Friday, August 28, 2009


I've come to realize lately that photography blogs are not an easy creature. The most successful blogs out there are the ones that are on a specific theme/topic, where photography is a very broad topic. As I look through others blogs - photography blogs seem to fall into a narrow field.
  • A picture a day type blog - which I've done

  • An instructional blog (however I'm no expert in any one field)
  • An inspirational blog
  • A showcase of the latest jobs that they've photographed
I'm still not sure the full direction I hope to take with mine, but I think I'm going to be looking at a bit more of a mix of inspiration, thoughts and musings on the industry and some showcasing of recent works (however I'd like to keep that side of things to a minimum - client shoots are for clients, however the occasional sneak peek may come in)


Photography is all about vision, and it is our unique vision that sets us apart from one another. It is also our vision which lands us our jobs. But how do we develop our vision and our signature style? How will you know that this is a Mike Campbell?

This is a question asked by many. Many of us will shoot a lot as photographers, but most of that shooting will be intended for someone else. We change how we shoot based on what the client is looking for. But when all is said and done, you will be left with a body of work and portfolio that is indecisive and doesn't show a unique vision or style - it will be a collection of styles that others have wanted from you. This also exists when you look at graduates of photography schools, where people are taught different styles, lighting and subject matters - but their portfolio doesn't show themselves.

To grow as photographers and actually define our work as ours, we need to shoot for ourselves. I've heard too many photographers complain that they are too busy to do any other photography than their commissioned work. This excuse is unacceptable. In every other profession you are required to undergo continuing education of some degree to keep relevant, and the same is true of photography. We need to grab our cameras and go out there and shoot what we love, what we hate, our desired subjects and subjects that are new. We need to experiment with new techniques, either through lighting, composition or post processing. There are times where we must shoot with no purpose at all. We must do test shoots!!

A test shoot is just that, a test of something new. Something that will push our creative boundaries or to explore something new that is too risky to try on a paid shoot until you know the results you'll get. Please note that this is not a portfolio shoot. Do not be photographing with the intention of adding any of these images to your portfolio. Our portfolios are supposed to showcase what we can do as a photographer and be a concise collection of our visual style. We test to develop our style, but until we're proficient in it, a test is not our style.

I recently had the chance to do some experimentation with multiple large lights. I have played with them before, but here was a chance to test with some different 3 light setups and multiple light qualities. I was not shooting for portfolio images, in fact, little consideration was taken in creating interesting compositions. You'll even catch bits of equipment in the corners of the frames of a few of these. I do use some similar techniques in my daily photography, but this was an excuse to push it a bit further. You will also notice some use of different post processing techniques. Nothing has gone to photoshop, so this was an excuse to try a few different Lightroom techniques.

Friday, May 15, 2009


As photographers, and artists in general, we are always trying to develop our style. This is what sets our photographs apart from others. Many at the get go start by trying to define their style through different techniques, be it lighting or post processing. I've been noticing the more and more I shoot that a different style is emerging in my photographs and that is contrast. I tend to gravitate towards images that have high contrast. I will allow blacks to go to pure black. I think that what's not shown in an image can say as much or more than what is shown. I also came to realize this past weekend while speaking to some of the models at a video shoot I had the privilege of photographing that there is another type of contrast in my images. I like showing contrast between subject and location. Be it a beautiful model in front of a decrepit background or an object out of place, I try for a contrast within the image as well.

I will leave you with this - Images from that music video shoot...enjoy.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Shaking the Tree

Lately I've been feeling like I'm in a bit of a rut photographically. I'm working on changing that and getting back into gear with building a business out of it. This afternoon inspiration was found from Chase Jarvis. Reading one of his recent blog posts was just what I needed. Click here for the post.

I've decided to take on a few of the suggestions.

The first one being taking a picture where ever you were when you read that post and sharing it with the world.

The next suggestion will be a bit more involved and will involve renting some equipment, but I'm planning on some fun shots. It will involve shooting film, and I'm excited for that step back. I haven't shot film in awhile.
I've also done a bit of work to get back on track even before having read that post. I had the privilege of getting to photograph at the filming of a music video this past weekend. Along with that was the updating of my business cards. So hopefully getting back sorted out.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Fashion World

So part 2 of my musings on [FAT] and the fashion world in general.

I think that the fashon world will always be a world where I'll be an outsider looking in. Never one of those movers and shakers (if they really are that). There are some things about the fashion world that are not 'me' and I will never be able to accept.

