Introducing: The Hood.

by Alex Beetham on December 17, 2014

18 years ago, Westside Studio was in need of some additional real estate.   The studio’s first headquarters on Jefferson Ave. in Liberty Village just wasn’t cutting it any longer, and an extensive search resulted in 70 Ward becoming home.


Co-Founder Sandi Wall sweeping the bare bones of 70 Ward, just after receiving the keys.

This hood has seen some significant growth over the past 2 decades, and as one of Toronto’s last pockets of “affordable housing” (a discussion for another day,) it’s only picking up pace.  Metrolinx construction, upcoming business ventures, gorgeous real estate repurposing the neighbourhoods existing aesthetic, tasty eats, and everything in between.

“The Hood” is a new blog feature highlighting the people, places, and things we here at Westside love about our neighbourhood.

Keep your eyes peeled tomorrow for the first issue, featuring our new friends at Propeller Coffee Co.

Bad-Edit70 Ward image © Westside Studio
Propeller Image © Alex Beetham


    Toyota’s 2015 Camry got #Hoedlized.

    by Alex Beetham on December 12, 2014

    1.   To experience a Frank Hoedl set, generally containing a minimum crew of 20, at least 2 cube trucks crammed with gear, bi-tubes rigged higher than any one light stand can handle, and quality espresso. Example: “Oh man,  today I had to figure out how to rig a window light 3 stories up during a mild hurricane… totally got Hoedlized!”

    The experience of a Frank Hoedl shoot has become that of legend in Toronto photo circles.  He and his team work long, hard days (and nights) to bring his images to life.  But after one look at the final product, it’s immediately worth the effort.  This gorgeous campaign for example, just went live for the 2015 Toyota Camry:

    2964 TCi-14-143C 10x11.5.pd2964 TCi-14-142A 10x11.43.pd2964 TCi-14-141A 10x11.43.pd

    Allow me to introduce one of Westside’s long time producers John Stevancec, to break down Frank’s latest campaign with Toyota!

    Once again, Fridays seem to be the day clients call us to make campaigns come to life for them with very tight deadlines.  They obviously know we are always up for that challenge here at Westside!  Joel Arbez from Saatchi & Saatchi had three very impressive layouts for Frank Hoedl to work on for the new 2015 Toyota Camry.  The only issue was they needed to be produced and Shot in 1 week… No problem! We basically scouted over the weekend, Monday was a tech scout with Frank Hoedl, Joel Arbez, Brian Joe (our location scout), and myself.  We looked at various locations that day, made some executive decisions, then sent the client some  recommendations later that evening.  Tuesday we waited for client approvals, but had to start the permit process anyways that morning because it would never have gotten done in time otherwise!  We were really happy our client was onboard with the recommends, as they finally approved the locations on Thursday morning! Good thing we took the initiative to start the process right away!

    Our first Day was shot in Northern Ontario on some amazing roads, that was fun, but near the end of the shoot Coyotes were getting closer and closer to us, a little too eerie in a dark forest in the middle of nowhere and I’m not kidding!

    Comp #1 copy

    Left to Right: The cube truck convoy taking over a Northern Ontario highway, crew watching fog applications, & assistant Gabe Nivera keeping cameras dry.

    Day 2 was going to be, quite literally, a day at the beach, but Joel wanted it to look like snow had just started falling and our talent was running towards the lake for a quick dip! No problem, once again! We had dressed the set with fake snow, had snow cannons for falling snow, and our talent was actually quite warm in their swim suits that day. It was about 15 degrees celsius which was quite the surprise for all of us at the end of October! We got lucky with weather once again! (editors note: *Knock wood*.)

    Comp #2

    Assistant John Wayne Brown keeping tabs on a bi-tube (on a grip arm, in c-stand, in a sky-high), a look back into the set, and an additional angle of the talent on the move.

    Day 3 was shot in Kensington Market, as you know it’s a very busy location with so much happening there at any given time, but throwing in a large production stills shoot, hero car on the road, 20 talent, set dressing, lighting, generators, Police officers, Wardrobe stylists, Prop Stylists, 6 Photo Assistants, and interesting shop owners, the day went very smoothly, and that’s why they hired us in the first place!

