The Lens: Issue 6 - Fall 2019

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The people, gear and technology that will revolutionize image-making in the years to come






FOR ST. JOSEPH COMMUNICATIONS EDITOR Vickie Reichardt ART DIRECTOR Kim Rogers CONTRIBUTING EDITOR Cassandre Cadieux PROOFREADER Linda Gregg DIGITAL IMAGING SPECIALIST Drew Maynard CONTRIBUTORS Alex Chang, Carmen Cheung, Chris Daniels, Jorge DaSilva, Shanda Deziel, Zach Gibson, Jaclyn Law, Stacey Phillip, Helen Racanelli, Robin Roberts, Bonnie Staring, Chad Sapieha, Jaclyn Tersigni PRODUCTION MANAGER Michael Finley PUBLISHER Beth Fraser (acting) Korie Demerling (on leave) DIRECTOR, CUSTOM CONTENT Stefania Di Verdi CHAIRMAN & CEO Tony Gagliano VICE-PRESIDENT, DIGITAL CONTENT & PUBLISHING Sarah Trimble VICE-PRESIDENT, CLIENT SOLUTIONS Brandon Kirk ADVERTISING SALES David Lawrence 416-764-1690 FOR HENRY’S CEO Gillian Stein




SOCIAL MEDIA COORDINATOR Scott Jarvis The Lens is published four times a year by St. Joseph Communications © 2019 St. Joseph Communications All rights reserved. Any reproduction, in whole or in part, without the prior written permission of St. Joseph Communications is strictly prohibited. “Henry’s,” and associated wordmarks and logos, are trademarks of Henry’s Camera and are used under licence. Items and/or prices are accurate at the time of publication. Conditions may apply. Prices, selection and availability may vary by store and on Some advertised items may not be available in all stores or on See store or for details. St. Joseph Communications accepts no responsibility for unsolicited material.




Otherworldly outposts


Instagram feeds featuring cinematic vistas


Technology revolutionizing image-making


How to create a niche Instagram account



ON P. 39!


Benjamin Von Wong on his dazzling work – and using it for social change


A conversation with teenaged photographer and activist Leah Denbok


Exploring emerging photography-related careers in the digital age


What will impact imagemaking in the future?


Profiling Vancouver post-production studio The Orange Apple





Scientist and photographer Radha Chaddah


Olympus OM-D E-M1X; the Canon Speedlite 470EX-AI; gadgets to future-proof your video shoot; pocket-sized equipment that boasts powerful features


Tips on choosing the right lens; mirrorless cameras vs. DSLRs




FULL-FRAME WITHOUT COMPROMISE LUMIX was first to announce a mirrorless camera to the world, setting standards that define digital cameras today. As global pioneers, LUMIX continues to lead through product innovation and to drive the market globally. Now we introduce our first Full-Frame Digital Single Lens Mirrorless system, the LUMIX S series – crafted to become an extension of yourself, empowering your full creative vision. The LUMIX S features the ‘L-Mount’ which allows for connectivity to a wider range of interchangeable lenses including the L-Mount alliance of Leica, Panasonic and Sigma. The portal to a bold new frontier of image culture is now open.

Developments by ZACH GIBSON


Microscopic Marvels As technology and photographic capabilities continue to expand, more and more photographers are turning their attention to the tiniest fragments of our world to create their art. If you’re one of them, you may want to enter your work in the 2020 Nikon Small World contest (, which honours the best in photomicrography from around the globe. Celebrating the most dazzling, eye-popping images and astonishing video of subjects not visible to the naked eye – from pollen spores to bacteria to cells – the 45th-annual competition is now accepting entries. Deadline for submissions is April 30, 2020. Not sure what photomicrography is? Check out Nikon’s online “school,” MicroscopyU (, for information, tutorials, galleries, and information on techniques and gear. TOP: 2018 1st-place winner Yousef Al Habshi’s 20x-magnified shot of the eye of a beetle. LEFT: 2018 2nd-place winner Rogelio Moreno’s photo of a fern sorus (10x magnification).

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GET SET, GEAR LOVERS Attention, content creators and image-makers of all skill levels: if you’re looking for the hottest, newest gear on the market, get yourself to PHOTOPLUS (October 24 to 26, 2019), the hands-on, experiential trade show and conference showcasing the newest digital-imaging innovations and trends. The largest photography and image-arts show in North America, the annual event – taking place at New York City’s Javits Center – invites you to “touch, test and compare” all the latest equipment, meet industry experts, take part in instructional sessions to hone your skills (or learn new ones), or just geek out over all the coolest new gadgets available from the more than 200 manufacturers in attendance. To learn more, visit



Canada’s top emerging photographic talent under 30 is on display at the National Gallery of Canada ( in Ottawa from October 11, 2019 through March 22, 2020. The PhotoLab 6: New Generation Photography Award Exhibition showcases selected pieces from the three winners of the eponymous award, presented by the Canadian Photography Institute and Scotiabank: Winnipeg’s Luther Konadu; Ethan Murphy of Toronto; and Montreal-based Zinnia Naqvi. Though the trio hail from vastly different places and backgrounds, their work – which ranges from portraiture to landscapes and archival images – shares the themes of identity and heritage. Figure as Index, Luther Konadu, 2018.

High-Profile Honours Beautiful Fantastic Photoconceptualism (also known as “conceptual photography”) involves images staged to illustrate an idea or theme, and B.C. native Vikky Alexander – a photographer, collagist and installation artist whose work has been shown around the world – is one of Canada’s foremost talents embracing the genre. Her first retrospective – Vikky Alexander: Extreme Beauty – is currently underway (running through October 27, 2019) at the Vancouver Art Gallery and features more than 80 of her pieces across an array of media. The exhibition explores themes common to Alexander’s work, including the seduction of space, the artificiality of nature, and the appropriated image. For details, visit TOP: Heike’s Room, 2004. RIGHT: Between Dreaming and Living Series #5, 1986.

Man About Town 6


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As far as prestige goes, having your work recognized by the Smithsonian is pretty top-shelf – and submissions for’s 17th-Annual Photo Contest ( are now being accepted. Open to anyone in the world over 18 years of age, the competition – which closes on November 30, 2019 – invites photography in six different categories, with judges looking for “creativity, quality, originality, responsiveness to the prompt, and overall impact.” In addition to impressive bragging rights, the contest awards a grand prize of US$2,500 and a four-night stay for two on Florida’s Sanibel Island. But before you go digging through your archives to find that “perfect shot,” take note: photos must have been taken after January 1, 2017.

Winnipeg’s John Paskievich is an award-winning Ukranian-Canadian documentary filmmaker and photographer who’s spent decades capturing the day-to-day life in his hometown’s North End, and an exhibition of his work – timed to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the 1919 Winnipeg General Strike – is currently on display (through November 3, 2019) at the Winnipeg Art Gallery. Featuring 50 black-and-white photographs taken over the past 40 years, John Paskievich: The North End is the largest exhibition to date of his work at the WAG, and revolves around the human experience of his subjects, especially as it relates to ethnicity, class and culture. Visit for more information. Main Street and Sutherland Avenue, c. 1976. Courtesy of the University of Manitoba Press.


Otherworldly Outposts Whether you’re looking for somewhere to grab a spectacular selfie, shoot an alienesque landscape or film your post-apocalyptic indie, these six spots across Canada can provide you with outrageously cool backdrops by ZACH GIBSON

Dinosaur Provincial Park



Drive about two hours north of Vancouver to be awed by the unique light and colouring found under this massive (about 300 square kilometres) ice shield. Below the glaciers are beautiful, glasslike blue-ice caverns, which offer out-of-this-world photo ops for sci-fiinspired work.

DINOSAUR PROVINCIAL PARK Alberta Speaking of sci-fi, if your project requires a location that looks

like an alien planet, this UNESCO World Heritage Site – about two hours east of Calgary and named for the volume of fossils unearthed here – offers an array of valleys, hills and hoodoos (pictured) that could fit the bill.

MOUNT EDITH CAVELL Alberta Located in Jasper National Park, this spot features a few fantastically far-out possibilities: the Angel Glacier; the ice cave beneath the glacier; and Cavell Pond, where you might

also snap icebergs. Tip: access roads close in mid-October (or after the first significant snowfall), so be sure to plan accordingly.

BALACLAVA Ontario Shooting something with a post-apocalyptic vibe? This mostly abandoned former lumber town might be the perfect setting. Roughly an hour and a half west of Ottawa, the kind-ofcreepy enclave consists of a few remaining (decaying) structures, including a dam and an 19th-century sawmill.

