George Simhoni revs up the Lexus F SPORT

by Chris Payne on February 4, 2015

The thought of ripping around a track in one of the new Lexus F SPORT models is an attractive notion for anyone with, or without a drivers license.  The Lexus F SPORT series is a luxury/performance line up for the car enthusiast, blending technology and automotive engineering to ensure to improve every driving experience.

Legendary Westside studio photographer George Simhoni teamed up with Greg Trinier at DentsuBos to illustrate the power and beauty of these new slices of automotive heaven.

“I was asked to photograph the new models of the family of Lexus vehicles.  I knew that the weather would not be my friend in December for outdoor automotive photography.  Greg Trinier and I decided to do something very dramatic and moody since the weather suited that look more.  Our scout Brian Joe sent us pictures from the Flamboro race track in winter.  It is a very lonely and cool place off season.  It was the perfect background to photograph and dramatize the new lines on the cars.” -G.S.
Staying warm on this shoot looks like it may have been tricky, however it looks like George dressed for the weather while checking focus and preparing to shoot the magnificent beasts.  Producer John Stevancec kept busy by taking these behind the scenes photos.
Client: Lexus
Art Director:  Greg Trinier
Agency: DentsuBos
Producer: John Stevancec
Assistants: Gabe Nivera, Abe Roberto, Jon Brown and Bryan Ulrich


    Tyler Gray makes Half of a half Marathon feel complete

    by Chris Payne on January 28, 2015

    When most people envision a Sunday in late February, they may envision a warm cup of tea, the great indoors and relaxation.  It takes a really good reason to turn that vision into a 10.55km run through Peterborough…

    This year’s Peterborough YMCA Half a Half Marathon runners are about to lace up and bundle up to raise money for the Balsillie Family YMCA branch in Peterborough.  BrandHealth’s own Klint Davies and Dave Snider teamed up with Tyler Gray to create an awesome set of photos depicting what half frozen satisfaction looks like .  Check them out!

    Half and Half 1

    Half and Half 2 Half and Half 3

    “Often my favourite layouts are ones that are sketched on a napkin, much like this one, it leaves things relatively open for creative interpretation.  Dave’s sketches gave me a good guideline to work with without being too specific, and Klint and Dave were both really open to my vision.”


    “Klint and Dave are always chill to work with and going into this we knew it would be a bit of a challenge and would rely heavily on photoshop. Thinking like a retoucher and visualizing how it would ultimately come together I decided to shoot all the ice and dirt in individual pieces and puzzle it all together afterward.  The main benefit of doing it this way was the flexibility of being able to move things around as opposed to using heavy makeup on our talent but then having to retouch things out if I didn’t like it completely or if it crossed the centre line.  It can be a bit of a “leap of faith” for the client often as they go home at night without ever seeing exactly what we captured.  In this case, however everybody was on board and understood that this was the best way to do it.  The retouching was a great challenge and totally worth the time spent on it.”

    -Tyler Gray


    These photos were also brought to you by the ever amazing team plaid!

    Agency: BrandHealth

    Associate Creative Director: Klint Davies

    Art Director: Dave Snider

    Assistants: Bryan Ulrich, Abe Roberto



      Westside’s Bringing the Payne. Chris Payne.

      by Alex Beetham on January 13, 2015

      We here at Westside are thrilled to welcome our newest member of the team, Chris Payne.  He is bringing his love of photography & marketing to the table, stepping up as Sales & Marketing Coordinator working alongside our always magnificent agent, Caitlin Robinson.  This is Chris, happily admiring the Westside:


      3 fun facts about Chris, from Chris:

      1. My last job was to handle reptiles of various sizes and put on educational children’s shows with them.
      2. I have played in bands for the close to a decade and have been photographing concerts and musicians for the better part of the last 4 years.  Music is my other love.
      3. I am a huge dog lover.  On my desk sits a jar of human treats (mints, Werther’s originals, etc.) and next to it sits a jar of doggie treats (milk bones.)

      Chris In a Nutshell (AKA, A Bio):

      Chris Payne, born here in Toronto but grew up in Acton, Ontario.  I grew up snowboarding, skateboarding, listening to punk rock and playing music.  Photography found me at a young age, but I began taking it more seriously after high school.  I melded my love for music and photography by photographing local punk shows in restaurant basements, and bands that would break up a week later.  It took a few years until I was shooting some of the worlds most famous musicians at the ACC, Sound Academy and other large venues around Toronto.  Around the same time I began shooting weddings and making money from taking photos.  I wanted to grow my business and decided that I would go back to school to learn how.  For the past 2 years I have been studying business marketing at Humber College here in Toronto.  I fell in love with marketing from my very first class and knew that this was the next big thing in my life.  This education resulted in a job that I never would have thought I could find in my wildest dreams, the perfect meld of my love of photography and business.  Now filling the role of marketing and sales coordinator at Westside Studio.