Let's start though with my interest in the industry. Many people say that I always maintain a level of being well dressed. I keep an eye on the world and create my own ideas of what styles I like and then choose the aspects I like to dress myself in. But the question is why? Why not just wear stained jeans and a t-shirt all the time? My reason is that I dress myself based on my personality and to stand out slightly from the crowd. I'm not that loud boysterous person who's the life of the party. So I dress well to stand out in my own way. I still don't dress flashy to seek attention - I still dress to match myself.

My other interest in the fashion industry is this. I have always been interested in organizations that have been given power by the masses. This is included in the church, in governments, in fashion. These are areas where we, the masses give a select few the power to make our decisions. So here we are, we have created and supported an industry that is a multibillion dollar industry. We have agreed to outlandish prices and over the top styles and parties and lifes based on clothes. This industry is now the one that dictates what is 'beauty'.

This is where in the problem lies. The views that the industry promotes as beautiful quite often conflict with my views. Fashion is about flawlessness where I find beauty in our flaws and uniqueness. Weight and dress sizes become unobtainable dreams. Thin is viewed as beautiful - unhealthy thin though. It supports unhealthy habbits in both the general population and those that model within it. It also bothers me how this world encorages people to belive that they can get by in this world by looks alone. It creates a state where people feel an entitlement to the spoils of the world without the work and sacrifice. In the few dealings I've had with 'fashion models' it's become quite obvious that they're not concerned about creating beautiful images or showcasing the clothes or creating something creative. They are much more concerned with what they get out of it. Many are not willing to accept that they may have to pay from time to time, and that photographers quite often front a much larger amout of money for a personal shoot than the model could ever imagine. Not all are like this, but a good portion seem to have this attitude (in my experiences).

This is why I like asking real people to model for me. I like to capture the imperfections in someone and show them as beautiful. For them it's about creating fun and interesting pictures much more than it is about building a book so they can walk the runway. I also love the idea of showing someone themselves in a different light. Too many of us say that we hate how we look in a picture - but when someone is given the full fashion shoot experience, they will sometimes see the beauty in themselves that others see daily. Light someone well, give them direction infront of the camera (other than the night club "smile" type picture), show them an image that has had proper color correction and post processing and now they see themselves differently. We rarely get the photo shoot experience after our high school grad photos have been taken, so this is a time to have fun infront of the camera in this environment.

So where does that leave me after all of this rambling? Why fashion? I enjoy shooting the fashion images because it's a field where you can be creative, where you can be outside the box in the creation of your images. For me it's about creating a beautiful image. I think I want to be telling stories in my photographs. I think I want to be shooting commercial advertising photography. So fashion is a door in - I hope. But I believe that I will always be an outsider looking in on the industry.

Thursday, April 23, 2009


Just a quick post tonight...
[FAT] alternative fashion week is now in town. Now in it's 4th year, I'm finding that the show that is all about inclusion is now starting to become much more mainstream. It's developed an atmosphere of having to be someone to get the best seats and to get noticed. It's loosing it's alternative edge that it had just a year ago.

I will elaborate on this more in the next few days...

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Catching Up

I apologize - It's been almost 2 months since my last posting here. I have fallen behind in both my reading and posting. It's time now to catch up.
In the past 2 months I've been working to pick up the camera more often. I've managed a few fashion shoots in the last few weeks...

A set for a friend who is hoping to walk the runway at [FAT] this spring...

Others for someone missing a friend fighting overseas...

I've also been re-falling in love with Toronto. I didn't grow up in the city, but when I came here from school I fell for the city and never left. Every winter I tend to go into hiding, traveling through the city's undergrounds to avoid the harshness of winter. It's been in the last few months that I've slowly been sneaking out of underground hiding and re-exploring the city I live in. It's nice to be able to venture out again and find new restaurants and interesting alleyways. I have a fascination with cities. I love the hidden nooks, the pace, the pulse of a city. They have a power and energy all their own. Each one distinct, but each one invigorating. I look forward to this summer...plans to explore more cities ;)

Some recent exploring...

I've also been noticing that my buying habits at the book store are changing. I realize that I'm looking more and more at the photography greats books. Buying the Vanity Fair Portraits, or Richard Avedon's Performance. I don't know if it's a growth in my photography, or a change in my desired subjects. With that - I will close things with this:

We all perform.
It's what we do for each other all the time,
deliberately or unintentionally.
It's a way of telling about ourselves
in the hope of being recognized
as what we'd like to be
- RA

- more soon - less wait...