GREIG’S CAVES Ontario Made up of 10 limestone caves, this system – where portions of Quest for Fire were filmed – features incredible rock formations, arches, crevasses and even a secluded pond. Open until mid-October, the caves are three hours northwest of Toronto, along Georgian Bay.

ARGYLE SHORE PROVINCIAL PARK Prince Edward Island Attention would-be Mars rovers: if you need someplace to double as the “Red

Planet,” check out P.E.I.’s southern shore. Here, you’ll find redsand beaches and redrock cliff faces located in the appropriately named “Red Sands Shore” region, about 40 minutes southwest of Charlottetown.

*Always be sure to consult the appropriate governing bodies in advance to ensure you have the proper permits/permission at these places before you shoot, and always stick to marked trails.

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The visual artist and scientist shares how she creates striking images of the unseen world by JACLYN LAW photography by RADHA CHADDAH

Radha Chaddah studied film and art history in university, but it wasn’t until she turned her focus to biology and became a research scientist – nudging stem cells to morph into neurons and astrocytes, then capturing vivid images of their new forms – that she got into photography. “I was supposed to be gathering data with these incredibly sophisticated microscopes, but what I saw was so compelling, with all these crazy, fluorescent colours, that I’d fall into a black hole,” says Chaddah. “I always knew I wanted to bring art and science together. Shooting those images in that dark lab, I realized that’s how I’d do it.” Since then, Chaddah has made breathtaking images of a world that’s invisible to the naked eye: cells, electromagnetic energy, even brain waves. She has exhibited her fascinating photos and large-scale, immersive pro8


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jected installations across Canada, inviting viewers to journey both inward and beyond themselves. Microscopes weren’t designed with artists in mind, but Chaddah – who’s currently completing a year-long fine-arts residency in photomicroscopy at the University of Toronto – has adapted the scientific method to capture her intricate, often stunning images. She hopes that, through her work, people can re-engage with the wonder of the natural world and see how everything is connected. “The similarities between people, and between people and things, at the cellular level is striking,” says Chaddah. “Visualizing this is a way for us to stop obsessing about differences, and to see how similar we are to nature. The stories that science can tell us about ourselves are truly wondrous.”

THIS PAGE: Neurons grown from human skin. OPPOSITE PAGE (clockwise from top): Brain cells projected onto the shed at Fogo Island Inn, Nfld.; a projected-light installation in Toronto; animated “big bang” pattern of electromagnetism, projected onto a hedge.

“The stories that science can tell us about ourselves are truly wondrous.”



Chaddah shoots photos and videos of her installations with a Sony Alpha a7S II. “I like it because it has a fullframe sensor, and I’m all about lowlight photography and videography,” she says. “It’s fantastic.”


For video, Chaddah prefers the Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM. “The fixed f-stop is really key for me. It allows me to move around at night and get consistent brightness when shooting low-light video.” She opts for a Sony FE 24-240mm F 3.5-6.3 OSS 8+ lens for low-light still photography.


In the lab, Chaddah uses microscopes with built-in imaging systems: for electron microscopy, Hitachi’s S-3400N scanning electron microscope and H-7000 transmission electron microscope; for light-based images, a Zeiss LSM 880 Elyra super-resolution confocal microscope and Axio Scan.Z1 slide-scanner microscope.


For exhibitions, Chaddah uses Epson PowerLite 2250U Wireless Full HD WUXGA 3LCD projectors. “I like them because they’re bright, crisp and versatile for my outdoor installations.”


Chaddah uses Manfrotto 290, 290 Xtra and Befree tripods for her cameras and her installation projectors “because they’re compact, light and good value.”


Chaddah totes her gear in an Incase DSLR Sling Pack. “Usually I’m travelling with road cases and projectors. I have a lot of gear, and this bag helps keep it neat.”

To check out more of Chaddah’s work, visit FALL 2019



FUTURISTIC FRAMES These five international Instagrammers routinely transform everyday locations into enigmatic universes by JACLYN TERSIGNI

As Instagram feeds

become saturated with homogenous images of the same places over and over again, a new genre is emerging, one that subverts the ordinary and turns familiar landmarks and everyday backdrops into stylized shots with a cinematic sensibility. And these visionary photographers are embarcing it, turning streets, skyscrapers and urban settings into futuristic – and even dystopian – vistas.

Reuben Wu @itsreuben Chicago-based Wu first picked up a camera to document his experiences touring with Ladytron, the band he co-founded in the late 1990s in Liverpool, England. Today, he trains his Phase One XF, Fujifilm GFX 50S or Sony a7R III on landscapes, often pairing them with artificial light sources to create mysterious images. “I try to show the familiar in an unfamiliar light, because that allows me to recontextualize a subject matter and change people’s perception.” 10


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Marina Volskaya-Nikitina @volskaya_nikitina When night falls, Volskaya-Nikitina grabs her Sony a7R MKII and stalks the streets of Nizhny Novgorod, the western-Russia metropolis she calls home. “At night, the city is transformed, vanity and the crowds disappear,” she says. “The intrusive details of everyday life dissolve in the dark, [and] artificial lighting sets a completely different atmosphere, turning the most everyday things into scenes from a movie.”

Bora @bora.vs.bora The Toronto-based photographer’s portraits of his city feel more Gotham City than Hogtown. “Creating photos that feel like screen grabs from futuristic dystopian movies has always been something I’ve enjoyed creating,” Bora says. “Applying a layer of art direction that viscerally transports the viewer into the scene.” His tools of choice: the Canon EOS 5D (Mark III, IV and V) paired with a Canon L-Series lens.

Simon Lachapelle @simonlachapelle Montreal-based Lachapelle’s cinematic feed is the result of a love of modern architecture, a healthy dose of research and an inherent hunger for capturing a unique perspective. “[I] imagine a photo in my mind before getting to the actual location,” he explains. “I usually start with Google Maps 3D and Street View to try to find the best point of view.” To nail the shot, Lachapelle turns to his Sony a7R II.

Ngoc Van Anh Nguyen @anh.yeong After sharpening her photography skills with YouTube tutorials, Nguyen decided she needed a niche. She found one in modern architecture. The Berlin-based hobbyist says capturing the built world with her Sony a7R II has changed how she perceives it: “I would pass by buildings in Berlin, which I did not pay attention to before, and now I always watch out for interesting spots and locations to shoot. FALL 2019




INNOVATIONS CHANGING THE FUTURE OF IMAGE MAKING From machine learning to augmented reality, here’s how technology is impacting the way we create and work with pictures


echnological innovation has disrupted the world of photography before – obligatory shout-out to our old friend, film – and it will again. While the changes that brings are both exciting and empowering, they can also be dizzying. Your best bet to keep pace is to arm yourself with the knowledge necessary to make decisions that will let you grow your passion in practical and sustainable ways. To that end, here are four technological innovations currently emerging, and the impact they might have – or are already having – on how we take photos and shoot video.

RISE OF THE (LEARNING) MACHINES Artificial intelligence (AI) – software that identifies patterns based on vast sets of data – is everywhere, including in our cameras and image-editing programs. 12


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In cameras, it’s being leveraged to eke out more detail in low-light scenes, simulate believable bokeh effects, and even subtly manipulate perspective via artificial tilt-shifting, all before heading into post-production. Once you get back to your computer, the applications you use to sort and manipulate images are employing AI to transform unmanageable libraries into easily searchable databases, and efficiently apply artistic effects that used to require hours of editing. But here’s the rub: AI algorithms are creating images that simply don’t exist in nature. This ruffles the feathers of some purists looking to capture the human experience in the most authentic way possible. There’s also the near-future prospect of AI generating photographs without the use of a camera – something that software engineers are actually working on right now.




The key is remembering that AI-powered features and functions are simply tools in your kit. There are times when they’re a boon, and situations where the human eye still reigns supreme.

AUGMENTED REALITY: A SAFER WAY TO FLY Regulations governing drone usage in Canada stipulate that pilots must always maintain line of sight on their craft. This makes it nearly impossible to keep an eye on the screen you’re using to frame and capture images without the help of an assistant. Augmented-reality glasses – such as Epson’s Moverio BT-300 – are helping to solve this problem by allowing users to view both their drones and an image of what they’re capturing at the same time. You can see the drone through the lenses as you would through any pair of glasses, but in the corner of your vision you’re provided a superimposed live feed of what the drone’s camera sees. It might be the safest way to fly and capture what you need when working alone.

