Working with Global Tv

If you’ve driven around Edmonton in the past few months, you’ve likely seen some of our work with Global Tv on one of the many digital billboard displays that distract us during our daily commutes and blind us at night when we’re driving for that late night coffee run. They’re perfectly safe though, so it’s okay to stare at them intensely. While you’re driving.

Working with the Global crew is honestly just awesome. There’s a very clear distinction between working with people in the industry who are new, or frankly, just not that good at what they do — versus working with a group of people that are 100% pros at what they do, which is what the Global crew is. And not just the anchors that we’re photographing; everyone there from the backstage crew to the marketing and management team are all spot on and on the plus side, just good people, so it makes for smooth photo shoots when everyone knows what they’re doing and maybe more importantly, why they’re doing it.

Plus their studios space that we get to shoot in is second to none. It’s enormous.

Global was kind of enough to send us a few of the print adverts they put together using our photographs so we wanted to share them.

Global Tv Portraits -- Advert

Global Tv Portraits — Advert

These are two different ads that I’ve mashed up into one image — the image on the right is a rendering by Global using photos we shot on a white backdrop so the people have been clipped out and stuck on the blue background image. Simple enough.

The second however was something we wanted to do a little differently. We did a full series of shots in this environment backstage using random things we found in the studio. Old lighting equipment, ladders, pelican cases, apple boxes, c-stands — anything we could get our hands that gave the shot some context. The background is actually just the large sliding metal door that splits one of the studios and the backstage loading dock/storage areas. I think the best part of this shot was how everyone reacted to it — they all loved it because it was something different and got them away from the typical white or green screen environments that they basically live in day to day when being filmed.


Global print advertisements.

One thing we noticed about all the big name Tv anchors that we’ve met over the past couple of years — be in in news or sports — is they’re all tall. Really tall.  That obvious fact really ruined any dreams Curtis or I may have held in our hearts to becoming top level news anchors. We’re just not that lucky. So we’ll just keep taking pictures of tall people while standing on our gear cases…

Hotel Interiors – Matrix & Mettera

Two local boutique hotels in Edmonton have made a great name for themselves in recent years — the Matrix Hotel downtown and the Mettera on Whyte Ave. Both are great spaces and have been fun to photograph. Hotel interiors — or interiors in general — are usually quite fun though. Interiors are all about linear visuals and minimalism, which is something you would expect from a modern boutique hotel anyway. What might be surprising though is the amount of tweaking that still goes into creating images like these.

Mettera Hotel Lobby

Mettera Hotel Lobby

The first thing you usually see at a hotel is the lobby — normally with some space to relax or wait, but the lobby desk is where you’re headed first so we really wanted to showcase the lobby at the Mettera. What’s missing from this photo, aside from the people? Well normally any lobby will have paper work of some sort on display, whether it’s weather reports or local attraction information…but not here. Minimalism means cutting out all the non-essential elements of the space.

Matrix Hotel Elevator Hallway

The Matrix Hotel Elevator Hallway


I’m not entirely sure why interiors are enjoyable to photograph — I’d imagine some people would consider it quite boring. But take a look at this image above and try to count the number of vertical lines in this photo — everything from the different wall lines, the art, the plant box, the sitting bench, the elevator…on and on. It’s all linear and all perfect. Personally I find that exciting and challenging to photograph well.


The Matrix Business Centre

I’m not going to spill all the beans on how we shoot interiors here — but I will say that a lot of post work is involved. If you’ve ever been into The Matrix hotel, you’ll know that this second level hallway isn’t quite this white or this bright in person. But it makes for a hell of a nice clean looking image.


The infamous bedroom shot.


I say this infamous in jest. If you ever have to do photographs of a hotel, you’ll have to shoot the bedrooms — and they can be hit or miss. Regardless of how good looking the room is, one of the most important things to nail down well is the linen. A bedspread can be the nemesis of your day if they are made of poor materials or aren’t well ironed or cleaned. Fortunately that’s never a problem at The Matrix or Mettera. But a clean, good looking room can quickly be ruined by a bed spread that’s full of awful wrinkles and folds. Again here though — linear perspective is the rule of thumb, but you’ll notice this also isn’t shot from a normal standing perspective. Bad interior photographer is easy to spot when all the images look like someone shot them all just by walking into a room and shooting from standing height. That’s lazy.


Hotel dining and kitchen room.


Adverts for a new home community.

If there is one thing Alberta has plenty of — it’s sunshine. Regardless of season, the sun is a sure bet more often than not. Depending on the style of shots you’re going for, this can be a blessing or a curse. Sunshine and blue skies is great, but occasionally it’s nice to have an overcast day with no shadows or squinting eyes to worry about.

In this case we had what we wanted — great weather and a great batch of models to go with it. We worked with two kids on this photo shoot to showcase the lifestyle of a new community — parks, playgrounds, great looking homes and general well being. The interesting thing is that these two young kids were not related, but they managed to get along perfectly and made the shoot a lot easier than it potentially could have been.

Community Lifestyle Portraits

Community Lifestyle Portraits

Lighting for situations like this is typically simple. The sun makes for a perfect back light and a large reflector makes up for any harsh shadows that the sun inevitably creates. Knowing what shots you need ahead of time is key in a shoot like this — once you’ve got what you need it’s nice to be able to move on quickly. Kids have a ton of energy…but everyone has their limits attention wanders.



Bubbles suck. Have you ever tried photographing bubbles on a bright sunny day, in sporadic winds? Yeah. Not fun.

