The Lens: Issue 7 - Winter 2019

Page 1

The Killer Creativity of











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, Chad Sapieha, Jaclyn Tersigni PRODUCTION MANAGER Michael Finley PUBLISHER Beth Fraser (acting) Korie Demerling (on leave) DIRECTOR, CUSTOM CONTENT Stefania Di Verdi (on leave) CHAIRMAN & CEO Tony Gagliano VICE-PRESIDENT, DIGITAL CONTENT & PUBLISHING Sarah Trimble VICE-PRESIDENT, CLIENT SOLUTIONS Brandon Kirk ADVERTISING SALES David Lawrence 416-764-1690




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.



Sensationally surreal Instagram feeds


Tips on making your own short documentary


How to best capture emotion in a shot


Meet curiously clever Christine McConnell





YouTuber Zach Ramelan on fostering creativity

Cool and quirky spots

Jens Kristian Balle finds art in the abstract

Ensure your next shoot goes smoothly



ON P. 38!



Strategies to get your business noticed

The Tintype Studio’s wet-plate collodion work





Macro master Don Komarechka


The features and functions of Sony’s a7R IV; all the gear you need for your next-level creativity kit; the SlingStudio wireless multi-camera hub


Using umbrellas vs. beauty dishes for lighting effects; an explanation of tilt-shift lenses




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.



Food, Glorious Food If you’re an amateur or professional photographer who typically trains your lens on what you eat, you might want to submit your work to the Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year 2020 contest. Now in its 10th year, the high-profile, highly respected U.K.-based competition celebrating depictions of food in society is open to anyone in the world from youth to bloggers, stylists and photojournalists (and all food-shoot-loving image-makers in between). The contest features more than 20 categories – including food portraiture, street food, harvest imagery and, of course, photos featuring Pink Lady apples – with prizes ranging from cash to camera gear, mentoring sessions and public exhibition of the winning images. Submissions are now open, and the deadline for entry is midnight GMT on February 9, 2020.

S U B M I T Y O U R W O R K AT: p i n k l a d y f o o d p h o t o g r a p h e r o f t h ey e a r. c o m

2019 category winners (from top): Red Octopus, by Cosimo Barletta, Italy; Cauldron Noodles, by Jianhui Liao, China – who also won the the overall Food Photographer of the Year 2019 award. WINTER 2019





Check out the most amazing nature photography from around the world when the annual Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2019 touring exhibition stops at Toronto’s Royal Ontario Museum ( from November 23, 2019 to March 29, 2020. Developed and produced by London’s Natural History Museum, the annual competition – now in its 55th year – is the longestrunning and most prestigious nature-photography contest in the world, with tens of thousands of jaw-dropping international submissions in such categories as animal portraits, plants and fungi, under water, and urban wildlife. Cool Cat, by Isak Pretorius, South Africa.

Portrait Modes More than 170 works – including rarely seen photos and films – by influential photographer and filmmaker Cindy Sherman are currently on display in an eponymous exhibit at the Vancouver Art Gallery (running through March 8, 2020). Tracing Sherman’s impressive, eclectic work – which consists largely of self-portraits in which she takes on assorted personas – from her artstudent days in the 1970s through to today, the exhibit examines her process and development as an artist, and features samplings from every major photographic series she’s created. For more information, visit Cindy Sherman, Untitled #588, 2016/18. Courtesy of the Artist and Metro Pictures, New York.

Make CONTACT Lens-based artists in search of prime exposure opportunities for your work, take note: proposals are now being accepted for the 2020 Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival in Toronto. Running throughout the month of May, the event (featuring juried and non-juried categories) is the largest annual photography festival in the world, attracting thousands of attendees and featuring more than 250 exhibitions and programs at venues – from traditional galleries and site-specific installations to alternative spaces such as retail outlets, cafés and community centres – across the city. Find the full details, deadlines and submission guidelines at The 2019 opening party, featuring Moyra Davey’s work. © Clifton Li, Ryerson Image Centre.




Looking to start 2020 in a cool, creative, horizon-expanding way? Why not submit your work to the 2020 Sony World Photography Awards? The 13th-annual contest is totally free to enter, and accepts submissions from anyone, anywhere, in four separate competitions: Professional (for a body of work); Open (for a single image); Youth (for photographers aged 12 to 19 old); and Student (photographers from academic institutions). Individual categories within those competitions include architecture, portraiture, landscape, sport, wildlife, street photography and more. Deadlines for submissions range from November 29, 2019 to January 14, 2020 (depending on the competition), so visit to get the full scoop. Harmony, by Christy Lee Rogers, United States. Winner of the 2019 Open Competition, Motion.

Born in the wild.

Born to be wild.

G.O.O. A.T.

GREATEST OUTBACK OF ALL TIME When it comes to capability, the all-new 2020 Subaru Outback is a force to be reckoned with. In fact, it’s our most agile, advanced and adventurous Outback ever. Well-equipped with standard Symmetrical Full-Time All-Wheel Drive, X-MODE®, available turbo BOXER® engine, and generous ground clearance, the 2020 Subaru Outback can go places that would impress even the boldest mountain goat.

EyeSightTM is a driver-assist system, which may not operate optimally under all driving conditions. The driver is always responsible for safe and attentive driving. System effectiveness depends on many factors such as vehicle maintenance, and weather and road conditions. See Owner’s Manual for complete details on system operation and limitations. The DriverFocusTM Distraction Mitigation System is a driver recognition technology designed to alert drivers if their attention to the road wavers or if the driver’s face appears to turn away. The driver is always responsible for safe and attentive driving. System effectiveness may be affected by articles of clothing worn on the head or face. Trailer brakes may be needed. Some safety features, including X-MODE®, Blind-Spot Detection and Rear Cross-Traffic Alert, may not function properly when towing. See your retailer for details. See Owner’s Manual for complete details on system operation and limitations. Outback and Subaru are registered trademarks.


DON KOMARECHKA Turning niche photography into a moneymaking endeavour by ROBIN ROBERTS photography by DON KOMARECHKA

Don Komarechka didn’t coin a phrase, but he phrased a coin pitch so convincingly that he impressed the Royal Canadian Mint. The Barrie, Ont., photographer – who specializes in macro photography – had been shooting snowflakes with such stunning results, he thought they’d look great on our currency. So, through many mock-ups and follow-ups, he persuaded the Mint to use his delicate, feathery flakes on two silver $20 collector coins (see opposite page). “A lot of people are afraid to fail,” says Komarechka, who draws on his background in advertising and marketing to promote himself. “Much of what I do could be considered a mistake – or it could be a stepping stone towards success.” 8




That optimistic outlook has propelled the self-taught Komarechka into a 10year career zooming in on snowflakes, which he literally wrote the book about (Sky Crystals: Unraveling the Mysteries of Snowflakes), along with water droplets, soap bubbles, flowers and insects, utilizing infrared and ultraviolet fluorescence photography to transform the miniature marvels into masterpieces. His immersion into macro work started during a slow day at the office. “You’d be surprised how interesting office supplies look through an extreme-macro lens,” he says. He’d just bought a Canon MP-E 65mm and was itching to test it out. So, he started shooting push-pins, paper clips and corkboards. When he noticed snowflakes were falling outside, he wondered how much more interesting they might look up close. “I discovered the joy of those tiny, little snowflakes that day.” Komarechka also discovered how to monetize those frosted flakes. In addition to coins and books (a second will be published in December), Komarechka began appearing on CBC’s The Nature of Things, Discovery Channel and the BBC; conducting podcasts; and hosting workshops teaching others how to harness their creativity and turn the ordinary into extraordinary works of art.


“Macro lets me use my camera as a tool to explore the world in a way I can’t see with my own eyes,” he says. “When your yard is covered in snow, you think, ‘Oh, that’s pretty.’ But when you get up close and look at a single flake, it’s like a little universe. Multiply that by a billion, and the world – especially in the grumbly days of winter – becomes a bit more beautiful.”

Komarechka used to shoot with Canon’s EOS 1D X and EOS 1D X Mark II, but started using the Panasonic Lumix GX9 Micro Four Thirds, ideal for macro, as well as a Lumix S1R in his workshops.

HIS LENSES “The Canon MP-E 65mm is a favourite, [despite] the limitations of the physics of light [making it] difficult to focus,” he says, but it gets five times closer than any other lens. “Also: the Leica DG Macro-Elmarit 45mm macro, with its sharp details and robust design.”

HIS EXTENDERS For more of Komarechka’s work, visit OPPOSITE PAGE (FROM TOP): A spider in an orchid, shot in UV light; a weevil on a vine wrapped around a mineral specimen; a freezing soap bubble on snow. THIS PAGE (FROM TOP): A snowflake; one of the collector coins Komarechka designed; a bee in a coneflower.