8K VIDEO = THOUSANDS OF HIGH-QUALITY STILLS When you break it down, 8K video is essentially a series of highly resolved 32-megapixel still images. It’s like shooting in burst mode at up to 60 frames per second. You can sort through these frames, grab your favourites and then get to work in post. The advantage of capturing photos through video is obvious. With a large enough pool of images, chances are good that at least a few will be brilliant in just the way you want. The problem is that finding the right one can be difficult. You may need to sort through

tens of thousands of images to find what you’re looking for. It’s also worth noting that even just a few minutes of 8K video will cause your local storage requirements to soar dramatically. Keep in mind, too, that video and photography involve different creative and technical skill sets. If you intend to leverage high-resolution video for stills, you may need to modify your capturing process.

IoT: THE ALWAYS-CONNECTED CAMERA In the future, there will be more devices connected to the internet than there are people on Earth. Welcome to the Internet of Things (IoT), where everything from fridges to cars to thermostats is now online. So, how about cameras? Maybe. A camera that’s always connected to the internet could allow photographers to upload everything they capture almost instantly to the cloud wherever they are. This would cut down on the need for local storage; allow you to more easily share your photos and videos with friends, colleagues or clients and the world; and ensure your work is always accessible for review and editing anywhere you happen to be – no memory cards or proxy connections required. The challenge at present is data. Photos and videos are bandwidth hogs, and cell networks are costly and slow compared to wired and WiFi connections. However, as IoT continues to expand – and next-generation cellular networks provide quicker connections, broader coverage and lower prices – perhaps cameras will soon take their place among the plethora of things connected via the internet. FALL 2019



#WeAreAllCreators Our expertise doesn’t come from a brochure, it comes from doing. We’re not clerks, we’re collaborators. We’re photographers, filmmakers, content producers, and artists. We’re industry insiders and social media makers. We’re over 400 Henry’s Associates across Canada, and we are all creators.

James McKay Thornhill, Ontario Henry’s Associate Portrait & Lifestyle Photographer



Create a follow-worthy niche Instagram account


With one billion active

Expert advice on what you can do to build, grow – and even monetize – a highly targeted social feed by HELEN RACANELLI

monthly users, Instagram is fertile ground for content creators looking to launch niche accounts. Be it fitness, food, beauty or sports, there’s an influencer for every interest. Want in on the action? Every successful account started at zero followers, which means you, too, can build a niche account from the ground up. Here’s how.

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1. CHOOSE YOUR NICHE “You want to choose something in your realm of expertise, [where] you can provide the most value,” says Alex Tooby, a Squamish, B.C.-based Instagram marketer, who teaches an online course called “The Instagram Ivy League.” Then, dive deeper. There are millions of fashion, fitness, and travel accounts, she says, so you need to tighten your focus. For example, if your niche is fitness, you can offer something more specialized, such as fitness training for a certain sport, for new moms or for people over 50. “Just a few years ago, I was your typical Instagram user, posting pictures of my food and the sunset,” she says. Eventually, she fine-tuned her account (@instawithalex) to focus on her social-media consulting business. Instagram quickly became a sizeable income generator for her, she says, and she now has upwards of 44.5K followers. According to Tooby, the best niche, no matter your specific goal – be it attracting lots of followers, driving traffic to a website or something else – is one in which you can showcase your authority and knowledge, share your own personal experiences, encourage or motivate your audience, and even answer their questions. 2. CREATE YOUR CONTENT Post high-quality images that stand out and have impressive, saturated colours. Caption writing is important, too. Tooby recommends starting each caption with something compelling that gets your audience to immediately stop and say, “I definitely need to read this!” Then, follow up with a clear call to action – such as “click the link in my bio” – that supports your goals. Images should be cohesive, have a clear focus and complement each other. “Images with faces definitely perform better [for me],” says travel expert Jennifer Weatherhead Harrington of her niche globetrotting account (@jennweatherhead). “[I’ve noticed] a shift away from the very light, washed-out look that dominated Instagram for a while.” On her feed, she’s learned that beachy blues and sandy colours seem to appeal the most to her audience. Instagram wants people to spend as much time on the platform as possible. Enter: video, Stories and IGTV. “Stories and IGTV are a way to be more niche and set yourself apart from other people,” says Weatherhead Harrington. “It’s a chance for you to show your personality, give information and connect



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instead of falling into the mix of filtered photos that look like so many others on Instagram,” she says. 3. PLAN A POSTING SCHEDULE As a general rule, less is more. “Posting too many times a day can cause your posts to compete with each other, and your followers may become annoyed and unfollow you,” says Tooby. At the same time, she says, you do need to be consistent and post regularly: if you’re not posting enough, your audience is likely to forget who you are, so building a relationship with them is going to be much more difficult. In terms of maximum impact, the best times to post content on Instagram are Wednesdays at noon ET and Fridays between 11 a.m. and noon ET, according to Sprout Social, a popular online tool that lets you post to all your social-media accounts from its platform. This timing varies by niche, of course, so it’s worth researching: Tuesday at 9 a.m. ET is ideal for health-care accounts, for example. Across the board, though, Sunday is when your audience will likely be smallest and your posts will have the least traction. If you really want to dive deep into the optimum timing for your feed, consider changing your Instagram account to a “business” account (which you can do for free). This gives you access to in-app analytics, such as Instagram Insights, which allows you to see when your audience is most active and engaged, so you can schedule posts accordingly. 4. ATTRACT – AND KEEP – FOLLOWERS This is key to any successful feed, and it starts with research. “Get to know the companies or people winning in your landscape, and understand the actions they take to find success,” says Lauren Shirreffs,

THREE FEED FUMBLES TO AVOID 1. DON’T BUY FOLLOWERS. Paying for followers and using bots that like/comment/follow are not only against Instagram’s terms of service, they are a nuisance. “Not only do you put your account at risk by using these services, but it’s also not a good look for your brand,” says Tooby.

2. DON’T POST THE SAME CONTENT ACROSS VARIOUS PLATFORMS. Each platform – such as Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest – has its own nuances in terms of successful content, so do your homework to learn what performs best where. “Create a strategy that avoids pushing the same content across every channel,” says Shirreffs.

3. DON’T CHOOSE A VAGUE HANDLE. Users need to be able to find you easily, so have your name and a description of your niche in your account name and bio. That way, when someone searches for key words relating to you or your area of expertise – such as “travel expert,” “Vancouver foodie” or “John Smith fitness” – your account will pop up in search results more readily.

“The most important metric is engagement. Connecting with people and accounts will be more rewarding and fulfilling long-term, so answer questions, ask questions, like, follow and connect with


people in your sphere.”

CEO and founder of 2Social (@2_social), a social-media agency with offices in Toronto and Los Angeles. Then, try to understand how you’re different and can provide value, and which formats – such as video vs. photos – would best help you do so, she says. To up your game to the pro level, be organized. Study your analytics often; develop a repository of creative assets so you’re never scrambling for content; and create a calendar for yourself, Shirreffs says. Most importantly, interact. “Social media is still social, and the most important metric is engagement,” she explains. “Connecting with people and accounts will be more rewarding and fulfilling long-term, so answer questions, ask questions, like, follow and connect with people in your sphere.” Learning what sparks dialogue or what encourages people to follow you is the best way to keep followers, and remember: value is the bottom line. “Spend less time focused on likes and followers, and more time developing content that teaches, shares, and connects individuals to provide value and build trust,” Shirreffs says. 5. MAKE MOVES TO MONETIZE On Instagram, you can monetize a successful niche account, and there are three basic ways to do it: earning

commissions as an affiliate; selling your own products or services; or via sponsored posts. If you want a piece of the sponsored-post pie as an influencer, brands typically find you when your feed and number of followers get big enough. In the meantime, add yourself to directories. Do an online search (and your due diligence) for “influencer marketplaces.” Sites such as indaHash, Fohr and Grapevine are dedicated to helping match influencers to sponsors, among plenty more. Shirreffs says her clients are not always seeking the biggest accounts to sponsor, either. “Transparent values, creative abilities and authenticity are crucial in selecting campaign influencers,” she says. As a result, even comparatively small accounts can sometimes attract sponsorship for posts. 6. BE AUTHENTIC Authenticity is a buzzword used often on Instagram, but what does it mean for a new niche account and its creator(s)? Above all else: do what moves you and never mimic others. “Edit and post pictures you like. Show your personality through Stories, IGTV and videos,” says Weatherhead Harrington. “Use those aspects of Instagram as a way to be you.” FALL 2019



Benjamin Von Wong on how he went from taking amateur photos of the night sky to creating epic viral images that are changing the way we see the world by SHANDA DEZIEL photography by BENJAMIN VON WONG



