299 Notes


It’s Flashback Friday! Do you have a photograph of someone in your family in a powder blue tuxedo?
See more 1970s fashion in our new exhibit “Searching for the Seventies: The DOCUMERICA Photography Project.”Image: “Michigan Avenue, Chicago” (couple on street) Perry Riddle, Chicago, IL, July 1975. National Archives, Records of the Environmental Protection Agency.

Ok, I really want a time machine to go back and befriend these two.


It’s Flashback Friday! Do you have a photograph of someone in your family in a powder blue tuxedo?

See more 1970s fashion in our new exhibit “Searching for the Seventies: The DOCUMERICA Photography Project.”

Image: “Michigan Avenue, Chicago” (couple on street) Perry Riddle, Chicago, IL, July 1975. National Archives, Records of the Environmental Protection Agency.

Ok, I really want a time machine to go back and befriend these two.

1 Notes

Mert & Marcus light gorgeous-voiced Adele for US Vogue, gorgeously

admin, guessthelighting.com

copyright, Mert & Marcus. Thanks to everyone who sent in (and continues to send) pics of their pooches. Now back to the lighting guessing. It doesn’t matter what kind of music you like or don’t like. I don’t think anyone can disagree that Adele ha…

Sweet. My fave blog uses my fave photographers and my suggested photo for their recent post -

3 Notes

Dawn on the Gatineau River- on Flickr.Last weekend, just before sunrise in Wakefield, QC.

Dawn on the Gatineau River- on Flickr.

Last weekend, just before sunrise in Wakefield, QC.

3 Notes

My Thoughts on Photo Assisting

I was speaking to my friend who has assisted me on a couple of shoots; one editorial, one wedding. He is trying to break in to the industry by assisting other photographers, but is currently working as a cook to pay for photography school. School, he admits, isn’t teaching him all that much. No surprise there. As many of us have discovered, whatever your vocation, we learn much more by ‘doing’ rather than absorbing information in a classroom setting. I understand that this is a generalization (I wouldn’t suggest an aspiring brain surgeon to drop out of med school and know that some photography programs are excellent and have graduated many talented photographers), but for certain skills, there’s no better way to learn than to jump right and get your feet wet. Photography is a perfect example.

I know of many people that have spent a lot of money on photography programs only to graduate with no sense of direction and end up working at the photo booth at WalMart - not that there’s anything wrong with this per se, but I doubt any Karsh hopeful is aspiring to coax smiles from crying children while sporting a clown nose in a studio stuck between McDonalds and the XXXL clothing section. My point is rather cliche but true - School can teach you some skills but it rarely, if ever, teaches you how to prepare for the real working world or how to effectively ‘sell yourself’ to prospective employers. That’s the thing you gotta learn in the real world - something I too am always learning.

My conversation with my friend had me asking a few questions of my own: What is it that I look for in an assistant? Why have I chosen certain assistants over others? What skills are important to me and why? For me, it comes down to these points:

An assistant must bring something to the table other than an eagerness to learn, ‘break into the industry’, and help out. Though enthusiasm is important, it can’t end there. There has to be something special that they can offer: To me the 3 most important things are creative input, technical solutions, and high functioning social skills. That is what I find the most helpful - not just a willingness to carry gear and adjust lights when I need it done. For example, say I’m on a corporate shoot for a C.E.O. who needs a few portraits made in her office and around the building in which she works. What I’m going to be concentrating on is a) locations to photograph b) lighting possibilities c) arranging the frame d) keeping a good rapport with my client. I need to know that my assistant is also thinking about all those things too. Getting a good shot should be (almost) equally important to the assistant as it is to me and my client. Simply standing by and observing or waiting until your name is called is not what I call helpful. What is helpful in this situation is someone who speaks up and mentions, for example, “I saw this excellent area outside the building that would make a sweet frame - here’s a pic I snapped with my phone”, or someone who offers, “There’s no outlet in that room, but noticed one across the hall" … 

