Vicky Lam

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.


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:

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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


    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:


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

    Pebble Smart Watch:

    Silicon Sisters Interactive:

    David’s Tea:

    Freed & Freed International :

    A.F. Theriault & Son:

    And finally the opening image –  a structure a bit inspired by M.C. Escher’s surreal drawings:

    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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    photo 2-1

    photo 5

    photo 3-2



      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?




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


      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…


        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.


        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:


        Here’s a closer look at the happy couple:


        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


          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.

          Vicky Lam_TOAE_Layout1

          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.

          Vicky Lam_TOAE_Layout2

          From there, we ended up with this:

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

          Vicky Lam_detail01_TOAE

          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:

          Vicky Lam_TOAE_Timelapse-03-July

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

          Vicky Lam_TOAE_MG_9405

          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.


          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.  




            by Matt on April 17, 2014

            Vicky Lam is taking over the Blog to share her latest cover story – take it away Ms. Lam!

            © Vicky Lam

            With all the frosty weather we’ve been getting across Canada these days, it’s hard to believe that Spring actually started over a month ago. Nonetheless, be prepared to look sharp for when the time comes for picking up the latest Spring Style issue of Precedent Magazine.

            It’s no secret that I have an affinity for shoes of all kinds. So it was even more exciting when I found out that not only I’d shoot the cover, but the cover story featured local shoemaker, Peter Feeney. As much as I like shoes, this was the first chance for me to get a glimpse into what exactly goes into the making of a pair of shoes.

            We’ve all heard of bespoke suits before, but how often do we think of bespoke shoes these days? A cordwainer, (aka a shoemaker) is hard to come across nowadays. The process of getting tailored shoes made sounds like a luxury and a unique craft that seems extinct in today’s mass produced fashion industry – which makes it even more inspiring to hear Peter’s story.

            I’ll tell you more while you get a look behind the scenes as we laid out just some of the tools and materials Peter uses on a day to day basis.

            © Vicky Lam

            Peter left his job in advertising and home in Toronto and ventured to Florence, Italy, where he apprenticed for four years to learn the art and craft of shoemaking from the real masters (and also learned to speak Italian!).

            Fear alone would deter many of us to stray away from following such a unique passion and dream, but Peter persevered and brought back what he learned to become one of the very few, unique cordwainers in Toronto.

            © Vicky Lam

            It was a pleasure for me to meet someone that is so passionate about their art, and also to learn more about the process that goes behind the construction and design of one pair of shoes. Peter is a one man team, but when I saw all the materials and tools he had in his studio to make just one pair, I was blown away. The amount of detailing that goes into each shoe is impressive, and consequently takes at least 40 hours if not more to construct. Befittingly so as each pair is a unique testimony of Peter’s craftsmanship and representative of his clients’ personalities.

            © Vicky Lam

            And here’s a closer glimpse of the final image we ended up with. You’ll notice “the last” in the middle there – that’s terminology for the custom-moulded model which a cordwainer uses to form a pair of shoes. This time, we used Ted’s lasts because his feet appeared slender, proportionate and seemed to be average sized.

            © Vicky LamPhotographer: Vicky Lam
            Client: Precedent Magazine
            Associate Editor: Braden Alexander
            Art Direction: Gilbert Li & Isabel Foo from The Office of Gilbert Li
            All shoes, Tools & Materials Courtesy of Peter Feeney
            Assistant: Rebecca Leach

            To get a closer glimpse into Peter’s story check out Precedent’s article here. And to see just some of the possibilities Peter offers for a bespoke pair of shoes, check out his site.

            © Vicky Lam

            Many thanks to Precedent and The Office of Gilbert Li for having me take part in such a fun, eye-opening and inspiring project! And also for including me on the contributor’s list :D .

            © Vicky Lam

            Have a great Easter weekend everyone! ~ Vicky

            All Images © Vicky Lam


              IN PRINT | VICKY’S GREEN DAY

              by Matt on March 17, 2014

              In honour of St Patty’s day, Vicky Lam has decided to reflect upon one of her most memorable, and green projects of last year. Here’s Vicky to tell you more.

              It isn’t often that I have the opportunity to work on life-sized sets, but this one project had me really excited just by the sound of it. I love working with colour and have always wanted to shoot physical typography, and this shoot had it all. When the folks at DDB Toronto contacted me about this idea, I was giddy inside, because I could finally work on a monochromatic set! I love the subtle play in tonalities and it reminded me so much of the days in art class when I had to do painted colour studies. It was finally the moment to use those skills and bring them to life in a photograph.