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Portrait of the Artivist

For his most recent projects, Benjamin Von Wong collected hundreds of thousands of used plastic cups, water bottles and straws and formed them into massive photo-ready installations – as a way to draw attention to the scourge of single-use plastic. As a result, he says, he’s been labelled “the ocean-plastic guy, the one who makes art out of trash.” Von Wong is used to being typecast. “Back when I was shooting a lot of fire, people just knew me as a fire photographer,” he says. “I did a couple of big underwater projects, and then I got so many requests from people who wanted me to go and shoot them underwa-

ter for their weddings. I guess people always want to put you in a box, and you have to break out of that box.” But long-time fans of Von Wong insist that one of the greatest things about the internationally renowned photographer/artist/activist is that you never know what he’s going to do next – and, more importantly, how he’s going to pull it off. Von Wong is known for epic, hyperrealistic, fantastical images set in creative locations, including a lava field, a sunken shipwreck and the eye of a storm. With every one of his photo projects, Von Wong creates a behind-the-scenes video and blog post. Thanks to his charismatic onscreen presence and passion for sharing his process – not to mention his mind-blowing images – Von Wong has garnered 110K Instagram followers and counting. His fans have been known to travel on their own dime to volunteer on one of his shoots – even if it means spending days washing plastic bottles and straws. “People want to see if the photos are real,” says videographer Adam Frimer, a frequent Von Wong collaborator. “They don’t believe that it’s him who does it. But that’s Ben’s thing: he doesn’t Photoshop.” Four years ago,Von Wong made a commitment to only make art with a social impact, which has brought him even more attention and fans, and resulted in some beautiful and poignant images. “There are some things, like climate change, that need conceptualization to be able to understand and rationalize,” he says. “There’s only so far documentary-making can take you [because] people get tired. Fantasy can make that a little bit more palatable.” For example, OPPOSITE PAGE: Benjamin Von Wong. THIS PAGE (from top): Shark Shepherd (2016); an image from Strawpocalypse (2019); Fast Fashion (2018).

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CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: Truckload of Plastic (2018); Von Wong and his team setting up the shot; another shot from Strawpocalypse; constructing the waves made from 150,000 discarded straws.



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his photos of a three-storey-high closet holding 3,000 items of clothing – the average amount a person wears in a lifetime – started a conversation about consumerism and disposable fashion. And his images of a lifeless mermaid adrift in a sea of 10,000 plastic water bottles (see p. 22), while gorgeous, certainly drove home a message about plastic pollution in the oceans. Von Wong was born in Toronto, lived in 13 different countries growing up, considers Montreal home and currently resides in San Francisco, where he says he identifies with “the culture of entrepreneurship and hustling and the social innovation that is happening there.” He came to photography and “artivism” by way of big-rock mining. During an engineering internship at a mine in Winnemucca, Nev., Von Wong bought

his first camera. “It’s a tiny little town, and there was really not much to do,” he says. “I was 20, I couldn’t go out to the bars, and I basically had fast-food centres to hang out in. I thought the stars were pretty in Winnemucca, so I bought a camera to take pictures of them.” Once he got back to Montreal, Von Wong taught himself the craft, joining a photography club, watching online tutorials and shooting every day. While he ran his own event-photography business for a few years, he eventually dropped it to pursue personal projects. “I was drawn to anything that was crazy, challenging,” says Von Wong. “That’s when the style of the fantastical, surreal stuff really came into play.” As his online following grew, he was able to quit his mining day job and travel the world, teaching photography workshops, doing speaking events and embarking on international, collaborative photo projects. Von Wong’s first major viral success happened when his parents dragged him on vacation to Bali. He didn’t want to go until he heard about a sunken shipwreck site. Von Wong arrived in Bali with a grand plan to shoot at the site and

a cheap underwater camera – but without any diving experience. He proceeded to complete his certification at the shipwreck site, scouting locations while learning to dive. Offers of help came pouring in: a freediving model paid her own way from Dubai to participate; a local designer donated a dress; and a fellow photographer loaned Von Wong a quality camera and housing. Still, there were challenges. “I was such a bad diver,” says Von Wong, “that there was a person behind me, holding my tank, helping with my buoyancy, because I would float up and down as I was trying to both do the shoot and breathe in oxygen.” For a while, all of Von Wong’s shoots seemed to have an element of danger. He went stormchasing, photographing models performing everyday activities in the midst of 30-mph winds and dramatic storm clouds. Another time, he led a crew into some Hawaiian lava fields. “We hiked for three hours,” says filmmaker Valentina Vee, who often shoots video on Von Wong projects. “The lava forms mountainous, hilly ridges, and if you touch it you cut yourself. And you have to test your weight on each step or you might put your foot right through to actual lava and get second-degree burns. It was completely dark, and super hot even in dead of night – and TIPS FROM THE PRO the sulphur smelled like Looking to create your own a thousand farts.” After hyper-realistic images? Von getting some cool shots, Wong has a couple of key hacks. Von Wong suggested they return the next night – 1. GET CREATIVE WITH and the whole team did it EVERYDAY MATERIALS AND again. “My superpower,” PROPS. “It’s really fun to look says Von Wong, “is around and try to make use of convincing people of their the things that you have. I’ve ability to do really crazy used graffiti as a backdrop, things. I just convince and flour as smoke. The real them that anything is key is to focus on what you can possible and I invite them do with what you have, and to join in on the advennot to focus on all the things ture. And that, I think, you wish you could do if you more than anything else is had access to X, Y or Z.” what defines my work.” He can even convince 2. STRIVE TO BEST YOURSELF, sharks to collaborate BUT BE REALISTIC. “Always peacefully. For Shark aim to create projects that Shepherd, a photography are 10 percent better than the project designed to draw last project you did. Don’t aim attention to shark conserto do something that’s two or vation, Von Wong travthree times more ambitious elled to Fiji, set up a shoot than the last one, because in an ocean cave, tethered you’ll find that if you aim too a model/freediver to a high too quick, you’ll really rock formation and waited struggle to bring collaborators for the Great Whites to on board. They need to be able arrive. “Though popular to see your steps to success media would tell you that to believe that you can execute sharks come swarming at the vision that you’re selling.” the slightest FALL 2019



An image from Von Wong’s 2016 #MermaidsHatePlastic campaign, which used 10,000 plastic bottles to replicate the ocean. 22


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scent of blood, death and suffering,” says Von Wong, “our experience with them was the complete opposite.” Despite the rigorous and perilous shoots, Von Wong’s collaborators remain protective of him, and marvel at his commitment. “He goes all in,” says Frimer. “He has a mindset, a determination that is hard to compete with. He’s really committed to the cause; it’s not just about doing this project and then going to something else. And he doesn’t take commercial work anymore, even though people would be lining up for him if he did.” Most recently, Von Wong has pivoted from photography to experiential installations. “People are looking for unique experiences to be a part of,” he says, “where they can take their own photographs. If what makes my work unique are the worlds that I create, why not make those worlds available to every single person who wants to talk about the challenges our world is facing?” This is best exemplified by Strawpocalypse, an art installation created earlier this year in a Ho Chi Minh City mall. After washing and sorting 168,000 plastic straws, Von Wong and



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his team glued them onto a 3.3-metre-high wooden structure designed to look like “the parting of the plastic seas.” While Strawpocalypse embodied Von Wong’s desire to create “something beautiful and unique out of an environmental tragedy,” in hindsight he wishes he had incorporated a tangible goal into the exhibit. (For example, convincing 50 percent of the food and beverage companies inside the mall to stop using plastics.) “For my next project,” he says, “it’s important that the impact is built into the creation process. So, it isn’t that we’re just raising awareness, but rather that we are connecting with a community and creating a project to transform the community.” As Von Wong refines his medium and message, his fans and collaborators not-so-secretly hope that he continues to pick up the camera. “He says he’s not a photographer anymore, he’s an installation artist,” says Vee. “But he did take stunning photos at his last two installations. I think it’s always in him; he’s going to be a photographer forever.” TO SEE MORE OF VON WONG’S WORK, VISIT VONWONG.COM.

WHAT’S IN HIS BAG? Von Wong’s go-to kit for his shoots includes these essentials: • A Sony a7R II camera with a 16-35mm F/4 lens • An Insta360 ONE X camera • A pair of Godox Witstro AD200 pocket flashes • Several Broncolor Move power packs

THIS PAGE: Toxic Laundry (2017). OPPOSITE PAGE: An image from Von Wong’s 2018 e-waste campaign, #RethinkRecycleRevive.