For extreme close-ups, Komarechka relies on his set of Kenko extension tubes, which, he says, can turn any lens into a macro lens.

HIS FLASH Komarechka uses a Canon 600 EX-RT Speedlite, “which removes motion blur, a constant adversary for macro photographers.”

HIS TRIPOD He opts for the Manfrotto Befree series “because it folds up really compact; it’s great for travelling; and it’s sturdy enough that I can put a fullframe camera or my micro four thirds on the same setup.”

HIS FILTERS The Breakthrough Photography X4 neutral density 3.0 filter “for a smooth, silky effect on water that I can’t see but the camera can.” For his infrared work, Komarechka uses a Hoya R72 glass filter on a tripod at high ISO settings “to see the entire world in invisible light.”

HIS PRINTER To maintain quality control, from the paper to the calibration, Komarechka prints all his own images and relies on Canon’s imagePROGRAF PRO-4000 44" professional photographic large-format inkjet printer. WINTER 2019



S U R R E A L I S T S U P E R S TA R S Feast on the fabulously fantastical feeds of these five photographers by JACLYN TERSIGNI

Not every photo on Instagram is faithful to reality – selfies are smoothed over,

vacations get exaggerated, you know the drill. This fiddling with realism isn’t always a bad thing, though. With a taste for the unusual (and, in some cases, clever editing), these five Instagrammers are creating astounding images that confound and delight.

Alice Zilberberg @alicezilberberg Zilberberg credits her “surreal minimalist” aesthetic to her passion for contemporary and classical art. “I love the baroque and surrealism movements,” she says. “For contemporary, I’m influenced a lot by paintings. I’m always trying to make my images more painterly, while preserving the detail I get with photography.” The Estonian-born, Israel-raised, Toronto-based photographer is loyal to her Nikon D810.





Brock Davis @brockdavis Armed with his Nikon D3, Nikon D810 or iPhone, Davis turns everyday objects into weird and wonderful tableaux. A popcorn cloud rains kernels. A snowman checks his smartphone. The Minneapolis artist (who was once tapped by Banksy for an exhibit) says, “The more we understand the purpose of an object, the more of an opportunity there is to put a wrinkle in that perception and perhaps show it in a new light.”

Teresa Freitas @teresacfreitas Scrolling through Freitas’s Instagram feed is like scrolling through a daydream, one awash in Wes Anderson-esque pinks and blues. “My work develops itself around colour and how it can shape our perception of something that exists in reality,” she explains. Freitas uses her Canon 6D to capture scenes in her Portugal hometown of Cascais and on her travels, later meticulously tweaking colours in post-production.

Lara Zankoul @larazankoul Zankoul’s most famous image features a couple wearing animal masks and submerged in neck-deep water, seated for tea. It’s the sort of whimsical world that the Beirut photographer loves to create, using her Canon EOS 5D Mark IV and an approach that’s equal parts instinctive and intentional. “Intuitive but with experience,” she says. “I’ve become aware of every choice that affects the outcome of my image.”

Martin Stranka @martinstranka It’s hard to immediately decipher real vs. surreal in Stranka’s work. Blurring that line is what drew the self-taught Prague photographer to the genre. “I enjoyed playing with reality, modifying it, transforming it into something different.” Using his Phase One XF IQ4 150MP camera, Schneider Kreuznach lenses, and post-production tools, Stranka is “banishing the boundaries between the real and the dream.” WINTER 2019



G E T C R E AT I V E :

Shoot Your Own Short Documentary Challenge yourself by capturing a slice of life by JACLYN LAW




When winter’s deep freeze sets in,


you might be tempted to zip up your camera bag and tuck it away until spring. We empathize – the season’s tricky shooting conditions and endless grey days are compelling reasons to stay indoors. But this is also a terrific time to explore new creative challenges, inspired by your own life and environment. Making a short documentary film is a great way to develop your storytelling skills, try different shooting techniques and improve your editing chops. It’s also an opportunity to explore your world with a fresh perspective, and to uncover the beauty in the everyday. Here’s how to turn your next “home movie” into a mini masterpiece. PLAN AND PREP Start with your story. Brainstorm themes related to home and family, such as a holiday get-together, a cherished family recipe, or a child preparing for a school play. Pick one that allows you to create a compelling story with a beginning, middle and end, which is how you’ll hook viewers beyond your family. Choose a gear setup that lets you move freely while you work. Plan according to the physical space, the light (at different times of day) and any ambient noise (appliances, traffic, etc.). Imperfect visuals are okay, even expected. “If you’re following someone who’s walking, for example, the light is changing all the time,” says David Tucker, an award-winning filmmaker and associate professor at Ryerson University’s RTA School of Media in Toronto. “The eye is more forgiving of that.” Excellent audio recording, however, is essential, so don’t rely solely on your camera’s mic. “With documentaries in particular, the picture can be forgiven, but the sound cannot,” says Tucker. “If viewers can’t understand what’s happening, you’ve lost them.”

To record crisp, clear dialogue, clip a lavalier (lav) mic to your subject’s clothing. You could also use a shotgun mic. These mics are directional, meaning they pick up sound from certain directions (as opposed to omnidirectional mics, which pick up sound from all directions). Shotguns, meanwhile, capture a pleasing mix of dialogue and ambient sound. If you mount a shotgun mic on your camera – because your camera is XLRenabled or you’re using a mini-jack mic, such as a RØDE VideoMic Pro – you’ll need to place the camera quite close to your subject to get quality audio. If your subject is stationary (say, if you’re shooting an interview), you could mount the mic on a boom-mic stand, which has an adjustable arm that allows you to place the mic close to your subject without it getting in the shot. Another option is external audio recorders, like those in Zoom’s H Series. They allow you to record high-quality audio with professional XLR lav or shotgun mics without attaching them to your camera. The downside is that you’ll need to sync up the separate audio files when editing, but the result will be worth it. SHOOT YOUR FILM Before you turn on the camera, think about filmic storytelling: namely, how to create a narrative sequence with your footage. “I’d strongly advise mapping out what the story could be, so you’re constantly reminded of what it is you’re trying to achieve,” says Tucker. “Otherwise, it’s simply a home movie: it has a middle, but no beginning or end.” To build a sequence, you’ll need a series of scenes, each composed of different shots (single takes, each several seconds or minutes long). Let’s say you’re making a documentary about your grandmother’s favourite pie recipe. The first scene could include shots of Grandma shopping, choosing apples and perusing spices. In the next scene, she’s in her kitchen, slicing apples, mixing ingredients and rolling out dough. In a voice-over, she talks about who created the recipe, how she learned to bake – and her secrets for a perfect pie. The final scene

could have a close-up shot of the pie coming out of the oven. Interviewing Grandma and shooting video while she works will create a narrative for your film, but don’t stop there. For any documentary, you’ll need a lot of B-roll – supplemental footage to insert between principal shots (A-roll). Beginner filmmakers typically don’t shoot enough for a sequence, says Tucker. “They get into the editing room and realize all they’ve got is a few interesting statements and no film,” he says. “You always have to think visually. When I’m shooting, I think like an editor.” Capture plenty of footage of important action, and from different angles and

C R E AT I V E S PA R K S Stumped for a documentaryshort idea? Try one of these, or use them as inspiration for a concept all your own.

A PET-CENTRIC POTBOILER Grab your camera and follow your dog or cat to capture various moments from its day, then edit it together (with some appropriate music) to tell a captivating story. No dialogue required!

A FIT-FRIEND FOCUS Spend a day shooting someone for whom fitness is a priority to showcase the discipline and effort – and sweat – it takes to stay in shape. What does this person eat? Do? Wear? Believe?

AN HEIRLOOM’S HISTORY Is there a beloved object or item of clothing that’s been passed down through generations in your family? Find a creative way to illustrate its significance and “journey” through the years.

C U RTA I N S U P ! Looking to have your project seen by the masses? In addition to posting it to social media, try these websites and film festivals.



National Screen Institute Online Short Film Festival

Whistler Film Festival

Reel Shorts Film Festival

Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival

SHARE YOUR FILM WITH HENRY’S We want to see your work! Post your finished short doc to

EDIT AND SHARE Using video-editing software (anything from iMovie to Final Cut Pro, depending on your skill level), review your footage and note any




moments that fit the film’s sequence(s). For guidance, refer to your story map – what scenes will help tell the story? If your film is about a child’s hockey game, for example, the sequence could start at home. Did they wake up excited? Did they have a big breakfast or were they too nervous to eat? What are they thinking about on the drive to the arena? What’s involved in getting ready to play? The final scene could show the game, or it could end with the young player taking a deep breath and stepping onto the ice. Your editing decisions shape the film’s mood and pace. “Editing is like music – it has a natural rhythm and flow all its own. Each shot contributes to this rhythm, like notes in a composition. And like music, the visual flow can be seamless, fast-paced, lyrical or even dynamically aggressive, as in some action montages,” says Tucker. and we might showcase it in our social feed!

