Just for the fun of it

After watching the Zack Arias Creativelive web-broadcast workshop earlier this summer, Victoria DeMartigny, Vincent Lamoureux and myself decided to rent a studio (Vincent provided the studio with his free rental he had received from shooting at the D-Clic show), invite a few friends and have a bit fun.  It was pretty impromptu and the planning was pretty minimal.  I remember that my only request was for one evening dress and suit for a glamour oriented shot.  For the rest, I thought I would go with the flow.

Before leaving my place, I through everything I could find in my truck; cameras, lenses, flashes, tripods, light stands, light modifiers, cables, laptop and a few props.  I headed to the St-Hubert street Studio4Fun location, in Montreal.  As usual the place was spotless and as a bonus, for arriving 1st, I got the parking space right in front of the back door.  Could I ask for more?

I slowly unpacked my stuff as Victoria and Vince showed up.  Shortly after we were 3 photographers along with Sandi, Sidney, Talissa and Marc.  As our models were getting ready, we (the photographers) decided on how things were going to work.  We wanted to take advantage of the long studio space and the 13ft wide white backdrop.  Victoria also brought a 9ft wide white that we installed in the opposing direction, giving a slightly shorter shooting distance than the 13ft.  I set up my cloth patterned backdrop on the side as it did not require much shooting distance.  I still shoot wide, what can I say?

Then came the lighting conundrum…  3 photographers in a room with roughly 8 light stands, most of which are light triggered.  How do you fire only your flashes and not the others?  How do you setup your lights and not be affected by the others?  If you figure it out, let me know…

I was doing this for fun so who cares if I get light spill from Vince’s and Victoria’s flashes?  Although at sometimes, I was chimping at the camera going “What is going on with my lights??”, only to realize Victoria or Vince moved one of their light stands, suddenly affecting my light coverage.  I was using radio triggers on all my flashes.  That is a must in my case as I use battery powered flashes.  The last thing you want is wasting power because your flashes are being popped by the others.  Since Vince and Victoria were using studio flashes, powered by the magical cable going to the wall, it did not really matter, other than the few times their strobes were not lighting because I got them to recycle…  It can be funny to have an evil mind sometimes J.

I got to work on 3 different setups; my clothed backdrop, the 13ft white and the 9ft white next to the front door and huge frosted windows throwing amazing natural light on the setup.  I also worked with all the models.

Studio Jam - Sidney Piché

Sidney Piché

It was Sidney’s 1st experience as model and she was a natural.  She is friend with one of Vince’s daughters.  Her easy going persona made the connection immediate between her and me as photographer.  This is very nice when it happens quickly as it puts a strong trust level between the 2 persons, allowing for new ideas to be put on the table quickly and executed.  I must have spent a couple of hours with her that felt like a few minutes only.

Studio Jam - Talissa Paquette

Studio Jam - Talissa Paquette and Marc Pelletier

I then shot with Talissa and Marc who are dance partners in life.  For one of Talissa’s shot I had a mix of Diana Krall’s “The Looks Of Love” and “Christmas Songs” album covers in mind that inspired me.  When I got both of them in the 13ft, a cheesy love song was playing on the radio that lead to a more dramatic scenario.  The connection they have in real life made that goofing around possible and natural.  When I saw Talissa extending her arm toward Marc, I had to make her do it again and again.

Studio Jam - Sandi Fares

Studio Jam - Sandi Fares

Studio Jam - Sandi Fares

I took the final 20 minutes to work with Sandi, who I had already worked with before.  She was wearing a short and sexy Joshua Perets dress and big sunglasses.  I immediately ran back to my truck, picked up my iPod and an old pair of headphones.  I had to give clear instructions not to listen look at the iPod music list; I think having Pink Floyd, Depeche Mode, Luciano Pavarotti, Sarah Brightman, Kei$ha, The Cardigans, Kenny Rogers along with the soundtracks ranging from The last Temptation of Christ to High School Musical would have thrown me into the weirdo basket in a jiffy…  Sandi knew exactly what to do with the headphones.  I shot a mix of close-ups and full length.  The rest of the magic happened in post.

I love these photo sessions, done just for the fun of it. No pressure, no deadlines, no financial aspect in the way forcing you to deliver acceptable results to a customer.

I can’t wait for a next session (wink at Victoria and Vince…)


8 years ago

Yesterday, we visited Marie-Maude Grenier at her new store on Sherbrooke street called Melons et Clémentines.  M&C is the 1st breastfeeding consultation store in Montreal, aiming to help mothers (and fathers) though the firsts months of existence of their new born.  Along with consultations, they also provide a café area where parents can meet, a play area for the babies to socialize and a clothing and accessories section (including hot lingerie – told you there was something for dads too), all aimed for new moms.  The constant traffic in the store shows the necessity of such places in many people’s first steps in parenthood.  M&C was funded a few months ago by Marie-Maude Grenier and Renée Boudreau, her business partner.  Melons et Clémentines is located on 5659 Sherbrooke West, between Oxford and Harvard.

As a gift, my wife pulled out an old 4X6 taken 8 years ago.  She asked me if I could do something with it and get it framed.  That was taken on the cheapest kind of film (probably bulk packages from Cosco), printed on mat paper from Loblaw and the request was to “make it big”…

Make it big…

Not obvious when making it big makes also the mat texture goes big.  The picture was out of focus on the eye so I had to treat the images with that in mind (remember, shot on film, no screens at the back of the camera to look at the images and price tag attached to each shutter activation so yes, there are out of focus pictures in my old stuff…).

