Making the Cover

A change of tone and a bit of an uplift today: the June issue of Photo Life is out and one of my pictures made the cover. I'm super thrilled about it. I've been working with the magazine for a few months now and they're just a great bunch of people to collaborate with. I'm even mentioned in the editorial...now that's just icing on the cake.

Obviously—as iPad bound as I am— I had to get my hands on an honest to goodness non electron-based copy this time around. It's just cheaper to frame ;)

Hidden away: Lightroom's Loupe Overlay used to visualize various cover possibilities. 

When they told me about this possibility, Guy Langevin—the magazine's editor—sent me a template to play around with and help with image selection. I used Lightroom's little known (and slightly hidden) Loupe Overlay feature to load the PNG file and visualize various possibilities, which I then sent in for review. Fun process really.

My article this month is entitled The Fleeting Masterpiece - A Traveller's Guide to Street Photography and the issue—packed full of great articles and imagery—just hit newsstands. Gotta say it's quite an honour to be included alongside such a stellar body of work.

If you're interested, the magazine is also available through the Photo Life app or their official website.

Gravity

Today we stepped out into a beautiful, sunny morning, everything still wet and glistening from last night's thunderstorms. Humid but not yet heavy or overpowering, just enough to bring out that scent I always associate with summer—that hint of sweetness. A subtle mix of flowers and grasses probably.

I look back at some of my recent posts, both here and over at KAGE...and I'm honestly afraid of slowly creating my own gravity field. A dark matter object pulling at the light of the world. Mornings like these...they remind me of beauty again; of peace.

It's been a tough 12 months guys. And for better or worse, beyond whatever photographic insight I can offer, this blog is also a strangely public personal journal that—I guess—helps me figure out life, the universe and everything. A sounding board for the joys, the victories but also the sadness and the pain. It's all tied up together in one big bundle folks.

Last week the kids had a day off and I took them on that hike we'd promised. We climbed all the way to the top, tried to see our house through the trees. We had a snack, spied on a couple of deers just off the trail. It's a pretty steep climb and they we were really good about it. Tough little buggers. But on our way down I took them aside, sat them on a couple of rocks and had to tell them our cat of almost twenty years, their buddy since birth, would be put to rest. He had stopped eating, couldn't walk anymore and as hard as it was, the time had finally come. They weren't surprised but that didn't lessen the blow.

We always joked Pagnol was a dog-cat: he'd meet us at the door, fetch the ball...not a hint of arrogance or that detachment often so typical of felines. I remember him hovering over the kids as babies—all of them—as though it was his duty to guard them. He'd sit there for hours. These last few days, even though he was old and sick and tired, he would still purr and rest his head against mine anytime I'd pick him up. He was still happy anytime the kids came near.

Damn...this is another sob story isn't it? Believe me I'm sick of them. I'm sick of tears welling up and that stupid void in the pit of my stomach, but we can't dismiss what we lose anymore than what we win. And I couldn't let this fade without even a mention. That big bundle again.

I guess we just need to focus on the sweet scents of summer...
So long old friend.

Rear (Hotel) Window

I like hotel windows. If I browsed through my library, I'd probably find window shots of every single hotel/motel/auberge I've ever stayed in. Hmm...there's a weekend project. These are from the Toronto Sheraton btw—which I don't recommend unless you're really hungry for a $15 bowl of oatmeal and don't mind $20/day wifi. In 2016. Seriously, never again. But I digress.

I think what draws me in—at a more or less subconscious level— is the combination of a fixed frame, a unique view and the transitory nature of these places. I imagine people moving in and out of the room, day after day, blurred silhouettes  mostly unaware of an ever changing scene beyond the curtain. There's something both lonely and eternal about it.   

I was here on a job so I had brought the XF 55-200mm lens just in case—I happen to really like that zoom in spite of its variable aperture. I don't use it very often but when I do I'm never, ever disappointed. I took these images over three days—when I happened to be there with nothing else to do—and the reach of that lens was too good to pass up. Yes, I admit it's a bit of a creepy sensation to stand there with a long zoom, pointing at the world from ten stories up; you feel like an invader, even if you don't have anything of the sort in mind. Hopefully the few human elements remain as anonymous as I intended them to be.