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ENCOUNTERS A conversation with teenaged photographer Leah Denbok, who reflects on the photo series that turned her into a published author, a next-generation talent to watch and an advocate for the homeless by JACLYN TERSIGNI photography by LEAH DENBOK

Some portrait photographers seek to capture their subject’s personality. Leah Denbok wants to capture their humanity. It’s a unique approach that’s been yielding impressive results – even more impressive when you consider that Denbok is a 19-year-old college student. A portrait photographer-cum-social activist, the Collingwood, Ont., native has pounded the pavement of cities in Canada and beyond for the last four years, taking strikingly intimate images of people living on the streets. Those photos can be found in Nowhere to Call Home: Photographs and Stories of the Homeless, a two-volume book series (with a third forthcoming).



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Denbok says she wanted to capture the bond between this man and his beloved dog, and caught this image by chance. “It wasn’t until we were walking away that my dad happened to look back and saw [him] with his arms wrapped around his dog in a loving embrace. I quickly ran back and began snapping pictures.”

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I was 12. I have a cousin who used to take photographs, so I thought that I would give it a try. I bought myself my first camera from a local hock shop with money I had made from my newspaper route.

Did you have a photography teacher or mentor? Shortly after taking up photography, I was going to quit. I didn’t think I was any good. Alarmed by this, my dad, who was once an artist himself and who saw potential in me, contacted [National Geographic photographer] Joel Sartore, whose DVD series Fundamentals of Photography I had recently watched. Joel agreed to do a consultation with me via Skype. Since then, these [consultations] have continued every six months or so. Joel liked my work. When I was 14, he sent my dad an email saying: “Leah is well on her way to becoming not just a good photographer, but a great photographer. And I’m not kidding.”

Why did you start photographing homeless people? When I was about 15, Joel told me that, in his experience, all really successful photographers focus on one genre or another. He said my strength was portraiture. At first, I took pictures of seniors in nursing homes. But [because] you have to get approval to do this from the children of the residents there, it became impractical. My dad then came across the work of the British photographer Lee Jeffries, who photographs people experiencing homelessness, and suggested I do the same.

ness that I come across. I try to find ones who have interesting faces. Faces that tell a story.

How do you approach your subjects? My dad approaches the person and, after introducing the two of us and explaining what it is we’re doing, asks the individual if, for $10, he or she would be interested in having his or her photograph taken and being interviewed. If so, we ask the individual to sign a consent form giving us permission to publish his or her photograph.

Which portrait has been the most memorable for you? Perhaps the most memorable was of Lucy [this page, top right], who’s on the cover of my first book. She is so young and pretty that it broke my heart – and my dad’s – to see her in this situation. When I told her she would be on the cover of my book, she was ecstatic. When I gave her a copy, something I try to do with everyone who makes it into my books, she began jumping up and down yelling, “Woo hoo!” Later, her boyfriend told us, with tears in his eyes, that it made her “feel human.”

What are some of the challenges you’ve faced while working on this series? Probably the biggest challenge is financial. I donate 100 percent of the profits from the sales of my books and canvases to homeless shelters; we [only] recoup our expenses. We don’t regret this decision. It’s a matter of principle to us. But it has made things financially difficult at times. The second biggest challenge, ironically, is the

How do you choose your subjects? I’m an artist first and a social activist second. I don’t photograph every person experiencing homeless28


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THIS PAGE (left to right): “Kimberly,” 2018; “Duffy,” 2018; “Lucy,” 2015. OPPOSITE PAGE: “Nathan,” 2017.

TIPS FROM THE PRO: Making Connections Being able to connect with your subjects is key in portraiture, especially in sensitive situations. Denbok has some advice on how to do so. 1. Pay the utmost attention to your subject’s eyes, facial expressions and hand gestures, since they can reveal so much about the person you’re shooting. 2. Study the masters known for their understanding of human nature, such as Rembrandt, German artist Käthe Kollwitz and Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado. 3. Try to develop a relationship with your subject by asking him or her questions. This will give you helpful information and tell you a lot about their personality.


What first sparked your interest in photography?

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Denbok snapped this photo of “John” near Toronto’s Eaton Centre in 2015 because, she says, he reminded her “of the characters in the novels by the Russian writer [Aleksandr] Solzhenitsyn.”



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WHAT’S IN HER BAG? Denbok’s kit includes these must-haves: “Peter,” 2017

criticism I sometimes receive [that I’m] exploiting people experiencing homelessness for my own gain. I have some critics on social media who have been very harsh with me – even after I tell them I don’t keep any money from this.

How do you handle that kind of criticism? Joel told me to just ignore them. “There will always be haters,” he says.

How has this project impacted you? As a person, but also as a photographer? When I started this project, I did so for purely artistic reasons. Their faces were interesting. They told a story. But as I’ve gotten to meet these people and hear their stories over the past four years, my sense of empathy for them has grown. And along with this has grown my desire to want to humanize them and shine a spotlight on the problem of homelessness. I think my skill as a photographer, as well as my self-confidence, has improved over the years. This is especially the case since I began studying photogra-

phy at Sheridan College. Before that, I didn’t even know how to use Photoshop.

How do you want your career to evolve? I intend to continue my book series, no matter what. My goal is to change the general public’s negative perception of people experiencing homelessness, which I expect will take my whole life to do. Once I graduate with a degree in photography, in order to make a living I hope to maybe work as a freelance photographer for magazines or newspapers.

What’s the best advice you’ve received from other photographers? Joel [has always] emphasized to me the importance of making sure the eyes of my subjects are in focus, which I’ve never forgotten. He also stressed the need to try to tell a story through my photographs, saying that there will always be a need for photographers who are able to do this.


CANON EOS 5D MARK II “It is a fantastic full-frame camera. It’s not the newest camera, but it’s a workhorse and gets the job done without any issues.” CANON 24-70MM L-SERIES LENS “The 24-70mm is an amazing lens for portraits because it allows me to get close to my subjects while still maintaining a clear shot with minimal distortion.” A COMPACT, GRIDDED SOFTBOX AND A SPEEDLIGHT “The flash-and-griddedsoftbox combination helps me control the light easier with my portraits. The grid, specifically, is important to direct the light onto my subjects and away from the background.” FALL 2019




HORIZONS Four emerging fields in the image-based arts that go beyond the traditional photography career





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A “career in photography”used to mean one thing: becoming a photographer. You’d train, buy a bunch of equipment, build a portfolio and, if you were lucky, set up your own studio. These days – thanks to evolution and innovation across the cultural, technological and economic landscapes – all kinds of brand new doors are opening for anyone looking to work professionally in the image-based arts. Here are four emerging careers to consider, either as a side hustle to help pay the bills or as a full-time pursuit.

DIGITAL IMAGING SPECIALIST A flawless face, a vibrant sky, fancy type over an iconic landmark. It’s all created through digital imaging, often using graphic-design software such as Photoshop or InDesign. When Berny Holzmann started working on Vancouver-based Canada Wide Media’s many magazines over a decade ago, he colour-corrected photographs, close-cropped backgrounds, cloned out unwanted marks, added shadows and merged type. Today, advanced technology has allowed photographers and art directors to do it themselves. “Everybody has a function key for basic colour correction on their computer,” says Holzmann, who has since graduated to art director but still uses his imaging skills for detailed work. A graduate of Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s Foundations in Design program, Holzmann suggests the aspiring digital imager not only get formal training, but approach any company that needs graphics work: publishers, art studios, ad agencies, TV networks, even banks or sign shops. “Get into a big creative company, work your way up, prove yourself,” he says, adding you should also be adept at drawing or painting, since the level of finesse required in this kind of work is something a printer (human or machine) needs but might not possess or be able to achieve themselves. “It’s a lot easier if you’re skilled at painting, [since] a printer may have no ability with a pencil or that kind of detail.”

company Nygård International. Luchuck sources relevant images and video to promote Nygård on social media, alongside handling the company’s blog posts, e-releases, product descriptions and email blasts. “It’s all about creating a brand persona, knowing your customer, showing a type of lifestyle, and growing your audience through interesting images [that create] emotion,” she explains. Luchuck says there are many opportunities for content curators. “Every brand needs [social media] in order to be competitive. It doesn’t matter whether [the] company is big or small,” she says. But she cautions that the job is about more than just posting pretty photos. “There’s loads to learn,” she says. “You really have to know how to talk to your audience.” Kelly Samuel, social-media director for Toronto-based Qode Social, agrees – especially when it comes to Instagram. “Instagram is everything that we do. Most businesses come to us for help with Instagram only,” she says. “[It’s] the most popular request at this time, because the bulk of users with disposal income are on it.” Samuel says most content strategies are now developed for Instagram first and tweaked for other platforms later.


THIS PAGE: YouTube product reviewer Gerald Undone. OPPOSITE PAGE: Social-media strategist Kelly Samuel.