              © Vicky LamPhotographer: Vicky Lam
              Client: Manulife Financial
              Agency: DDB
              Creative Directors: Paul Riss & Rob Sturch
              Art Director: Loretta Lau
              Copywriter: Jordana Rapuch
              Photography Producer(s): Kirsten Nichols & Phaedra Kennedy
              Prop Stylist: Christina Yan
              Prop Styling Assistant: Carmen Cheung
              Prop Painting: Rob LaFrance
              Typography Builder (that’s right, these were built too!): Jamie Oxenham
              Retouching: Robyn Nowoczin
              Assistants: Mike Smith & Alex Beetham

              For a large set like this, I enlisted the help of a super team to make it all happen. Prop stylist, Christina Yan, found all of of our office supplies and furniture set, and then passed them along to prop maker, Rob LaFrance to paint them the infamous Manulife green. It was amazing to see all the items in person, and a bit surreal to see already green plants painted greener.

              Seeing all the items in one tone was surreal, but also reminded me a bit of American fine art photographer, Sandy Skoglund and her elaborate, coloured sets. It was really neat to be able to channel some inspiration from her body of work. Working on this one set also made me really appreciate Sandy’s work even more (see some below), as it took a real team and planning to bring all the details together.

              © Sandy Skoglund

              Here’s a glimpse into our shoot day and a closer look at the physical letters, prop maker Jamie Oxenham made for us. But first, did I mention we shot this en français as well?

              © Vicky Lam

              © Vicky Lam

              © Vicky Lam

              © Vicky Lam

              © Vicky Lam

              Many thanks to DDB for having me shoot such a fun project and of course, all the great folks to make this all happen! ~ Vicky

              © Vicky LamImages © Vicky Lam
              Single © Sandy Skoglund



                by Matt on January 23, 2014

                In the few years I’ve been living in Toronto, I’ve come to realize that this city has a real affinity to dining out. The options are bountiful, and if you’ve spent any time on College St. over the last 10 years, you know they come and go in a flash. The number of restaurants in the downtown core alone is actually quite staggering, and if you’re not an adventurous diner, it can be difficult to know where to start.

                Providing a solution to this predicament, is the Toronto Life Eating & Drinking Guide, a collection of the year’s best in all things food and beverage. Featuring reviews from over 1000 restaurants, bars and more – the annual has become a definitive advisor to many looking to navigate Toronto’s food scene. This year’s cover can be found all over the city – as selected businesses are given a window decal to proudly showcase their achievement – and it was captured by our girl Vicky Lam!

                Here she is to tell ya more.

                I’m always curious about finding good eats around the city, so it was a great pleasure to be asked to photograph the cover of this year’s Eating & Drinking Guide for Toronto Life. Director of Photography, Daniel Neuhaus, enlisted the help of Food Stylist Linsey Bell to help us create a wondrous pile of pancakes.

                © Vicky Lam

                The day started off when the folks from Barque dropped by with some of their duck and blueberry pancakes. I have a soft spot for pancakes as they always remind me of the annual Stampede breakfasts back home in Calgary. However, much to my dismay, we didn’t get to eat a single pancake the entire day. Instead, we sorted through all of them, sacrificed a few, and narrowed it down to only the best looking ones worthy of a cover shot.

                © Vicky Lam © Vicky Lam

                It took a few tries, and lots of maple syrup to get it right, but we remained focused and prevailed. Here’s our final shot, along with a close up so you can check out that glorious detail!

                © Vicky LamPhotographer: Vicky Lam
                Client: Toronto Life
                Director of Photography: Daniel Neuhaus
                Food stylist: Linsey Bell
                Pancakes: Barque
                Assistant: Alex Beetham

                © Vicky Lam

                We went through a lot of pancakes by the end of the day, but it was definitely worthwhile.

                © Vicky Lam

                © Vicky Lam

                The Eating & Drinking Guide is on newsstands now and available straight through ’till June. Pick up a copy and find out what the best of Toronto has to offer to meet all of your dining and drinking needs.

                Special thanks again to Toronto Life for having me shoot yet another delectable cover!

                And last but not least, here’s a shot that didn’t quite make the cut. However, it does make me wonder; you can never have too much syrup right? ~VL

                © Vicky Lam

                Couple of big high fives to Vicky for sharing the sweetness of the day – and to pancakes for being delicious.
                All Images © Vicky Lam



                  by Matt on October 25, 2013

                  Vicky Lam has got brand new series of editorial shots that are hot off the presses and she’s here to tell you all about it.

                  I’ve always been proud to be a Canadian, but even more so today.

