Photographing Terry O'Reilly

What can I say about Terry O’Reilly that has not already been said, written, or introduced in front of an audience? So, for the people that do not know who Terry O’Reilly is, well I want you to stop right now and take two minutes by clicking here. No seriously, stop reading as I’m not going to even attempt to write about this man's story. I will though, share my experience about taking his portrait.

I have been listening to Terry’s radio show Under The Influence for about six years now and I even remember the first time I started listening. I was driving downtown Calgary along the Bow River, scanning the airwaves, in no mood for music, just wanting to listen to some talk radio. I put the CBC on hoping for something other than another mid-day traffic report. To my surprise, a very distinct voice was playing and the urge to continue scanning vanished. I had no idea what I was listening to because it was mid-program, but I liked it. It was clever, interesting, and I soon found myself laughing out loud. I was hooked. Ironically the show is about marketing and advertising; well played Terry, well played.

I rarely miss an episode now and I find the research behind the program fascinating and it's one of the main reasons why I enjoy it so much. So when an opportunity presented itself to photograph Terry, I took it. The concept for the portrait is my own and is a tribute to the medium of radio where Terry started a very successful 30-year career in advertising. I knew I wanted the portrait to have some radio component, however, I also knew I didn’t want it to take place in a stale radio booth. I decided to focus on Terry's history in the medium of radio and use stereo equipment to create an interesting visual. I made a sketch, I then made a few phone calls and I found a variety of amplifiers, reel to reel machines, 80’s boom-boxes and even a couple ham radios. I then simply stacked them, plugged them in with no major electrical fires, and built a backdrop that had over 40 years of history.


On the day the shoot was scheduled, I had the pleasure of seeing Terry speak early in the morning at a conference called Social West. I then immediately cycled back to the studio to take care of any last minute details before he arrived on set. Terry gave me an hour and a half of his time and I think we managed to finish his portrait in about 40 minutes. I had a few people ask me about the experience, and I will say this with absolute truth, he was very giving with his time, incredibly humble, genuine and such kind man through and through. With some time left over, I was fortunate enough to ask him some personal questions about Under The Influence and the research involved, working with the CBC and future projects he's working on. I even got my book signed which was the icing on the cake.

I hope you enjoyed this and I encourage you to checkout Terrys radio show Under The Influence and if you’re a reader, also check out his most recent book here-> This I know; My favourite chapter is the one on customer service.


I want to thank a few people for their help and support on this shoot as this would not be possible without these humans:

• Red Events (Stereo equipment) -

• Hair & Make-Up by Vered -

• Re-touching by the very talented Kathleen Loski -

• My trusty assistant for the day, Kevin Kent -