Friday, February 13, 2009

Friday the 13th, Valentine's Day, and the Ballad of Nicole and Marc

With the economy the way it is, how much worse can things get? Today's Friday 13th, historically recognized by the superstitious as a day of bad things! I'm afraid this blog entry has come a little too late in the day to create a literary talisman that will preempt the bad things that are supposed to happen to me. Instead, I'll gladly dwell on good things that are supposed to happen tomorrow (not necessarily to me...). Yup. Chocolates. Flowers. Candlelight dinners.

It's been interesting reacquainting myself with the ritual of Valentine's Day in Canada. Traditionally here, there's a reciprocal exchange of gifts between lovers on the day of. But having lived in Japan, I'd grown accustomed to their approach to Valentine's Day. On February 14th in Japan, it's the female who gives gifts to her paramour, usually in the form of confections that they've baked and decorated themselves. As my buddy Masaya would say, "Yummy!"

It's not until a full month later on March 14th that the male returns the favour. "White Day" began in 1978 as the commercial brainchild of a Japanese confection company. On this day, men give "girichoco" (literally "obligation chocolate") to women in return for their earlier love gift. Japanese culture is highly predicated on the notions of reciprocity and obligation. Dishearteningly a lot of times, I find our culture is not so...

Nicole is my godbrother's daughter. Her boyfriend Marc, was visiting from out of town during the Xmas holidays. If you looked up "cute couple" in some lexicon, you might find their picture beside the definition. While they already have tons of pictures of themselves, they asked me to do a session with them. Our shoot was scheduled during the unusual cold spell during the holidays and while our intention was to shoot outside, we ended up infiltrating the Manitoba Legislative Building. It was almost effortless shooting with them and I was happy with the resultant images. Here are a few from the shoot. I hope you enjoy them...and I hope I was able to distract you from Friday the 13th if just for a little while. Happy Valentine's Day!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Back From the Deep Freeze: From Babyhood to Toddlerhood

Am I being facetious to say it's been cold? Somehow, global warming hasn't hit my part of the world colding maybe...Even my nephew who's two can tell us with his limited but burgeoning vocabulary that he's freezing!

It's hard to believe he's grown so much, that he's a toddler. He's really beginning to formulate his concept of the world, developing a personality from this world view, and articulating in simple terms his needs and wants. I guess that's a clinical, sanitized version of events. From the other world view, he's also curious to no end and getting into all kinds of mischief. He's at the "Terrible Twos". He needs to touch everything, to feel an object's texture and hear the novel sounds it makes. Bend it. Bang it. Throw it. Crumple it. Invariably it breaks (common)... On one hand, he can be infatuated by something for long periods of time and on the other, he can be easily distracted. Other than his preternatural affinity for the vacuum cleaner, he's typical. I think... :-) This firsthand knowledge sure helped with a recent family photo shoot session.

I was contacted by a co-worker of a friend. Tina commissioned me to do an in-home photo session with her family which included her husband and two-year old daughter. I met with her (I usually meet with clients beforehand) to discuss location, wardrobe, and direction of the shoot. Tina is an accomplished architect and artist in her own right and her husband a former actor, so they were able to clearly articulate the kind of photos they wanted. We agreed that we were not fans of the staid and posed family portrait...We like the black and whites, the muted – capturing life as it happens and not imposing the camera or our wills upon what would happen. My belief is that something like this can only happen in the home or some place where the subject is truly comfortable.

A week later, I went back to their house for the session. As we'd discussed, they wore whites – in the preliminary meeting I advise wearing simple, solid colors. OK, I'll admit we did begin with some traditional black and white family shots to ease two-year old Tara into the shoot. I brought an old bicycle horn to attract Tara's attention to the camera. It worked. For awhile...

But then we let Tara be and went on to shoot in other parts of the house. She became the little director AND star of the shoot. And that's the magic of this kind of photo shoot. Unencumbered and uninhibited. Playing. Being fascinated by the simplest of things, things we adults take for granted. Tara being Tara. Mom and dad parenting. A true document of life.