Content curators are the hunters and gatherers of information and images on a specific subject that will appeal to a specific audience, particularly on social media. The goal is then for that audience to like, comment on and, ideally, share it with others. The trick is to make the content compelling enough to pass along. “You need to know what’s new and trending, dynamic and engaging, especially for a fashion brand,” says Sharmon Luchuck, content curator for Winnipeg-based fashion

Some technical colleges offer ancillary courses in social media, as do tech companies themselves, such as Hootsuite. Samuel says a photography or visual-design background is essential. “Having a photography background is actually critical,” she says, “as you have to know what looks good and how to play around in concept, production and post.” FALL 2019



THIS PAGE (clockwise): Online photography instructor Tim Shields; content curator Sharmon Luchuck; digital imaging specialist Berny Holzmann.




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YOUTUBE REVIEWER YouTube – with billions of monthly users and some 8,000 channels – is a veritable goldmine of opportunity for product reviewers. You might not get rich (recent surveys reveal an average income of about $17,000 a year), but you’ll be your own boss while talking about products you love. London, Ont.-native Gerald Undone, who reviews photography equipment and other tech for his 60,000-plus subscribers, derives his income from a variety of sources, including AdSense, affiliate marketing (where he links to online marketplaces or directly to the product’s site), and through brand deals with sponsor-dedicated videos. Undone had no training or background – other than a career in engineering and data analysis – but he did have a passion for photography, video, computers and tech. What attracts his followers is what he calls his usefulness. “For your channel to grow and for people to want to care and listen to what you have to say, you need to command some kind of knowledge and authority on the topic.” To compete in an ever-crowded arena, he advises against variety content and recommends finding a niche, something you’re good at and passionate about, and building a relationship with your audience. “You have to think of how this video is going to benefit somebody,” he says. “Serve a purpose, be as useful as possible, because there are so many ways people can spend their time – why should they spend it on you?” Undone says he didn’t earn his viewers overnight, though. “It takes a good year [to get] a decent following,” he says. “But I enjoy what I’m doing. I get to play with gear and I get paid for it. What’s not to like?”


“The riches are in the niches.” It’s an adage Tim Shields follows when creating his online photography tutorials for YouTube, webinars and on his own website. “You’re drinking from a fire hose with the amount of information [on YouTube],” says the Vancouver-based instructor. “It’s a very noisy and highly competitive environment.” So, Shields focuses solely on teaching landscape and travel photography, some of which he initially offers for free to his Facebook followers. Once impressed, those followers pony up for video tutorials, designed and created by Shields and a full-time video editor he employs out of his home studio. “Having a sense of community is so important,” says Shields, who has been a passionate photographer since he bought his first camera, a Minolta SLR, at 13. He keeps his students engaged and involved by offering weekly and monthly photo challenges, where the winner snags a free tutorial package. When he’s not creating his content, Shields is busy marketing it, which he learned to do from online salesand-marketing platform “You can have the best tutorials in the world, you can be the best photographer in the world, but if you don’t know how to market it, no one’s going to buy it.” Before he began teaching, Shields had amassed an impressive portfolio of photographs, as well as instructional videos that he shot in the field, which he used to market to prospective students. “People need to feel they have a connection with you, [because] online sales are all about connection,” he explains. Others contemplating online instructing often get trapped in the overthinking “analysis paralysis,” he says. “Have a plan, but just start creating content, because if you don’t get going, you’ll be talking about it forever and nothing will ever happen.”



TRENDS We asked the experts and content creators in this issue what they believe will most impact imagemaking in the future. Here’s what they said.

“Photoshop, Illustrator and other editing software. From people faking being in certain locations to adding a full starry night to a photo – we now have the ability to create what the eye and camera cannot see.” – Alex Tooby, Instagram marketer


“The advancement of the camera sensor. I imagine that, at some point, we’ll be able to take a photo directly into the sun or a very bright sunset and have double the dynamic range that we have now, and have a perfectly lit foreground that would normally be fully silhouetted.” – Tim Shields, online photography instructor “It’s already starting: cellphones. And one of the big questions I have is, ‘Why hasn’t a smartphone company taken all the innovation they have

right now and taken that to the camera market?’ I’m talking about the power of computational photography – the day you can take a phone and slot it into a camera with a real sensor, but with all the intelligence and the neural-networks and processing power of a phone, is the day photography is going to change forever, it’s going to explode. The idea that you could hypothetically shoot the same image in multiple shutter speeds – still, frozen, moving – all at the same time and combine those to create the best image with one press... just think of the number of creative opportunities that will unlock.”

– Benjamin Von Wong, photographer “Learning photography has never been more accessible or as easy to practise, thanks

“I think photographic systems that allow us to detect invisible realities will change how we see everything. Could you imagine if there were popularly available, inexpensive cameras that would allow people to visualize electromagnetism? Any kind of wave-form energy? Or popularly available photography systems that would allow us to visualize sound waves?” – Radha Chaddah, scientist and photographer

to [smartphones] and the abundance of free tutorials on the subject. These advances in convenience and quality are putting conventional camera manufacturers on their toes and forcing them to spread some of that impressive innovation into our mirrorless cameras, as well.” – Gerald Undone, YouTube product reviewer

what you can do fast.” – Sharmon Luchuck, content curator “Photography is changing quickly and constantly under the influence of very many things, but I think artificial intelligence will cause the biggest disruption.” – Reuben Wu, photographer

“Video. Video is king on social media. It’s all about stories, and [using] AI, virtual reality, those types of things to tell stories. People’s atten-

“CGI. 3D stock is now just as robust as photography stock. If you can think of an object, you can click on it, buy it and download it. That’s where I think we will see a huge shift.”

tion spans are getting smaller and smaller, so it’s all about

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SNAPSHOTS In our last issue, we asked you to show us your most creative portraits. Here are some of our favourite submissions!



WINNER! Congratulations to Greg Key (Toronto, Ont.), for his photo titled ”The Watcher.” Aperture: 4 ISO: 400 Shutter speed: 1/500 Camera: Canon EOS Rebel T5



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“Happiness” by Madison Shaw (Newmarket, Ont.) Aperture: 4 ISO: 400 Shutter speed: 1/200 Camera: Sony Alpha a200

“Generations” by Daniel Taylor (Qualicum Beach, B.C.) Aperture: 4 ISO: 160 Shutter speed: 1/125 Camera: Nikon D500

“Losing My Mind” by Danny Saint-fort (Ottawa, Ont.) Aperture: 5.6 ISO: 400 Shutter speed: 1/50 Camera: Sony Alpha a7

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“Man Waiting in the Car” by Marty Gervais (Windsor, Ont.) Aperture: 5.6 ISO: 150 Shutter speed: 1/50 Camera: Leica Q2

”Quintessence” by Alexander Decebal-Cuza (Winnipeg, Man.) Aperture: 2.8 ISO: 200 Shutter speed: 1/125 Camera: Nikon D3400

“The Lights” by Melanie Weisenberg (Pembroke, Ont.) Aperture: 1.8 ISO: 3200 Shutter speed: 1/200 Camera: Canon EOS Rebel SL1



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“Home” by Frank Kook (Dartmouth, N.S.) Aperture: 8 ISO: 200 Shutter speed: 1/500 Camera: Nikon D700


In each issue of The Lens, we’ll announce a new photo challenge aimed at sharpening your photography skills. We’ll then select our favourite shots and publish them in the next issue. PLUS: One overall winner from all eligible submissions will score a $250 Henry’s gift card!

CHALLENGE #6: “FRAME WITHIN A FRAME” Enter our photo challenge and you could win* a $250 Henry’s gift card

Doorways, windows, arches, branches, rays of light – what kinds of cool and creative ways can you frame your subject within the frame of your photo? We want to see! So, snap your photos and then visit to submit your work. Deadline for entries is 11:59 p.m. ET on Tuesday, September 10, 2019.

SUBMISSION GUIDELINES Image resolution: at least 300dpi at 8.5x11 inches. No wordmarks. Your name and shooting details will be printed beside your image. Photo(s) must be your own and, if a person is featured, you must have their written consent to use it. If your photo is selected, you’ll be required to provide the high-res file. *For full contest rules and regulations, visit

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Vancouver’s Paul Lang on keeping his business on the cutting edge of advertising and photography trends by CHRIS DANIELS photography by THE ORANGE APPLE


here’s an expression in business: “If you’re not growing, you’re dying.” Paul Lang, who cofounded Vancouver-based The Orange Apple Creative Imagery with his wife, Pamela Mander-Lang, almost 15 years ago, says that definitely applies to the business of advertising imagery. “It is changing times, so if you aren’t changing with them, you are being left behind,” he says.