      We’re excited to have you on board!  Bring the Payne.  (Turn it up?)


        Dave Goes for Gold with Nike

        by Alex Beetham on January 5, 2015

        Hockey fans eagerly await the holiday season not only for their friends and family, but to cheer on their fellow countrymen in arguably some of the most entertaining hockey of the year.  Every Boxing day the first puck drops for the IIHF World Juniors Tournament, where the best of the best upcoming NHL/KHL super stars take to the ice to bring home the hardware.  And they’re all still in high school.

        Dave Delnea was hired on by Rethink & Nike to showcase the 100th year anniversary Jersey that the boys are dawning this year.  Take a gander:


        Client: Nike Canada
        Agency: Rethink Canada
        Photographer: Dave Delnea
        Creative Direction: Lisa Nakamura / Leila Rogers
        Art Direction: Mustaali Raj
        Producer: Tom Nesbit & Heather Hyland
        Digital Artist: Aaron Campbell
        Assistants: Jamie Rosenthal, Mike Smith, Spencer Robertson, Heather Hylander, Brendan Smyth

        A look onto Dave’s set on shoot day:


        All Images & BTS © Dave Delnea


          If you’ve spent any time with Shanghoon, you know that he’s essentially the Korean P.Diddy.  So it was really no surprise to me when I heard Traffik Group approached him to pop bottles, strut with models, and make that Vodka sparkle like only Shanghoon can.   Behold:



          When I first saw the Ciroc layout, I wasn’t sure how the talent and product shots were meant to be handled together – and the project presented an extra challenge for me, because I don’t usually shoot people. But doing a test shot helped me figure out the proper angle and way to manage the talent in the background to get all the elements to fit in the picture. It was a great experience, and it turns out that I do love shooting people! It was also fun to get out of the studio and spend a day in a club – we had a blast.

          Thank you to everyone from Westside and Traffik who came out to be in the shot!

          Enjoy Ciroc during your holidays.  -  Shanghoon

          Client:  Ciroc
          Agency:  Traffic Group
          Photographer:  Shanghoon
          Producer:  Phaedra Kennedy
          On Set Producer:  Kirsten White
          Creative Director: Dylan Welsh
          Art Director: Phil Smith
          Beverage Stylist:  Sarah Sweeney
          Wardrobe Stylist:  Nadia Pizzimenti
          Hair & Makeup: Taylor Savage
          Assistants: Jeff Jamison, Bryan Ulrich, Brendan Smyth

          2014-11-04 10.59.21

          Brendan, Jeff, & Bryan look on as Shanghoon lays out the battle plan.


          Hey! If it isn’t our very own super-agent/model hybrid, Caitlin Robinson!

          Stay tuned for some exciting new work from Shanghoon in 2015!

          Images © Shanghoon
          BTS Images © Kirsten White


            Derek Shapton Envisions “Possibility” for United Way

            by Alex Beetham on December 19, 2014

            What you are about to witness, was created with only still images from Derek Shapton, and post production magic from one incredibly talented Joe Fellows.  Observe:

            I’ll answer your question before you ask.  That gorgeous technique you just witnessed is named the “Parallax Technique,” from Make Productions. Mr. Shapton explains:

            “In essence, and without giving too much away, the Parallax method is a way of using various digital transforms, effects, and animations to breathe light, life, and a sense of depth into a series of still photographs.”

            For more insight into the day, and to learn more about the Parallax technique, Derek has assembled some words up on his blog.  Here’s who had a hand in creating this piece:

            Client:  United Way
            Agency:  TAXI
            C0-Director / DOP:  Derek Shapton
            Co-Director / Post Production: Joe Fellows / Make Productions
            Producer:  Phaedra Kennedy
            Creative Director: Steve Mykolyn
            Copywriter: Jake Bogoch
            Art Director:  Yuko Brown
            Broadcast Producer: Nicole Poon
            Print Production Director: Sharon Govang
            Stylist:  Cheryl Thompson
            Assistants:  Jon Brown, Gabe Nivera, Peter Olson
            Production Company: Westside Studio

            A few looks into the shoot days snapped by producer Phaedra:


            Gabe with flawless typing form on the left, and the ol’ location laptop huddle on the right.


