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Joey Restaurant Shoot

Posted on: January 29th, 2017 by gregvanriel No Comments


Last summer we did several shoots at Joey Restaurants in Ottawa and Toronto.  In this Behind The Scenes video we discuss how to step things up and achieve cool artistic shots.

Georgian Bay Islands Shoot

Posted on: July 18th, 2016 by gregvanriel No Comments


Jingkai and I did a cool shoot of 2 houses designed by William Grierson that are situated on some islands in Georgian Bay which is in Lake Huron, in Ontario, Canada.  In this video we thought it would be interesting to talk about each other and how we work together.  We also discuss some specific photography techniques such as staging and dealing with locations that have big differences in exposure from inside to outside.  Feel free to let me know what you think.

The Wizard Academy Photo Shoot

Posted on: April 22nd, 2015 by gregvanriel No Comments


Deep in the heart of Texas exists an enchanted place called The Wizard Academy.  Tucked away in the hills south of Austin, it is a place of transformation, renewal, and most importantly, where one can re-connect with their true essence.


I was invited to the Academy to attend a Photographers Round Table Discussion.  Led by Roy H. Williams we discussed some very interesting concepts about what goes into creating memorable images, paintings, and music.  Here are some images that demonstrate the concepts.  The first one is ANGLE:


The 2nd is FOCUS.  Drawing the eye to where you want the viewer to look:


Next Roy explained about Frameline Magnetism.  The idea of leaving something out allowing the viewer will fill in the rest with their imagination:


Portals are openings to another world.  A portal can be a window, a door, stairs going up or down.  It makes the viewer wonder what is beyond.  Here is an example of a PORTAL:


Color vs B&W.  Color represents reality.  B&W is symbolic.

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3rd Gravitational Pull.  This is when there is something in a picture that doesn't really belong but somehow still makes sense visually:


Subject matter is of course important.  How to make the subject matter as dynamic as possible.  In the shot below it feels like the statue is running:


Next we explored color as a statement.  Of course colors "pop" best at the sunrise or sunset:


Lighting as a statement.  In this shot I darkened the clouds to the left of the Wizard Academy logo and lightened up the sky in the right side.  Since there are dark and light moments in my life I felt this was an interesting exploration of that concept and perhaps coming to the Academy brought some light into my world.


Shape as a statement.  The idea here is that the eye will follow the line from the left of frame and continue down the path to an interesting but unknown place.


The last concept is Shadow as a Statement.  Let me know what you think of this shot:


I hope you enjoyed this post.  As you can see The Wizard Academy is a special place and I have a lot of other shots to share with you in future posts.

Vanity Fair Couch Shoot

Posted on: February 24th, 2015 by gregvanriel No Comments


I received a call recently from Caroline Grimont at Excel Fund Management to take some headshots.  She also wanted group shots for the cover of an industry magazine.


I went to their offices to do a scout and met with Excel CEO Bhim Asdhir.  The minute I met him I could see that he was easy going and has a great sense of humour. 

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Bhim explained working at Excel isn’t like Bay St, where a boss thinks nothing of asking people to work over the weekend on some “urgent” report that doesn’t get read for two weeks.  “I want people to look forward to coming to work here,” he said.

I took a look around a thought we could do some cool shots in their lobby.

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Michael Tenaglia, an amazing photographer and friend, came out to help me.  He suggested a Vanity Fair look.  We set up a couch in front of the company logo.


We put up 2 umbrellas with Speedlites in front of the couch and one behind to the left for the hair light.  Pretty simple.  Then we positioned everyone and I asked Bhim to lie down in front.  He was totally into it and it helped everyone loosen up as you can see here.

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I shot the 1st one in portrait so it would work for the magazine cover.  This next one is in landscape for their website. Bhim asked someone to tussle his hair and it got a good reaction.  I think we captured some good energy.

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In the lobby there is a glass partition with the map of the world on it.  The round dots indicate emerging markets.  I really liked the idea of shooting through the glass and also having some of the map in frame.

It was a delicate balance of getting the lighting right and positioning Bhim so we could see the company logo in the background.


Bhim liked the next one below.  We used 2 umbrellas in the back, a small softbox mounted on a speedlite on a stand to Bhim’s left and then Michael bounced some light from the right with a reflector.

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Since we had the green wall we used it as a background to shoot the individual head shots.  Green is the company color and convenient if they want to change the background.  Again 2 umbrellas and a hair light kept it simple and efficient.

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Next we did some group shots.  First the ladies.  This time we used the 2 umbrellas in front, a light dome placed on the reception desk behind them, and a Speedlite just out of frame on the right because the hallway was too dark.

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And then the men.  Same lighting set up.

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Then we did a more formal portrait of Bhim in his office.  It overlooks the airport so we thought it would be good to see out the window instead of blowing them out.  The trick of course is to expose for outside and then add enough juice from the strobes to get the right light on the subject. DSC_7777 small

Should have photoshopped in a plane landing…  Just kidding 🙂 

I hope you like this post  We sure had fun with everyone at Excel!

Feel free to comment above or re-post!

Heavy Metal Roofing Shoot

Posted on: November 30th, 2014 by gregvanriel 1 Comment


On this shoot for VICWEST I shot some of their cool metal roofing installations. It was in post production that these shots really came to life for me.  Specifically by cropping them.  As you can see here.

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Cropping a shot, sometimes even just slightly, can make all the difference.  These two below are a good example.

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In the second shot below you can pick up much more detail so it tells the story better.

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The next shot isn’t bad but the client wasn’t interested in seeing the shingle roof since it’s not  their product.  The focus is on the metal roof in the second shot.  


The pan cropping of the one below is quite effective.


It was a beautiful Fall day and the light was quite good so I couldn’t help taking some personal shots along the way. The tighter shot of the house with the silos in the background feels more dynamic.

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The next shot is a bit of a cliche countryside image.  But I think the cropped one takes it up a notch.  Also, notice that I added in a second plant in the foreground to mirror the silos in the distance.

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A somewhat banal country road image looks quite a bit more interesting after cropping.  Again the pan framing works well.

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But back to the assignment.  Here are some more roofing examples.


I quite like this “cottage” with the red metal roof.

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I hope you liked this post and how simple cropping helps to focus the viewer’s attention.  Feel free to leave a comment up at the top of the post.