Duration: Five years.
Location: Toronto, Canada.
Education: Commercial photography program at Dawson College in Montréal, Canada.
Career path: Photography is my second career. Seven years ago, after working for major Canadian corporations and a well-established cultural institution, I went to Dawson College for its commercial photography program and graduated two years later. I was in a place in my life where I wanted to do something for myself, and since I had always loved photography, the jump felt very natural. Coming from the corporate world, it was easy for me to come up with a methodic workflow including self-promotion, solid client relationships and an administrative structure.
Cultural influences: Anything I see on the streets, in nature, in magazines, on the news, in kids’ books and online. There are amazing stories in every household. Some photographers who have influenced me include Erik Almås, Gregory Crewdson and Kristina Varaksina, who has also been featured in Communication Arts. I’ve been following her for years. Other influences are painters and illustrators, like Lawren Harris, Gerhard Richter, Jenny Saville and Chris Van Allsburg. I also practiced both music and competitive sports in my youth, and am influenced by composer Dmitri Shostakovich and tennis player Björn Borg. I can’t say I have a preference for art or sports, but photography enables me to explore both and come up with concepts and stories.
Favorite projects: The Sailing For Kids campaign. I came up with the concept of focusing on the inside of a kid’s mind while she or he is sailing; I isolated the boat from the elements and incorporated a shadow that represents the sailor’s thoughts. Also, I am proud of projects where the client challenges me, like with fashion designer Maria Karimi. We all learn from others.
Work environment: I work in many places across Canada. I am known as a location photographer who brings the studio outside. I like shooting in various places and the outdoors as much as I like shooting in the studio. I also like mixing natural and artificial light. Also, on editing days, if I don’t work in the studio, I take my laptop, a few drives and my Wacom tablet to a coffeehouse.
Approach: I do a lot of research before shooting a campaign or project, to make sure we are doing something a little different from what has been done—unless instructed otherwise. I like to meticulously plan and relay this information to my team and my clients. But I always leave some space for last-minute changes; they often bring the images to a higher level.
Aspirations: I would love to shoot for brands that reflect respect and admiration—not brands that only sell a product or a service. At the same time, an image is a vehicle for ideas that educates us on different issues. I also want to direct concepts and visual campaigns, and build brands around a clear message.
Philosophy: Persistence and working hard work rarely fails. What is hard work when you are passionate about something?