Dear Photographer


by Matt on December 9, 2011

Dear Photographer,
You guys and gals at Westside seem to get a really wide variety of clients.
Assuming you haven’t worked it already, what is your dream job (ie. client or project)?

George Simhoni
I have had many, but my dream job would be a tourism gig for Tourism Canada to promote adventure tourism in all those places you don’t see repeatedly advertised, and I am allowed to photograph and film with a small crew and art director in all those wonderful places.

Ryan Enn Hughes
I have a music video idea for “The Throne”…which if I ever got the chance to make would be the crowning achievement of my career. Swag.

Matt Barnes
I would love to shoot the Pirelli Calendar later in life! I think that would have to be one of the raddest assignments in the world.

Andrew B. Myers
I always thought it would be the grandest thing in the world to make imagery that would end up on the side of a jumbo jets.

Tyler Gray
Might sound cliche but the whole thing is a dream job. I mean, I take pictures for a living. Ultimately though I guess my dream job would have been to meet and shoot Johnny Cash, that aint happening though. I guess I could settle for Bruce Springsteen. Both are/were unbelievable story tellers and I draw a lot of my inspiration from this in my personal work.

Jean Malek
I would like to shoot a big project with a hollywood star. I’m not really a groupie, but I think it would still be nice to have someone like Scarlett Johansson in my shots, or Zooey Deschanel… superstars you know? ;D

All Images © Respective Photographers

An oversized thank you to Ryan and the same to all the photographers for sharing. Keep those questions coming kids, within reason we will answer just about anything. CLICK ME.


    DEAR PHOTOGRAPHER | Tell Me About Your Steez

    by Matt on November 4, 2011

    Dear Photographer,

    Please describe your style in 3 words or less.


    Chris Gordaneer | Adventure. Travel. Fun.

    Tom Feiler | Oddly Normal Nose-twitches.

    Ryan Enn Hughes | Cash Money Millionaires.

    Matt Barnes | Crazy. Sexy. Cool.

    Andrew B. Myers | Andrew. B. Myers.

    Frank Hoedl | Heightened Reality

    George Simhoni | Timeless.

    Nikki Ormerod | Narative.

    Vicky Lam | Bold. Graphic. Quirky.

    Jean Malek | Cinematographic. Edgy. Sensitive.

    Derek Shapton | the World is Your Tripod
    (An oldie but a goodie. A 1/2 second exposure actually taken without a tripod. Camera was balanced precariously on the parking garage railing, with a 6 story drop right behind it, levelled with a cookie and a lens cap, if i remember correctly. DS)

    Thanks to all our photographers for their responses, and a big thanks to John for the question.
    Happy Friday everyone!


      DEAR PHOTOGRAPHER | Shapton shoots People

      by Matt on October 21, 2011

      In todays installment of Dear Photographer, Derek Shapton reassures a young shooter that people are hard… at first.

      Dear Photographer/ Derek Shapton,

      As an aspiring shooter I am hoping you can shed some light on my current “obstacle”.

      I have always been drawn to landscape and still life work, but as of late have been trying to overcome my fear of shooting people.

      I find that I tense up when Im shooting portraits and the disconnect between myself and my subject is very evident in my images. Although I understand this will take time to work through, I am hoping you might be able to share some “tricks” you might have for making your talent look so comfortable in your images.

      Rachel C

      Hi Rachel C,

      I totally understand how you feel, I had to overcome similar fears — in fact almost everyone I know admits to having had a certain amount of trepidation about shooting people when they were first starting out. The key is really just to practice, practice, practice. Over time you’ll figure out your own approach and arrive at some kind of comfort level.

      That being said, here are a few things to consider:

      • If at all possible, don’t get the camera out right away. Chat with the subject, ask them lots of questions, try to put them at ease. Odds are they’re just as nervous as you, if not more so. It might feel like you’re wasting time with idle chit chat but really you’re creating an atmosphere where everyone (including yourself) is comfortable.
      • Keep it simple at first by taking pictures of people you know. Friends and family make great subjects, they’re usually quite patient and willing to try things strangers might not. And remember, a good, strong portrait of your aunt (for example) is just as valid a portfolio piece as a celebrity portrait.
      • Keep your setup simple and straightforward as well, at least for the first little while. Trying to pull off really complicated lighting or using equipment you’re not familiar with can just add to your anxiety. Don’t worry, there will be plenty of time to experiment as working with people becomes more natural for you.
      • Try shooting the the same people multiple times. You’ll be surprised how quickly a rapport can develop. You’ll likely find the experience of working with someone more than once quite rewarding, it can become very collaborative, and you’ll get a good sense of how to tell when something is working and when it isn’t.
      • Last but not least, don’t be discouraged when things don’t go as expected. Everybody has off days. In a few weeks you’ll barely remember that shoot that didn’t go so well.