            Derek capturing hoop angle variations.


            Shoot essentials: Good coffee, Sugar. Shoot Bonuses: Working lunch patio pints & beers.


            Derek caught this moment between shots. A trio of assistants, and one post production magician.

            And while we’re on the topic of Derek Shapton, are you acquainted with his alter-ego Thunder_Pino?  I’d suggest you give him a follow.  Here are a few of his observations from the scout & shoot days:

            Thunder_Pino_Assembled“Possibility” Video © Derek Shapton
            BTS Images © Phaedra Kennedy & Derek Shapton
            Thunder_Pino © Derek Shapton

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              The Hood | Propeller Coffee Co.

              by Alex Beetham on December 18, 2014

              Who:  Propeller Coffee Co.
              What:  Award Winning Roaster / Cafe / Event Space / Delicious, passionately crafted & curated coffee.
              When:  October 19th, 2013 – the end of time (as we know it)
              Where:  50 Wade Ave. Toronto, ON (Distance from Westside: 509m – door to door, as the crow flies)
              Why:  Because coffee is the life blood of all photo studios.
              How:  Good people + Passion + Hard work + Endless supply of coffee = Success


              Last week I sat down with co-owner Losel, to discuss the finer points of roasting coffee in Toronto.

              A:  Well for starters, Well let’s get right to it! How long have you guys been open here?

              L:  We have just had our first birthday! Our first roast was October 19th, 2013, and the cafe has been open since the end of July, 2014.

              A:  Propeller Coffee. Great name! Any aviation history attached to the business?

              L:  Kind of! The key behind Propeller coffee is energy. The Oxford English Dictionary definition, is to propel, and move forward. We love the idea that our coffee is helping our customers move forward, and give them that moment of clarity, of energy, or of respite from a busy day.  Because of course, everyone loves their coffee moment! We love the idea of aviation and exploration, and in the long term we’d like to talk about propellers of ships.  It’s one thing to go explore new lands, new coffees, new origins, but most of the journey of coffee is done by ship.

              Bean EditA:  Why Coffee?  What about it gets you out of bed every morning?

              L:  There’s the romance and history of coffee, without a doubt. It’s so international… the idea that any given morning having a coffee from Guatemala, or Ethiopia, ya know?  These exotic far off places, that we culturally still think of as far off distant lands… even though we all travel a lot more then we did, they still evoke that feeling.  The other aspect is from a pallet or culinary perspective. Coffee has twice the taste points of  wine, and is a incredibly complex drink.  What differentiates us from some roasters, is that we follow the third wave principles.  We don’t roast as darkly as some others, which allows us to really show off those flavour points. Weather it’s citrus points from an african bean, or the richer, traditional chocolates and nutty tastes from coffees in latin America. … By roasting a little lighter, you can really expose those flavours in a fun way. We love to work with our customers, to show them how diverse and beautiful a drink coffee is… Getting those “Aha” moments is really motivating for us.


              A:  So why THE HOOD?

              L:  Great question. This hood… is all the things we were looking for. And we looked for almost a year and a half! It’s in the city, it’s close to our customers, it’s accessible to our customers. In the city, searched for a year and a half. If we had been in the 905 or 705, or even in the city with a space that wasn’t like this, it would have been really difficult to execute on any key elements of our vision. We wanted a space that took our customers through our journey, to properly show off our coffee, our whole process, the care that goes into …and to be interactive with our customers. …It’s in the heart of a completely thriving creative neighbourhood. There are all these great elements, plus being right around the corner from the subway… The initial gut feeling that this neighbourhood had stuff going on, has been reaffirmed in really fun, surprising ways day after day.

              A:  Thrilled to see you guys getting involved in the area so quickly after setting up shop, and curating some great community events.  Food Truck Fridays were a hit!  Any insight into what’s coming down the pipe in this regard?  

              Espresso Edit

              L:  Oh totally, totally. One thing we did notice that this neighbourhood was missing, and we’re excited to offer, is the whole concept of that third place.  It’s not work or home, but it’s a place you can make your living room, host a birthday party, or event space that you can make your own. We’re really beginning to find fun ways to do this with dinners, event collaborations, etc.  We have some really neat collaborations coming up. A 4 part dinner series, with 40 of Canada’s leading chefs. So anywhere between 8 & 12 of Canada’s top-top-top chefs on any given night, over 4 nights.  We’re calling it “The Chefs for Change Midwinter Feast.”  That ancient concept of the midwinter feast, embedded in ancient Viking culture, embedded in Pagan culture… even in Japan they have the concept of the midwinter feast on the longest, darkest night of the year.  And then we have a Sake festival coming up, new collaborations, some art exhibitions, documentary film screenings, etc.

