Billboards, transit shelters, newspapers, brochures, magazines, and more. Shooting to a concept or layout, working with the best creative minds to move a product or service is one of the greatest joys of being a photographer.
An Unusual Way to Sell a Car
"Escape the bonds of high cost financing!" was the copy for this Ford newspaper campaign. It ran as a single column in the paper with our Houdini hanging from a rope that ran the full length of of the page.
The only place to buy tires in Toronto is from Dufferin Motors on St. Clair Avenue West. The owner George Atanas and his son-in-law Andrew take immense pride in their work and remember that "The customer comes first!" I sound biased but they have been looking after me since I was a starving student at Ryerson U back in 1983. Am I really that old? This image has been used by them successfully in advertising for years.
This image of my Mom and Sisters in the pool has been sold many times for a number of different assignments. My favorite use was in a Royal Bank of Canada campaign based on the home. I had three weeks to shoot every category of homes while celebrating a diversity of gender, ethnicity and provinces. We were able to create the look and feel the agency desired and shot it all in Ontario and Quebec with family and friends. Trivia: The image was shot with an Olympus XA, a 35 MM point and shoot film camera loaded with Tri-X Pan black and white film.
Adrienne Foley Spa
Often a way to inject humour into advertising is to call on iconic subjects from the past and put a modern spin on them. Believing then that an updated look never hurt anyone, this was one of two images I shot for a transit campaign created for Adrienne Foley Spa by Scott Purdy of Gravity Design.
Take One At Mealtime
You have heard the expression about it being a bitter pill to swallow? This was a bigger pill to swallow. Shot in between takes during a television commercial, I was given ten minutes to light and shoot it. Unfortunately it took eleven minutes. Used for transit and internet advertising. I wish I could remember the name of the client!
The First Cup of Coffee
Let's face it; until that first cup of coffee in the morning, all hell can be breaking loose. This image was actually shot in the kitchen of my studio at the time. Props were handled by the very talented Carolyn Souch. She also provided the young models by involving her nephews and the hungover father was portrayed by my good friend Dennis. I still enjoy using that mug... and the chain saw come to think of it.
Giggles & Bites
I love this piece for a couple of reasons. First, while you might think it was shot at eye level with the little girl, it was actual made from a bird's eye view overhead while she was lying on a white seamless. Why? It was the simplest way to ensure that a two year old would hold the package in the perfect position. I also love that the model is my niece Emma. When you really need the shot, you can always count on family.
"Irwin's fun for everyone!" was the jingle I remember as a kid, so I was quite pleased to shoot a number of their game boxes. Some were product images but these ones for young children were especially rewarding to work on because I feel the results emphasize the jingle I knew so well.
One of my favourite gigs was working with Creative Director Karen Lim on LCBO's Vintages Classics Catalog. Karen was massively supportive of my work and allowed me to really push the envelope of what a conservative client would accept. In this case, I would go into the studio, always after midnight and start running Tri-X 120 film through the 'Blad. I would tape the focus down on minimum and move back and forth until it felt right. I would keep shooting and eventually feel the Muse come in; the images would be great for a few frames and then she would leave again. Sometimes, as in the image at the right, only the smallest thing would be sharp, in this case the foil covering the cork. Eventually I had to pull back a bit, which is why the later image on the left is more clear as to subject. I would print full frame on black and white fiber paper and Karen would use all the image wrapped around to produce the front and back covers you see here.
Travel brochures do not always have to use images of landscapes shot in exotic locations. RCI Travel hired me often to shoot covers for their travel brochure and we would shoot still life. In this case I arranged stamps and coins on a large piece of glass and placed a world map underneath it at an appropriate distance so that with the depth of field it would appear as an interesting abstract texture with just a hint of the familiar.
Arrow Golf Apparel
I am generally known as a people shooter, so it may come as a surprise that I have shot a lot of still life as well, albeit in my own quirky way. I like things that danced or looked alive despite being non human. To help with that required like minded individuals, in this case the brilliant designer Scott Purdy of Gravity Design and the off figure stylist Kay Fujiwara. Kay was a very merry soul who often styled clothing with a chop stick and and loved when I played Louis Armstrong. When I worked with Kay, she was well into her seventies but that was irrelevant. She was an artist and that is immune to ageism.
Playing With Toys
I did a lot of photography for Eaton's, at the time one of Canada's best department stores. Although I am not a catalog shooter, the opportunity to shoot the Christmas Toy Book came and I jumped on it. It was so much fun! I had to rent a storage unit to hold all the toys as my studio couldn't hold them all and I shared photography with my best friend and studio partner Geoffrey Ross. When not shooting, we were helping my assistant Cara assemble toys, arguably one of the most challenging aspects of the job. I photographed kids playing with the toys and we did our fair share of that to, which helped put context into how we would prop the toys and set them up. In this, the cover image, we wanted to show the Barbi house under the tree in the kind of magical glow that one would see as a young child happening upon it in the wee hours. Kudos to stylist Carolyn Souch for drumming up a Christmas tree in July.