July 2011

Russell Monk’s Mexican Portrait series has been recognized by PDN magazine and garnered the top prize in the Editorial/Celebrity division of their annual Faces Competition. Here’s the spread from the the August issue:

Russell Monk

The copy reads:

These are two portraits from a series of the people I’ve met in my little part of Mexico. They were all captured in my daylight studio.

Above: “Garlic Man” wanders the streets with strings of garlic around his shoulders. He is a fairly common sight about town.

Right: Pedro is the caretaker and the gardener at the local playground. He is also a singer and sometimes wanders the streets and restaurants plying his trade. He had polio as a child and has an extreme limp. He is a lovely man.

We’ve been fans of this work for a long time but it’s certainly nice to see it recognized by PDN. Congratulations Russell!


    Introducing Matt Le Blanc- New Studio Manager

    by Westside on July 28, 2011

    We have a new member of the team over here at Westside: Matt Le Blanc, is our new studio manager and is apparently quite happy to work for booze:

    Matt Le Blanc

    Matt’s thank you gift from The Hive: A Bottle of Jack

    Let’s learn a bit more about Matt:

    Two weeks into the job and I’m still riding the high from hearing I would be joining the Westside team.

    Aside from familiarizing myself with the daily workings of the studio, my opening weeks have given me time to get to know and help some of the photomasters. Whether it be helping Mr. Shapton with his “possible advertising changing*” photo, finding Mr. Myers a charger for his 7D, or scanning a parking ticket from Quebec and sending it to an assistant so it doesn’t double in price, I’m happy to do it. This week, aside from helping out Team Barnes with some shots there’s been a lot of painting and clean up to be done.

    My first real task in the big boy shoes came on day 2. I got a call the afternoon before the shoot, it was Tom Feiler and he needed me to get materials to make “two 12ft benches like the ones from old class pictures”. I got what I needed together and the following morning met outside The Hive. Having only met Tom over the phone the day prior I was really motivated to make whatever he needed happen, (who knows what a man who photographs giant rabbits might do if I did wrong by him). All went well though, the benches worked out great, Tom was able to capture what he envisioned, and I must have done something right because there’s now a 3.0L bottle of JD sitting on the lazy-susan! Rit’aan bi’.

    Here are some outtakes, shot by Matt, of Tom Feiler’s shoot for The Hive:

    Tom Feiler The Hive

    Tom Feiler The Hive

    What are they looking at? We’ll never know.

    * Derek has been teasing us about this one for a week- we’ll let you in on his plans to revolutionize product photography as soon as we can weasel it out of him.

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      Caribana Time!

      by Westside on July 27, 2011

      Hey- it’s Caribana Scotiabank Toronto Caribbean Carnival time here in Toronto. A festival we all look forward to unless we need to drive somewhere that involves the QEW.

      To get you in the mood here’s a little commercial George Simhoni shot a few years back for AD Anthony Wolsh. Edited by Geoff Ashencroft at Stealing Time.

      Some slapstick and a whole lot of feathers:

      George Simhoni Sunrise Restaurant


        Matt Barnes In New Shawn Desman Video

        by Westside on July 26, 2011

        Matt Barnes recently appeared in Shawn Desman’s newest video: Moneyshot / Something Stupid which took over the supersized Studio F here at Westside for filming a few weeks ago. Assistant Spenser kicks off the video, check it out here:

        The story behind Matt’s involvement in this vid? I asked Matt about it:

        I worked on this video with friend and director RT! – Randal Thorne.

        I have wanted to see RT! in action for years now and love what he does. I also shot him for my panthers exhibit last year:

        Matt Barnes Panthers RT!

        And I love working with Shawn- he is one of of the nicest artists we have ever had in the studio. Some previous shots:

        © Matt Barnes

        © Matt Barnes

        In case you wanted more Moneyshots- here’s some BTS from the shoot:

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          Last week Nikki Ormerod shot a neat little campaign for Mitchell Eye Centre with the agency WAX out of Calgary. The art director was Brad Connell and boy is he a bundle of fun. Here he is wearing the prop glasses and looking a little… awkward (all on purpose).