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Relocating from Toronto, the couple launched Orange Apple Creative after they discovered Vancouver ad agencies had been turning to Los Angeles or East Coast firms for high-end photo retouching. Although that allowed them to fill a niche, retouching firms rarely get their due when it comes to advertising awards, so Orange Apple eventually moved into doing complete photography projects for agencies and, in the process, established a more prominent profile for the business. The firm has continued to evolve, thanks to advances in technology. In 2017, Orange Apple executed 33 studio or on-location photo shoots for its ad-agency clientele. In 2018, Lang says that number dropped to just six or seven because the firm has been ramping up its use of computer-generated imagery (CGI). CGI allows Lang to create both fantastical and photo-realistic images – which would otherwise be very expensive to achieve in a shoot setting – for ad campaigns. Take a recent commission to create an image of a hockey net lit up in an arena: Lang brought the image to life using solely CGI and assets from 3D-object library TurboSquid. “A few years ago, I would have had to rent a hockey arena for the day. With CGI, we’re able to save on location fees, prop rentals and even craft services,” says Lang. “Instead, I spent $250 on 3D assets.” As a result, Lang says the firm has boosted profit margin on some projects from about 30 percent to a whopping 80 percent. Orange Apple also keeps overhead low by renting studio space and hiring freelancers as needed. That doesn’t mean photography is becoming obsolete, though. “I always refer to CGI as virtual photography,” he explains. “That’s because the best CGI artists

THIS PAGE: The before/ after of a composite photo created using CGI, stock and original photography. OPPOSITE PAGE: An ad for Jeep/Nevada; a promotional image showcasing Orange Apple’s services; a hockey-net image created using only CGI and 3D assets.



ORANGE APPLE’S SUCCESS STRATEGIES Lang and his team try to stay current – and one step ahead of the competition – by: 1. CRAWLING THE WEB. Lang begins each day by surfing the internet for the latest news, trends, innovations – and inspiration. Sites he frequents include and 2. DOING PRO-BONO WORK. Lang says reaching out and taking on creative projects (at no charge) can help you enhance your portfolio and stay connected with clients. 3. MONITORING WHAT’S GOING ON ACROSS THE POND. Lang keeps tabs on what’s happening in Europe and the U.K. “They tend to be a few years ahead, trend-wise, compared to North America.”

have the same mindset and background as photographers. They employ the same principles. CGI software programs use the same language as cameras, with f-stop, focal length and all that stuff. It is a direct translation of photography, but with the advantages of CGI in providing so much flexibility.” Lang knows the ad industry is always looking at what’s next. And so, to future-proof his business, he looks overseas. “We’ve always kept an eye on Europe, where the industry is typically several years ahead of what we’re doing here,” he says. “If you make an effort to follow the trends, and are aware and eager enough, you can even be the one setting the trends.” These days, when an assignment comes through Orange Apple’s door, Lang evaluates which approach is most efficient, cost-effective and achievable: CGI, photography or stock photography/backplate. He notes that most product shots today are CGI, allowing for easy changes to colour, light, texture and composition. Fashion, on the other hand, is still all about the photography. But, typically, the solution is one of those two – or using all three – options for an advertising image that features a lot of variables. Lang says a 50-to-100-megapixel camera system works best for advertising shoots, depending on the goal; he uses a Canon EOS 5DS R. But when photographing actors (to be inserted into a CGI environment and/or photo backplate, for example), he opts for the lower end of resolution. “Otherwise, you spend a lot of time in post cleaning up all the imperfections,” he says. CGI presents the opposite challenge: “You usually have to dirty it up and add some grit and grime to get that completely authentic look.” Overall, he says, CGI has added to the company’s arsenal clients, “while also having increased our profitability.” FALL 2019



MAKING A SPLASH The new Olympus OM-D E-M1X blows fast-action photography out of the water by ALEX CHANG / photography by CARMEN CHEUNG

On the eve of its 100th anniversary,

Olympus has launched a major new model – the OM-D E-M1X mirrorless – that neatly caps the company’s century of signature visionary design and development. To some pro-level photographers, it’s the gift they’ve been waiting for. Bold and rugged inside and out, the M1X breathes new life into the longrunning OM series, putting wildlife, sports and fast-action photography into focus like never before.


The first thing you’ll notice is the integrated dual grip – it’s impossible to ignore and instantly tells you this is no ordinary camera. This handy ergonomic feature hugs the right side and bottom of the camera, making it easy to shoot horizontally or vertically, and to switch from one orientation to the other in a snap. The grip houses two batteries, giving you ample juice to fire off 870 consecutive shots – or up to an astonishing 2,580 with power-saving turned on. It’s no coincidence that the body similarly supports a pair of UHS-II card slots, both accommodating a capacious high-speed card that can readily handle super-fast burst shooting.


Despite the appearance of bulk, the M1X is relatively light and manoeuvrable for a camera of its size. Olympus achieves this partly by incorporating a slim mirrorless system, of course, but also through the use of a micro four-thirds sensor, bucking a current trend toward the popular full-frame format. At four-thirds, it’s even smaller than APS-C, but by strategically limiting the sensor size, Olympus was also able to rein in some of the body’s other proportions. Micro four42


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thirds also equates to a smaller lens mount and overall lighter lenses – another huge advantage for photographers who rely on quick and nimble reflexes out in the field or simply balk at needless extra weight.


Superb speed and precision performance are two other hallmarks of the M1X. The 20.4-megapixel Live MOS sensor uses an optimized-pixel optical system for heightened sensitivity, and a Dual TruePic VIII dual quad-core processor for blazing-fast signal readout speed. Boasting roughly 7.5 shutter-speed steps of compensation, the five-axis image-stabilization system offers the highest performance currently available on any camera. Combined with zero-lag Pro Capture Mode and 60 framesper-second high-speed continuous shooting in RAW format, this pro-grade advantage promises you’ll never miss another shot. It also makes flawless high-resolution handheld image capture possible in challenging situations that would typically call for a tripod.


The fully customizable, 121-point, all-crosstype on-chip phase-detection autofocus (AF) system is superbly responsive and reliable, and Olympus has gone the extra mile to appeal to its chosen target market with cutting-edge features like Intelligent Subject Detection AF. Developed using AI-based deep-learning technology, it detects, tracks and locks onto unpredictable subjects like a speeding racecar or flying aircraft. There’s also a new multidirectional AF-point selector that enables greater responsiveness to a subject’s size, movement and speed.


ALL-WEATHER WONDER Built like a tank to withstand the elements, the Olympus OM-D E-M1X takes weather sealing to dramatic new heights. Along with dust-proofing, freeze-proofing and other essential real-life outdoor protections, the waterproofing capacity alone is something to behold. This camera can be properly dunked and thoroughly doused – and survive utterly unruffled. It’s just another indication of the lengths to which Olympus has gone to ensure that it ticked every box, considered every plausible condition that might cross this camera’s path, and convincingly met each challenge. The coveted OM series has stood the test of time, and with the new M1X, Olympus has assured its relevance among a new generation of shooters for countless years to come.

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FORWARD The Canon Speedlite 470EX-AI flash is the world’s first flash system with an intelligent-bounce mode by CHAD SAPIEHA

Photography is all

about light, so it pays to invest in a smart light source. And light sources don’t get much smarter than the Canon Speedlite 470EX-AI flash, an intelligent cameramounted bulb that takes the guesswork out of flash photography. It’s equipped with a firstof-its kind feature called AI Bounce Mode, which uses a sensor to detect and track distance between the camera, subject, and nearby ceilings and walls. Then it runs a quick computation to determine the best angle to bounce a flash off of a nearby surface and onto your subject for more natural lighting. Once the ideal angle is set, the flash automatically swivels and tilts to achieve the desired angle before you release the shutter. Prefer to choose your own lighting vectors? Canon’s engineers have



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allowed for that, too – and added a little something extra. Switch from AI.B Auto to Semi-Auto Mode and you can aim the flash as you like, then marvel as Canon’s AutoIntelligent system automatically tracks and maintains your chosen angle, even as you change camera orientation. It’s like having your own virtual lighting assistant. All this, and impressive specs to boot. Major feature compatibility exists for nearly all Canon EOS cameras released in recent years. The flash coverage with the 470EX-AI is 47 metres at ISO 100, and you can get up to nearly a thousand flashes – with a recycling time of between 0.1 and 2.8 seconds – when using AA batteries. Plus, you can choose from 10 custom and nine personal functions, ensuring you’ve got the right light for any environment.

FINER FOCUS The Speedlight 470EX-AI flash does more than just provide lighting. Switch on its AF Assist Beam Emission function and the infrared sensor will relay distance data to the autofocus system, helping achieve razor-sharp focus even when shooting in poor lighting conditions.