I am happy with the results.  This is Sarah Enya, our youngest child.  She was the most complicated kid to have.  With 3 interrupted pregnancies between her and her brother (one after 17 weeks, 36 weeks and 7 weeks), we ended up in the doctor’s office every months for checkups and hospital every weeks for hearth monitoring for the final 3 months.  When she was born, that was a relief.  That marked a major milestone in the family, one that for 4 years long seemed unreachable

8 years ago


Remembering past vacations

Week 1 of my vacations is now behind me.  We aren’t doing anything special this year; just sticking around the house.  With the kid’s return to school just around the corner, my wife starting a new job as the city sexy librarian and unavailability of the usual cabin we rented, we decided to skip the Island again this year.

The kids asked numerous time again this summer when would we be returning to Prince Edward Island.  One day for sure.  I don’t mind the 17 hours long trip to get there and the frequent cold wind blowing from the Atlantic.  There is something over there that makes time stop.  The fields, the lobster boats, the small towns, the history and the red hair girls; everything you need to do like in that PEI tourism commercial, you know, the one running a few years ago where the VW beetle just crossed the bridged back to New Brunswick, does a U-turn and cross it back to the island.  Like I told Enya last week, one day…

In the meantime, I still come around pictures from the past trip to PEI left unprocessed.  Sometimes you capture a moment in time, look at it on the screen (or light table in that case) and can’t quite put your finger on what is missing from the frame to bring you and the viewer to that moment in time, that moment where you stood in front of that massive construction, under an overcast flat gray sky, with no one around because you are the only sucker around willing to visit the island under the rain.



I am here now

I made the switch from Blogger to WordPress. I never had any issue on Blogger. It is simply because I wanted to have a bit more control over the layout of the blog and easier access via different tools to it. WordPress has a better integration to social medias which is where I get the best reach so far.

I was happy to see I could import Blogger into WordPress. This way, all my previous content is still available. I still need to iron out a few details (like the lack of older post listing) but it is minor enough that I decided to do the switch now.

Ok, enough about the blog, this is about photography after all… Sometime back in July, the Lakeshore Camera Club organized a downtown Montreal field trip called “Shooting models in the street of Montreal”. Since I though it was an amazing idea from Peter Kelly, one of our Field Trip chair and given the logistics he had to work out for the project, I signed up.

It was probably one of the hottest day we had. For that reason, I traveled light. I had a couple of flashes but barely pulled them out since we were always on the move. During that day, I mostly worked with Jessika Dénommée. She had an amazing energy and patience (we were 10 photographers after all). Through the day, we were doing 5 or 6 stops in various location. I had the 1st session of the day and was that a disaster. Well, some shots were ok but nothing more than that. I realized that having a very cold start in very harsh lighting and having only 10 minutes is not my forte. Yeah yeah, I know… There must be 10X10 participants thinking “Well, what do you think to make us do in your competitions?”. It is not exactly the same thing although is sounds like it. The light conditions were simply painful to deal with. Imagine shooting a very dark penny in the snow in a very sunny winter day and trying to maintain details in both the highlights and shadows… And make sure the penny doesn’t start thinking you have no clue about what you are doing…

It was not all lost; I ended up with images I really like. I did all my post of Jessika in black and white. It helped a lot with the harsh highlights and after all, black and white looks better anyway, right?

Stephane Brazeau Photography

In the street with Jessika Denommée

In the street with Jessika Denommée

In the street with Jessica Denommée

In the street with Jessika Denommée



Smile, though your heart is aching,
Smile, even though it’s breaking.
When there are clouds in the sky-
You’ll get by.

That was my 1st day of vacation. I work in Corporate IT crisis management for a large IT company and for the past week, I was covering for 2 colleagues on well-deserved vacations. That meant I was to only person left to cover Canada from the Atlantic ocean to mid-way between Toronto and the Manitoba border. Anyone not familiar with the Canadian geography, this is a very big piece of dirt to cover alone… Everything went relatively well, up to Thursday. When I saw these emails, I knew I would be in for a ride. I ended up spending my whole Friday on this and a few hours past 5pm but hey, didn’t matter; my vacations were right around the corner.

The 1st thing we did was to go to the Rumble Car Show in Rigaud. This was the 3rd edition, getting bigger and better year after years. You get to see all sorts of cars, from the model T to 80’s collector’s cars. My favorite part is really the rockabilly’s section and their 30’s to 50’s beat up cars; some are real piece of art. As we were walking down the parking lot, my son stepped with both feet on something. When I saw what it was, I had to take a picture. My kids were looking at me like I had lost my mind; “I thought dad wanted to shoot cars…”. When I saw that poor guy on the ground and the abuse endured from my son, that song came to me.

If you smile through your fear and sorrow,
Smile and maybe tomorrow
You’ll see the sun come shining through
For you.
Light up your face with gladness,
Hide every trace of sadness.
Although a tear may be ever so near,
That’s the time you must keep on trying,
Smile, what’s the use of crying?
You’ll find that life is still worthwhile,
If you just smile.

(Music by Charlie Chaplin, lyrics by John Turner and Geoffrey Parsons, but it was Holly Cole’s version playing in my head)

Smile, there is always tomorrow