                  Pick up today’s issue of Report on Business in the Globe and Mail, found nationwide, and learn about Canadian-made products and companies that we should be proud of. I was really happy when Clare Jordan from the Globe and Mail contacted me and put forth a challenge – to photograph an eclectic mix of products yet maintain a consistent feel as an entire series.

                  It isn’t often that I get asked to shoot an entire series of more than 3 shots as a tabletop photographer, so this was an exciting opportunity for me as a visual story teller. Furthermore, it was an eye-opening experience as I learned more about Canadian companies and products. Seriously, who else didn’t know that Michelin is actually a Canadian company? I know I’ll appreciate it just a little more next time I change over to winter tires.

                  Here are a few shots from the story:

                  Bikes from Devinci
                  © Vicky Lam

                  Cookware by Paderno
                  © Vicky Lam

                  Beautiful speakers from Totem Acoustic
                  © Vicky Lam

                  Tools and Hardware from Garant
                  © Vicky LamPhotographer: Vicky Lam
                  Client: Report on Business Magazine
                  Director of Photography: Clare Jordan & May Truong
                  Art Director: Domenic Macri
                  Associate Art Director: Emily Vezer
                  Article written by: David Berman, Dawn Calleja, and John Daly
                  Assistant: Alex Beetham

                  I’ve mentioned before that it usually helps me to visualize beforehand to try some sketches (especially for larger shoots), but even so, sometimes it comes down to playing with the actual product when on set. McCain Foods has been a long-standing Canadian company and world leader in producing frozen fries. Here are some quick drawings I did before the shoot as possible executions.

                  © Vicky Lam

                  And the various types of fries McCain offers – I never knew there were so many! And to think, we didn’t even purchase all the different varieties available at the grocery store! We baked and fried 5 various varieties, can you pinpoint all of them?

                  © Vicky Lam

                  So how did the final shot turn out? For that you’ll have to pick up a copy of Report on Business and learn about six outstanding Canadian companies while viewing the rest of my latest work. In a time where there’s an influx of imports, I feel proud to be able to feature quality homemade products from right here in Canada.

                  © Vicky Lam

                  All Images © Vicky Lam


                    IN PRINT | VICKY’S SWEET DREAMS

                    by Matt on October 22, 2013

                    We’re handing the blogging powers off to Vicky Lam for today’s post, as she’s put together a wonderful tale filled with childhood dreams and sugary indulgence. Ladies and Gents give it up for Ms Vicky Lam!

                    ★★★ I DREAM OF DOUGHNUTS ★★★

                    And there beside Obama and the likes of Prince Harry, you’ll find my cover of doughnuts for last month’s issue of Toronto Life.

                    © Vicky Lam

                    I was really excited when Director of Photography, Daniel Neuhaus, contacted me about photographing doughnuts. I have a bit of a sweet tooth, so it was hard not to salivate at the idea of photographing a large stack of doughnuts from Toronto’s Glory Hole Doughnuts. And then the day finally came when it all showed up. Glory Hole graciously supplied us with an endless amount of donuts in all colours and toppings. I felt like a kid in a candy store, only this time it was our own personal supply of doughnuts.

                    © Vicky Lam

                    The only challenge was figuring out how to stack these gigantic doughnuts into one large tower, and keep it standing upright. To solve this jenga-type problem, we enlisted the help of stylist, Christina Yan. Here are some snippets to how we approached the shoot and what really goes on behind the creation of a doughnut tower. To start off, Christina illustrated the cutest stack of doughnuts to help us visualize, and from there we began the construction process.

                    © Vicky Lam

                    © Vicky Lam

                    In reality, our jenga tower of doughnuts was actually a precarious leaning tower of Pisa, supported by all kinds of dowels and skewers.

                    © Vicky Lam

                    Here’s what the final shot actually looked like, along with an extra that’s worth clicking on so you can see all the glorious detail!

                    © Vicky Lam

                    © Vicky Lam

                    Also as part of The Things To Eat and Drink issue, here is another shot I took that’s a bit more on the healthy side of things. Mmmm… heirloom tomatoes!

                    © Vicky LamPhotographer: Vicky Lam
                    Client: Toronto Life
                    Director of Photography: Daniel Neuhaus
                    Stylist: Christina Yan
                    Assistant: Alex Beetham (doughnuts), Rebecca Leach (tomatoes)
                    Doughnuts: Glory Hole Doughnuts

                    Many thanks to Daniel Neuhaus and the team at Toronto Life for such a fun and delicious shoot – plus keeping me giddy with anticipation weeks before the actual shoot day! Also many thanks to Christina Yan for her doughnut styling prowess. ~VL

                    All Images © Vicky Lam
                    **Editors Note – Click the detail shot of the doughnuts. Do it.**

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