Mr. Hitchcock? Cue Franz Waxman.


Shot with the X-Pro2, XF 35 f/2 R WR and XF 55-200 f/3.5-4.8 R LM OIS


Victoria Stories

There's something about this long weekend in May—almost like it's blessed. I don't know...maybe it's a case of selective memory but the weather always seems to collaborate. It's a truce with the gods that signals the beginning of summer, our world finally turning green, winter coats and snow tires officially retired and grills firing up in every backyard. 

A time to stop and chill. Warm chill.
You know what I mean.

All shot with the X-Pro2 and 35mm f/1.4 R except for BACKYARD MACROS—I shot those with the 60mm f/2.4 R and MCEX-11.

SNAPSHOTS

BACKYARD MACROS

COOKIE MONSTERS

Never Blink

I've not been very vocal here lately. I keep writing down topic ideas for the blog—good ones—but then I don't follow up. I've got this huge list in 2Do just sitting there, waiting for me to sit down and commit. But here I am instead... touchy feely ramblings and all. I'm sure you find this incredibly interesting.

My good friend Bert Stephani started a series on KAGE Collective entitled My Photographic Mid-Life Crisis; he published the first instalment—Chaos—in issue 005 last week. I love that he's sharing his insecurities with the world instead of putting on the requisite Brave Hero Face™. It's so easy to just pretend we have superpowers in this age of social veneer. A few months ago, a friend of mine had a similar idea—sharing inner struggles online through a video project—but he ultimately decided against it, afraid of client repercussions, perception. Afraid of losing a certain aura of invincibility. I can understand that; there's no shame in keeping the darker side of ourselves secret. But it's a fragile edifice we build when we rely on pretences, one that can come tumbling down when we least expect it. It may be naive but I prefer laying it out there for all to see, damn the consequences.

The reality of photography—or any creative work—is rooted in struggle. Ups and downs, doubt, elation, more doubt. Good months and bad months. Years, sometimes. Moments when you feel the entire world is up for grabs and then absolute despair. Clarity of vision is always momentary because questions inevitably creep in, no matter how successful we are. I look at Bert's work and see nothing but fantastic images but it doesn't matter: he's feeling empty right now and feels a need to reassess. And it's scary and overwhelming—I know—but the fact is, it's the only fucking way to grow. Like it or not, we transform through slash and burn.

Yeah, yeah...touchy feely again.

I'm meeting professional deadlines but I'm having trouble with personal posts these days. It all seems both disconnected and repetitive, as if I've reached a plateau. I hate this. And I think part of it has to do with a certain guilt I'm feeling about my mother's illness, my incapacity at documenting this very real and very intense part of my life. I'm the guy who speaks of the importance of treating our lives as an ongoing documentary, of applying the same effort and vision to small realities than we do for exceptional situations. Yet here I am, avoiding this catastrophic milestone that's shaping my entire world view.

But I can't do it. I always have a camera with me and it's never come out of the bag since she left her house. Because it's painful, because I know how proud she is/was and would hate seeing herself this way—let alone bringing the entire world in for the ride. And because, even though I've seen incredibly touching stories chronicling a loved one's descent into Alzheimer's and dementia...ultimately, to me, it would feel like a betrayal and an exploitation. In the end, it's too horrible a thing to remember. I may regret this but so be it.

That's my rational side taking over, explaining away and analyzing. It doesn't change the fact that I'm paralyzed because of it. Deep down, I consider it a lack of courage that makes everything else around me seem futile. The mundane is much harder to take seriously these days.


Geez...I hope I'm not bringing you down.
We're headed into a long weekend over here and our living room is packed with stuff: yup, a garage sale. Huge. Some photography gear if you happen to be in the neighbourhood, although nothing extraordinary. Cheap though. A lot of toys, clothes... baggage the kids have now outgrown.

I'm actually looking forward to it: sitting outside, taking in some rays...losing myself in the unofficial launch of summer. I'll probably strap on my camera because...it's who I am isn't it? None of it will record itself. You blink and it's gone.
Never blink.