Beyond technical knowledge, a valuable assistant may be able to conceptualize or have ideas to bring to the table to make the shot(s) more special. When I’m in a pinch and trying to keep the energy level of my subject high, or need to take 10 minutes to scope out locations, a second shadow following me around isn’t much help unless we can have a discussion about how to solve creative problems we’re faced with (because as I’ve come to notice, 95% of on-location shoots involve lots of on-the-fly problem solving with regards to light, shadow, and backgrounds). My girlfriend and photo-assistant Justyna is great in these situations not necessarily because of her technical knowledge of strobes or F-Stops, but for her acute sense for the final image. She offers lots of creative ideas, excellent clothing styling skills, brings lots of props (to engagement sessions), is a voracious sponge for creative blogs, fashion editorials and ad campaigns and in turn is able to offer a cornucopia of ideas and references. This is invaluable to me and allows me to concentrate on the technical aspects of the job and the report with my clients. 

A previous assistant of mine named Nick Leadlay, is a 6’3” walking encyclopedia of technical knowledge for cameras, lighting gear, software, and lots more. When it comes to exploring solutions for light, gear, or by simply setting up strobes and modifiers with efficiency and self-motivation, he’s the guy to go to. He is also very enthusiastic about photography, and is a chatterbox with a friendly demeanor which is great for keeping the mood light on set.  He’s currently working as a professional assistant in Toronto for commercial photographers and works also as a retouch artist. He never went to school for photography, but like me, trolled through photo forums online, participated in discussions, learned about key concepts and built on them through a desire to improve and become well-versed in as many areas of photography as possible.

As a parting thought to aspiring assistants I might ask:

What do you bring to the table?

What can you offer? Why do you want to assist anyway?

Where do you see yourself going with photography? 

Who are your mentors?

*What strikes me as very odd are those who want to get into fashion photography but have no idea who this or that designer is, has no idea who top models are, or has no idea who their favorite fashion photographer is*

And lastly, something that usually throws me for a curve - When I receive phone calls or emails from aspiring assistants offering their services for free (disclosure: sometimes I do ask my assistants to work for free when it’s a creative or there is zero budget but for them to offer a free service doesn’t sit well with me). I would quite honestly rather pay someone to provide solutions and participate with confidence and enthusiasm. When I hear “I will work for free” I really hear, “I can’t offer you anything”. Obviously there will always be exceptions, but as a general rule, I tend to steer clear.

Until the next post amigos…


9 Notes

A recent editorial I shot for Style Magazine back in early April. These were photographed near Mud Lake in Ottawa’s west-end, lit only by the sun and foam-core reflectors.

Concept / Styling by Justyna Baraniecki

Makeup and hair by Noah V.

Models (brunettes) by Models International Management (Ottawa)

Photo Assisting by Will Orellana

1 Notes

On the weekend of her 60th anniversary on the throne, I thought it may finally be a good time to mention that I met the Queen.

I had a surreal time assisting my father in shooting her official portrait on the 1st of July, 2010 for the occasion of her upcoming diamond jubilee that falls on this current weekend, June 2nd / 3rd 2012 (also my birthday weekend but that feels like a moot point in comparison).

So just a little history here: My father Michael Bedford, a professional photographer since 1970, was called out of an early semi-retirement by Heritage Canada in early 2010, asking him if he would photograph her majesty for the occasion of her 60th anniversary on the throne to which he gladly accepted. - Just to note, he wasn’t new to this kind of offer - this would be the fourth occasion in his long career that he had photographed Queen Elizabeth II (once in the late 70’s, the next in 1982 for Canada Act, then again in 2002 for her 50th anniversary on the throne). Naturally he needed an assistant for the job and asked me to fill that role. To which I too gladly accepted (I think I dropped the candy-bar I was eating at the time from surprise and excitement).

So as it happened, on the morning of Canada Day 2010 we made our way to the tent room at Rideau Hall in Ottawa (we had scouted the location thoroughly a month before to assess the room, light, etc…) , set up a Hasselblad 500c/m and a Nikon D200, some umbrellas, a podium, and waited anxiously for the Queen to arrive. At 10 o’clock she appeared adorned in a white gown, tons of jewels, a tiara, and all that. It was kind of a trip being (loosely) introduced - My dad and another gentleman (who has used my dad’s portrait as reference for a painting he will soon unveil) were ‘officially’ (re)-introduced. 

