Vicky Lam

Vicky Lam Feels the East Coast Love

by Alex Beetham on May 18, 2016

Have you seen any of these plastered all over billboards and bus shelters yet!?  Vicky Lam’s campaign with DDB for Nova Scotia Tourism is live and can be found all over the streets of Toronto, Montreal, and Boston!  Take a gander at a couple examples, and Vicky is going to walk you through how this job came to be!

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A couple months ago, I was so excited when I received a call from DDB to create a colourful campaign for Nova Scotia Tourism.  Although, I can’t say I’ve ever been to Nova Scotia prior to my shoot, but I definitely want to make a trip out there soon after learning so much more about it.  Each item that we photographed was unique to Nova Scotia and was unexpected – tying it back to the whole If you only knew idea.  Here are the final images:

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There were a lot of elements and people who came together to make this all happen including the client herself when she brought drift wood and a fiddle all the way to Toronto from Nova Scotia!  (Thanks Dana! )

It was so great to be asked to photograph such a fun and colourful idea.  One of the ideas included the largest items I’ve ever had to photograph – a 15ft raft!  Not only was it a daunting task, but the raft was very specific to Nova Scotia and the experience of tidal bore rafting.  It was impossible to find the same model in Ontario, but prop stylist extraordinaire Donna Irvine did some sleuthing work and found someone who came to our rescue.  Steve Elder from Urbania, Nova Scotia showed us some true East coast spirit by towing one of his rafts all the way to Toronto just for our photo shoot!

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Who knew that the world’s highest recorded tides have been found right here in the Bay of Fundy?  Not only that, but it is home to a unique experience called Tidal Bore (which can be read up more upon here).   I’m definitely going to check this out when I visit Nova Scotia!  I’m so excited to have been asked to be a part of this fun campaign and am really happy to spot some of my work out there already on the streets of Toronto (Montreal and Boston!), but this wouldn’t have come together without the support of these awesome folks:

Client:  Tourism Nova Scotia
Art Director:  Rebecca May
Designer:  Tom Bourke
Agency:  DDB
Agency Producer:  Dana Drummond
Account Director:  Melissa McCaughey

Production:  Westside Studio
Photographer:  Vicky Lam
Prop stylist:  Donna Irvine
Food stylist:  Ashley Denton
Retoucher: Robyn Nowoczin
Tidal Bore Raft wrangler:  Steve Elder of Tidal Bore Rafting Resort
Producer:  Phaedra Kennedy
Assistants:  Rebecca Leach, Bryan Ulrich | Eddy Kowal, Logan Allmendinger, Chris Dowswell, Jon Wayne Brown

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Bonus Mandu pic, because he’s adorable.

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All Images © Vicky Lam
All BTS Images © Alex Beetham
All Rafting Canada Images © Steve Elder

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    Vicky Kicks Off Diwali With Kia

    by Alex Beetham on November 11, 2015

    Vicky Lam painstakingly worked her tail off with stylist Dee Connolly on this automotive Rangoli design.  I’ll let Vicky tell you all about it:

    Happy Diwali!

    Diwali, also known as the Festival of Lights and is the most important holiday of the year in India.  It is the largest and brightest of festivals and marks the triumph of good over evil.  To mark this occasion, art director Jeff Popovich and copywriter Jonathan King got in touch with me to create a Rangoli design for Kia. Rangoli designs are traditional floor decorations created from coloured flour, rice grains, fine sands or with flower petals.  They are often created near entrances of houses and in courtyards to welcome goddess Lakshmi and to bring good luck.  I was so excited to be asked to create something so colourful and beautiful, yet so meaningful.  Here it is:

    Diwali_Poster

    I knew creating a design entirely out of fine powders would be challenging and require the utmost patience, so I asked stylist Dee Connolly to help me on this project.  With the tight deadline (shot just last week!), we had to get creative with our materials and approach.  Traditional Rangoli is usually traced out on the floor with chalk or paint and filled in with coloured powders.  We however, worked with a template of the design Jeff created as our base.  We were not able to find enough true Rangoli powders, so we looked towards powdered paints and even powdered drink mixes and spices.  Finally with a little help of retouching by Robyn Nowoczin, the colours of the design really came to life.

    After spending a long day and night creating only half of the 3ft wide design, I have much admiration for professional Rangoli artists who are able to whip things up freehandedly and so quickly. Rangoli designs really are an art of their own and a unique expression of a beautiful festival.

    Client: Kia
    Photographer:  Vicky Lam
    Agency: Innocean
    Art Director: Jeff Popovich
    Copywriter: Jonathan King
    Stylist: Dee Connolly
    Retouching: Robyn Nowoczin

    Check out some of the progress pictures with a little BTS action.

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    All Images © Vicky Lam

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      You have probably seen it on Strategy or on Marketing Mag.  In case you haven’t, Cadillac Fairview’s new back to school campaign has just turned up in malls all over Canada.  Vicky Lam, Phil Smith and more of the stellar people from Traffik created some fun and unique off-figure clothing images and, well, we will let Vicky tell you all about it!

