A year ago, I left the cold late February of my beloved Montreal to depart on a great adventure – I knew I had to be in LA in early March and Tokyo in mid May, but in between was wide open. My friend Adrian invited me to Bali, where he was staying for the Winter, and so I decided to fill the time gap by investing in a 10 weeks photo trip through South-east Asia. It started in Bali, then I hopped to Java, had a short stop in Kuala Lumpur, then spent some time in Vietnam, South Korea and landed in Tokyo. There are no words to convey how brilliant, eye opening, heart lightening and overall wonderful this experience has been. Oh and of course productive. Through my several encounters, many discovery trips and lucky finds, I came back home with close to 15000 images and clips to edit, or, in other words, add to my already heavy back catalog of images to submit. It’s now been 9 months since my return and I’ve managed to retouch and submit 820 images of this journey – which is about two fifth of what should be the final number of available photographs.
So time to present a few of these amazing series. Here’s one. While I stayed in Bali, we would enjoy the great food that Uni cooked for us and one day, wanting to know the source of these delights, she took us to the Seririt food market. In the smoldering heat and humidity, we discovered heaps of colorful food ingredients, various items of clothing and more than one luminously happy faces. Uni introduced us to many of the vendors who allowed us to take their photos while working. The food looked so fresh and good, vibrant colors, gorgeous spices and fruits. I don’t know exactly what it is with Asian food markets, but it makes the return to our cold, huge – dead in a way- supermarkets particularly difficult. Here’s a sample of these images. You can view this series either by itself on Photoshelter (with links to purchase on Istock) or amidst my other Indonesian images directly on Istock.
These are all unreleased, so only available for editorial use.
Part three of my New York City images shot last Fall during a Getty Images event. For the first time I collaborated on this shoot with my friend and colleague Martine Doucet as well as the always talented and inspiring Lise Gagné and her creative powerhouse of a partner Louis Leblanc (rebelz). In the weeks preceding the event, after deciding to go, we facebooked back and forth, casting models and pitching ideas. Quebec power! It was nice to work with such great people… and then the models! One of the great advantages of going to a place like New-York City is the availability of such great talent. Dozens of applicants sent us their portfolios of which five were selected. They were energetic, professional, open and authentic, and helped turned a rainy, overcast, cold Autumn morning into some radiant photographs.
I shot the whole thing with my 200mm lens out of respect for my colleagues who were using other focal lengths. Obviously when you shoot in groups like this the same scenes it is important to try and get very different images as much as possible to not undercut each other. Different angles, colors, approaches and of course unique point of view and sensibilities. So in my case, I went for character and bright colors, with lots of close-up trying to show relationships. The atmosphere of the city is present, but mostly in colorful blurred backgrounds. And boy did I push the colors to their limits. It makes for a rather chaotic result overall, but one with the bright optimism that I saw with in so many of the young people I met there. It is after all the place where all the dreams are possible…
Part two of my New York City images shot last Fall during a Getty Image event. This one was shot at the same time and venue as Tia’s shoot and featured a real life couple of NYC artists – they’re musicians, actors, dancers, models and are looking great. I had approached them before leaving Montreal and unfortunately they couldn’t make the date I had in mind for an Astoria shoot. So I booked them for the Brooklyn one instead and it worked out great since Lorraine and Juan were with me and we could share.
I had asked them to bring something they would like to be pictured with and they brought a mandolin! Along with their styling there was something really American about this, so I decided to kind of de-contextualize the images by shooting in front of the gorgeous sky and sunset and then in the alleyway. I really liked the softness of the light in these last few shots (A. is an example) and left out my current flashy-composited-color-infused-light-bomb-is-that-Vaseline-on-the-lens-give-me-that-sig+-I’ll-never-make-10k-images-at-this-rate post processing routine to preserve the intimate mood. Sure enough, only A. and another from that set were selected to be on Getty. Still some of my favorite shots. Oh and I totally submitted D. as an afterthought – the image is totally out of focus and the model’s faces completely washed out by that humongous lens flare, but I thought the dreamy factor played really well with the action and since anonymity has a definite allure in stock, I thought hey, why not? Sure enough it not only made Sig+ but also is pulling ahead as one of the best sellers in the series.