    Comp #3

    Frank looking thrilled that his picture is being taken, and a look at setting up shop in the middle of Kensington Market.

    Frank did his magic once again as you can see, the final ads are quite beautiful!  A big special thanks to our crew who worked endless hours, it was fun!

    Lets do it again!

    – John Stevancec, Producer

    Client: Toyota
    Agency:  Saatchi & Saatchi
    Photographer:  Frank Hoedl
    Producer:  John Stevancec
    Executive Creative Director:  Brian Sheppard
    Group Creative Director:  Joel Arbez
    Senior Account Executive:  Kat Ledgett
    Assistants:  Bryan Ulrich, Abe Roberto, Jon Wayne Brown, Gabe Nivera, Peter Olson, Logan Allmendinger
    Casting:  Milo Casting

    Photographer Frank Hoedl shares a great tip for location scouting (ask the locals!), and other insights into this campaign:

    The very tight timeline turned out to be a great motivator and led to my discovery of the best road I think I’ve ever driven in Ontario.  Hwy 13, Southwood Rd, between Hwy 11 and 169 near Bala.  While on my way to another potential location, I stopped at a Motorcycle shop and asked the local mechanic which were the best roads for riding.  He was right about the road.  The beach execution allowed me to discover the beaches on Lake Eerie and drive my 4×4 on the sand.  I had the best espresso in Toronto, in recent memory, in Kensington Market at Casa Acoreana Cafe, the corner of Baldwin & Augusta.  All my locations from now on will hopefully be within 100 ft of a coffee shop.

    Sure the timelines were crazy and yes, we got a car stuck on a beach briefly.  Yes, the locations were approved before we got their permission but we got it done!  As usual, the team at Westside led by John the producer, performed above and beyond the call of duty.  The Toyota job was fun because of the people involved, and the team at Saatchi were great to work with.   – Frank

    All Images © Frank Hoedl
    BTS Images © John Stevancec, Abe Roberto


      Nikki Plays Make Believe

      by Alex Beetham on December 10, 2014




      I’ve been wanting to do a shoot with Lola for over a year now. I felt like if we didn’t do it soon – she wouldn’t be a kid anymore.. This little lady was such a great model it blew us all away. She kept us entertained with her vibrant personality and with her live performance of The Llama Song. I really felt like I was a child again. It was such a fun day. I have a fascination with film (some films…) I really wanted this to feel like a total throw back to my childhood hanging out in my grandparents basement. Playing make believe. Dressing up. day dreaming. I borrowed colours from my memories and built a set accordingly. It has a very “Virgin suicides” feel to it… Its cool how ideas just grow and end up in spots you didn’t necessarily intend. I love when creative plans unfold organically and you’re left with something beautiful.

      - N


      Model is Lola,
      Her mum is Sacha.
      Wardrobe: Pascal Alhani
      Makeup: Angie DeBatista
      Set Design: Nikki Ormerod & Alex Beetham
      Assistants: Gabe Nivera & Jamie Rosenthal


      03_Lola__0337All Images © Nikki Ormerod

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        Vicky sizes up Bayer

        by Alex Beetham on December 3, 2014

        Vicky Lam dusted off her writing chops to give you a first hand look into one of her recent assignments. Take it away Vicky!

        I feel like I’ve had my fair share of shooting miniature scenes over the years so I was delighted when the team at MacLaren McCann approached me to work on a unique project for Bayer Crop Sciences.  Miniatures are always fun to shoot, exploring the different ways of bringing life to tiny characters.  However it’s also because of the miniature size that makes it challenging too.  The slightest movements make the biggest differences.  Thankfully, I had help from prop builder extraordinaire, Jamie Oxenham to create our tiny construction team and stylist, Christina Yan, to build our landscape of bread.

        Here are a few shots from our shoot and how it all came together.

        To give a sense of scale, each figure is about 2-3 cm tall and was custom made based off of moulds and altered for body positioning. Each piece was then carefully hand painted!

        BTS comp1

        Our construction site consisted of breads from all over the world.  It was carb overload at the end of the shoot day.