“When the editing is off – a shot held too long or cut too short – the audience senses this, because the rhythm is off. Your selection of takes and the way you cut them together have a profound effect on the telling of your story.” When your final cut is ready, hold a screening party for family and friends. Share your film on social media, your own website, and on YouTube and Vimeo (with your subjects’ permission, of course). Feeling thrilled with your work? You could submit it to a film website, or enter it in a short-film competition or festival (see sidebar, above). Happy shooting!


distances. If your subject mentions an object or action – say, measuring ingredients, a family cookbook – shoot B-roll of that. When editing each scene, you can cut to that footage as your subject talks. No matter how minimal your setup, filmmaking is disruptive, so let everyone involved know what to expect. Have your subjects take part in planning, and discuss how much access they’re willing to give and what subject matter you want to cover. “You’re building the story out of fragments of life,” says Tucker, “so you have to shoot a lot of extra material. It’s a big commitment for your subject, and they need to be aware of that.”


Zach Ramelan The Kitchener, Ont.-based filmmaker and content creator – who put out 150 videos in 2018 – answers our rapid-fire questions about creativity by VICKIE REICHARDT

How do you keep your ideas fresh? [I] look at things from a new perspective. As soon as you stop being able to do that, you should take a break, and I’ve done that. I’ve gone on trips where I didn’t take my camera out at all. As creators, we feel compelled to capture every moment – to take a photo, video or make a vlog because it might be valuable later. But the true value is actually absorbing an experience and replenishing your creative reservoir.

What if you hit a creative block? I’m notorious for walking around my neighbourhood, talking to myself. I know if I need to come up with an idea, I’m going to walk the neighbourhood and, by the time I’m done, a light bulb will have gone off.

What’s more important: perfection or completion? Completion. Perfection is impossible and unoriginal. Imperfections make something unique. So many [content creators] are not succeeding because they’re trying to make the best thing possible, but the best thing possible is the thing you get out there, not the thing that takes you 20 years to make.

Who or what inspires you, creatively? I love [creative collective] Yes Theory. I’m a big fan of [photographer] Peter McKinnon and [YouTuber] Casey Neistat. When it comes to narrative work, I love going to Vimeo and watching their staff picks. I also love nature, going for walks and stuff. And my network of friends is incredibly inspiring. About 80% of my ideas come from conversations with them.

What are some of your must-have creativity tools? I love my Sony a7III with a RØDE VideoMic Pro on it. That’s what I shoot on all the time. I’ve also fallen in love with flying my DJI Mavic 2 Pro drone. And a notepad is a must.


What advice would you give other content creators? Be yourself. The more you source [ideas] from your own creative reservoir, your own experiences and what you do, the better your stuff will be. Don’t try to copy what someone else is doing – what they’re doing is what they’re good at, and they’re dipping into their creative reservoir. So, why would you dip into theirs when you have a full one of your own you can access?

To learn more about Ramelan’s work, visit





Brockville Tunnel

VISIONS THE MARINE BUILDING Vancouver, B.C. Revered by architecture students and historians alike, this 1930 art-deco masterpiece – designed by Vancouver architects John McCarter and George Nairne – features myriad opulent backdrops, including ornate brass elevator doors and zodiacthemed marble floors.

THE ENCHANTED FOREST Revelstoke, B.C. This whimsical woodland attraction




Grab your camera and check out these cool spots, which deliver amazing photo ops and celebrate the artistry of their Canadian creators by VICKIE REICHARDT

began as a retirement project for B.C. couple Doris and Ernest Needham, and will celebrate its 60th anniversary in 2020. Spanning some 40 acres, the forest is filled with 300plus selfie-friendly sculptures, castles, cottages, trees and toadstool houses.

CEMENT CEMETERY Winnipeg, Man. Is it a memorial? Sculptural installation piece? Alien monument? No one’s really

sure, but setting up a shoot at this strangely dystopian grouping of giant cement pillars – nicknamed “Pilehenge” – gives you a chance to play with light and shadow, especially around sunrise and sunset.

BROCKVILLE TUNNEL Brockville, Ont. (pictured) Just a few years ago, the city of Brockville transformed Canada’s oldest railway tunnel into an Instagrammer’s paradise: a 525-metre

subterranean wonder, illuminated by more than 35,000 programmable LED lights that change colour and create an infinite variety of special effects.

PLACE-DES-ARTS METRO STATION Montreal, Que. Whether visiting the city or passing through on your daily commute, pack a camera and stop in at this aptly named station on the Green Line to use the stunning stained-glass mural by Canadian artist Frédéric Back – cel-

ebrating the history of music in Montreal – as an ethereal backdrop.

THE BOTTLE HOUSES Cape Egmont, P.E.I. Bring along your wideangle lens to capture the light, colour and conservationist creativity inside this trio of cozy, artfully photogenic “houses.” Built by retired lighthouse-keeper Édouard Arsénault in the early 1980s, they’re made from over 25,000 recycled bottles varying in shape and size.




More Than a Feeling What can you do to best capture emotion in a shot? Here’s what the image-makers in this issue suggest.

“Build in time to get people to open up and relax. Don’t talk about the photo at first – just talk about nothing, because that gets people to lower their guard and be more comfortable. That will reflect in the photo.” – Paul Sergeant “Leave difficult or emotional subject matter for later in a [film] shoot, after your subject is relaxed and comfortable with you. Make sure to slowly tighten in on faces with the camera, whenever recording an emotional moment or scene. Otherwise, if it feels contrived or forced, it won’t work.” – David Tucker “If I’m giving emotion to a baked or sculpted creature, I typically look up cartoon versions of the emotion I want it to have, and try to figure out what’s creating that look, whether it be the bend of the eyebrows or the curve of the mouth.” – Christine McConnell “In [photos] where there isn’t the element of human [subjects], I work with lighting, camera angle, colour palette and postproduction techniques to elevate the impact of the shot.”

– Martin Stranka “Sometimes, [emotion] can be achieved by how an object is being physically positioned. For example, an electric cord that is drooping may appear sad, but an electric cord defying gravity and standing upright might appear alert. Using position can create a sense of action and life.” – Brock Davis “Emotion enters [the image] when I sit down, open Lightroom and start editing. From exposure and contrast, white balance and tint, hue and tone, vibrance and saturation adjustUNSPLASH/JESSICA FELICIO

ments, or tweaking highlight and shadows.”

– Teresa Freitas “It can be captured through the choice of textures in the photo, the colouring, the model’s

“Emotion is best captured when you can reference that feeling from personal experience. I believe filming with empathy peppered with curiosity can capture the best moments.”

– Zach Ramelan

look and attitude. Every choice in the photo should convey the feeling.” – Lara Zankoul WINTER 2019



Killer Style 18



Christine McConnell is a macabre Martha Stewart, whose self-taught skills in photography, cake-making and all things creative have catapulted her to fame by SHANDA DEZIEL photography by CHRISTINE McCONNELL

When Christine McConnell

Christine McConnell with one of her curious culinary creations.

got her first camera at 19, she was interested in one thing. “At the beginning, it was this completely silly, narcissistic pursuit of taking pictures of myself,” says the multi-talented star behind Netflix’s The Curious Creations of Christine McConnell and YouTube’s From the Mind of Christine McConnell. “Everyone’s a little bit guilty of that, but probably me more so than most.” Some of those early photos make McConnell cringe, including one of herself posing fully clothed sprawled in a bathtub. But there are others that she’s really proud of, including one where she re-enacts the scene from Weird Science in which Kelly LeBrock stands in a doorway surrounded by a pink haze and wearing only a crop top and tiny underwear (see p. 20). “I made that whole outfit and shot that at my parents’ house,” she says. “That was the first big production I did where I was really being meticulous about details. Making sure I had all of the props from the movie, I recreated it as well as I possibly could. To this day it’s still one of my very favourite photo shoots.” Armed with a bevy of self-taught skills – including photography, baking, sewing, DIY home improvement and decor, as well as professional training in hair and makeup – McConnell has gone from amateur selfietaker to hairstylist in Beverly Hills, Instagram phenomenon, cookbook author and TV personality. While her cinematic photos and over-the-top baked goods have a gothy, Tim Burton vibe, McConnell’s personal style is more June Cleaver than Morticia Addams. Often dressed in a pastel sweater set and pressed floral apron with a perfectly coiffed blow-out, McConnell is a style icon, who can out-bake Julia Child, out-craft Martha Stewart and out-scare John Carpenter. While McConnell’s parents could never have imagined the path their daughter would take, they did see early signs of her creativity. “I’d come home from work,” says mom Kathryn Evers, “and Christine would have redone the upstairs bathroom completely. You’re trying to be supportive but you realize she’s painted the floor with green latex paint, and I’d have to explain to her that latex paint won’t stick to vinyl. Other times, she’d get up in the middle of the night and bake, so that WINTER 2019