      “Growing up, going back to school was always so exciting for me.  It was a chance to see friends again, get new clothing and school supplies and get a fresh new start.  This year is no different, as I had the great pleasure of helping Cadillac Fairview kick off their back to school, #whowillyoube campaign across Canada.  The masterminds at Traffik Group came up with an innovative and interactive idea that I absolutely loved.  It’s not often to see a full fledged campaign involving still life photography, so I was very excited to be a part of it. 

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      Bringing life and personality to inanimate objects already has its challenges and is even more difficult when it comes to clothing.  I’ve always thought that off-figure styling is the toughest of all styling techniques to master.  In this case, we brought in the amazing Dee Connolly to make the clothing come alive.”
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      “Shooting flat, soft goods is no easy task.  Without a physical body filling in the clothes, every fold and wrinkle is what really shapes each look and brings the clothes to life.  Over two long days, we worked closely together with art director, Phil Smith, to determine what poses would be possible and varying them for 10 different looks. Flashbacks of figure drawing class from art school kept coming to my mind as we pondered over body proportions and positioning.”

      “Each small fold would drastically change the feel of each look or personality as seen in these in-progress shots.  Compared to the finished shots, along the way we had to get creative with how to style these clothes and prop them up to read well on camera.”

       

      Before…

      Before

      After!

      After

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      IMG_9019Every tweak and fold went together to create several looks, combining different age groups and wardrobes to target their respective demographics.  The mini manikins did their best to help them as well!

      “And now the final result can be seen in 19 malls across Canada. I absolutely love the interactive nature of the tableaus, and they’re printed almost life-sized!  It’s fun to follow the #whowillyoube campaign online and see people interact with the photos and picking which style they relate to.  Advertising, especially today is a fleeting moment, so it makes me very excited to see people take a few minutes to have fun and connect with our ideas.”

      “Many thanks to Traffik for allowing me to be part of such an innovative campaign and for a great idea that I can share with friends and family across Canada!”-V.L

      Client: Cadillac Fairview
      Agency: Traffik
      ACD: Phil Smith
      Copywriter: Sarah Deziel
      Agency producer: Dylan Welsh
      Agency Account Team: Joe Cameron and Dayla Ledger
      Style Consultant/Wardrobe stylist: Pascal Alhani
      Off-figure stylist: Dee Connolly
      Photography producer: Phaedra Kennedy, Heather Hyland
      Photography assistants: Chris Dowswell and Rebecca Leach
      Retouching: Robyn Nowoczin

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        Vicky Lam Looks Smart in Tangerine

        by Alex Beetham on June 25, 2015

        It’s amazing what creativity can come from being conscious of pinching pennies.  Perhaps it was dorm days in college, perhaps the first few months in your own pad.  We’ve all been there, channelling some DIY resourcefulness mixed with a dash of MacGuyver.  Not always the most effective methods, but hats off for creativity to say the least.  The folks at John St. and Tangerine had far too much fun coming up with some “life hacks” to drive home some smart banking choices.  Vicky and team also had a blast creating and photographing these contraptions.  From Vicky:

        Surprisingly, all of these life hacks exist out there (and work!). Whether they are the smartest money saving ways, I’ll let you decide. And fyi, the scrubbing drill actually works!     – Vicky

        Take a look!

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        Client:  Tangerine Banking
        Agency:  John St.
        Photographer:  Vicky Lam
        AD:  Jenny Luong
        Copywriter:  Kohl Forsberg
        Agency producer:  Jen Shapiro
        Photography producer:  Phaedra Kennedy
        Photography assistants:  Bryan Ulrich & Daniela Garcia

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        You may have spotted some of these scrolling through your Facebook wall:

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        All Images © Vicky Lam

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          Mary Ellen Mark

          by Westside on May 29, 2015

          We as the creators of photographs can sometimes become lost in the process of creating technical perfection.  It is our job to expertly bring to life the vision of others and to lend our own unique stylistic elements to create award winning images.  Mary Ellen Mark made some of the most incredible, timeless photographs by being present during the moments that were true and honest.  The world lost an icon this week, but the library of photographs that Mary Ellen Mark left behind is nothing short of historic.  Here are some memories made by Mary Ellen Mark’s work that a few Westsiders would like to share.

          “In 1987 I was in my first apartment going to art college studying painting and photography.  I found a book of Mary Ellen Marks in the library sometime during my first semester.  This series of Damm Family who were then living in their car in LA was what made me take notice of her work.  Her ability to portray people that lived on the margins without being patronizing seemed so new to me. She was elevating them without losing the reality of their situation.  It was subtle, sensitive, bold and daring all at the same time.  I was 18 and she had already been shooting professionally for 25 years.” – Tom Nesbitt, Partner- Westside Studioimage1

          “I took photography in high school when I made the switch from Catholic to public school.  Our class went to Toronto to shoot black and white film.  I walked around with some friends- each of us shooting the different things that caught our eyes.  I was not afraid to approach strangers.  I loved it.  I craved a reaction to the intrusion and I was fascinated by the range of responses.  Some wanted to be friends and some wanted to fight.  It wasn’t until I developed this film that I really saw some things I loved.  My teacher made me print certain frames.  Close portraits – some too close.  Uncomfortable.  Strange movements.  It didn’t make sense to me at first, I didn’t understand why he picked those images to print.  He countered with telling me that is was probably the same reason that caused me to take the picture in the first place.  He told me I would like Diane Arbus and Mary Ellen Mark.  He was right. 

