Adventures in 35mm with my little brother River over the Thanksgiving break in Florida. xo
It has taken me a few days past New Years to get my head wrapped around reflecting on my professional accomplishments of 2017, mainly because it’s been a tough one full of valuable lessons. It was a year of grinding hard with income being the main priority. All the hard work paid off as I dug myself completely out of debt and began saving for my future like a responsible adult. With a main focus of finance however, I really felt a loss of poetry in my work. It is a hard truth that the most lucrative jobs are not always aligned with those that are best for your soul. On the other hand, putting your head down and working your butt off to make that money feels good in its own way too. Oh, this bittersweet tea of life! Regardless, the year was not without its moments of inspiration. Here are a few beautiful opportunities of 2017 I’d like to share with you.
1) P.A. Gigs
Now this may seem like a very humble top highlight, but my P.A. work this year, all thanks to angel production manager Lisa Ericsson, was definitely my favorite part of my professional year. I am a big believer in hands-on learning, and working as a P.A. is often called paid film school. As I continue to develop my directing reel, it was incredible to observe, get inspired by, and work with a variety of talents on set. One set was particularly inspiring; the Wall Street Journal commercial directed by heavy-hitter Ellen Kuras (D.P. of Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind, Blow & Requiem for a Dream). We had a big budget and managed twelve locations in three shoot days with nine unit moves! Kuras is an exceptional woman and a new role model of mine. You can take a look at the spot below:
This past year I completed the remaining works for The Goddess Array series, which is now 30 goddesses strong! Each of the images is a modern representation of an ancient Greek goddess in the nude with her totems. Hekate, the Goddess of Witchcraft, was finally captured after three epic failed attempts that included a near-death experience lost in the Mojave Desert. Hekate is elusive, and the final image encapsulates that trait in a powerful way, I think. Taken on the shores of Venice Beach in a sandstorm with torches that did not want to stay lit, we captured her eerie magic. I also captured Pamona – Goddess of Fruit at the UCLA orange grove, Rhea – Mother of Gods with her lions, Peitho – Goddess of Seduction at a secret L.A. waterfall, Aletheia – Goddess of Truth in a cave with a magical reflected ray of light, Nemesis – Goddess of Divine Retribution with her reflection and a sharp blade on the shores of Lake Ontario, Phoebe – Moon Goddess of Prophecy, Arete – Goddess of Virtue on the stamen of an orchid, Pheme – Goddess of Fame at the Hollywood sign, and Oreithyia – Wind Nymph on the Scarborough Bluffs. Take a look at an outtake from each of the ten shoots below:
Now that the thirty goddess images are complete, plans to show the full collection at large in L.A., NYC and possibly Vancouver this year are in the production phase. This is a big goal for 2018. Wish me luck!
Canadian teen pageant queen Cricket emailed actress Caitlin Stasey who contacted me to shoot Cricket in an act of defiance against the beauty pageant industry by shaving her head and posing nude while telling her story on Herself.com. It was a whirlwind shoot at my studio in Toronto and we got some beautiful photos on 120mm film and some captivating video as well. Alyson Peach of Blyss Salon was graciously on hand to make sure we didn’t totally ruin Cricket’s shave. Cricket wrote a moving poem to be the soundtrack to her rebellion. Watch the resulting video below:
Jessica Viola of Viola Gardens, an L.A.-based sustainable design landscaping company, is one of my angels in life, and also an inspiring friend, and involved client. Over the last few years I have aided in the development of the Viola Gardens brand through project photography, web design, logo design, and social media engagement. This year we continued on all fronts, growing the brand into new territory as the business itself grows and evolves. If you are at all interested in Permaculture, California native gardens, drought tolerant gardens, landscape design, hardscape design, Wabi-Sabi etc. take a peek at Jessica’s work on www.violagardens.com and on Instagram @violagardens.
5) Creative Collaborations
In the excitement of making something beautiful simply for the sake of beauty, I embarked upon a few creative collaborations this year. Some shone bright and some will never see the light of day. I learned a lot from these experiences and I will share with you what I’ve learned.
Lesson #1: Don’t work for free. Period. Even if it’s your best friend or your mom’s high school art teacher. Your time is valuable. Don’t sell yourself short. People you are doing work for won’t respect you until they are paying for your time.
Lesson #2: Be very careful about who you work with. Again, even if it’s your best friend, you need to be sure before you commit to working on a project together that they have the proper work ethic, desire, and drive to bring the project to fruition with you. You never know what can happen during the creative process so it’s not a terrible idea to get all parties’ responsibilities and expectations into a binding contract up front as a guarantee.
Shout out to Clara Klein, Teesh, Asia Vickovic, Myles Mindham, Corrine Anestopoulos, Alison Keery & Vlad Kato for their skills in our collabs in 2017.
