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


      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


        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!


          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



                by Alex Beetham on July 17, 2014

                One of the most endearing parts of summer has to be a trip to the amusement park. What with the games, the food the rides and the nausea. No one loves a good midway more than Anthony Redpath. The proof can be seen right here in his most recent print campaign for Playland, featuring The Playland Hot Seat. The experience took ”losing control” to a whole other level.

                Some background on Playland and the hotseat:
                Vancouver’s premier amusement park, Playland, hosts an event where winners get free tickets to Playland, with a catch: the entire experience is out of their control. Everything from the rides they go on to the number of mini- donuts they eat is determined by an online audience, voting in real time.

                Here’s what  AD extraordinaire Dominic Prevost had to say about the whole thing,

                Anthony’s extreme attention to detail and practical thinking was exactly what we needed to bring slick and stylized world of the Playland Hot Seat to life. Anthony immediately understood the concept and was keen to collaborate with us to find unexpected ways to take the execution up a notch — going as far as literally hanging our talent on ropes to have them dangle like “real” puppets!  - Dominic Prevost, AD

                And the finished product…….


                Creative Director: Ian Grais, Chris Staples
                Art Director: Dominic Prevost, Hannes Ottahal
                Copywriter: Danielle Haythorne, Jordan Cohen
                Photographer: Anthony Redpath
                Studio Artist: Jonathon Cesar
                Producer: Scott Russell

                Check out some other BTS from the day,

                IMG_82051_400_by_600 copyIMG_4843Play Land_Anthony Redpath_BTS

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                  Vicky Kicks off the Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition

                  by Alex Beetham on July 4, 2014

                  In honour of the Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition (TOAE) starting up today, I have the privilege of turning you over to Vicky Lam who was recruited to bring this years ad to life… only to then melt into a puddle. I’ll let her explain.  - Alex

                  Every summer, Nathan Phillips Square plays host to the largest and longest running outdoor art fair in Toronto since 1961.   The Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition is a sure sign that summer is well under way and is a great chance to see hundreds of local artists at an iconic Toronto landmark.  This year, art director and graphic designer, Una Lee, contacted me to help bring her vision to life.

                  Vicky Lam_TOAE_Layout1

                  I was excited to work on a local project that would help give exposure to hundreds of talented artists.  However, the challenge was apparent – how could we make our shot look like a blistering hot summer day with melting ice cream? And ice cream letters to boot?   The reality was that it was only the beginning of February in what seemed like the longest and coldest winter Toronto has had in years.  So, I enlisted the expertise of stylist, Christina Yan.  Christina and I have worked on a couple of typography projects before as well as a couple of shoots involving ice cream.  It only seemed fitting that we collaborate once again when the two ideas finally collided in one shoot.  After much deliberation and preperation, we worked with fake ice cream, as well as real ice cream components to get the look for a still image and also animated .gif.  With the help of dry ice, a large chest freezer, letter stencils, lots of ice cream, and a family value pack of Crisco, we embarked into this new territory together.

                  Vicky Lam_TOAE_Layout2

                  From there, we ended up with this:

                  Vicky Lam_TOAE_175_email04

                  Vicky Lam_TOAE14_layout

                  And here’s a close-up of the great textures Christina created:

                  Vicky Lam_detail01_TOAE

                  The last challenge was to shoot a melting animated .gif.  Shooting an animated time-lapse meant there was no room for error and no turning back.  We had to use real ice cream to make it happen. We weren’t completely sure just how typographic ice cream shapes would look as they melted, but here it is:

                  Vicky Lam_TOAE_Timelapse-03-July

                  After two days of careful preparation and styling, we ended our shoot with a giant puddle of melted ice cream on the studio floor:

                  Vicky Lam_TOAE_MG_9405

                  Many thanks to Una Lee for having us on board for such a fun idea, and to Christina Yan for figuring out how to make the impossible happen!  Be sure to check out the TOAE this weekend and support local artists.  Enjoy the summer sun while you’re at it, and maybe grab an ice cream too.


                  Photographer:  Vicky Lam
                  Client:  TOAE
                  AD: Una Lee
                  Stylist: Christina Yan
                  Assistants: Michelle Brussolo, Brendan Klem

                  All Images © Vicky Lam

                  **Editors Note** We (I) deeply regret the loss of perfectly good ice cream used for this shoot.  If you wish to contribute to the memorial, in lieu of cash we (I) would ask that you send pints of Haagen Dazs or Ben & Jerry’s to 70 Ward Street, C/O Alex.  We (I) thank you for your support at this difficult time.  



                    George gets Deep & Delicious with McCain

                    by Alex Beetham on July 2, 2014

                    McCain Foods has been a staple in the Canadian diet for generations. You’ve most certainly eaten their fries before (McCain produces 1/3 of the worlds frozen fries,) and at least the kid in you still knows all about sneaking fork-fulls from this guy.  I can’t be the only one, right?  Well making light of all the trendy treats springing up in recent, McCain’s enlisted the talents of Entrinsic and our very own George Simhoni (wearing his directors hat) to bring dessert back to it’s roots in these fun spots.  Check’em:

                    Motion © George Simhoni

                    Director: George Simhoni
                    Client: McCain
                    Agency: Entrinsic
                    Executive Creative Director: Anthony Wolch
                    Copywriter: Kyle Carpenter
                    Content Manager: Rebecca Brown
                    Account Manager: Sasha Bricel
                    Producer: John Stevancec
                    Assistants: Jon Brown, Alex Beetham, Logan Allmendinger

                    McCain BTS_George SimhoniBTS © Alex Beetham & his potato