Enviromental Portrait Photographer

Love: Stranger Series New York City

There is something to be said about going for a walk. I find walking alone especially with a camera can be one of the most calming and exhilarating experiences as a photographer because you never know who or what your going to run into and it forces you to slow down and really look at your surrounding environment. On one particular day as I was just spending the day... you guessed it... walking, I came to the intersection of Tillary street and the entry route onto the Brooklyn bridge. At this intersection I noticed a man walking from car to car as they were stopped at the intersections red light. As I walked a little closer, I noticed the man was quite well dressed and in one arm he had a hand full of the newspapers and in the other hand a stack of ready made six inch pies. Now I have seen people in other countries selling flowers, fruit, and even tombstones to people in parked cars but never pie and the daily news from a single person. As I made my way over to the side of the road where he was conducting his business with the temporarily stopped cars, it was surprising to see he was making quite a few sales in the short amount time I had since noticed him. The street light turned green, the cars drove away, and the man waited patiently along the side of the road for the next set of traffic to stop at the lights. I walked over to see this man and asked him what he was selling. It turned out to be sweet potato pies and the local newspaper. When I asked for his name he stumbled his words and said "Ahhh... My name is Love". I was surprised by the name but didn't question how or where he got his name from. I tried asking him more about his life but he insisted right away he did not want to talk about himself, so Instead I asked if I could take his picture. Again his demeanor changed instantly from the smiley happy pie and paper salesman to becoming a little anxious and questioned me why I wanted to photograph him. I told him what I was doing, where the photographs would end up, and for more peace of mind I gave him my business card. By this time more cars had stopped at the intersection and I told him to think about it and go look after his customers. After the light had turned green, Love walked back to where I was standing and happily agreed.

 

 

 

Stranger Series- Conrad Ouchi :: {Calgary Portrait Photographer}

One early morning as I was meeting a friend in a downtown local coffee shop in Calgary, I kept noticing a face out of the corner of my right eye and could not help but casually stare. I couldn't tell you exactly what forced me to stare at this gentleman so many times. Perhaps it was his trendy outfit, his soft facial features, maybe it was the beard, and the fact I could not get the strange childish voice out of my head "You need to photograph that guy". When I was done my meeting, I gathered my things, took one last quick glance at the man sitting to my right and headed straight for the door. As I walked outside I kept repeating to myself both in my head and in a dull whisper..." I need to photograph that guy, just go back Jeremy and ask him... don't worry it will be fine... what's the worst that can happen?". I went back into the coffee shop, gathered my wits, and slowly approached the man. The difficult thing now was he had his back to me and his seven friends that surrounded him quickly realized I was some stranger about to say something. As I approached the group telling them who I was, the project I was doing, I then turned to the bearded man I wanted to photograph. As I continued to explain leaving him with the opportunity to answer, he immediately said "NO", his friends were disappointed with his answer and encouraged him to say yes making jokes on why he should say yes. I gave the man my card and said "It's completely up to you and if you change your mind please do not hesitate to call me".

Two weeks later I received a phone call from Conrad Ouchi.

Conrad was born in Vernon BC where he and his wife moved to Calgary in 1975 looking for work as graphic designers. Studying at the kootney school of art, Conrad was a freelance graphic designer for 13 years and then slowly started to decide to become an full time artist. The decision to pursue art happened when Conrad went to Chicago for a conference, from there he was immediately inspired.

Conrad now lives in Calgary pursing his painting and most recently experimenting with photography.

 

Aaron Sidorenko: Calgary Artist

I first met Aaron just over 2 years ago when we both had exhibitions at the Okotoks Art Gallery. Aaron is a Calgary Artist whose paintings are no less than incredible with an amazing talent for painting portraiture. I will not even begin to describe his work as you need to see it for yourself here -> http://aaronsidorenko.ca/ When I asked Aaron if I could photograph him he was more than willing, but with much humorous hesitation, worried that his dashing good looks might break the camera lens. The shoot lasted only about an hour where we spent most of the time setting up lights in his small studio downtown. Working in such a confined environment, we managed to highlight both his environment and Arron himself, just don't let his seriousness be to deceiving as Aaron will be the first to crack inappropriate jokes, smoke from his large collection of tobacco pipes, and talk about his new love for the ever so popular instagram app!!

