On Assignment

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.

Chef Portraits: Ian Carswell

I have always been an art lover. From a young age I spent countless hours drawing and painting, and I have been lucky enough to visit some of the best galleries in Europe; and since moving to Ottawa I have learned that the city happens to boasts one of Canada’s premier art galleries. That’s why I was really excited to meet and shoot my fifth chef, Ian Carswell, Executive Chef of KW Katering at the National Gallery of Canada.

Ian Carswell National Gallery of Canada

Before the shoot, Ian and I chatted over the phone a few times and hit it off really well. At times I found it difficult conducting business over the phone with someone I hadn’t met while my two kids screamed and sang in the background, but as a family man himself, Ian completely understood. He even cooked my boys breakfast and treated them like kings during the morning portion of our shoot.

Based on our conversations leading up to the shoot I expected to really enjoy this experience, and I did. I can only describe Ian’s personality as amazingly infectious. After meeting me in the parking lot, he led me to the kitchen to introduce his staff, and then delighted me with a tour of the gallery… which was closed for the evening and completely silent. Ian has a great sense of humor, and had us laughing throughout the night, but he also showed that he could easily switch gears and seamlessly manage a couple of issues that arose as the evening wore on.

This shoot differed from the others in the series, because although there were some images shot in the kitchen, it was almost entirely shot in an underground boardroom where the staff set up a makeshift kitchen to prepare the dishes. You’ll notice that once the food was cooked, it was wheeled to the plating area in a large portable warming oven. The other thing you’ll notice, is that the staff were performing their art while being surrounded by famous works’ on the walls.

This was a memorable shoot for me because it’s not everyday that you have complete access to one of Canada’s treasured art institutions. I have Ian and his crew to thank for making the night such a special one for me. If you’re a lover of food and art, then you’ll want to make the National Gallery of Canada a definite stop on your Canadian travels.

I hope you enjoy the images…