when we got up in the morning she’d have cookies and milk for us. It was sweet, but I’d try to tell her, ‘You’re supposed to be getting sleep so you can do well in school.’” As McConnell focused more and more on photography, she became a master at shooting herself. “I got a chintzy little tripod, nothing fancy. And I went to Home Depot and got cheap clamp lights, which I use to this day,” she says. “I don’t have any professional lighting equipment; I just have this giant bin filled with every light bulb imaginable. And I started setting up a big mirror right behind the tripod, so I could sort of see what I was doing. I still do this.” It was McConnell’s most “narcissistic” photo that got her noticed. “I did this [setup] where there are seven or eight of me [in one picture] doing things I would say I’m pretty good at,” she says, referring to the photo in which multiple McConnells are dressed like Stepford Wives in the act of doing hair and makeup, cake decorating, sewing clothes, home repair and taking a photo (see opposite page). “I don’t know if I should admit this, but in some of my pictures I have 100 percent Frankensteined myself together,” she reveals. “If I have one leg that looks amazing in one shot, I’m not above cropping that out and pulling it into another image – anything for vanity.”

When she put that photo on Reddit, it went to the very top of the front page in two hours. That led to plenty of blog and media attention, an influx of Instagram followers, and a Simon & Schuster-published cookbook called Deceptive Desserts: A Lady’s Guide to Baking Bad! “BuzzFeed did an article, and within a week I had 100,000 followers,” says McConnell. “Up to that point I don’t think I had known more than 50 people in my whole life. It was very weird. Growing up I never wanted to be famous, I just wanted cats – lots and lots of them.” While her cats often appear in her Instagram feed, it’s the photos of McConnell’s confections that have catapulted her into the limelight, including an “alien facehugger” pastry; baked gremlins; a pumpkin-pie version of Cinderella’s carriage; a towering, shrine-like Freddie Mercury birthday cake; and massive gingerbread versions of famous spooky houses. Each one is so brilliantly designed and picture-perfect, it’s hard to imagine they were done by a solo self-taught photographer and home baker. “On the [Netflix] show, Christine was staying up all night, doing everything herself, making things that usually the crew would do,” says Colleen Smith, an actor on the series who did the voice and puppeteering for Rose, the zombie raccoon. “One day she came in wearing sweatpants and a T-shirt; it was the first time I didn’t see her looking exactly perfect. She brought in the chocolate tea set that she makes on the show. It was insane. She was

staying in a rented bungalow, so she made this in a regular kitchen, she didn’t have an industrial kitchen.” When not working, McConnell lives in an oldish home – that she’s renovated to look even more vintage – in Twin Peaks, Calif., surrounded by her feline friends and some real-life creepy crawlers. “There’s a giant spider on the kitchen floor,” she says in mid-conversation. “I’m going to walk and talk while I transplant it to another area of the house. I read that indoor spiders are supposed to be indoors, and you’re potentially endangering them if you put them outside. So, I have several places in my house where I just move them to.” A consummate multi-tasker, McConnell is also lugging “80 pounds of butter” up the stairs while on the phone. For the second episode of her YouTube series, she’s working on a gingerbread replica of the Winchester Mystery House, a historic architectural wonder in San Jose, Calif., that has a history rife with death, ghosts, guns and séances. “I love that house,” says McConnell. “Before a giant earthquake hit that area in 1906, the house was seven

OPPOSITE PAGE (FROM TOP): McConnell’s Weird Science-recreation shot; a Gremlins-inspired shoot. THIS PAGE: The 2014 self-portrait collage that first catapulted McConnell to fame.

W H AT ’ S I N H E R BA G McConnell’s go-to gear for her outrageously creative work includes traditional equipment and some clever, budgetfriendly DIY hacks.

A Nikon B600. “I’ve had it for seven years!”

A good tripod. “It’s absolutely necessary.”

Home Depot clamp lights with Christmas-tree-light dimmers on them. “So that I can adjust the power of the light.”

A dresser mirror. “To see what’s happening.” A brush, hairspray and fan. “Because I do like my hair volume.”




A “retrofuturism” shoot McConnell created for the Genius Kitchen website.




storeys tall. But the earthquake caused massive damage. They ended up taking off the top four floors and started building outward.” McConnell’s model – which is roughly the size of a pool table – is composed of two structures: one depicting how the house looked before the earthquake and a second version of the house as it is today. “It’s creepy and beautiful,” McConnell says of her creation. “It’s gnarly.” Houses have always inspired McConnell. And when her parents bought a perfectly symmetrical house, she couldn’t help herself. She went to Home Depot and bought a bunch of Styrofoam insulation, broke it up on the lawn and turned it into eyes and sharp teeth – using any paint she could find in her parents’ garage. When she affixed all the materials to the house, it was transformed into a breathtaking homage to the 2006 film Monster House. “It got in the newspaper and was all over the world,” says Evers. “My husband was away and Christine doesn’t live here, so I was all by myself as hordes of people started coming to the house, sometimes until midnight.” That incident was just a warm-up: McConnell did it again in 2018, taking the menacing eyes and fangs up a notch. This time, instead of spending $200, McConnell spent $4,000. “She basically refaced the whole front of the 24



THIS PAGE (FROM TOP): McConnell’s 2015 holiday-gingerbread “redecoration” of her parents’ house; succumbing to a “facehugger alien” in 2014. OPPOSITE PAGE: A promotional still for her Netflix series.

house,” says Evers, noting how her daughter drilled a lot of lag screws into the wooden home. “There’s an element of repair that has to be done after Christine’s done. I’m not sure we’re going to do it again.” McConnell concurs: “I’m probably personally responsible for global warming. I bought so much Styrofoam and re-covered the entire front of the house shingle by shingle. I got a really cool photo, but I damaged my parents’ house and I damaged the environment.” It was McConnell’s first house transformation that caught the attention of TV executives and led to Netflix’s The Curious Creations of Christine McConnell, a partnership with Henson Alternative (the adult arm of The Jim Henson Company). In the Halloween-themed show, McConnell created macabre desserts and interacts with murderous monster puppets in a Gothic mansion. While the series seems destined for cult status, Netflix didn’t order a second season. McConnell is okay with that – in fact, she’s relieved. “I wasn’t prepared for it, I didn’t know what to expect, and I barely survived,” she says. “As wonderful as the people were and as much as I loved those relationships that I made, I much prefer working on my own. Plus, I’m not an actress and I didn’t know that until I saw myself on camera.” Co-star Smith says McConnell can be too hard on herself, and that she was funny and natural onscreen. What impressed Smith most was McConnell’s patience and dedi-

cation to getting things exactly right. “When I found out she used to be a hairstylist, it made sense,” says Smith. “Hairstylists have infinite patience; they are willing to separate your hair into a million sections, cut it, highlight it, blow-dry it, all that stuff. Christine has that patience to do something bit by bit, figure it out and do it correctly, as opposed to saying: that’s fine, that’s good enough.” These days, McConnell is back to creating on her own. In her YouTube series, From the Mind of Christine McConnell, she presents decor and baking projects, shot and edited in her own home, working only with a cameraman. During breaks, she watches movies. McConnell says she’s seen Titanic “an embarrassing number of times because the production and lighting is so well done. It is a neverending source of beauty.” And, obviously, Tim Burton is her ultimate muse. “Anything he has touched has just massively inspired me.” McConnell actually met Burton once at a Hollywood event. “I went in for a hug, and he went for a handshake,” she says. “Every time I think of it, I just want to crawl out of my skin.” Luckily for McConnell fans, cringeworthy moments only fuel her creativity.

TIPS FROM THE PRO If you’re looking to tap into your über-creative side, McConnell has these suggestions.

1. Listen to criticism. “See what you can get from it, and try not to let it hurt your feelings,” she says. If you can sift through criticism and find something useful, that can do wonders for your future work.

2. Avoid comparison. “I really try not to compare myself to anybody. You’re going to blink and someone better is going to come along. So, just be happy with what you’re doing.”

3. Absorb, absorb, absorb. Identify sources of inspiration and then actively seek them out. “Whatever it is that inspires you,” McConnell says, “drown yourself in it.”