In late October 2015, I was invited for a Getty Images seminar in New York City. I had the usual good times, valuable information on trends and business goals, the pleasure of meeting many key people at Getty and of course productive, wild and funny times with my friends and colleagues. I had time to schedule 3 model shoots and walk around Brooklyn and Manhattan (more on this in a future post) for days.
One of these shoots was done with Tia in Brooklyn, in an area of shared lofts where the son of my buddy Juan was living. As there was some issues with lighting, I decided to shoot the models outside, so Tia came along and we did some cute gardening images in the backyard (I had to edit out a strange skeleton that was used as decoration!), on the rooftop (great moments with an awesome sky, puddles and railings) and in the alley, for a more Americana urban look.
Here are 4 images from this shoot, with their links below for you to license them.
Over the years, all over the world, the stock photographer who travels in group events will sometimes hear others whisper to each other in a somewhat hushed guilty fashion: “When in doubt, just throw in a tablet.” It took me a while to get on that train, but yes, often they do sell. And let’s face it, tablets and mobile phones are everywhere. So in the Summer of 2012, I got my own tablet just for a shoot idea. I didn’t feel the need for one and frankly thought these things were just a fad. Even today I’m not so sure that they’ll be around for much longer. Trust that industry to come up with something new every two years.
A few weeks ago, I decided to make a few new galleries on IStock featuring my work around certain subjects. Over the years I have uploaded hundreds of images featuring people using phones and tablets in a wide array of different setting and situations. Here is the link the lightbox:
And, of course, here are a few personal favorites from this collection:
This was shot while my friends Lorraine and Adrian joined me for the 2013 London Istockalypse. At this event, we were introduced to the paparazzi style of shooting: the same scene is shot by 20 other photographers at the same time. This format doesn’t really agree with my rather soft voice and frequent use of long lenses. To the organizers’ credit, they refined this type of shoot later on by limiting the number of photographers shooting at once to a handful, which made them great fun, and more profitable, the next year in Hong Kong and Istanbul. But back in London that year, on the way to the afternoon shoot, we just started photographing each other in transit, which was exciting as it filled a need of transit images in my portfolio and had known some success with a similarly themed shot I had set up in Montreal in 2012. So here is Lorraine with Adrian’s tablet on a bus. I got very lucky with the light and the scene – it’s so tricky to get everything together for a nice shot when things are moving and you never can tell what the background will be like… but it worked here and became my best selling image from this event. We never found the afternoon group shoot and spent an awesome day visiting the Shoreditch area instead.
This one was shot during the City Beautiful 4 event in Orlando, Florida in early 2014. Thanks to the great work of my friend Evelyn, we had access to a resort, tons of festive props and great models of all ages and ethnicity. On this particular segment, I worked with a seven fantastic African American models pretending to be a three generations family. After working for a while around the gifts and Christmas tree, I sat down the “mother” with two of the kids to interact with my fabulously dead tablet (it stopped working barely a year after I got it). They did a wonderful job of pretending it was in working condition. Love the acting here.
A brand new image from the Istanbul Istockalypse shot last Fall. So sometimes the weather goes all wrong. This was part of a pitch shoot sponsored by Getty Images, arranged by Lorraine, where we were to shoot beautiful models having a great time on a yacht cruising the Bosphorus with the amazing sights of the city as a background. Of course, for most of the day we were shooting, the weather was freezing, it was raining hard and the wind was frightening. Amidst some seasick photographers and models, I took this suited heartthrob aside, put a life vest on him and turned the shoot concept around, feeling something might be done around a manager trying to save his sinking business. Here he is trying to shout directions into his phone and pointing to a solution. Kudos to Demir who was cold and soaked, and still acted convincingly. And well yes, I was cold and soaked too and so was my camera, the lens covered in water as you can see in this shot. So real! Thanks Canon for making weather resistant body and lenses!
