52 weeks later

Posted on Saturday, April 23rd, 2011 at 9:50 am

52 weeks.  It’s been almost 365 days since I embarked into this.  April 24th of last year was the 1st time I got out of the house with all my gears with the unique goal of taking pictures of people at Studio4Fun.  The whole idea was scary.  I was having a hard time imagining I could do that but I figured if Vince could do it, why couldn’t I?  I was tagging along with Vince and Victoria that day.  It took me only a few minutes to realize I am no Vince.  Vince is entertaining, direct, outgoing.  He is the kind of guy if you get lost, you ask him for directions.  He has that personality.  Me?  Well, I am a bit more reserved and shy.  I don’t have that outer personality Vince has.  I looked up at Vince that day and wonder how I could manage to go through this knowing myself.  Change.  Change for which I don’t have full control on.  This could be difficult.  Obviously, if I wanted to have fun on that journey, I had to stay me with a few tweaks on the road.

Madyna Kanoute – My very 1st model that I have shoot with

Sandi Fares who I had the pleasure to shoot with later.

52 weeks have pass where I manage to fit a few personal projects and photo sessions that lead me to more serious stuff, more complex shoots and commercial work.  52 weeks where I managed to develop an eye, far from perfect, to capture human elements.  With retrospect, I am happy to see close relations to what I was shooting before.  I still embrace the environmental elements that complete an image making me tend to shoot more on location that in studio.  In 52 weeks, I made many “friends” in the photography arena and a few others I can call that, friends.  Anyone who has followed this blog so far, or knows me in real life, knows I have a photography partner.  We got to shoot quite a few times together, in the same locations, in the same organized photo sessions as separate photographers but always as a team.  Every time one of us has a photography opportunity, the other one is not far behind.  I just love shooting with Victoria.  No matter if we are shooting the same models in the same locations, we always end up with different perspectives and styles.  It makes it a pleasant non-competitive atmosphere.  No matter what tricks one will pick up from the other, it is never with the goal of copycatting the other.

Last week, Victoria called me.  “My mom is gone on vacation.  You want to shoot in her house?”.  Who wouldn’t?  We had been trying to get a shoot going in a hotel for a few weeks now with no success.  I even have a model on hold just for that.  We checked out the place one night and it was perfect.  It is a small 1 bedroom bungalow.  We are really not talking big here.  Was that a problem?  Why would that be?  As we walked in the house, I knew I wanted to shoot in the small hallway, the small TV room and the small bedroom.  A place is only as small as you really want to see it.  It was decided; we had a week to plan everything before Victoria’s mom was coming back.  I immediately contacted the model I had on hold and Julia Liscio for the makeups.  Victoria started to contact models on her side too.  Everything was falling into place nicely; Victoria had a model, we had a makeup artist.  Unfortunately, it turned out that my model could not free herself on Wednesday due to other commitments.  I was back to square one.  I started to go through the models who had contacted me on Model Mayhem before.  As I was writing to one, Victoria informed me she had already contacted her and she was unavailable.  I turned to Facebook.  I looked through my contacts and decided to contact Stephanie Vincent.  I knew Stephanie was in demand and had a busy schedule.  I explained the situation I was in and the type of shoot I wanted to do and hit the send button.  1 minute later (no kidding, 1 minute), a response came in.  Stephanie saved the day, she was onboard.  We exchanged several emails about the shoot direction, wardrobe and concept shots.  I reflected back on the house and what the house could deliver and built a list of images I wanted to pull.  I tend to do that before every shoot I plan.  I like the idea of having 8 to 10 shots already detailed in my notebook to start with.  As I typically go through the list, new ideas surfaces and fill the rest of the session.

Me showing my sexy side, or standing in a doorway, which ever works for you…

Victoria showing you can wear white socks with black pants.

Wednesday arrived.  Victoria and I moved in.  As Victoria suggested, we took mental pictures of everything we were moving.  Everything had to return in its original place or her mother would notice.  Victoria’s mom apparently knows where everything and anything is.  If there is a table in the living room and you move it an inch, she will know you “reorganized” the living room.  Talk about the pressure Victoria has to live with; I suck at mental pictures and memory games and did I move stuff around!  I emptied the entire TV room to keep only the couch.  Victoria and I setup our lights, tested them, made sure everything was dialed in correctly so we would not lose any time setting up while the models would be waiting.