Kids activities.

Kids activities.


Community Landscape

We ended this shoot with some general photos of the area itself — focused shots on the homes, duplexes and wide shots like this one which showed the man made lake.

Environmental Portraits

Portraits in the studio are, for the most part, fairly easy. You have full control of everything — your backdrop, lighting, camera settings don’t vary by a large degree and the time of day really doesn’t matter — but once you get into a working job environment, all of that control goes out the window.

Portraits inside office settings are always interesting, whether for better or worse, there is always a challenge. In this session for Williams Engineering Canada (Edmonton) we were working with the company staff (as is often the case for companies like this) — so no “professional” models to work with here. The reality is that working with “real” people is that some people simply aren’t entirely comfortable being photographed. We try to avoid this issue by selecting staff members ahead of time, but even then your level of control as the photographer is limited and your models moods and attitude can greatly affect the end result of your work. Someone refuses to smile? Well, you’ve got to make it work.

Williams Engineering Edmonton Staff Meeting Portraits

Williams Engineering Edmonton Staff Meeting Portraits

Fortunately everyone involved with our shoot at Williams was great and handled it like the pros they are. In this shot above, we simply had five of their staff talking over a large blueprint of one of their projects. Photos like this are common in the business world; a group of people huddled around something, talking about absolutely anything other than what they’re actually looking at. It’s sometimes difficult to get the right shot like this wherein the models aren’t all laughing because every time you get a group of people together like this for a photograph, it always turns to jokes and laughter — which is a good thing! It relaxes people. But eventually you have to be the director of the shot and have them be serious for a few moments. That said, smiles are never a bad thing.

Williams Engineering Edmonton -- The boss telling a good joke.

Williams Engineering Edmonton — The boss telling a good joke.

Another challenge of environmental portraits is the lack of control when it comes to the space you’re shooting in. Again this shoot was in our favour because the WE space in downtown Edmonton is quite nice — full of a lot of colour and modern style. Nothing is worse than an office or working space that looks like it hasn’t changed since the 80’s. In this shot above we quite simply had everyone in the room having a conversation…and we photographed it. You could say this was done in a very journalistic style in that we just let the people be themselves and tried to remove ourselves from the setting. That said though, when you’re shooting over a persons shoulder, there are always small tweaks like having someone move their arm or leg a particular way or brushing a strand of hair over an ear. You’re letting them relax so that that feeling comes across in camera, but you also have to nitpick the details.

Williams Engineering Edmonton -- A quiet training session.

Williams Engineering Edmonton — A quiet training session.


Another example of the WE space (above) — it’s not often that you find such vibrant colour in an office carpet, not to mention this much open space and glass. It’s another example of having to pay attention to the details of the area you’re in. The models are one thing, but the chairs in the board room, to the position of the foreground chair and all of the items that were on the coffee table.

Williams Engineering Edmonton -- A relaxed chat and reflections.

Williams Engineering Edmonton — A relaxed chat and reflections.


Speaking of glass — look at all of those reflections. Do you think you could control all those individually? Not a chance. Sometimes you have to know when not to worry about a particular element knowing full well how it will look before you even touch your camera. The WE space is very open and has a lot of natural light in it — I don’t even think we used any extra lighting on this shot and others that were similar. Sometimes over thinking your lighting isn’t worth the time and making use of open areas is the way to go to make something look natural. I think these guys were talking about the most recent Oilers hockey game when we were photographing them…which may explain the lack of smiles.

Sterling Homes Portraits

Today I’m writing about an advertising portrait shoot we did for Sterling Homes last summer. This shoot went smoothly and the weather was perfect — a typical warm, sunny Alberta day. But this was a great example of a photoshoot that didn’t have much planned for us to work with and decisions about what we were shooting were made up on the spot between us and the client contact. There were rough ideas of what they wanted — which were portraits of some of the Sterling employees and then advertising shots for their show homes of an employee interacting with potential home buyers.

Sterling Homes Employee Photograph - Construction Photography.

Sterling Homes Employee Photograph – Construction Photography.


The first set of images we did were the portraits of the employees. The question was — where would we do them? We were at a show home in a residential area with no construction within eyesight. We needed that element — so we decided what we knew we would need in terms of lighting and drove to a construction site a few minutes away which had a few Sterling homes currently being built. Remember that this is a very bright sunny day, so our biggest problem with that is the sun itself. Photos of people squinting hardly ever makes for a good photograph. We lit these shots with a single light and flagged the models from the sun — either in the construction itself or with our own hand held flags.

Sterling Homes Employee Portrait

Sterling Homes Employee Portrait


Take a look at both of these photos — what is one thing they have in common? Clean hard hats. Construction workers never have clean hard hats — but for photographs they are a must.

The next shots we did featured a Sterling Homes employee with potential buyers inside the show home, so we drove back to the show homes and set up two lights. Fortunately for us, the Sterling show home set up was perfect to work in. It was well lit and well laid out and the colours worked. Sometimes this isn’t always the case.


Sterling Homes Potential Buyers


Sterling Homes – Showing the community map.

These are real people — in the sense that they are not hired models. Working with people who aren’t professional models absolutely generates a different kind of feel for your photoshoot, but the key with this is simply being able to hold a conversation. If you can talk with your models and make them feel comfortable, then guiding them through the shoot is easy. If your models can themselves all have a conversation together (about anything), that again makes your life as a photographer even easier and you can focus on your lighting and other technical aspects of the shoot without missing details.