          Nikki Ormerod

          If you’re following us on Facebook (and you should be), you’ve already seen a couple of references to this shoot. Here’s a diptych of an outtake and a BTS shot of Derek Shapton as talent:

          Nikki Ormerod

          Art Director Brad also got some nifty Instagram behind the scenes shots that looked great:

          Brad Connell© Brad Connell

          I know we’re all fans of our iPhone photography so I asked Brad to share some of his favourite snaps. Turns out he’s quite the aficionado. He refered me to the site Objective Scenes where he is a guest blogger. From there I found these two gems:

          Brad Connell© Brad Connell

          © Brad Connell

          Of this last one Brad explains:

          My wife drives kind of fast. So one day I started taking pictures of the people we passed. I liked the way they looked in a grid on my camera roll so I took a bunch of them that had similar driver side window proportions and made a bunch of diptics with them.

          Thanks for sharing Brad. If you haven’t had enough behind the scenes from this shoot (final hero shots require some interesting compositing- we’ll share shortly), you can watch the time lapse:

          Untitled from Westside Studio on Vimeo.


            Nikki Ormerod is in my House

            by Westside on July 21, 2011

            Yes, this is my laundry room and that’s Nikki Ormerod’s shot on the package of Bounce:

            Despite the wacky and wild or moody and desaturated imagery retained by some clients, shiny happy people have always a mainstay of commercial advertising. Nikki does it with punchy branded colour in these shots for Bounce (with Leo Burnett: Paul Giannetta, CD and Leila Courey, AB). Here are a couple of the original shots:

            Nikki Ormerod

            Nikki Ormerod© Nikki Ormerod

            Speaking of colour, I actually love this orange/aqua combination and it put me in mind of this shot (the orange below, admittedly has a bit more red in it), pulled from my (true story) decorating inspiration file on my desktop:

            This was not shot by Nikki but look for a post in the next week or two about shooting celebrities- featuring Tyler Gray’s recent shoot with Carrie Fisher!

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              PHOTOGASM | Matt Barnes’ Take on Jazz

              by Westside on July 20, 2011

              Matt Barnes recently shot a creative which featured a stranded Jazz band, circa, 1953. Here’s a selection from the series:

              Matt Barnes

              Matt Barnes

              Matt Barnes

              Matt Barnes

              Matt Barnes

              Matt Barnes

              Matt Barnes © Matt Barnes

              Matt is no stranger to elaborate creative shoots. I asked him about the inspiration for this one and he explained:

              I had wanted to do a shoot like this for a few years now. I’m a huge fan of classic female jazz artists like Nina Simone, Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday.

              I also love the work of William Claxton, I’m a Steve McQueen nut so I always loved this shot of him:

              Plus I’m a Tacshen fan and loved Claxton’s book Jazz Life. I wish I was around back then to document that era of Jazz and music/culture in general.

              I love old vehicles so I thought a bus would be a really good prop. And I wanted to give it a good southern sunny vibe so I shot only natural light with out any bounce or anything… I wasn’t as concerned with the “how” in terms of the technical look, I wanted it to be all “feel”. But we added a bit of smoke to the shot cause that’s what we always do :)

              The cast consisted of friends, real musicians, a few models and a couple of character actors.

              I thought it would add a nice romantic innocent to have a kid in there… I love shooting kids and they always bring a good vibe to the set.

              Plus, Ryan Enn Hughes shot a BTS video of the shoot, with music by the great Mississippi Fred McDowell. The tune: “Goin Down to the River”


                5+ | Mo Bofill

                by Westside on July 18, 2011

                Wow, it’s been two weeks already? Here’s the next installment of our new feature 5+ which showcases 5 inspirations from creative professionals like yourselves.

                - – - – - -

                This week we’re taking a glimpse inside the mind of Mo Bofill, who is currently a Senior Designer at Zulu Alpha Kilo (and also Westside’s go-to designer!). Most often she can be found wandering the streets of Toronto, in transit, people-watching or at Italian restaurants eating pasta. Mo is a joy to work with and some of that joy is expertly captured by Nikki Ormerod in this double portrait:

                Mo © Nikki Ormerod

                Like many of us, Mo also has a creative practice outside of the office. I encourage all of you to follow her Tumblr page where you will have the good fortune of seeing her daily experiment in hand lettering: She explains: One random word a day. Drawn or assembled. Usually sketched on found things during train rides to work. Here’s a sampling:

                Mo Bofill © Mo Bofill

                - – - – - –

                Mo’s list:

                Gaudi & Barcelona

                I just recently got back from Barcelona, never have I ever met a city loud with so much passion and colour. Everything has been touched in some way, by some form, by someone – I fell in love with the contrast of their historic architecture layered with such different graffiti. Also, studying Gaudi in history books, does not do justice to his work. When I first saw the inside of Sagrada Familia, I think I stood there like a crazy tourist with my mouth open staring at the ceiling for 15 minutes. It is just that breathtaking that you forget this is real. I think one of the things we forget to do as tourists is to actually stop, put down the camera and just stand there for 5 minutes and actually take it all in – you’ll be surprised of the details you’ll find.

                Mo Bofill

                Alexander McQueen

                Alexander McQueen is INSANE. I mean it complimentary to his body of work. I’ve always admired his couture work, followed him mostly on red carpet features and fashion editorials. However, my sisters recently visited Alexander McQueen’s exhibit at the MET in NYC, and brought back his book ‘Savage Beauty.’ If you can’t make it out to his exhibit, definitely get your hands on the book. There are details of his work that I have not seen – simply unbelievable. I’m always so astounded with how people see their environment, extract from it and create something so magical. He takes forms evocative of nature and makes it provocative to form the human body. Stunning.

                Mo Bofill

                Digital Kitchen

                This is an installation the Digital Kitchen did at the Cosmopolitan Las Vegas. I have an affinity for Vegas, because it’s a city where anything goes, anything can happen – that on its own is inspirational. But I digress, DK did an awesome job with this installation at the entrance way. They’re simple projections on columns, but the way they did them and the subjects they chose, the placement and pacing of the animation – striking and brilliant. Definitely worth checking out.

                Mo Bofill Digital Kitchen

                Flora Hitzing

                A running theme that you’ll probably notice in a lot of the things that inspire me is that I have this thing for organic forms and movement. So every time an artist tries to tell a story about forms in nature – I get really excited, really really excited. Flora’s work is amazing – she does a lot of watercolour work which highly influences her sculptural work. l love that nothing is the same – there is no symmetry but there is balance.

                Mo Bofill Flora Hitzing

                My 17-year old sister

                I never thought I’d be ‘out of touch’ with what the ‘cool’ kids are doing these days – according to my sister I’m on the periphery. She keeps me young, keeps me up to date with what’s up. She’s taught me about “grindlines,” about how the term “stupid” has replaced “sick” which has replaced “cool.” Her and her friends mostly live their lives online, a lot of the things they watch are on YouTube. They follow these You Tube celebrities, who are their own age, your average next-door neighbour’s kids who decided to make videos one day. They’ve become brands on their own right, they have their own shows, music videos, shopping channels, fashion and make-up advice. Holy crap Batman – these kids are the most business-saavy young entrepreneurials I’ve ever come across. Unknowingly, my sister and her friends think of themselves as brands, from their twitter accounts to tumblr to facebook. I can only imagine the things they’ll do when they grow up. Never underestimate youth, they will always surprise you.

                Mo Bofill

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                Thanks Mo!


                  Some new Pro-Bono work from Russell Monk

                  by Westside on July 15, 2011

                  Though we all like to do commercial, paying gigs, it can also be tremendously rewarding to do pro-bono work. Many of our shooters have regular non-profit clients both locally and internationally. One of the better known relationships at the studio is between Chris Gordaneer and the WWF.

                  Here’s the poster from Chris’ 2007 show of images shot in Africa. All proceeds went to the the World Wildlife Federation.

                  Chris Gordaneer

                  Recently, Russell Monk was asked to shoot an assignment for a division of Enbridge called Energy4You. Russell explains:

                  This project was done in conjunction with a Non for profit based out of Calgary called Light up the World installing basic small solar panels that run a few LED lights in houses where they have no access to the grid.

                  Russell Monk

                  Russell Monk

                  Russell Monk

                  Russell Monk


                    Matt Barnes Photo Becomes Tattoo

                    by Westside on July 15, 2011

                    Friend and Kustom metal worker Darin Hagadorn recently got a tattoo of one of Matt Barnes photographs. Tattoo artist: Aiden Whitty.

                    Matt Barnes© Matt Barnes

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