        Our little figures hard at work:


        Stylist Christina Yan, and assistant Christa Guia carefully start slicing down the the baguette tower for the construction workers:

        IMG_6824 IMG_6834

        And here is the final ad:

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        Concepts like this are always fun to shoot, and it is what keeps me excited about studio photography.  This shoot was even more of a surprise when I realized that the ad would appear in National Geographic magazine!  As a studio, still life photographer, I never imagined any of my work would ever appear in National Geographic magazine.  I’ve always thought of National Geographic to be a staple of top notch photojournalism and the best of the best of wildlife photography.  Ok, so maybe I didn’t shoot a story for National Geographic, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel just a little giddy at the idea of even appearing in a global publication.  And it was all thanks to Bayer and MacLaren McCann for giving me the opportunity to do so. – Vicky

        Client: Bayer Crop Science
        Agency: MacLaren McCann
        AD: Steven Davenport
        Prop builder: Jamie Oxenham
        Prop stylist: Christina Yan
        Photography producer: Phaedra Kennedy
        Assistants: Rebecca Leach and Christa Guia
        Retouching: Robyn Nowoczin
        All Images & BTS © Vicky Lam


          Dave + Yoga Pants + ??? = Profit

          by Alex Beetham on December 2, 2014

          We’re thrilled here at Westside to have Dave Delnea join us full time in Toronto. A few differences from Vancouver: Less mountains, more snow, and a far superior hockey team.  But that goes without saying…

          Dave recently reunited with a familiar client, and created some new lifestyle work for Lululemon.


          Wet, cold and muddy… perfect for a day on location.

          We were back at it with the crew from Lululemon last month on the west coast.  A change from our past yoga and running shoots, we were able to have some fun scrambling around a few Squamish rock faces in a rain storm.

          Most of my talent direction ended with “… and try not to fall off the cliff”!  - Dave


          I’m pretty sure this sign means that you should try and reach for the giant floating “R” above all cliff edges as a last ditch effort as the ground gives way under you.

          BTS compAll Images & BTS © Dave Delnea

          Stay tuned for more from Dave & team!


            Tyler keeps cucumber cool with Sanuk

            by Alex Beetham on December 1, 2014

            Tyler really appreciates a quality piece of footwear. So much so that he’s accumulated air miles twice this year, travelling to California just for sandals. Well, that and photographing a new global campaign for Sanuk, but mostly the free sandals. Here’s a few words from Tyler to tell you all about it:

            Nothing could be truer than the old adage “you learn something new everyday”.  I can’t remember what I learned the other 4 days we were there however the 2 things I took away from this job are 1/ DON’T use the washroom at Fais Do Do, (the Do Do in Fais Do Do is actual do do) a small dingy live music venue on West Adams that makes Grossman’s or Lee’s Palace washrooms look like an aseptic laboratory. and 2/ Don’t meet George Morreira at 2pm for “a couple beers” on a down day.  Thanks for the BarBQ George.

            Continuing with the Gong Show that was created during the last campaign, this series takes us to a place where “Powerstache” thinks they’re still the opening act for Tesla back in ’88 and to “That Couple” you walk past brawling in front of a Dance Club on Adelaide on a friday night and your Sanuk’s have you “Cool as a Cucumber”

            - Tyler




            Client: Sanuk
            Photographer: Tyler Gray
            Agency: Ignited USA
            Art Director: Jeremy Carson
            Creative Director: Stephanie Arculli
            Associate Creative Director: Karin Djelaj
            Print Producer: Sam Helphand

            When Tyler arrived at the Ignited head office, he was greeted by his work on the walls!


            Here’s a little look into what goes into prepping a night club for it’s close up:


            Beers and BBQ are most welcome after a job well done.

            Comp2All Images © Tyler Gray


              Joey L takes focus on Canon L Series Lenses

              by Alex Beetham on November 27, 2014

              It’s a rare full circle moment when the a leading manufacturer rings you up to create ads for the tools you use on a daily basis.  This is exactly what happened when Joey L was approached by the fine folk at DentsuBos & Canon, to create the latest print campaign for the legendary L-series lenses.  Here’s a look at the final images, layouts, and a few words from Joey.


              Fortress of Solitude.

              Retoucher Nick Leadlay’s mobile fortress of solitude.