Denmark-born, Vancouver-based photographer Jens Kristian Balle has made a career out of seeing art in the abstract





Whether he’s crafting an advertising image for an agency or bringing his own visions to life, Jens Kristian Balle does things a little bit differently. He places hot dogs in coffee pots, strings dollar bills on fish hooks and uses octopus tentacles as headwear. Weird? Sure. Wonderful? Always. It’s this – Balle’s signature photographic blend of conceptualism, fine art and singular vision – that lands him big-name clients (like The Walrus, Telus, Starbucks and The New York Times) and wins him global acclaim, including honours at the International Photography Awards, Applied Arts Awards and Paris Photography Prize. The Lens talked to Balle about his work, and his desire to find a balance between passion, purpose and profit in photography.

WHAT FIRST SPARKED YOUR INTEREST IN PHOTOGRAPHY? It was never in the cards that I was going to do photography. Before I went to photography school [at the Vancouver Institute of Media Arts], I had maybe been taking pictures for a year or something. Prior to my interest in photography, a big passion of mine was skiing. I was moving around the world skiing. I had some injuries and then I got a camera. I started playing around with it, and it kind of just took over. I was also at a point in my life where I was like, “Maybe I need to get more serious with some kind of career.” I was really enjoying this camera thing, so: “Why not try to go that route?”

DID YOU HAVE A MENTOR WHEN YOU FIRST GOT STARTED? OPPOSITE PAGE: A 2016 conceptual portrait of actress Nancy von Euw. THIS PAGE (FROM TOP): Actor Al Dales, photographed in 2014; an image from a 2012 personal project.

When I first got the camera, I joined a little local photo club in the city I lived close to, back in Denmark. That broadened my horizons of what you could do photography-wise. When I went to school, I still didn’t WINTER 2019






W H AT ’ S I N H I S BA G Balle’s kit includes these must-haves:

Nikon D8XX Series cameras have a full grasp of what you could do with photography. I just enjoyed it. I thought I’d go to school and become a wedding photographer or something. But the teachers and the instructors were working photographers. They were all great mentors and they were shooting all these advertising campaigns and fine-art photography; it hadn’t even crossed my mind that you could also do that. My biggest inspiration was [photographer and environmental artist] David Ellingsen. [Department head of digital photography at the Vancouver Institute of Media Arts (VanArts)] Ian McGuffie was also a mentor, in how he could both support and see my vision.

AFTER YOU GRADUATED FROM VANARTS, HOW DID YOU TRANSITION FROM STUDENT TO PROFESSIONAL? Even though you have this idea of what you want to do, and you have a rough idea of your style and what kind of clients you want to seek out, it probably took me a couple of years before I started doing assignments that I felt even fit in my portfolio. Right after school, you do whatever you can get your hands on. I ended up doing a lot of product photography – basic catalogue photography on white backgrounds. It pays the bills, but it’s not anything you want to showcase. OPPOSITE PAGE: Talent agent and producer Daniel Chapeyama Mathias. THIS PAGE: A 2016 conceptual portrait of actor Frank Crnkovic.

HOW DID YOU GET YOUR FIRST BIG BREAK – AN ASSIGNMENT YOU DID WANT TO SHOWCASE? The first real advertising job I got was through school. At the end of the year, when we were building our portfolios and making business plans, I realized I wanted to do advertising and commercial photography. I had reached out to a few art directors at advertising agencies in Vancouver. I showed them what I had done, and they gave me advice. Fast-forward to maybe two years of doing product photography and that kind of stuff: one of those art directors I had originally contacted in school helped me get a job at an agency where I ended up shooting a campaign for Telus.

“[I use them] with 35, 50 and 85 prime lenses. These lenses are incredibly sharp, especially stoppeddown. I tend to shoot around f/8.”

A Manfrotto tripod “Great as a super-steady camera base, especially if you’re shooting multiple plates.”

A Wacom tablet “It makes edit work way faster and fun. The con is that, for the life of me, I can’t work a regular computer mouse anymore!”

A C-stand “It’s such a versatile stand that makes everything in the studio so much easier.”




WHAT WAS THAT EXPERIENCE LIKE? That was my first big job. I shot this great conceptual work that was perfectly fit for my style. It was such a long road from making that first contact. It was two-and-a-half years later that something came out of it. I could actually shoot these super-fun concepts that I love to shoot. It was very satisfying.

HOW DO YOU CONCEPTUALIZE NEW IDEAS FOR YOUR WORK? I don’t understand it all the time. Sometimes, I can wake up from sleeping at night and just have this weird idea that [I] write down. It also comes from observing a lot, too. Like seeing random things in day-to-day life that kind of spiral and get stuck in your head. Maybe you see some interesting character walking down the street. Sometimes, it’s about if I find a really interesting character and I [think], “I definitely want to shoot this person somehow.” I’ll build an idea fitting that character. Other times, it’s like I have this idea, something conceptual I want to do, and I try to find people that will fit that. 30



HOW DO YOU APPROACH YOUR PERSONAL AND PROFESSIONAL PROJECTS DIFFERENTLY? It’s very rare in client work that I am the one conceptualizing things. Usually in advertising agencies, they do all that stuff. I enjoy conceptualizing stuff myself. I have all these ideas. It’s why I still enjoy doing personal stuff.

DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR OTHER CONTENT CREATORS STRIVING TO FIND A SATISFYING BALANCE BETWEEN CLIENT WORK AND PERSONAL PROJECTS? Someone once told me to shoot what you want to get hired to shoot. I’ve always done that with my personal work. A side note to this, though, is that in some ways it made the early years of my career tougher than they could have been. I still haven’t made a name [for] myself for the conceptual commercial work I wanted to do for agencies. On the other hand, what paid the bills was very regular commercial work, such as classic catalogue-product photography. But my portfolio wasn’t aimed at this sort of work. So, in the short term, it was probably tougher, but it paved the way for where I am now.

WHAT ROLE DOES INSTAGRAM PLAY IN YOUR CAREER? I don’t think I’ve ever gotten a job from it. But it definitely helps you stay on the radar of art directors that follow you, so I see it as just another little marketing tool.

DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE PHOTO YOU’VE TAKEN? My favourite photo changes all the time, but one is an actress [Nancy von Euw] I photographed with an octopus on her head (see p. 26). It was a personal piece I shot to use for self-promotion and, in addition, it managed to get a good amount of recognition and won a few awards. It was also just a very memorable shoot. I remember [Nancy] was down with a

bad cold and could only stand up for a couple of frames at a time. That, combined with a slippery octopus, made it a little difficult, but then even more rewarding when it all worked out.

WHAT HAVE BEEN YOUR PROUDEST PROFESSIONAL ACCOMPLISHMENTS? That first advertising campaign I did with Telus. And an assignment I did last year for The New York Times, where I shot a cover [Procrastibaking, see p. 30]. It was this super-conceptual idea that they wanted. There was a very short timeline for everything to happen. From conceptualizing to execution had to happen in eight days or something.

HOW DO YOU HOPE YOUR CAREER WILL EVOLVE? I want to keep doing what I’m doing now, but with bigger campaigns. I also want to keep pushing my personal projects. I have this dream to maybe, one day, be able to live off just doing my personal stuff and selling prints. That would be really fun, but it might just always be this balance between the two. I would also love to do a book at some point in my career.

WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT BEING A PHOTOGRAPHER? I get to do what I’m best at, and people pay me for it! What’s not to love? On top of that it also, at times, gives me a very flexible schedule to enjoy lots of the outdoor activities Vancouver and its surroundings have to offer. I think that gives me a great balance in life. To see more of Balle’s work, visit

TIPS FROM THE PRO Balle offers up some suggestions on how photographers can master minimalism.

Subject matters. “Find out what you are drawn most to shoot. Do more of that.” Print it. “Once you’ve shot a bunch of work, I’ve found it helpful to print it all out on 4x6s. Then you can start dissecting the work, reorganize it, and find different patterns and similarities.” Stay the course. “Build up a large, consistent body of work. I think consistency is key, especially with minimalism.”

OPPOSITE PAGE (FROM TOP): A portrait of actor James Challis; Procrastibaking (2018). THIS PAGE (FROM LEFT): Sweet Heart (2018); an image from a personal project created in 2017.