          After some convincing and a lot of help from my teacher Mr. Ainsely,  I changed my application submissions from Math at the University level to Photography. 
           
          Now after shooting professionally for years I’m finally having a show of black and white portraits.  Dennis Hopper played a huge role in this show and this picture of him as well.  Mary Ellen Mark got to shoot behind the scenes of my favourite movie Apocalypse Now.  Here are a couple shots from her time on set.” -Nikki Ormerod, Photographer
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          “I was lucky enough to actually hear Mary Ellen Mark speak in person on two different occasions when I was still in school.  Although I personally never knew of her work beforehand, I recall being blown away after attending her first talk and seeing her striking body of work.  It amazed me to see how she was able to really capture so many stories and personalities in her very raw and honest photographs.  I remember her showing us examples of her photography from the beginnings of her career, and it was remarkable how she could relate to so many people from such vastly different worlds.  She really had a gift in seeing through people and connecting with them.  I remember seeing her body of work from Falkland Road, uncovering the stories of the street prostitutes and women of brothels.  The work was raw, and very intimate and it surprised me to see just how close she was able to get with her subjects.  Sometimes it almost felt intrusive and voyeuristic.  I asked her just how she was able to gain the trust of the prostitutes despite an obvious cultural and language barrier.  She responded that it took confidence.  She persistently approached the people she met with confidence, and with that, her subjects trusted her guidance and vision to tell their stories.  This resonated deeply with me, and it is evident in all of Mary Ellen Mark’s photographs that she carried that confidence with her wherever she went, and the people she photographed trusted her with ease.    Mary Ellen Mark had an incredible gift of capturing humanity and humility, and her vision will be greatly missed.
           
          It’s hard for me to pick a single favourite image, because Mary Ellen Mark has had such a vast body of work, each project varying so different from others.  Sometimes her vision uncovers despair and hopelessness, and other times her work has a humorous undertone as seen in her work for Twins.  Perhaps I’m more optimistic, but I really enjoyed the Twins series and hearing the often hilarious stories behind each set of twins.”- Vicky Lam, Photographer

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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!

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

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            Our little figures hard at work:

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

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            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

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              Vicky + Paper + inBusiness = Profit

              by Alex Beetham on November 12, 2014

              November 11th is a day of significance for many.  First off it being Remembrance day – a day in honour of the soldiers who fought and perished in the many wars past and present.  On a lighter note, it is also international Pocky day (or also known as Peppero day) which happens to also be my favourite snack of all time.  But little did I know that it is also Origami day, which brings me to reflect upon one of my shoots from earlier this year.  Although it isn’t truly origami, it still involved some meticulous paper craft and design.  I was asked by art director, Erik Mohr, to illustrate a story for Globe and Mail’s quarterly publication, InBusiness magazine.  Innovation was the theme of this issue, featuring Canadian companies that are the frontrunners in their respective fields.

              This meant that I also had to be innovative in my approach to illustrate five very different companies and create a series that would tie them all together.  Erik had mentioned the idea of exploring paper illustrations. So, it only seemed fitting for me to call Kyosuke Nishida and Dominic Liu of Studio Toki. I’ve collaborated with Studio Toki before on other paper based projects, so I knew they would be the perfect fit for this one.  With their design savvy and eye for detail, we were able to come up with a series of original, 3D paper illustrations.

              It took a lot of brainstorming, sketches, construction, problem solving and a bit of MacGyver to make it all happen.  Although the process was sometimes painstaking and challenging, seeing our ideas transform into a tangible form was really rewarding.  Not to mention, we were left with awesome and cute little paper sculptures afterwards!

              Here is a glimpse into our pre-shoot process with some sketches from Studio Toki:

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              Here are the final paper illustrations representing Canadian companies with innovative business approaches:

              Pebble Smart Watch:
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              Silicon Sisters Interactive:
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              David’s Tea:
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              Freed & Freed International :
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              A.F. Theriault & Son:
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              And finally the opening image –  a structure a bit inspired by M.C. Escher’s surreal drawings:
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              Many thanks to Erik Mohr for the unique assignment and also to Kyosuke and Dominic for helping to bring this idea to life!

              Client:  inBusiness Magazine
              Art Director: Erik Mohr
              Paper design and construction: Studio Toki  - Dominic Liu and Kyosuke Nishida
              Photography interns: Christa Guia & Kate Ince

              A look behind the scenes:

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                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?

                -Vicky

                 

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                Jay Ferguson, putting the finishing touches on his carefully thought out composition.

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                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…

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                  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.

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                  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.

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                  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!

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                  And after some finishing touches on set, the two were styled and camera-ready for this:

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                  Here’s a closer look at the happy couple:

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                  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

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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.

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                    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.

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                    From there, we ended up with this:

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

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                    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:

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

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                    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.

                    Credits:

                    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.  

                     

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