 

 

Stranger Series: Balvir Shargill

I came across Balvir by chance one evening while I was photographing an event late one evening in downtown Calgary. While I was outside on Ninth Avenue waiting for my ride, I noticed a man through a set of tall floor to ceiling windows next to the restaurant. I assumed the man was South Asian from his long beard, he was older with weathered hands, and casually mopped the lobby floor as my face was pressed firmly against the glass. The only thought flooding my mind at that moment was am I going to get the chance to photograph this man. After a few phone calls, a couple meetings with the buildings management, and a security clearance, two months later I finally managed to meet with Balvir having only fifteen minutes to photograph him followed by a short interview. Balvir Shargill comes from the city Ludhiana located in the Punjab province of India. Using Balvir’s work supervisor as my translator, I asked Balvir when he was born, he responded by saying “…I don’t really know… I think I am sixty years old, but I am not too sure”. Balvir was a dairy farmer back in India raising cattle and growing a variety of crops. It turns out he has only been in Canada less than one year and has come here through a sponsorship his son has provided. Bringing his wife to Canada as well, the two of them live with Balvir’s son, cleaning part time while Balvir’s son teaches them both English where the couple plan to become permanent residents in the near future.

Balvir's portrait can be seen at the Art Gallery of Calgary (http://www.artgallerycalgary.org/) until December 14th, 2012.

 

Stranger Series: Tyler Lemermeyer the bicylce courier

When the Art Gallery of Calgary ( http://www.artgallerycalgary.org/ ) asked me to exhibit my stranger series, I was a little nervous due to the fact that I had only FOUR weeks to photograph EIGHT people. Now this does not seem like a massive responsibility but think of it like this. I had to find individuals who I thought represented Calgary today, they had to agree to let me photograph them,  I needed good light and weather, I need to interview each subject, photograph enough people where you have a large enough body of work to choose from and that works well together, the chosen photographs have to be framed and printed which takes another 10 days off of the time line just for production purposes, and sometimes you have to go back a second and third time because you were not happy with the first series of images. Tyler's Portrait unfortunately did not make it into the gallery exhibition, however I enjoyed the time spent with him and I look forward to photographing him more in the future. Here is Tyler's Story...

Tyler was born in 1984 growing up in the suburbs of Edmonton, Alberta. Tyler has always been interested in bikes from watching pro mountain bike riders at a very young age and noticing all the couriers in Edmonton's downtown core growing up. When Tyler moved to Calgary he attended art school at the  Alberta College of Art & Design (ACAD) majoring in Media Arts & Digital technologies program. After graduating, he wanted to pursue more opportunities in the arts and then attended the Vancouver film school. After graduating in 2008 he then returned to Calgary during the recession where he had a hard time finding work as a designer. So in the summer of 2009 his buddy got him an interview where he immediately landed a job as a bike courier.

Tyler earns his living where he is paid based on a per trip basis where he averages fifty trips per day in Calgary's downtown core. It turns out Tyler cycles between 40-70km per day depending on the amount of deliveries he does. When I asked Tyler how he copes in the winter months he says that is the most common question he gets asked and he responds by saying "It is no different than any other day. We dress warmer and the -30 days are the worst. You are only out on the bike for 3 hours a day, your moving so your core temperature is up, and the rest of the time your in and out of buildings, waiting in line, and processing your next order which is in a heated building".

It turns out Christmas is the best time of year for couriers because people are schmoozing, gifting, and sometimes sending a variety of packages including wine and cheese via bike courier. Now this is where couriers can charge for over sized items as well as fragile items. When I asked about winter bike tires he still uses regular slicks but Tyler is significantly more cautious during the winter months.

Tyler plans to pursue his artistic career selling his art and plans to become an illustrator. It's no shock because artistic talent runs in his family where his brother is a photographer, his father an architect, his sister a graphic designer, and his mom a hair dresser. His entire family are all creative individuals.

It was a pleasure and honor to meet this interesting and wonderful man.

Stay tuned for more as I plan to do another shoot with him very soon.