The Essential Guide to

EFFECTIVE COLLABORATION Everything you need to know to ensure your next creative endeavour goes smoothly by HELEN RACANELLI

Being a lens-based artist is rarely a solo effort – it’s likely you draw on a variety of creative minds and voices for your unforgettable images or stirring videos. That’s why being able to collaborate successfully with others – from assistants to talent to clients – is a fine art worth honing. Here are some helpful tips, strategies and tools to help you on your next project. CHOOSE COLLABORATORS WISELY Eagerness, kindness and respect are key traits to look for – and offer – when building any 32



creative team. “For me, a positive attitude goes a long way,” says Toronto photographer Anthony Cohen of Eightbyten Photography & Design. He’s drawn to people who ask questions, offer suggestions and are keen to pitch in. For instance, when he’s hiring an assistant, he looks for those eager to help by any means necessary. “Sometimes, this can be technical – for example, assembling equipment, directing lighting, changing lenses, holding reflectors – or as trivial as getting a model water or keeping them comfortable on set between shooting,” he says.

It’s helpful to find collaborators with distinct skill sets and unique perspectives, which can enrich brainstorming sessions.

T WO TO P T E C H TO O L S Seamless collaboration requires everyone on your team to be organized, up-to-date and on the same page. Using projectmanagement software is a great way to help achieve those things, as well as improve your team’s efficiency, no matter how small your project or your budget. Here are a pair of useful options to consider.

SHOOTQ Developed by photographers for photographers, ShootQ is a robust platform that helps you automate almost all aspects of your studio management, from tasks and schedules to finances, appointments and new-business leads. It’s a bit like having your own virtual assistant: you can keep track of schedules, invoicing, bookings, contracts and workflow online or through the iOS app (Android coming soon). Pricing ranges from free to US$67/month, depending on the size of your team. []

ASANA Asana’s (free) Basic package is ideal for small teams. It includes many handy features to help you manage your project, such as a mobile app, checklists, progress boards, role-assigning and due-date tracking. Asana is also scalable – if your business needs evolve or you decide to add more features, you can


upgrade to various paid packages to access custom templates, Adobe Creative Cloud integration and much more. []

Also, consider the energy levels you’ll need for a specific project and tailor your team choices accordingly. Do you need someone with a bold, sunny personality to invigorate a tiny team, or a quiet and observant helping hand for a large project? “Big shoots often include big personalities, so I prefer for my team and myself to be more low-profile, unless higher energy is required,” says Cohen. SET EXPECTATIONS, DEADLINES AND GOALS Good planning and clear communication help collaborations run smoothly regardless of the size or complexity of a project. A workback schedule is a must, says account manager Bridgette Willoughby of Gladstone Media, a boutique creative-advertising firm in Toronto. “They clearly outline the timelines and goals we’re working towards. We also have kickoff meetings with the studio team that will be working on this project,” she says. “This helps to provide the team with direction on the project and tasks at hand.” Some lens-based artists also create mood boards or refer to other visual materials, such as a brand bible (if working for a client whose business has specific guidelines that need following), ahead of time. Don’t skimp on your prep. “A lot of pre-planning helps to set the stage for shoot day and allows individuals to brainstorm

ideas beforehand – and even while a shoot day goes on,” says Cohen. “This includes having good reference material, as we can learn things from other great photographers to help enhance our own work.” Regular check-ins are also a smart tactic used by effective collaborators, so build them into your schedule. “We have meetings on larger projects a few times a week, where we sit as a team and discuss goals, objectives and schedules,” says Willoughby. “This allows everyone to express their feelings and concerns and helps to move forward on the project,” she adds. Be proactive and ask your team members and clients whether things are moving along according to their expectations, and if their requirements are being met. Doing this also ensures you can anticipate any challenges that may arise and then find appropriate solutions right away. FOSTER A CREATIVE ENVIRONMENT Once you’re underway, make sure everyone is providing input, being heard and truly creating together, regardless of their “rank” on the project. Once Cohen has his lighting set up, for example, he’ll typically canvass the rest of the team on the shoot (starting with the client and art director, then moving on to the crew) to see if they have any ideas to help improve the images. WINTER 2019



3 C O L L A B O R AT I V E R OA D B L O C K S A N D H OW TO OV E R C O M E T H E M 1. EMAIL OVERLOAD Email may seem like a convenient way to collaborate, but the opposite is often true: plenty of ideas can be shared back and forth, but actual decisionmaking may be slowed to a crawl as details and deadlines get lost under mounds of “Reply Alls.” Move key


situations,” says Cohen. Start from a place of empathy: you don’t always know what’s really triggering someone who’s having a bad day. Sometimes, it helps to talk about something unrelated to the shoot to put people at ease and get them more comfortable. “You would be surprised how much you learn about others when you simply ask [questions],” Cohen says. “It may also explain some of their behaviour and help you deal with it better.”

EVALUATE YOUR PROGRESS To keep things moving smoothly, it’s important that everyone’s visions and goals are aligned, so routinely touch base with your client(s) and fellow collaborators. “We have check-ins almost daily with our studio to ensure everything is going according to plan,” says Willoughby. If anyone has any issues or concerns, work together to find a solution rather than just making a unilateral decision. Ask the team what they think the best course of action might be; evaluate it as a group; and then implement the solutions, which might require adjusting expectations, team roles or the project direction. That said, despite the best communication and advance planning, egos, tempers and emotions can sometimes flare. “It’s always best to keep a level head and stay calm in difficult

CELEBRATE YOUR SUCCESS Who doesn’t enjoy positive feedback? Small compliments during the creative process will fall on grateful ears. Even offering “please” and “thank you” to your team throughout the shoot are easy gestures that go a long way, says Cohen. At Gladstone Media, Willoughby says team members receive “internal recognition and kudos” for projects well done. Other ideas for making your team feel appreciated might include bringing snacks (think: cookies, fruits and veggies) to keep people’s energy up; going on team-building outings together; or even hosting a celebratory end-of-shoot dinner. The ultimate goal is to ensure that everyone who played a role in your collaborative effort feels like they were able to contribute in some way, and that those contributions are valued by all involved.



conversations offline and use in-person meetings instead.

2. COMPETITIVE EDGINESS Cooperation can sometimes turn into competition on a project, as different team members jockey for recognition or reward. You can avoid this by making sure everyone is focused on the big-picture goal – the success of the project itself – rather than on their own individual achievement or the importance of any one component of the shoot.

3. UNSHARED GLORY One the fastest ways to ensure your collaborators won’t ever want to work with you again is to claim all the praise for yourself when the project is complete. No one likes a “glory hog,” so always graciously give credit where credit is due, and let others know how effectively your team members worked together.


If, for whatever reason, members of your team seem reluctant to share their thoughts, sometimes asking specific questions – such as “Do you think the key light is too strong?” or “Should we change the colour of the backdrop?” – can help spur interest, involvement and creativity. “I really appreciate input from other members of our team, including assistants,” Cohen says. Bottom line: check your ego at the door.

SNAPSHOTS Last issue, we asked you to show us your best “frame within a frame” shots. Here are some of our favourite submissions!

OUR PHOTO CHALLENGE #6 WINNER! Congratulations to Vanessa Bradley (Ottawa, Ont.) for her buzz-worthy image, “Hideaway Hive.” Aperture: 4.5 | ISO: 100 | Shutter speed: 1/800 | Camera: Nikon D750




“Untitled” by Raymond Tam (Markham, Ont.) Aperture: 3.2 ISO: 800 Shutter speed: 1/60 Camera: Fuji XT-2

”Shaolin Monk Practicing Martial Art at Entrance of Cave in Gobi Desert” by Zhugang Zheng (London, Ont.) Aperture: 5.6 ISO: 200 Shutter speed: 1/200 Camera: Canon EOS 5DS R

“Abandoned Arctic Shed Landscape” by Rhoni Speed (Whitby, Ont.) Aperture: 18 ISO: 200 Shutter speed: 1/125 Camera: Fuji XT-2

“Bella and the Doorway” by Marnee Pearce (Parksville, B.C.) Aperture: 6.4 ISO: 1250 Shutter speed: 1/500 Camera: Fuji X-T2

“Rocca Calascio” by Cindy Ciccodemarco (Vaughan, Ont.) Aperture: 5.6 ISO: 100 Shutter speed: 1/200 Camera: Canon 6D Mark II

“Steel Wool Spinner” by Eric de van der Schueren (Toronto, Ont.) Aperture: 8 ISO: 100 Shutter speed: 8 seconds Camera: Nikon D7200

“Untitled” by James Bombales (Toronto, Ont.) Aperture: 5.6 ISO: 800 Shutter speed: 1/100 Camera: Sony a7R III WINTER 2019



“Farm Boy” by Melissa Smith (Kitchener, Ont.) Aperture: 2 ISO: 500 Shutter speed: 1/60 Camera: Canon EOS Rebel SL1


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 #7: “ABSTRACT MACRO” Enter our photo challenge and you could win* a $250 Henry’s gift card

Colours, textures, shapes – extreme (and extremely creative) closeups can render everyday people, places and things unrecognizable. So, grab your best macro lens, snap your photos and then visit to submit your work. Deadline for entries is 11:59 p.m. ET on Wednesday, December 11, 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


4 Creative Marketing Ideas to Try Right Now Set your business apart from the rest of the pack by HELEN RACANELLI and VICKIE REICHARDT You’ve launched your lens-based business – great! Now, you need to market it. While your competition may be relying on standard marketing tools such as a website and Instagram account, help your work shine – and grab the attention of potential clients – using these outside-the-box attention-boosting ideas.