So the shooting began and ended rather quickly as she was on a tight schedule. I was very impressed not only by her ability to pose perfectly (she’s had much practice) but for my dad’s ease and flow, speaking with her casually (but respectfully), and coming off cool as a cucumber. It was an interesting lesson in the importance of engaging with one’s subjects and making them feel comfortable in front of the camera, even if they’ve already been photographed (quite literally) a billion times before.

She was cordially shuffled away by her assistant immediately after the shoot was finished (probably all of 10 or 15 minutes total with a short break in between - a LOT of time considering her time is precious). 

So check out the behind the scenes photos above - the camera crew also present were doing a documentary for the National Film Board of Canada

If you have any questions about the experience, I’d be happy to share them with you. 

p.s. I’m not exactly sure when the official portrait will be unveiled, but it should be soon. When you see it, please take note of the subtle retouching work (if you can’t see it then I’ve done my job right) - that was my job too.

1 Notes

One person’s trash is another’s treasure.

A few years ago when I was living in Toronto, I was walking around my neighborhood with my first DSLR (Canon Rebel XT) and was photographing interesting textures I could somehow play around with in Photoshop (CS2). I came across a nondescript, albeit old, wooden counter-top that someone was throwing away. It had an interesting look to it, so I photographed it and moved on. 

Back at home, while I was importing my photos, a fly became fascinated with my lampshade and held it’s attention to the warm glow just long enough for me to focus and snap a pic. 

Using the transform tools, different blending modes, and some light, gradient, and color fx, I was able to transfer the fly onto the wood texture, preserving its original shadow to boot.

I couple of years later a local band in Ottawa contacted me to photograph and design the cover of their first CD. Though they didn’t choose this particular mock-up I made for them, I was happy with the simplicity of design and the overall look. I wanted to make the band initials (WYK - Wise, Young & King) appear to be etched into the table. The text was added simply with text tools and some creative embossing / light effects in Photoshop. 

If I were to repeat the job, I would add some wood shavings, and have stuck a knife in the table (maybe just the tip through the fly’s wing) for added drama - only in post, of course - I’d never hurt a fly ; ).

2 Notes

With the 100th anniversary of the tragic sinking of the Titanic, I got to thinking as to what I may have in my photo archives to contribute to this significant, somber occasion. As it turns out, not too much (ha) BUT I did visit Belfast in Northern Ireland a couple of years ago. What does that have to do with the Titanic, you may ask? Well, you may or may not know that the Titanic was built in Belfast by the company Harland and Wolff ship builders, and I had the opportunity to take a tour (on double-decker bus, no doubt) of this crusty old city and it’s famous ship yards. 

Seeing the actual shipyards where the Titanic was built was a bit of a trip - just thinking about all that hard work that went in to building that ship over two years and how such a task, even today, would take such massive feats of engineering. Despite the sinking of that impressive vessel and the 1,500+ lives lost there is a banner displayed on one of the dock buildings that proudly states ‘TITANIC: MADE IN BELFAST’. On one hand, it was probably the most beautiful ship ever made (at least from my understanding of the CGI renderings courtesy of James Cameron), but on the other its generally more famous for its demise, not the grandeur of the ship itself. Paradox or Antithesis? (seriously, which one, if any - I’m a photographer, not a writer).

Our bus left the shipyards and continued the tour of Belfast where we got an decent view of the city - I have to admit, I’ve traveled to and lived in many cities worldwide but Belfast had to be one of the saddest looking places I’ve seen in a long time - and I’m from Ottawa (zing!). Lots of gray faces, decaying buildings, broken windows, and an unsettling amount of CCTV cameras EVERYWHERE. The building of the Titanic could actually have been the best thing going here…Well, I shouldn’t be TOO hard on Belfast - I’m well aware that Northern Ireland has had a very tumultuous past and is only recently experiencing an extended time of peace. From the looks of things, though, and talking with locals, there is still a very palpable tension that smolders between the loyalists and republicans (just mentioning to a few guys at the bar that my grandfather was Manx was enough to get me cold shoulders and into a heated discussion). In any case, I can see that it’s going to take Belfast some time to make a full recovery - and I sincerely hope they do recover - but let’s just say I have no plans to move there (or visit again).