6) Boudoir Photography
Always a mainstay of my photography business, it is a bittersweet affair as I offer my boudoir clients complete discretion, of course, and often feel I am burying some of my best work in the secret folds of my private boudoir portfolio. I love shooting boudoir. This year I shot the widest variety of ages of clients ever before, which I see as a hopeful sign that the idea of beauty is being pushed beyond its border of youth. Very exciting!
Hair and Make-Up by Elena Pacienza.
I had the incredible opportunity to live on Venice Beach for two months in the Spring of 2017. Arguably one of the most photogenic places in the world, I spent every sunset I could strolling the beach with my camera capturing the enigmatic locals in the magical neon colours the sunlight creates there. Very cool, a little bit dangerous, and totally surreal, I feel epically lucky to have called Venice Beach home for that short but sweet time. Many thanks to Vanessa Morcom and Billie Mintz.
Amongst some incredible company, I was asked to judge the Art of Creativity Awards this year. What an honor! The Toronto event was at The Soho House hosted by MOCCA director David Liss. I was chuffed to be involved. Here’s a little photo booth peek of me and my date Veronica Cojocari at the event.
This wasn’t a crazy year of published work for me but I did get a few nods.
In a celebration of 30 years in print featuring sophisticated and sexy fetish fashion, Skin Two Magazine published a coffee table book called “Skin Two Fetish Fashion – the definitive album of fetish fashion.” Tim Woodward, the magazine’s editor, curated a collection of the most iconic images published in the magazine over the years and I am honored to have two of my images for Northbound Leather included.
And new Australian publication Fead Magazine published my nude shoot with Caitlin Stasey alongside an interview with the actress.
Always a pleasure! I’m booking for Summer 2018 weddings now. Contact me at email@example.com.
I’m moving into 2018 with the promise to work hard, stay humble, do good work that is of service to women, and stay ruthless! Let’s go! Thanks for reading. xo
Demi Labelle, a real life goddess, mother, and muse of mine (Herself.com + The Goddess Array), has just launched TheMotherlandCollective.com, a safe online space where mothers can speak their truths without judgement.
In Demi’s words:
“Here at The Motherland Co. we aim to raise awareness about women’s wellness through different workshops and creative projects. We believe in healing through transparency. The more we can be honest with ourselves about what we are feeling, the more we can be open with others, and the more we speak about things the more opportunities for safe spaces can be created. The more that emotions will be normalized and not criticized. We want to heal the collective womb and help bring healthy children into the world and help our sisters stay connected to their feminine and masculine energies to raise spiritually balanced children. We want to grow with you, We want to share with you, We want to learn with you. That is what Collective means to us.” – Demi
The Motherland Collective’s first project is entitled Ain’t No Hood Like Motherhood (ANHLM). The project features revealing, honest interviews with moms on motherhood accompanied by candid photos of the participant at home with their kid(s) in an effort to break the silence around the issues that come with motherhood and create an online space where moms can share their truths. I shot a little call to action video of Demi for the project below:
You can participate in the project and share your truth HERE. Demi’s full interview is below. It is raw, real, and moving as all hell. Of you have a spare 20 minutes please take a look. It has been an honor shooting photo/video, and consulting on such an important project. xo
This is Cricket, the 18-year-old beauty queen who stopped off at my studio to shave her head en route to represent Canada in the Top Model of the World pageant in Egypt. The photos were shot on 120mm film and are published with Cricket’s full interview on Herself.com. Take a peek! xo
What does the word ‘woman’ mean to you?
The word woman to me means strong. Regardless of the sex assigned to you at birth, your ethnicity, your race, your religion, your sexuality, you are fighting a systemic pull. Of course, the factors stated above can make this pull stronger, and the battle harder. There’s the trickle-down effect of ingrained systemic misogyny, leftover from the fights fought by women before us, and the alive and thriving oppression that we have not yet tackled. We’re all fighting. And it’s important to help each other in our battles. It is especially crucial for woman born with privileges (e.g. white, cis) to assist our sisters in their more heavily-rooted battles.
Being lucky enough to call Venice Beach my home for for the past couple of months opened my eyes to another side of the idyllic landscape one encounters as a tourist. When the marine wall rolls in and covers the beach in its thick fog the place looks post-apocalyptic. There is a solid group of local characters who hit the strip every day carrying Christ’s cross (with the help of a wheel – cheating, no?), practicing energy healing, fishing, skating, flexing, training pigeons, collecting cans, sharing religion, selling reggae cds, selling flowers, and much, much more. It is first come, first serve and there is no fee to set up a booth on the Venice boardwalk and sell your wares as long as you are selling original artworks. This limitation creates an economy of creativity amongst the many homeless who live on the beach. It is not a bad life. Eclectic to be sure. Here is a little collection of snapshots I took on 35mm film during my stay. xo