1. Showcase “BTS” material Whether through your website, YouTube channel or social feeds, putting out behind-the-scenes (BTS) content can help you connect with potential clients, allowing them to get a sense of your personality, style and how you work. “I provide insight into my personal life as a mom, along with details of planning or executing a shoot,” says personal-branding specialist Nathalie Amlani, who’s also the owner/photographer at Toronto’s Pictonat Photography. “[It] helps me to build trust, conversation and connection.”

2. Shoot a niche portfolio creative Creating portfolio material tailored to your particular specialty is a great way to market your unique creativity and skill, and doesn’t have to cost you much (if any) money. “Put out a request for models and trade their time for images they can use,” says Amlani. Borrow props or wardrobe from friends and family, and scout out (free-to-use) locations that don’t require permits. Then

feature your niche creative prominently in your portfolio, so it’s one of the first things potential customers see.

3. Donate your work to charity Participating in charitable events is a fantastic way to gain exposure. Whether you volunteer to set up a free portrait booth at a fundraiser or offer up a photography lesson as a prize in a silent auction, taking part in these types of events not only casts you and your business in a very favourable, altruistic light, it promotes your name – and work – to potentially hundreds of new clients. Tip: to maximize your effort, try to partner with charities whose stakeholders and participants match your target audience.

4. Prepare a strong “elevator pitch” A picture may be worth a thousand words, but sometimes having the right words ready is what you need to sell someone on your business – especially if a networking opportunity pops up unexpectedly. The ideal elevator pitch is a very short (a minute or two, tops) explanation of who you are and what you do, and should succinctly outline how your work can benefit your listener. “Word of mouth is the easiest form of marketing,” Amlani says. “[And] you never know if the person you’re talking to is looking for a photographer or has a friend who needs one.” WINTER 2019





The Tintype Studio revives the past by shooting modern-day subjects using an early form of “instant” photography by CHRIS DANIELS / photography by THE TINTYPE STUDIO

Paul Sergeant and Greg Snow wear many hats. Sergeant is an associate professor at Ryerson University’s School of Image Arts, and head archivist and production manager for famed Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky. Snow is a photographer, videographer and the digital-production technician for the Toronto Transit Commission, as well as an avid outdoorsman, amateur mycologist and axe maker. Both also co-founded a digital-age small business that ingeniously taps into a growing thirst for everything vintage. Named for an approximately 160-year-old technique called “wet-plate collodion,” The Tintype Studio snaps portraiture on metal plates that give modern-day subjects a decidedly historical look. “It offers people a retro take on the instant photograph,” says Sergeant. The Tintype Studio was born in 2010, when Sergeant, Snow and two of their photography classmates from OCAD University – Stu Sakai and Miles Collyer – were on an annual camp40



ing trip in northern Ontario. The four friends had been spitballing ways they could see each other more than once a year while juggling their careers and postgrad studies. Launching a side business seemed like a great solution. Sergeant, who was in the middle of his master’s degree in photographic preservation and collection management at Ryerson, had already become fascinated by tintype photography and saw an opportunity. “A few more photographers are doing it now, but back then no one was offering it,” he says. A “tintype” image is exposed on an aluminum plate (available from trophy-supply companies) coated with a chemical mixture called collodion and immersed in silver nitrate. Sergeant and Snow mix the chemicals themselves, but say predissolved chemical sets are also available. That plate can then be slid into any modified analogue camera – they use a 5x7 Toyo metal field camera, but even a Pentax K1000 35mm will do. “You don’t actually need traditional [tintype] gear,” says Snow.


Once exposed using natural light, or strobes if indoors (the process has very low sensitivity – about 0.5 ISO – so lots of light is needed), the plate is processed in a darkroom, where it’s developed, stopped and fixed. It’s then washed, dried and varnished with a traditional protectant containing lavender oil. It sounds like a lot of work, but Sergeant says he enjoys the hands-on process. “And I love watching the image revert from a negative to a positive. It always feels magical.” The Tintype Studio first launched in a booth at the annual Toronto Outdoor Art Fair in 2011, charging customers $50 for a portrait. “It was crazy,” Sergeant recalls of the response. “We produced more than 100 tintypes in three days, which is a large number because each [image] takes about 30 minutes or so to develop.” Unlike other portrait-based photography businesses, and despite what its name might imply, The Tintype Studio continues to operate in an creatively nimble manner: they don’t actually have a dedicated studio space. Sergeant and Snow no longer set up at outdoor fairs, either – the uncertainty of weather conditions and customer turnout made hauling their darkroom equipment around more trouble than it was worth. Instead, after having built a database of potential and recurring customers through their previous work at fairs and through online outreach, The Tintype Studio is a pop-up-only business: they send out an e-blast announcing sessions (which take place at a rented studio

space in either Toronto or Hamilton, Ont.) to their database, and post dates on the business’s Instagram and Facebook feeds. By scheduling shoots about once a month, the work has remained steady and easily

manageable, even with a reduced staff – Sakai and Collyer are no longer part of the business, so it’s become a two-man operation: Sergeant takes care of the chemical process, and Snow handles the camera work. “We’re only devoting about a dozen days a year to it,” says Sergeant. “But we’ve been lucky. Whatever we put into the business, we’ve made back with a little extra money in our pockets – enough to buy new camera gear... or fund our annual camping trip.” For more about The Tintype Studio, visit

OPPOSITE PAGE (FROM TOP): Recreating a 19thcentury canoe trip for a Naomi Harris project; a 2018 studio-session portrait. THIS PAGE (FROM TOP): A half-plate tintype portrait; a before-and-after behind-the-scenes look at an on-location shoot. WINTER 2019



ALPHA SUPREMACY Sony’s fourth-generation a7R racks up a string of notable firsts by ALEX CHANG / photography by CARMEN CHEUNG

The Sony Alpha 7R has come a long way since the first model landed on store shelves in 2013. From the outset, it was hailed as one of Sony’s most ambitious creations, and each new iteration of the flagship fullframe mirrorless camera has pushed the series steadily forward in refreshing directions. The stellar new a7R Mark IV is no exception, but in many ways this fourthgeneration successor feels more like a quantum leap. When it was first announced, most observers instantly (and understandably) zeroed in on the a7R IV’s unprecedented sensor size: that’s a good place to start, but there’s lots more going on, both inside and out.

MEGAPIXEL MILESTONE Boasting a whopping 61 megapixels, this image sensor is an undisputed world’s first for a full-frame mirrorless camera. It’s a significant increase from the a7R III’s 42.4 megapixels and, in terms of image quality, it puts the a7R IV squarely within reach of its heftier medium-format competition – a remarkable achievement for a camera this lightweight and compact. An ultra-high-resolution backside illuminated CMOS sensor of this magnitude becomes all the more impressive when combined with 15 stops of dynamic range, rendering visibly smoother gradations from dark shadows to bright highlights, and contributing to an overall more realistic-looking image. This camera is also equipped with five-axis optical in-body image stabilization to help support higher-resolution shooting, plus it’s capable of ISO 100-32,000 natively, with expansion to 50-102,400, for reliably robust low-light performance.

ADVANCED AUTOFOCUS In recent years, Sony has cornered the market with its autofocus (AF) innovations, particularly with industryleading face- and eye-detect technology. The a7R IV ups the ante, not only by featuring both human- and animaleye AF, but also by making it available when shooting 4K video: to date, it’s the only Sony camera that does this. The sensor packs a total of 567 phase-detection AF points covering 99.7% of the sensor’s height and 74% of its width in full-frame mode – putting incredibly fast and accurate autofocus at your fingertips – plus a beefed-up tracking mode that performs superbly even when shooting 10-frames-per-second bursts.




WIRED FOR SOUND In another first for the alpha series and a boon to videographers, Sony has redesigned the a7R IV’s hot shoe to allow for direct digital-audio input. It can still be used to power a flash and other accessories, of course, but this new multi-interface shoe now lets you attach a microphone to the top of the camera without the need to run additional cables into the side of the body. When Sony announced the launch of the a7R IV, it was accompanied by a similar announcement for a compatible all-new digital-interface ECM-B1M shotgun microphone (featuring its own internal analogue-todigital converter) for crisp, clear audio capture, plus the XLR-K3M dual-channel digital XLR audio adapter.