Explaining to Stephanie the bedroom shots.  Victoria’s mom will freak when she will see this picture!  My eyes are closed so I can pretend I did not know Victoria went that much out of control.

By 12:45, I was picking up Stephanie at the subway station, under pouring rain.  Once back at the house, while waiting for Julia to finish with Lisa-Marie (Victoria’s model), we walked the different rooms I wanted to use and explain the angles and goals of the images.  We started shooting at 3pm in the TV room, then the bedroom, hallway and finished in the bathroom.  I was able to go through all of the ideas I had written in my book (sucky memory again here; got to write those ideas down).  We shot for a total of 3 hours.  Given the physical size of the environment, I opted for a 1 light and reflector setup only.  I think I could have used more lights in a few shots but that would have limited my angles possibilities with all the stands and modifiers.  The house’s walls are painted all in very pale colors so it did not take much to fill it.  It was funny that Julia noted we have so much gears.  So true and yet, I tend to use about 10% of it.  I know the day I will decide to leave my gears home I will need them.

Working with Stephanie was bliss.  Not only she has a great presence in front of the camera but is also open minded to ideas.  I have to say I was really happy when she accepted to work with me, not only because she was putting an end to my model searching but also because I really like her work.  She can go from glamour to fashion looks with a detour through vampire style concepts.  I was taking a day off work for this and so did Stephanie.  This put shoots like this a notch higher as both parties want good results.  We have another shoot happening shortly, theme oriented, more complex, and demanding.  Now that I worked with Stephanie once, I can’t wait for that next shoot.  In the mean time, I wish her luck as she is part of the 20 finalists or so for the Miss Canada pageant and also in a good spot for the Maxim Magazine S-pace contest.

52 weeks ago, I attended an organized event and relied on Vince to approach people.  52 weeks later, I wrote to a model in demand, explained what I wanted to do, got a thrilling answer back in a minute and got her to even lay down fully clothed in a bath tub filled with water.  If I had a DeLorean and a flux capacitor to go 1 year back in time and tell myself to follow Vince’s lead and enjoy the ride, “52 weeks ago Steph” would told me I was full of it.

On a side note, I hope Victoria was able to figure out the stuffed teddy bears puzzle her mom left behind ; they all looked the same to me…








Got to make sure everything works before asking Stephanie to jump in the water.



Responses (2)

  1. Vincent says:

    Dear Steph, I am so happy that we went together last year to La Grande Séance because it really started something “grand”! Maybe our “people approach” is different but you are a master photographer, a talented image maker, a superb writer, a prolific artist and your creativity is simply unparalleled. I value our friendship like you wouldn’t believe. Keep on clicking! But I know the secret of your success: it’s Victoria! :)

  2. I could not agree more with Vince’s comments – well, except maybe for that last line! Vince, the secret of Steph’s success is insomnia and scotch – that’s what gives him all those crazy concept ideas :-)

    I used to sit in the back row at the LCC meetings and want to approach you to ask if I could shoot with you one day. Back then, you were doing night photography and shooting more buildings & environmental elements than people, but I thought your images were so cool… and that YOU were just “out of my league”… Then one night at a print competition, you had a portfolio with you and I got up the courage to speak to you (OK, seriously, if someone doesn’t know you, you can be a tiny little bit intimidating!!) and I asked if I could have a look. Your face broke into a wide grin and you passed over the portfolio. The rest, as they say, is history :-)

    As you made the transition from shooting inanimate objects & buildings to shooting living, breathing models, you still maintained that one-of-a-kind style that is totally Stephane Brazeau! Your creativity never ceases to inspire me. The bathtub shots from this series are awesome. Come to think of it, your bathtub shots in general are always pretty unique… do I sense a book project in the making???

    Steph, I am so, SO happy that we have become shooting partners and friends. I truly enjoy our days out in the field together and always look forward to seeing what you will come out with next. Now if only you could have put the teddy bears back in the proper locations, we would have been home free!!

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