No One Trick Pony: The Working Photographer

Final Shot Asparagus Spring Flyer

When people ask me what I do for a living, my answer often depends on my mood and what interests me most at the moment. Some days I am an educator at a leading Canadian independent school. Other days I am a writer working on a novel about the Yakuza, mermaids and a mentally-corrupted god king. At night, I might be a food photographer working on a catalogue shoot, while other days I appear to be really, almost annoyingly focused on the recent genesis of my jiu-jitsu journey. If you do not know me, then perhaps I seem scattered or a pathological liar: if you do know me, then the answer becomes far more confusing and difficult. I prefer to think of myself as a charismatic enigma seeking as much as I can experience in the short life I am given. Today I am the photographer, and, today, it is a paying gig.

The work is a series of Spring photographs for Paderno Canada’s upcoming sales flyer. Creating a feeling of Spring is never easy during a week when my water pipes froze due to the -34 degree temperatures outdoors. Still, when a client needs content, Spring can be created with light, linen and a few great camera lenses. For this particular session I have been working with my Canon 50mm f.1.2 L series lens and my older Canon 1d MkIII body. I could use the Hasselblad with a digital back, but then I would need to use flash and that makes low apertures and warm light a lot more difficult to capture honestly. In a perfect , artistic world I would not be dealing with teaching, getting to jiujitsu class, feeding the dogs, frozen pipes, Zinc poisoning, and trying to manage a social life full of commitments. It would be the image and my creative mind spinning into the wee hours of darkness until the composition arrives on the fingertips of a luscious muse who wafts by wearing a sun dress made of bluebird feathers and silk. Fat chance.

Paderno Copperline Pot Spring Flyer

Product photography is a tricky business. I need to capture the truth of a product, but do so in a manner that taps into the hopes and desires of the consumer. Perhaps it is an earnest housewife desperately seeking a Martha Stewart epiphany, or maybe a man wants to impress his new girlfriend with asparagus spears to heighten the romance and innuendo of their first dinner together. Grandma just wants to pack lunches for her busy family and needs bright colours to remind her whose snacks are for whom. Sell a dream, earn a heart.

As an avid, but discerning, consumer, I spend hours sifting through magazines, online catalogues and whatever media I can find on my daily interactions with the world. A coffee shop might have a new graphic design campaign to keep customers feeling cool. A hipster chef might inspire with a retro or market menu. Holt Renfrew might…never mind, as I seldom go for that type of customer in my work. Nope, I do cookware, food, axes, and apple cider. Not exclusively, but almost exclusively, as the rest of my work tends to be photography of the people who cross my path; I prefer the people who have their own artistic journey and that path intersects with mine.

So when you meet me, and you never know when our paths may intersect, feel free to ask what I do for a living. Just remember that my answer will seldom be the thing that I do for money. Instead, I may just share with you the thing I am doing in the moment of living out the time that remains for my adventurous journey.

Year of the Monkey


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