During the Summer of 2013, my friend Martine Doucet and I produced a shoot in the area near Sutton, Quebec, where I lived at the time, featuring two teenaged girls. The first scene was around a high school, and, as she was shooting, I looked around for suitable locations. I found a stairways and immediately remembered how me and my friends used to sort of hide in stairways to play games, gossip and talk of personal subjects. So I sat the girls down and ask them to incorporate the phone into this. They did a spot on job and I love the gleeful tension in this one. “Quick! have a look at this!”
And a last one, on the funny side. What would a decent young American woman do if she were faced with a friendly alien? Well, of course, act like the kids in E.T., dress her up in her clothes and show her how to use a tablet. Isn’t that obvious? This was shot during the Summer 2013 Montana Aliens Stampede event, where we were faced with surprise after surprise and the challenges that come with having to come up with salable stories with out-of-the box situations, and no real preparation. Talk about thinking fast! I also shot the opposite exchange where the alien shows the cowgirl how to create energy out of thin air.
So I’m back and heavily into editing mode. I’ve shot over 2300 shots during the ‘Lypse and my present goal is to send 125 of the best over to Istock. There may be more, but since many times I have a dozen versions of the same concept, I think that’s a realistic goal. So what sticks with me today about the event?
* I felt welcome into a positive, caring community. All the art directors, organizers and staff were welcoming, helpful, generous and fun to be around with. Some of the photographers as well were great fun between the shoots.
* I’ve learned a LOT about good stock photography, knowledge that I think will forever change the way I shoot stock. The brainstorming event, the conference titled “think like an inspector” and suggestions from the staff during the shoots were all big, nice eye openers.
* This was well worth the investment, even if I did not sell a single shot, which would be surprising given the high quality of many of the photos I’m bringing back with me. I’m most likely to go to every ‘lypse from now on.
*Berlin, Berlin, Berlin! What a city. So effervescent with the will to become one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Such sights! And the vibe is so great, plus it’s (at the moment) quite affordable.
*Football events are huuuuge there. Hundreds of thousands of people in the streets all watching on screens of various sizes. The roars following a goal shake up the whole city, miles away.
* I totally discovered all I could do with the two lenses that I abused during the event – the 24mm T/S (with which I shot the above photo) and the 200m prime which I used on several of the shoots with models. I was afraid to use the later because of its lack of stabilization, but the quality of the images coming out of my new 5D mark III at high ISOs mean it’s alright to use it hand held at 1/400th, and so I shot comfortably with this little gem of a lens.
And so now I’ll just get back to editing with a big smile. So far, out of a dozen editorial submissions, 3 have been accepted with initial ratings and put in the editorial gems lightbox. Just saying – I only have had a couple of previous initial ratings in 4 years of submissions… Looking good!
Well I received my brand new Canon 5D mark III camera yesterday (after waiting for 7 weeks of back orders) and so, of course, I had to go out and test it, which I did right away in the park with my 2 dogs. One of the reasons I bought the camera was for the improved auto focus, and so I went shooting with my 200mm F2.8 lens and shot my dogs running one after the other, trying all six servo AF modes. Well, I haven’t quite got the hang of it yet. When they come at the camera, the focus is always about 6 inches late (lots of clear bodies with blurred heads) and I was left wondering what I was doing wrong. There are lots of ways to tweak the AF so I’ll go back to the instruction booklet and find out how to make this work. Unless one of you can help out?
In the meantime, here’s Pirate with a broken branch, his trophy for the day, looking at me all happy. He managed to steal it from Bessie, who is much more the retriever type. Awww he’s coming into his own. *pride*