The Lounge Week 19: What I did on my Summer Vacation

by Heather on September 8, 2008

It may have been summer but it certainly wasn’t a vacation. Rather, I was a non-disclosure agreement away from being double booked with conflicting end clients for the whole month of July.

But, the workload was made palatable; dare I say enjoyable; by the caliber of shooters with whom I had the pleasure of spending beautiful days inside.

Plus, I seemed to be exclusively paired with young Art Directors. These cats are hungry, interesting and interested. I don’t mind handholding so this worked out well for me.

One such young thing used her Aussie wiles to infiltrate my bookmarks with Eyecandy from Downunder. I pity the Art Buyer that needs her to reference something other than Frankie Magazine for photography look and feel but it is a beautiful publication and was an appropriate reference for our job.



I’ve been a big fan of Natasha V for a long time so I was very pleased that she was available to work with us on a project in the early summer.

I highly value the eagerness of a photographer to help solve problems and Natasha was fantastic in this regard. Production wise, we teamed her up with Cuppa Coffee Animation who did a bang up job on some clay modeling and set building. Though they have numerous animation series and commercials on the go, it was nothing for them to whip together a little kitchen countertop when we finally got our elements approved. This is the benefit of corralling the efforts of a monstrous production house. Natasha, ever the trooper, shot it on-site in an abandoned office. The shots were great and the team loved working with her.

In awarding the job, we referenced her Toy Series, which you can see here and here:




Pro-bonos are a blessing and a curse. Often, the creative is great and a photographer is encouraged to have a bit more freedom than most (paying) jobs allow. On the other hand, what’s lacking in money is usually made up for in demands.

Adam Rankin kindly donated his time, agency and client graciously donated their faces and I foolishly donated my house. It was a long day but Adam moved fast and worked hard. I even managed to get my son into the frame during the test.



Ryerson University (my sort-of alma mater) hosts a great series of talks called the Kodak Lecture Series. Due to persistent personal obligations, I have only been able to attend a handful of these over the years- the best of which might easily have been Chris Buck. I’m a big Chris Buck fan. And it goes beyond the old “Local boy goes to NYC and makes good.”. His shots are full of life and they still seem fresh after all these years.

Colour me tickled to have worked with him this summer.

One of the things that Chris reco’d right off the bat on this job was a test. A cab fare that almost reached triple digits for us and a flight from NYC for him brought us together at a dog farm in rural Oakville. The “hairspray test” was a success and left us all calm and confident that we were able to pull it off. His sense of humour and involvement in the project from start to finish was not overlooked nor taken for granted.

Here are some shots that got Chris the job:




A sign that summer is nearly over in Toronto is the celebrity slam that is the Toronto International Film Festival. I usually steer clear but last night I saw Picasso & Braque go to the Movies. It was part of the Festival’s Mavericks series and was conceived and directed by PaceWildenstein Gallery’s Arne Glimcher.

From the Festival guide:

A decade or so ago, Glimcher asked himself a question: if photography could have had such an impact on Manet and the Impressionists, shouldn’t cinema have had a similar impact on subsequent generations? His thinking turned to the advent of cubism, and especially the groundbreaking paintings of Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque. Soon a major gallery show and book emerged. “Picasso, Braque and Early Film in Cubism” explicitly contrasted film clips from early cinema (especially those of Georges Méliès) with cubist paintings.

Imagine my surprise at seeing Chuck Close in the audience. Imagine someone else’s surprise to be sitting next to Julian Schnabel. The movie’s central thesis was interesting enough, though I found the explanations overwrought and not always relevant within the film. The revelation, which came out only in the discussion after the film, that the invention of Flight gave artists permission to play with perspective, and to literally see and show the world from different angles, was worth the price of admission.

But in the Q&A after the film, I snagged a great quote from Julian Schnabel. He began by talking about his aversion to Facebook. No surprise there but then he went on to assert that (and I’m quoting with a bit of liberty due to my inability to write and listen at the same time):

We are all really living in low culture. And the high culture set cannot claim to not be influenced by low culture. That would be a lie.

To close, here’s a shot from last year’s Chuck Close show at the AGO, featuring his portrait of Cindy Sherman. This picture comes from Sam Javanrouh’s Photoblog: daily dose of imagery. Sam is a Toronto based photographer whom I met on a job this summer. Check out his blog for some much-nicer-than-paparazzi shots of the stars who have ushered in Fall in our fair city.


{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Finn O'Hara September 8, 2008 at 10:16 am

Nice. Welcome back.

John September 11, 2008 at 12:52 pm

Natasha V is just a mediocre still life photographer at best.
No style and she just copy all the big photographers from south of the border and europe.

Liz September 11, 2008 at 7:42 pm

Hey John,
What’s with the trashtalk? Natasha’s a great photographer with original lighting, concepts and creativity. What’s your purpose?

Heather September 12, 2008 at 6:11 pm

Liz asks a great question- John, what’s the purpose of your post? Nevermind, it’s certainly a great opportunity for me to talk further about what I like about Natasha. Her work is fresh and colourful. It’s not Martha Stewart, and it’s not High Key lighting either. Natasha has consistently explored fun juxtapositions and beautiful, quirky compositions. She’s bold without being overwrought. There is nothing mediocre about her work at all and I find her style is unique in our local market. In fact, I’m surprised she doesn’t do more Ad jobs because all of the Art Buyer’s I spoke to really admired her work. Plus, she’s a pleasure to deal with.

I forget that Blog commentors might have a sinister agenda. Stupidly, I forget that they might not be genuinely trying to make all of our work better.

In a related note, Leslie Burns-Dell’Acqua posted today about the etiquette of Blog comments. It’s a great post and you can read it here:

Danny September 12, 2008 at 9:16 pm

Glad to see you’re back at it.

myles September 16, 2008 at 7:38 am

Wow Venom on day one! Flaming other photographers with no reference to your own work is plain old lame. If you want to throw darts John, please bless us with a link to your own work! I will gladly openly critique it here for all to see. Have you all original work? Thought so.

One of the reasons blogs will start to become irrelavant is the proliferation of the bloghole. Those who hide behind their monikers er, names, and slam others with no real basis for thier flames. Opinions are always welcome and help further debate and dialouge but plain old faceless slamming? So boring.

Dan Ehrenworth September 16, 2008 at 12:55 pm

Hush up there John! Natasha V is awesome! We 9 Davies folk protect our own like lions! Them’s fightin words. SWAT!

john Hryniuk September 17, 2008 at 4:09 pm

remember John if you have nothing nice to say don’t say it at all.
Natasha is a great photographer… even if you don’t like her be nice.
…..good karma …. good karma.. be careful or you’ll come back as Natasha’s anti static lense cloth… ! : ) <—- see grin here

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