YOUR VIDEO SHOOTS Four must-have gadgets to keep your video, audio lighting and storage needs met by STACEY PHILLIP ATOMOS SHOGUN

This super-powered external recorder can be attached to your camera to capture glorious 4K cinema footage that meets Hollywood-editing standards. The quality depends on your camera’s capabilities, but the Shogun can record 4K at 30p or HD at 120p using your choice of codec, including Apple ProRes, DNxHD/DNxHR or RAW. Its outstanding 7.1-inch 320dpi monitor lets you frame, focus, colour correct and review on the fly, and provides quick and easy metadata-tagging options that come in handy later in postproduction. It’s the quickest and most affordable way to turn your 4K-ready camera into a professional cinema rig.


Westcott’s Flex Cine lighting system gives filmmakers an astoundingly versatile light source in its flexible LED mats, available in RGBW, bicolour and daylight hues. They’re built with magnetic corners, touch fasteners and metal grommets so you can mount them almost anywhere, and then position and contort them however you like to achieve the perfect ambiance. Plus, they travel easily and safely – just roll them up and toss them in a bag. A lifetime warranty means you can expect to be using Flex Cine mats years from now, potentially upgrading them with a range of Westcott dimmers, mounts and accessories.



It’s easy to neglect the audio portion of your shoot, especially when working alone. Enter the Sennheiser AVX-MKE2 mic set. This smart mic keeps audio on par with video via a super-fast self-configuring setup, and delivers broadcast-quality two-channel hands-free audio through a lavalier microphone and compact body transmitter. However, its most clever component is probably the wireless AVX receiver, which plugs directly into your device’s XLR port – no cable required – to offer 360 degrees of rotation for optimal positioning. Easy setup, great sound and a tidy rig. What more could you want from a mic set?

High-resolution video demands a memory-card system capable of reading and writing huge amounts of data in a very short period of time. It’s a classic bottleneck problem. Happily, upcoming SDUC memory cards, which use the SD Association’s new SD Express format, are set to give us some breathing room. SD Express is capable of a theoretical maximum-data-transfer rate approaching a gigabyte per second – enough for not just 4K but also 8K video. Better still, the new standard allows for memory cards with a maximum storage capacity of up to 128 TB, meaning you’ll be able to shoot a lot longer before needing to swap storage media.

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MACHINES Looking to add huge impact to your creative arsenal with some powerful pint-sized gear? Check out these six pocket-friendly marvels jam-packed with innovative features to help you produce amazing photos and videos on the go. by BONNIE STARING

GNARBOX 256 GB PORTABLE BACKUP/EDIT SYS Ideal for on-the-go content creators who prefer to start working with images or footage as soon as the shoot ends, the compact and portable GNARBOX 1.0 lets you back up, edit and share the photos and video from your action or DSLR camera, laptop-free. Smartphonesized, this rugged device pairs with the GNARBOX App, Adobe Lightroom CC and LumaFusion, with datatransfer speeds of up to 4 GB per minute, so you can quickly and easily manage and organize your work.


SONY DSC-RX100 VI 24-200MM 1" CMOS Slightly larger than a deck of cards, the RX100 VI delivers incredible telephoto capability with a ZEISS Vario-Sonnar T* 24-200mm2 f/2.8-4.5 lens to capture brilliant, clear images across the zoom range. This compact dynamo packs a 20.1-MP Exmor RS CMOS image sensor, delivers steady shooting and features pro-level modes. As an added bonus, its lightning-fast autofocus system boasts a sophisticated (and super-cool) function that detects and focuses on your main subject’s eyes.



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Candy-bar sized, the Osmo Pocket creates smooth, cinematic 4K 60 fps video with simple one-handed operation. The camera’s miniature three-axis stabilization platform precisely adjusts for your movements in real time – no tripod or rig required. Take superb stills with the 1/2.3-inch CMOS image sensor, 80-degree field of vision and f/2.0 aperture, plus its intelligent-shooting functions help make time-lapse images, panoramic scenes and more a breeze.




Gear up your smartphone with the One X 360-degree action camera to shoot amazing 18-MP photos or sharp 5.7K video with incredibly stable horizons. Previewing and transferring files via WiFi is super easy, and the camera’s mobile app (for iOS or Android) lets you edit, reframe and slow down – or speed up – footage to add extra creative flair to your work. Pair it with the Invisible Selfie Stick (sold separately), and it’ll look like you brought a “flying” camera along for the ride.

The Lume Cube, measuring 1.5" cubed, provides professional-quality lighting – 1,500 lumens of daylight-balanced light – no matter where your work takes you. Durable and waterproof to 100 feet, this powerful little light pairs with your camera or smartphone as a flash or constant video light. It’s also Bluetooth-ready, and its on-board controls (or the free app) and quick-recharge battery mean you can spend less time worrying about lighting and more time shooting.

SONY RX0 II 4K ULTRA-COMPACT CAMERA 1" The rugged, matchbox-sized RXO II captures incredible stills – even in challenging conditions – thanks to the powerful 1.0" Exmor RS CMOS image sensor and the low-distortion ZEISS Tessar T* wide-angle lens. A minimum focus distance of 20 cm makes selfies and tabletop shots a breeze. You’ll appreciate the camera’s 4K video-recording capability with image stabilization and full-pixel readout (for outstanding resolution), and how easy it is to share images with your mobile device.

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#WeAreAllCreators Our expertise doesn’t come from a brochure, it comes from doing. We’re not clerks, we’re collaborators. We’re photographers, filmmakers, content producers, and artists. We’re industry insiders and social media makers. We’re over 400 Henry’s Associates across Canada, and we are all creators.

Karine Riva Mississauga, Ontario Henry’s Associate Music & Event Photographer




Get answers to your questions about gear, technique and more by JORGE DaSILVA

Is it better to buy a more expensive camera and a cheap lens, or a cheap camera and a more expensive lens? – @jayapplecreative via Instagram

Spending a little more of your budget on a high-quality lens is typically a smart decision. No amount of megapixels on your camera sensor will sharpen results from a suboptimal lens. Many photographers also benefit from lenses that can gather more light and focus faster, and quality lenses tend to be more “future-proof” than electronic camera bodies. One possible exception to this thinking might be if you’re an aspiring fast-action photographer. When it comes to fast-action subjects (especially in low light and in less than favourable weather conditions), investing in a robust camera – which can maintain focus on a fast-moving subject and capture more than five photos per second – might be a wise, or even necessary, option.


I don’t have the money to buy multiple lenses. What’s the best “do it all” lens? – @jaridwarren via Instagram

For most photographers, a “do it all” lens is a zoom lens that offers a broad focal-length range, meaning it can go from capturing a very-wide-angle landscape image of the Grand Canyon to zooming in for a close-up of a bald eagle sitting in a tree several metres

away. Depending on the brand and format (sensor size) of your camera, such a lens might have a focal-length range of: 28mm300mm (full-frame); 18mm-300mm (APS-C) or 14mm-150mm (micro four-thirds). If you own a Canon or Nikon APS-C format camera, Tamron offers a very versatile 18mm-400mm lens. If your budget is more limited, Sigma’s 18mm-250mm offers an excellent range for a reasonable price, and is compatible with a few more brands of camera. Everything seems to be going mirrorless. Why would anyone still choose a DSLR in 2019? – @thechrisbelli via Instagram

DSLR cameras continue to offer certain advantages. Having an optical, real-world view through their viewfinders means DSLRs don’t exhibit any sort of viewfinder “lag,” nor do they exhibit any of the excess contrast that electronic viewfinders typically display. DSLRs also consume much less battery power. Even the most basic DSLR can provide about 600 photos on a single charge, while a similarly priced mirrorless camera may offer only about half that number. Because they’ve been around for much longer, DSLR systems also offer more native lenses and accessories – from both OEM and third-party sources, new and used. Finally, DSLRs can still provide an entry point to “serious photography” for less money.

Jorge DaSilva is Henry’s Learning Lab Instructor Trainer & Coordinator, and has been Henry’s principal provider of educational services since 2001. He has also taught hundreds of classes and presented at numerous trade shows.

Send us your questions! Tweet them to @HenrysCamera and we may choose yours for our next issue! FALL 2019




AN IMAGE FROM AN E-WASTE CAMPAIGN SHOT BY BENJAMIN VON WONG IN 2018 “Inspired by a CERN particle accelerator, this installation was made – with the help of builder David Jeter – from hundreds of keyboards to represent how the past could power the future. We had to carefully organize boxes and boxes of keyboards to find similar-styled ones, and [then] take the time to paint out any brand logos in order to minimize all distractions.” – Benjamin Von Wong



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