The weather was steamy. Not as hot as today but the humidity was brutal. Vince was on vacation and wanted to shoot. We managed to decide on a day, a time, got in touch with models and took off. Montreal has been going through a hard heat wave lately and that day was no exception. We were shooting downtown Montreal where the concrete juggle if simply a big heat reservoir packing up that sun energy to release it the minute you arrive.
We were shooting with Nancy Brunet who needed more photos for her agency portfolio. She needed something with an urban flare to it. Rather than scouting the broader Montreal to find the interesting spot, we headed off to Smith Street. It was perfect as I was also shooting with Anouare Abdou for the 1st time. Rather than trying to improvise somewhere I’ve never been, might as well do it in familiar turf.
I started shooting with Nancy for about 30 minutes after which I focused my attention to Anouare. By that time, we really started to feel the heat taking over us. Yes, I can sweat when I start running around for gears or contortion myself to get in the position for the right image angle. That day was something else. I am convinced that even my eye balls were sweating. The heat coming out of the surrounding concrete was horrible; it felt like an oven in hell’s kitchen. Such situation is not only difficult for the photographer but for the model who has to remain engaged in the shoot. If the model starts to feel bummed out, it will show. Luckily enough, Anouare is a real pro.
The other element where the heat can play against the photographer is the shine it starts to create on the subject. Water reflects light, sweat is water. You get the idea. We had to take a few sponge breaks whenever the skin shine seen on the LCD screen was going beyond my photoshop correction capabilities. Eventually, we had to find a solution: take a break. No point driving people to exhaustion to end up with subpar images.
The last part of the shoot I wanted to do was an available light session under the street lights, such as the one I had done with Jenny earlier this year. After dinner we headed off to René-Levesque Boulevard; the main financial joint in Montreal. This is where not only the main skyscrapers are but street traffic is too. This is the place where if you do something slightly unusual, someone will be watching. Anouare knew what I wanted to shoot; she did not expect the location. Anouare was surprisingly on the bit shy side. She was expecting a low traffic location and felt rather uncomfortable to start taking model stances while people were walking by. We took it slow with a few easy shots. This way, the curious people attracted by the big cameras focused on me and then moved on. Once we were as common as a bus stop or phone booth on the street, we started to focus on results. I boosted the ISO, positioned Anouare near light sources and shot. It was interesting to see how Anouare busted out of her bubble. There was always the uneasy moment when by passers were looking a bit for too long at her but once passed that, Anouare locked on the camera and directions as if no one was even around. It was one of the few on-location shoot Anouare did and it was generating attention. I don’t know if she believed me when I told her every model I worked with on location ended up being whistled or honked at. Anouare got more than that; she got a fan who jumped in the phone booth for a photo with her. I was of course ready to intervene at the 1st sign of misconduct but Anouare played along so the Montreal tourist has a story to tell his buddies back home.
The overall shoot was great. The available light shoot was refreshing, both on the creative and the physical side. The mood was different and the temperature was slightly down. I love the majority of the images I took with Anouare and given the conditions we were working in, I think we got more than expected. I am happy about having been able to push Anouare gently outside her comfort zone. Once these barriers fall, sky is the limit. Well, until you hit another barrier to kick down, then sky’s the limit again.