Friday, September 30, 2011

It's been a while since I've posted music.  Truth be told, summertime usually finds us at the cottage listening to janky pop music on satellite radio.  Sometimes the oldies I'd hear in the car with my parents, Simon and Garfunkle, maybe, or CCR.  Or we tune to the 90s station for our own nostalgic journeys with Nirvana or Ace of Base.  For us, sprawling on the dock in the sun goes hand-in-hand with that sort of thing.

But today we're on the cusp of autumn, at any moment crossing over, and new music from Feist and Laura Marling and the Mates of State are on constant play through my headphones.  And I wander this city kicking up the leaves that have begun to scatter themselves in our streets.  Be forewarned, it's not altogether uplifting.  (But that shouldn't come as a surprise.)

Songs for Looming October

  1. A Candle's Fire - Beirut
  2. How Come You Never Go There - Feist
  3. Montezuma - Fleet Foxes
  4. Mission Bells - Armistice
  5. Nervous Lonely Night - Jessica Lea Mayfield
  6. Rest in the Bed - Laura Marling
  7. Sadness is a Blessing - Lykke Li
  8. Desire - Mates of State
  9. Cruel - St. Vincent
10. Shake it Out - Florence + The Machine
11. Caught a Long Wind - Feist
12. My Lord, My Love - Antony and the Johnsons
13. Wapusk - Kathleen Edwards
14. You Won't Let Me - Rachael Yamagata
15. Night After Night - Laura Marling

Sunday, September 25, 2011

I just spent two weeks in America.  I've never done that before.  I left Toronto for New York where I spent 5 days shooting Fashion Week stuff, then jet-setted to sunny Florida where I loafed around, edited images, swam, and drank for another 9.  

What I know for sure?  You end up talking a lot about where you're from.  Toronto.  

I'm a friendly person.  My grade school report cards said "social butterfly".   I'm the guy who speaks in elevators (for shame!) the one who compliments a handbag in line at the grocery store.  I hold doors for people who are too far behind, causing them that awkward run to take you up on the generosity.  I certainly don't mean to, but (after years and years in customer service) I tend to be hyper aware of people within 50 meters of me.  Most of the time it works out, and I tend to charm these strangers.  One in 20, though, and things get awkward and I look like a creep.

I'm okay with these odds.

This need to socialize is never more obvious than when I'm away from home.  These last few trips I've been solo, so perhaps a bit of loneliness kicks in and I become even more outgoing.  Very likely to ask about your shoes or your baby. I'm that guy.

And when I happen upon someone as eager to chitchat as me, the conversation always ends up in the "Oh, where are you from?" territory.  "Toronto," I'll say, " . . . Canada."  And, almost without exception, people will nod excitedly as if I'd said, "The moon . . . you know, out there in space?"  My city seems to have an affect on people.  So foreign and interesting.  

And then I do that thing we Canadians do.  I shrug, a self-conscious smirk flashes across my face and I, against my will, find myself saying, "Yeah.  You know.  It's alright." And they, time and time again, would reply "I was there, like, 10 years ago.  Amazing city.  Just incredible!"  And I'd stare, then search for a shred of grace and muster, "Oh yeah?  Really? Nice!"  Doubt would creep into my voice, but I'd recover, "Yeah, it's great, for like, 1000 reasons.  I guess when you live there you take it for granted. It's a nice place to live."  And then they'd go on about the music scene or the parks or the terrific people.  And I found myself, standing in the middle of Manhattan (world's greatest city, incredible, fantastic, beyond) thinking, "But you live here."  

And, as I've said before, it's really not fair to compare.  I mean, Toronto's incorporation came fully 200 years after New York.  We're a city on a lake, not an ocean.  Our little population is spread over 10 times the land mass of Manhattan.  We won't begin to settle into ourselves for many decades (perhaps a century) more.  We're just young. Confused.  Unsure of ourselves and lacking the confidence to say, "Hey, look at me!  I'm fuckin' amazing with my safe streets and unsolicited pleasantries!"  

But, dear sweet Toronto, you'll get there.  I only wish I'd live long enough to see the day.

(Left, Manhattan, as seen from the Williamsburg Bridge.  Right: Toronto, as seen from the Billy Bishop Airport. Follow me on Instagram.)

Monday, September 19, 2011

You saw the behind-the-scenes, now see the shots!  Visit the B-Insider for the complete shoot featuring some of Canada's great new up-and-coming artists wearing terrific fall and winter coats from The Bay.   From graphic designers to chefs, to musicians, this was a truly spectacular, vivacious and warm-hearted group of people.  (With just enough ego to make shooting them a breeze!) 

Enjoy a brief preview below and click over to see the rest and watch a terrific behind-the-scenes video by the folks at LIGHTXHEVVY Studios with music by the very-talented Joey O'Neill.

It seems like just yesterday I was in New York shooting pictures.  And here I am again.  I could get used to this.

This time, my friend and e-lebrity blogger, Ryan Marshall (Pacing the Panic Room) invited me to join him.  He's been working on a film project documenting famed hair-guru Guido Palau and asked if I wanted to come and take stills.  Did I?  Yes.

And so I shook a few trees at home to see if I could drum up some gigs to offset the cost of working with Ryan on this passion project.  The Bay came through and, aside from shooting backstage at a few shows (including the final show of the week, Marc Jacobs) I shot A Day in the Life of Nicholas Mellamphy, who is the Creative Director of The Room.  This was an amazing opportunity to get a real behind-the-scenes look at the shows and the process of visiting designer showrooms to purchase the clothes that, moments earlier, stomped down the runway.  It was really, really spectacular.  At one point I said to Nicholas, "Can you believe this is your job?  Because I can't believe taking pictures of you doing yours is mine."

I mean, really.  None of this is lost on me.  

And while you'll see shots from that project soon, for now we'll focus on Fashion Week: Backstage.  

There's something about your name on a list and a pass around your neck that makes you feel like a real superstar.  Total access to the whole joint.  Backstage, front of house, wardrobe, makeup.  Even runway rehearsals.  All of it.  Pretty neat.  When I arrived on Tuesday morning I dashed from the airport straight to our first show at one of the giant studios on the Hudson River.  Ryan was already in full-swing and I dove right in.  We buzzed around, snapping away, him focused on his beautiful videography and I on still photos which he'll incorporate.  It was super fun.

(Oh, did I mention that he and I had never met in real life?  Like most bloggers will understand, we certainly felt like we knew each other, and we fell into a really easy rapport, instantly.  He's everything he seems on his blog: sweet and kind and straightforward.  No bullshit.  I adore him.  And if you're wondering: Yes.  There is a weird, unspoken pressure to impress or be just as they thought you might be (or, at the very least, not disappoint) and it doesn't reallllly go away.  Because you realize, even in a surprising cocoon of comfort and familiarity, that there are parts of you that might come as a complete surprise.  So, in a way, it's like a very bizarre first date.  But I'm pretty sure we'll keep seeing each other.

(And for even more images, check out Ryan's post about our backstage adventures at NYFW.  Here!)