              A:  Exciting!  Well not to get too serious, but we need an experts opinion:  Tim Hortons coffee…  Yay / Nay?

              L: Hahaha well it’s a part of Canadiana right?! It’s hard to say anything bad about Tim Hortons… It’s that comfort drink on a long road trip.  Haha if given the choice I’ll default to a local indie shop, hopefully having some great sourcing policies.  But if you’re on the road and a long way from your destination…Haha

              A:  Haha I hear ya!  Favourite caffeinated beverage?

              L:  Hmm… If I’m having a clover or a pour over, I will have an Ethiopian or a Kenyan. They are such a rich complex drink… almost like having a wine, or complex tea.  If I’m having cappuccino, which is my go-to milk drink, I love our “Ace” espresso that really cuts well, and really like our Nicaraguan as a drip. We just did a tasting up at the Artisan Tasting fair at Wychwood Barnes and it was a huge crowd pleaser.

              Bad-EditA:  Have any coffee tips or myths, you’d care to share or bust?

              L: Absolutely.  I have both!  Tips:

              1) Grind Size Matters:  If you are to invest in any one thing for your home coffee kit, get a good grinder.  Because freshness, just the quality of flavour and mouth feel is totally dependant on that grind.  We fine tune our grinds weekly to adjust for that weeks roast.
              2) Try your coffee without milk/cream/sugar, if you traditionally do that.  Especially if you have a good coffee, and see those flavours.  Which leads me to the next point:
              3) Let the coffee cool down a bit.  In the same way you let a bottle of wine breathe, you can watch the same complexity unfold in a good cup of coffee. It’s really neat to see!


              1) Dark and oily:  Isn’t a sign of good coffee, it’s a sign that it’s been over roasted. Those oils that have been forced out of the coffee, actually taste much better while kept in the bean, and then into your cup.
              2) Espresso doesn’t have the most caffeine.  Typically, a french press extracts the most caffeine, as the coffee sits in the water the longest, and is most exposed.
              3) Latin America has a lock on great coffee. Latin American produces great coffee, but Africa and South East Asia also have some absolutely incredible coffees.  Coffee began in Africa, so it’s very much the France/Italy of wine.

              Counter - EditA:  What playlists stimulate ideal roasting conditions?

              L:  Haha oh very eclectic playlists here… we had a particularly good batch the other week that funny enough, came right on the heels of the John Fogerty concert.  He played on Thursday, a bunch of the team went, and the next Monday/Tuesday Fogerty was CRANKED in the roasting room, all through the roasting and bagging cycle.  And that coffee was extra good that week!

              A:  What’s the most inspired thing you’ve seen/heard/experienced as of late?

              L: Great question… OH! I was in Boston over the weekend, and there is this young Tibetan guy, who grew up in Switzerland, who was there rapping actually.  I had heard of Shabaley, abd he basically sings about identity, and as an exile community, identity is pretty important.  He takes a positive spin on what is really, a pretty depressing issue right now with the state of affairs in Tibet…  He does something which is really beautiful, really inspired…  He sings about his experiences in a really hopeful way, and through his music challenges other young people.  I was watching him this morning actually with my 6 year old, teaching to stay true to your roots, to your culture.  It teaches the value of art, the value of music in, really any struggle.  And he promotes truth… It was inspiring to see this guy take a completely alien art form to the Tibetan culture, and then just make it his own.  And he is every bit as good as aaany…so my sister used to work for MCA/Adam Yauch/Beastie Boys, so we hung out with them a lot.  And he is any bit professional as any of those guys.  A big part of his message is the conservation of both written and spoken language, so he raps mostly in Tibeten, but also English and Swiss German. Certainly inspiring.

              A:  Wow…Curious!  I’ll certainly give him a listen.  Well thanks so much for taking the time to sit down with me, and on behalf of everyone at Westside, we’re thrilled to have you guys in our mugs every morning! (?)

              Editors Note:  If custom industrial machinery is up your alley, (it kinda makes me warm and fuzzy,) definitely go in and ask about their roaster.  Gorgeous craftsmanship.

              Words, Images & Phrasing © Alex Beetham


                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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