A New Year, A New Outlook, And A Portrait

We’re already into our third week of 2016 and I feel like I’ve barely had a chance to stop and think, or even reflect on the year that was.

At the start of 2015, I made a few achievable goals both personally and photographically. This being a photo blog, I’ll stick to my photographic goals. It would be the start of my first full year in a new city… having moved the previous summer. I wanted to get out and meet people, and decided to use photography as a means to do so. I also wanted to push my creative limits with the following goals in mind: shoot more photos; print more photos; make portraits of strangers; get published; shoot a wedding.

The last goal was a long shot and I had no idea how I would achieve it, especially considering that I wasn’t going to market myself as a wedding photographer.

Without dragging you through a long and detailed recap of my 2015 experiences, I’ll try to update you on my results.

  1. Shoot more photos – Yes. I shot nearly thirty thousand images throughout 2015 between family, friends and strangers.
  2. Print more photos – No. While I did print some images, I didn’t print nearly as many as I would have liked. I’ll work on that in 2016.
  3. Make portraits of strangers – Yes. I connected with a number of people in Ottawa last year, and stumbled on a journey of documenting chefs. I’m still working on the series in 2016, but if you haven’t seen the series yet, feel free to brows my past posts. One was even Freshly Pressed!
  4. Get Published – No… well, almost. Through my chef series I have been working on a couple of other projects. One that I’m really proud of will launch in the spring and I’ll be able to share it with you then. I’m still hoping to make it into a magazine this year though.
  5. Shoot a wedding – Yes! Out of nowhere, a pair of friends called me up to ask if I’d be their photographer. I loved the experience and desperately want to do it again.

Perhaps I’ll share my 2016 goals with you sometime soon. For now, I’ll share a portrait of a really cool guy I recently met as a result of my photography efforts. This is Michael, he’s the really rad head chef at one of (actually two of) the best restaurants in the city. He’s also a huge music lover.

Happy New Year everyone!

michael radford


Weekly Photo Challenge: Victory (Portrait of Top Chef Canada Winner)

I have been absent from the Weekly Photo Challenge for quite a while, but Krista’s tales of hard work and determination inspired me to dive back in this week with a true mark of victory!

rene rodriguez

I recently had the opportunity to meet and shoot the winner of Top Chef Canada, Rene Rodriguez, owner of Navarra Restaurant in downtown Ottawa. Rene has an amazing look; we share a love of U2; and after hearing that he purchased a motorcycle with some of his contest winnings, I decided to try to model our shoot after a Rolling Stone cover.

Keeping things simple, I shot Rene and his bike in the alley behind his restaurant using a two-light setup. I placed one speed light in a shoot-through umbrella as the main light, and added a second speed light as a kicker to add a rim (or highlight) for some depth and separation.

I had two setups in mind, one featuring Rene front and centre, with his bike behind him and slightly out of focus, and the second with Rene on his bike. I am really happy with the results of the shoot, and even added some coloured gels for interest, but unfortunately I can’t show you the images from this shoot as they are part of a project to be released next spring. However, I can show you a portrait I took of our victorious chef against a fence at the end of the shoot.

The portrait above uses the same two-light setup, an umbrella as the key (or main) light on camera left, and a bare head flash at camera right to add a slight kiss of light on Rene’s left cheek and down his left arm to help separate him from the background.

Rene was a great subject, and obviously very used to having his photo taken since winning Top Chef Canada in 2014. The culinary scene is truly an amazing scene to be a part of, and I have really enjoyed working with a number of different chefs this year. I look forward to working with some more that I have lined up over the next few months.

Kai-Lii & Jared’s Hart House Wedding | Toronto

I am so excited to finally share this post of Jared and Kai-Lii’s wedding. Not only was I honoured to be asked to document their amazingly memorable day, but they’re two dear friends who have added a richness to my life I think few people are capable of, and they mean so much to me.

jared and kai-lii

Their wedding was held at Hart House, the beautiful and historic centre of the University of Toronto. Completed in 1919, the Gothic Revival design of Hart House makes you feel like you’re walking through Hogwartz.

This was my first time photographing a wedding, and though Jared and Kai-Lii liked my other work, I wasn’t sure that street photography and portraiture qualified me for the job. With that, I took a photojournalistic approach to the day and gave it my best. I began the day with the ladies as they had their hair and makeup done in uptown Toronto with the wonderful staff at Green Beauty Salon. I then headed back downtown to meet Jared and the boys at Axe and Hatchet in Yorkville and capture them getting ready before heading to the venue.

Mixed with Scottish and Estonian traditional elements, the ceremony, reception and food made for the most entertaining and fun wedding I had ever been to, including serving Estonian beer and the bride and groom being serenaded by the attendees after the ceremony.

Congratulations Kai-Lii and Jared, it was an amazing day and I can’t wait to see the next chapter of your lives unfold together.

kai-lii and jared

kai-lii and jared

kai-lii and jared

kai-lii and jared

kai-lii and jared


kai-lii and jared


Showcasing Ottawa’s Farmers & Chefs at Harvest Table 2015

A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of photographing one of Ottawa’s signature food events, Savour Ottawa’s Harvest Table. A collaborative initiative between Just Food; the City of Ottawa; and Ottawa Tourism, Savour Ottawa aims to bring together local farmers, restaurants and retailers to to form partnerships that help sustain the local food economy.


Taking place in the historic and beautifully renovated Horticulture Building at Lansdowne Park, this year’s Harvest Table hosted more than two hundred and fifty guests, who enjoyed local beer and wine, and a delicious feast prepared by an all-star cast of some of the area’s top chefs.

If you’ve been following my blog this year, you’ll know that food and the food scene around Ottawa are very near and dear to my heart. I feel honoured to have been asked to take part and document this wonderful day. And if this post inspires you, I’d love to hear what your favorite dish, or wine, or restaurant is in the comments below.