On the upside, I did get to spend a long drinking session on a Saturday afternoon at Belfast’s oldest tavern, White’s. This place was amazing - built in 1670(!) it was chock-full of old Irish posters, postcards, nick-knacks, arched ceilings, and old-Irish men sporting fine caps, sitting in dusty shafts of window light.  Half-way in to my 5th Guinness these 20-somethings joined me in the booth and broke out traditional Celtic instruments and whipped the place up into a fury of song and swaying. A really memorable time - I have to thanks the group, Keep ‘er Lit and Annie (owner of the place) who was super kind and took my friends and I out to lunch the next day.  

This post went sideways a little, but the timing is still appropriate.

2 Notes

Chelsea for FrAsh on Flickr.
I made this shadowy teaser for a local jewelry designer named Frash as a promo piece for their upcoming runway show (February 17th 8pm) at Ottawa Fashion Week. The show is produced by my girlfriend and working partner, Justyna Baraniecki who’s been working her buns off to make the show an entertaining, beautiful spectacle. If you’re coming to OFW, please don’t miss this show. It will be a good one for sure!

Chelsea for FrAsh on Flickr.

I made this shadowy teaser for a local jewelry designer named Frash as a promo piece for their upcoming runway show (February 17th 8pm) at Ottawa Fashion Week. The show is produced by my girlfriend and working partner, Justyna Baraniecki who’s been working her buns off to make the show an entertaining, beautiful spectacle. If you’re coming to OFW, please don’t miss this show. It will be a good one for sure!

3 Notes

Valentine’s Post…

I’ve always been more of a listener than a talker. Some people may argue this (especially after I’ve had a couple of glasses of red), but relative to my chatter-box (endearing) family and friends, I’m dubbed by most as the ‘quiet observer’. This makes writing a post like this a bit difficult; I’ve got a lot to say and am about to get all clumsy in my attempt to do so…

(I’m hoping you haven’t bounced yet) - See, about 3 1/2 years ago - Ok, if you must know it was exactly October 18th 2008) I was surfing through the classifieds on ye ‘olde craigslist. I had recently moved back from Toronto and was trying to find creative people to collaborate with and discovered an ad; a new online magazine was looking for a photographer to shoot creative editorials. Perfect. Later that week (on the aforementioned date in October), I met with two stylish gals in their mid-20’s. They liked my portfolio and I liked their energy and creativity. We decided to start working together. 

A couple of months and a couple of meetings later, I called on one of the girls to be my subject in a creative editorial thing I was shooting. It was very last minute, very cold, and very outdoors. She agreed and was a great model, never complaining, and giving me exactly the character I envisioned for the story…I was really enjoying the ease and flow of our working relationship at this point.

The magazine dissolved and her business partner moved on, but our own friendship began to grow, and kept growing - for the next 3 years. We would get together once a month for drinks, talk about shoots we wanted to do, impersonate the Simpsons, laugh, work, laugh, create, shoot projects, discuss our mentors, analyse photography, and laugh. We became close friends but never moved further than that - mostly because she was in a committed relationship, and I was in the ‘dating scene’ - you know, looking for a funny, creative, beautiful girl who I could discuss photography, the Simpsons, share many a laugh with. Right.

Last Spring her 3-year relationship ended and I found myself newly single (the details of which are ironic and serendipitous and would make for wonderful reading, but I choose not to out of respect to others…) . About a month later, we met at a lounge to talk about it all when we found ourselves with an awkward pause in the conversation. She asked me if there was something I wanted to say…I think I in-appropriately quoted some Simpsons line (ha!), then told her how I felt about her (at the risk of making this blog post 5 pages long, I won’t get into the details of what I said - sorry, some things I have to keep to myself). She beamed. We held hands for the first time. It was amazing.

It’s coming up to about a year now that we’ve been together (well, June) and I’ve never been happier. We have over 3 years of awesome friendship under our belts and we transitioned into a beautiful relationship. I’m grateful for her everyday I wake up, every night before I fall asleep, and tell her I love her every chance I get. It may be an old cliché, but sometimes what you were looking for was right in front you the whole time.

I love you Justyna.