              Working on the Canon L Series photoshoot was a crazy whirlwind that greatly challenged everyone involved. Any advertisement shot on set was going directly to print in less than 10 days, and going to be seen by thousands (potentially millions?) of people. After shooting a setup, we chose our final image selects right then and there with Dentsubos and Canon, and our retoucher Nick Leadlay began the retouching process immediately on set. No time for second thoughts!  Nick had built a little computer-fort out of V-Flats and set up shop not too far away from the action so we could walk over to his hideaway and give him notes.The photo team would move on to shooting the next setup, and the process would continue like that over 3 days until all the final advertisements were finished. I might sound crazy, but I actually kind of liked this workflow, because it kept us on our tippytoes and when the job was wrapped, everything was already completed and in the can. Sometimes the retouching process can drag out over months, so it was refreshing to simply be done, dust off your hands, and walk away, and hopefully get some sleep finally.And of course, as the shoot was for Canon L series, those were the only lenses we used for the actual shoot, which is not really a departure from my regular kit. – Joey L

              Here’s a look at the final image pairings, with original crops from Joey:

              Final Comp #1

              Final Comp #3

              Final Comp #2

              Photographer:  Joey L
              Client:  Canon
              Agency: Dentsu Bos
              Art Director:  Kyle Scotland
              Producer:  Kirsten White
              On Set Retoucher:  Nick Leadlay
              Stylists:  Marie Eve Tremblay
              Hair & Make Up: Lisa Vella
              Assistants: Jesse Korman, Caleb Adams, Rebecca Leach, Adi Saciragic, Eryn Wind

              Here’s a look into what happens behind the camera to make these images possible.  From Joey’s GoPro’s:


              From the phone of producer Kirsten White:


              Images © Joey L
              BTS © Joey L & Kirsten White


                Tasty Treats w. Shanghoon

                by Alex Beetham on November 26, 2014

                Howling winds and snowy squalls make many a stomach crave warm, gooey comfort food. Shanghoon and food stylist Sarah Sweeney cooked up a delicious creative with this homemade turkey pot-pie. Try and keep from drooling.

                Food Creative Sarah119_01F Food Creative Sarah144_01FAll Images © Shanghoon

                Shanghoon & Sarah on set:



                  Ford + Toronto Maple Leafs = A Chris Gordaneer Special

                  by Alex Beetham on November 25, 2014

                  Sure there’s always death and taxes, but here are two more certainties in this life –  Chris Gordaneer will always be a Leafs fan, and he will always drive a Ford. This made Chris an ideal candidate to photograph die hard leaf fans that, like Ford says, go further.

                  LeafsYearbookBarber LeafsYearbookTattoo LeafsYearbookWedding

                  Client: Ford
                  Agency: Blue Hive
                  Photographer: Chris Gordaneer
                  Art Director: Marc Caringal
                  Producer: Kirsten White
                  Assistants: Brendan Smyth, John Wayne Brown, Adi Saciragic, Paul Swanson
                  Tattoo Artists: Maddalena Ruggiero & Alex Richarson
                  MUAH: Taylor Savage
                  Wardrobe: Marie Eve Tremblay
                  Prop Stylist: James Kennedy

                  Here’s a look at Chris’s final images, uncropped and outside of the final ad layout:


                  Producer Kirsten White was good enough to snap these BTS shots of Chris channelling his inner bride:

                  Kirsten BTS Comp1

                  Tattoo artists Maddalena & Alex had our talent under their markers for a full a day to create this custom back piece.  First assistant Brendan Smyth snapped these BTS shots:

                  Brendan BTS Comp2

                  All Images © Chris Gordaneer
                  All BTS Images © Kirsten White & Brendan Smyth


                    CABA 2014 – Humber Advertising Graduates

                    by Alex Beetham on November 19, 2014

                    Screen Shot 2014-10-29 at 8.47.00 PM

                    Tomorrow evening, 4 years of Humber Advertising Student blood, sweat, and tears will be on display for their graduating portfolio show.  Eager graduates will be rubbing elbows with industry heavyweights, hoping to have the fruits of their labour admired and jobs thrust at them.  Westside is thrilled to be amongst great peers sponsoring these graduates, such as our friends over at School!  We can’t wait to see what everyone has been working so hard on!




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