ERGONOMIC UPDATES Externally, the sturdy magnesium-alloy body sports other subtle but useful upgrades, including a slightly deeper grip that’s situated just a notch farther from the lens mount, making it easier to accommodate large fingers (especially helpful when a bigger lens is taking up valuable space on the front of the camera). The buttons are bigger, more tactile and have been sensibly repositioned, and the exposure-compensation dial can now be locked into position using a toggle button to prevent accidental switching when shooting or while in transit. Along with improved weather sealing, this camera now boasts watertight port covers, too.

A TOP-NOTCH TOOL There’s also an impressive new 5.76-million-dot highres electronic viewfinder (with the option to prioritize resolution or refresh rate) to help you frame your shot. Despite all of these pragmatic tweaks and a negligible bit of extra weight, the a7R IV still looks and feels remarkably similar to its immediate predecessor. That’s something to be thankful for, because at the end of the day – whether you’re a pro or an enthusiast, shooting stills or video, portraits or landscapes – the compactform factor has always given this feature-packed fullframe mirrorless series its competitive edge. And that, no doubt, will also be one of the a7R IV’s biggest selling points for many content creators who’ve been waiting for a powerhouse camera just like this.





YOUR NEXT-LEVEL CREATIVITY KIT Add this innovative gear to your image-making arsenal to unlock new possibilities in your photography, infuse your videos with cinematic flair and amp up your post-production powers by CHAD SAPIEHA

WACOM CINTIQ PRO 24'' If you want to take your image-editing and retouching technique to the next level, your best bet might be to enlist the help of Wacom’s Cintiq Pro graphics tablet. With 24 inches of workspace on a colour-perfect 4K screen, you can do all of your editing on a single display – no switching between monitor and tablet; less jumping between windows; and reduced time spent zooming in and out. The proverbial icing on top is the included Pro Pen 2 stylus, which feels great in your hand, and delivers precise pressure sensitively and uncompromising accuracy with virtually no detectable lag.

The type of silky-smooth and cinematic tracking shots seen in films, commercials and promotional videos usually require a big, bulky, expensive rig. Rhino’s ROV Pro slider provides a much more affordable – and portable – alternative. Just eight inches long and weighing in at less than a pound and a half, it takes mere seconds to set up. You can attach anything from a mobile phone to a five-pound camera rig to its sturdy aluminum frame, then program and control sliding movement and speed from a smartphone app. It’s a great companion for everything from product shoots to outdoor time-lapse photography.







MOZA SLYPOD A must for budding product photographers, this two-inone slider and monopod gives you precision motion control (borrowed from the Mars Rover!) for sophisticated and professional-looking camera movement. It weighs less than two pounds, yet its advanced motor system can comfortably control a payload of equipment up to 40 pounds with a virtually unnoticeable movement delay of just 15 microseconds. Speed and movement are controlled from an intuitive smartphone app, letting you set up stunning sliding shots that can be repeated with perfect accuracy time and again. Once you’ve tried the Slypod for top-down sliding shots and precision time-lapse photography, you’ll wonder how you ever got by without it.

KWILT3 PERSONAL CLOUD HUB Transferring and backing up photos and videos is a time-consuming but necessary task. Kwilt3 aims to help you get the job done quickly and easily by serving as your own personal, private cloudstorage device. Once it’s plugged into your router, you can carry out backups simply and efficiently, and access files from anywhere you happen to be using common services such as Google Drive, Dropbox and Instagram. Everything gets stored in its original format and resolution on whatever drives – including USB keys, portable drives and SD cards – you decide to connect to the hub. And since you own this particular cloud, no storage or subscription fees are involved.

ZHIYUN WEEBILL LAB GIMBAL One of the very best gimbals available for mirrorless camera kits weighing about six pounds or less, this compact and extraordinarily lightweight stabilizing gimbal is absolutely fantastic for outdoor shoots involving lots of movement. Its unusual two-handle design provides enormous flexibility, allowing for excellent operator control (with two hands) at eye and chest level. At the same time, it’s also a cinch to instantly drop to a onehanded, underslung low angle without putting any strain on your arm, wrist or hand. Controls built into the handles and placed in intuitive positions let you set the type of shot and movement you’re going for on the fly. Bonus: it’s small enough to easily fit into most backpacks, so there’s never a reason to leave it behind.






Live, multi-camera video

production requires a big budget and a full crew, right? Not if you opt for the SlingStudio Wireless Video Streaming Hub, an affordable and portable multicamera broadcasting platform that can be operated by a single person. With SlingStudio, you can monitor, record, switch, edit and stream live HD video from a mix of up to 10 cameras and mobile devices, adding in transitions, effects and graphics on the fly. Everything is controlled from a console on either a Mac computer (desktop or laptop) or iPad, with the finished product sent in real time to popular online services such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitch – or saved for postproduction (where you can up-res to 4K). It’s easy to set up and use; reduces the hundreds of feet of cable found on most productions; and requires just one person to operate. Most of the magic happens in the hub itself. This small white “tower” creates a secure network for all of your video sources (at 1080p and up to 60 fps), which can connect to the hub via traditional HDMI cables, or through wireless protocols using a SlingStudio CameraLink transmitter (sold separately; see sidebar). You can also grab video from iPhones and Android devices through a free mobilecapture app. Bottom line: SlingStudio makes mobile multi-camera content production a snap for both ambitious amateurs and seasoned veterans. Whether you’re producing a YouTube show, developing a Twitch channel or live streaming to Facebook from the field, it’s a simple, cost-effective and reliable way to achieve professional results. 46



LINK UP The SlingStudio Wireless Video Streaming Hub is just the beginning of your portable studio. As you plan your production, consider picking up a CameraLink for each camera you intend to use simultaneously. And if you’re filming outside a studio, you may want to add a battery (also sold separately) for the hub, which will give you hours of truly cord-free work time.






ASK A HENRY’S EXPERT Get answers to your questions about gear, technique and more by JORGE DaSILVA 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.


What’s the difference between a beauty dish and an umbrella when it comes to lighting effects?

Both beauty dishes and photo umbrellas are light modifiers, which are designed to produce “soft,” low-contrast light from a studio strobe or flash. They do this by effectively enlarging the size of the light source. Despite having similar purposes, each produces slightly different results. A photo umbrella, whether shoot-through or reflective, can create a diffused, more fully enveloping light, which tends to illuminate “everywhere” around the subject. Beauty dishes are usually smaller, made of a rigid, metallic material, and have a small deflector in their centre to ensure no harsh light comes directly from the small bulb of the strobe/flash. Light from a beauty dish is not quite as soft as that created by an umbrella. It’s also slightly more directional or “focused.” A beauty dish is sometimes preferred for fashion photography, due to its ability to more

dramatically “sculpt” cheekbones and other features with the deeper shadows it can create. How do “tilt-shift” lenses work?

A tilt-shift lens is one whose optics can be angled (tilted) or shifted (moved, but kept parallel) in relation to the camera’s sensor, using a set of adjustment knobs and rotation locks. Tilting figuratively “bends” the lens, causing its plane of focus to no longer be parallel with the sensor, expanding the possibilities for depth-offield effects. For example, if a fence runs off to the horizon on a 45-degree angle in front of the camera, the lens’s tilt control can be set to keep the entire length of that fence in focus, despite the aperture being set for shallow depth of field. Shifting allows you take a photo as if the camera were in a slightly different position, but pointing in the same direction. For example, a photo meant to appear as if it were taken straight into a mirror can be taken without the camera itself appearing in the photo. Shifting can help avoid issues related to parallax when taking overlapping photos for the purpose of making a single-composite panorama, and straightening converging lines in architectural photography by allowing the camera to be kept perfectly vertical. In addition to their problem-solving capabilities, tilt-shift lenses – which must be focused manually – can also be powerful creative tools.

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




“I Can Hear You Call,” Photographed by Martin Stranka in 2015 “One neverending and infinite inspiration for me is nature, and the relationship between mankind and nature itself. The big contrast and strong bond between human and nature is one of the most fascinating and inspiring aspects of life.” – Martin Stranka





Incredibly light and compact, you can take the Z 50 with you any time and enjoy stunning pictures and 4K UHD video. Operation is so intuitive. Whether it’s action, portraits, food or landscapes, the fun of shooting and an array of creative options keep you inspired, day or night. Your images can be transferred seamlessly to smart devices via SnapBridge, for sharing online. The huge potential of the Z mount system means it will amaze you from day one and for years to come. With the Z 50, you’ll find your world simply becomes richer. ISO 100-51200





Turn static files into dynamic content formats.

Create a flipbook
Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.