapters. See you on set!


            Tyler Gray Goes Way Back to School

            by Alex Beetham on August 27, 2014

            The upcoming September long weekend is a significant one.  It’s the one you dread growing up, knowing that it’s festivities are overshadowed by the end of summer vacation and the beginning of a new school year.  Tyler has been out of school for *cough* just a few *cough* years now, but has had the opportunity since 2011 to annually acquaint himself with the campus of Western University.  Tyler has been producing some gorgeous images for Western over the years, and this is no exception!  Words from Tyler:

            …This has been my third year shooting with creative director Terry Rice and designer Scott Woods from the Marketing Dept at Western U.  The early April email full of layouts from Scott has has become a beacon for spring and by the 3rd week of April i’m ripe for my first sunburn of the year.   – Tyler



            Photographer:  Tyler Gray
            Client:  Western University Alumni Association
            Creative Director:  Terry Rice
            Designer:  Scott Woods
            Project Coordinator: Diana Cunningham

            IMG_0320 IMG_0319 IMG_0315 IMG_0159All Images © Tyler Gray

            Want to find out whats going on in that last BTS image?? Head on over to Tyler’s Tumblr and he’ll tell you all about it!


              Ice Buckets for ALS

              by Alex Beetham on August 26, 2014

              It was only a matter of time before Westside was nominated for the viral ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.  Our nomination came from the lovely folk over at DS&P.  Upon making our donation to, we gladly extend the nomination to our friends over at Traffik Group & Milo Casting!

              Here’s what a huge “bucket” of icy water being dumped on Tom looks like:


                Vicky Visualizes Vimovo’s Wedding Plans

                by Alex Beetham on August 15, 2014

                Todays post brought to you from the desk of Vicky Lam. Take it away!

                The summer months of July and August are high season for weddings.  As I’ve already spent a couple weekends this summer as a wedding guest, I started to reminisce about a shoot I did for AstraZeneca pharmaceuticals earlier this year.  Dare I say, this is by far the cutest photo shoot I’ve done to date.  I was really excited when John St. contacted me to partake in this fun idea.  I loved the concept and the idea of making an unexpected pharmaceutical ad.  This is the kind of wedding photography that is up my alley!

                So what is “Vimovo” you might ask?  Vimovo is the latest osteoarthritis drug that offers pain relief and also protection from stomach ulcers.  To illustrate the union of these two elements, we were in search of some unique cake toppers.


                After seeing their layout I knew this wasn’t something I could easily find, and knew that only model maker, Franc Madden would be perfect for this job. I get so excited when models are made for photo shoots and love seeing the process of a vision coming to life. Here are some in-progress shots of our little couple as they were carefully hand crafted for our special shoot day.

                BTS Comp_1

                Getting cake toppers made was the first step, but it soon started to feel like we really were planning a wedding party. We tracked down some drapery and an oversized cake, and we were set to go!

                BTS Comp_2

                And after some finishing touches on set, the two were styled and camera-ready for this:


                Here’s a closer look at the happy couple:


                Many thanks to the great folks at John St for having me work on such a fun and sweet concept! And many thanks to the talented Franc Madden for all of his meticulous work on bringing our characters to life.

                Client: AstraZeneca, Vimovo
                Agency: John St.
                Associate Creative Director: Stephanie Ferrari
                Agency Producer: Alisa Pellizzari
                Model Maker: Franc Madden
                Photography Producer: Phaedra Kennedy
                Photography Assistant: Rebecca Leach
                Studio Intern: Dan Berger

                Let’s end this week off with a sweet portrait of the two and a glimpse of their first dance:

                BTS DanceAll Images © Vicky Lam


                  Nikki Gets Her Tiles Laid

                  by Alex Beetham on July 31, 2014

                  Knee pads and mortar were strewn about the studio a few weeks back by a talented team who transformed two of our studios into seas of ceramic.  Nikki Ormerod got the call to help bring Union’s campaign for Stone Tile to life.  Nikki will tell you all about it:

                  Shooting for Stone Tile was nothing less than a complete pleasure. The team over at Union are so great, and we really had a blast. It was a job with many moving pieces. We built the sets in our very own Westside studio together with the awesome crew from Stone Tile. It took a week to get them completed and they looked awesome!

                  Casting for this job was no walk in the park, however. We had to meet with and photograph countless of the city’s hottest men. I knew that even though this part of the job was agony , it would all pay off in the end. ;)

                  It was a difficult task to choose only three men from all the amazing talent we saw that day. In the end we landed three of the best to bring our scenes to life.

                  Feast your eyes.



                  GEN000000009 Azure Bathroom

                  GEN000000009 Azure Livingroom

                  GEN000000009 Azure Foyer

                  Client: Stone Tile
                  Agency:  Union
                  Creative Director:  Lance Martin
                  Art Director:  Lorraine Sit
                  Writer: Marisa Faustino
                  Photographer:  Nikki Ormerod
                  Assistants:  Bryan Ulrich, Jon Wayne Brown
                  Producer:  Phaedra Kennedy
                  Wardrobe styling: Marie Eve Tremblay
                  Hair/Makeup: Cait Mizzi
                  Models:  Steve B (Elmer Olsen), Maciel (Sutherland), Eric (B&M)


                  Stone Tile BTS
                  All Images © Nikki Ormerod


                    George Ventures into the Outback for Subaru

                    by Alex Beetham on July 21, 2014

                    June was a month of relentless travel for George Simhoni. One of his numerous flights landed him in beautiful British Columbia to team up with DDB for some gorgeous work to promote the new 2015 Subaru Outback. A few words from George himself:

                    It was a great opportunity to work on the 2015 Subaru Outback campaign with Rebecca and Dom. BC during the summer is a real treat. We usually go there for shoots in the winter and we are dodging rain most of the time. I love bringing people into the mix of car photography because it really kicks up the image and makes them more memorable. I had a wonderful team to help bring these images to fruition, from our photography and digital team, agency team and client. All great to work with.   – George

                    George Simhoni_Subaru1 George Simhoni_Subaru2All Images © George Simhoni
                    Photographer:  George Simhoni
                    Client:  Subaru
                    Agency:  DDB
                    Associate Creative Director:  Rob Sturch
                    Art Director:  Rebecca May
                    Copywriter:  Dom Raso
                    Producer:  John Stevancec
                    Assistants: Sean Best, Mark Cohene, Richard Amies, Mike Phang

                    Producer John Stevancec was kind enough to provide a glimpse behind the scenes:


                    George Simhoni_Subaru_BTS2

                    IMG_4246All BTS Images © John Stevancec