      Most importantly, take lots of pictures of lots of different people. Before you know it you’ll have a full portrait portfolio to show alongside your landscape and still life images!

      Good luck!!


      *Update* Just remembered this oldie but goody from over on Derek’s blog, Planet Shapton, where Derek reminds us that getting our photo taken is always educational. CLICK HERE.


        Dear Photographer,
        In the digital age, when is photography ‘photography’ and when does it become graphic art?
        Lost in Digital Arena

        Well LIDA I decided to share your query with my entire photographer/assistant address book and see what came back. Quick to the draw was Tyler Gray who shared this,

        Incorporating Photoshop with photography today is really no more progressive than what Ansel Adams was doing 75 years ago with the zone system, dodging and burning and various other methods of manipulating a photo. Man Ray came from this same generation and so did many movie makers between the 20′s and 80′s by using paintings to create majestic and non existent backgrounds. A great example of this is “the mansion on the hill” in Psycho and more so the majestic backdrops in The Wizard of Oz and Gone With the Wind.

        All that said, the digital age is really no different than the changes that have happened over the past 100 years. Ansel was an outsider in his day and is now embraced to the fullest extent. In my opinion, photography will always be photography regardless of how we spin it, or at least until we start taking pictures without cameras (a.k.a CGI, but ill pass on that grass).

        Then Nikki showed up with the Readers Digest version, short, sweet, and to the point.

        When the digital work becomes a vital part in completing the image. As in, not just using digital manipulation to just enhance but to build the photograph to levels unachievable in camera.

        Big thanks to LIDA for the question and a nod of the brow to both Tyler and Nikki for their input.

        Dear Photographer,
        I’d love to read about how Matt Barnes created his Yeti image.
        Thanks in advance!
        Yours Every Time, Iceman

        Well YETI, I talked to first assistant Spenser about the ordeal, and after shaking off the post traumatic stress he was able to share this much,

        Most difficult shoot I’ve ever worked on. As if dealing with a massive blizzard wasn’t enough, the truck we were moving gear in broke down half way up the mountain and there were some tense moments amongst the crew (regarding what to do about the situation, but more importantly who was in possession of the weapons). Luckily for all of us involved I have a touch of Sherpa in me and I was successful in leading Matt and the crew to the area of the mountain where the locals had observed the humanoid feeding.

        And as it turns out, Matt’s beautiful monstrosity has its very own BTS video that is almost as big as the Yeti himself.

        What was not shared in the BTS video is where the beast now rests. Spenser elaborates,

        As a man I could not in good conscience allow such a glorious pelt to be lost to the mountain. So I bagged, tagged, and stuffed that sucker. Now she’s on show for all to see.

        So dear reader, thus ends the first instalment of Dear Photographer, hopefully it was to your liking. Give the top banner a click for a direct email link with the subject line already made for you, all you have to do is type your question and you should hear back with a “got your question – working on it” type response within 48 hours.

        PS. R.I.P Big Steve

        { 1 comment }


          by Matt on October 4, 2011

          Do you ever have those moments where you are looking at an image and think to yourself, “I am confused and do not understand how this was made possible. If only I could ask the photographer what they did, maybe I would have a better understanding of how much work actually went into creating this radical photo.” Take these images for example.

          Of course it only makes sense to think Matt forced this Richmond St ready spicy italian into a walk-in freezer for a couple of hours until the frost built up, utilizing those brief minutes to get the shot before forcing him back in to re-frost.

          Here in our next example I am still trying to find out how much this man was paid in order to allow Tyler to set him on fire.

          And would you believe that for this image Chris was actually riding a horse, bareback, gripping the beast one handed by its mane, while the other hand operated his camera? His assistant Aric was required to ride along side him as Chris felt it best to shoot tethered to his laptop.

          Feel as though I am misinformed? Perhaps just strait up dont believe that these were the techniques used to capture these images? Well tell ME what you want to know and I will do my absolute best to get all the proper facts from the proper people so your mind can stop wondering how our photographers achieved their final image. Looking forward to reading your questions and trying to pry out the answers from our staff.