Saturday, 24 December 2011

The Holy “C” word: Crèche.

A Crèche is not a cookie and has nothing to do with cherries. That’s "Kirsch" a German cherry liquor.

A Crèche is a Nativity Scene that is meant to depict the birth of Jesus. Just like in the Little Drummer Boy cartoon by Rankin/Bass.

As a kid, I would play with these figures for hours in their wooden manger underneath my parent’s Christmas tree. There was the usual gang: Jesus, Mary, Joseph, a shepherd and the Three Wisemen. Occasionally, arguments would break out amongst the Wisemen regarding who should stand closest to Mary (obviously) or who was to blame for the shepherd’s sheep straying too far. I fondly remember the feel of the cotton baton that was the snow on the roof of the manger and the delicate clinking sound the figures made if they got too close to one another, usually Mary.

In the very same holiday spirit, I wish you a Merry Christmas, abundant with joy and Kirsch.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Famous Creatives Amongst Us: Alan Lukatela

In this fourth instalment of FAMOUS CREATIVES AMONGST US we meet Alan Lukatela.
Alan Lukatela is an Art Director at COSSETTE.


I photographed him on the north west corner of Spadina and Wellington just steps from ROOSTER in Toronto. A delightful man named Ahmed was walking along on that rather frosty day when upon learning that Alan Lukatela was a FAMOUS CREATIVES AMONGST HIM he became decidedly drawn to be photographed with Alan Lukatela.

The delightful man named Ahmed shook Alan Lukatela's hand. The delightful man named Ahmed looked at Alan Lukatela's face with admiration. When it was over, overwhelmed, like so many others before him, Ahmed left briskly. The moment seemed just too much for him to digest all at once.

But what an admiring look he gave!
What a handsome handshake they shared!
May the meaningful gestures and looks continue!

Who will be the next FAMOUS CREATIVE AMONGST US?

Exhilarated by the exchange, Alan Lukatela quickly demonstrated his prowess for hanging off things. 
I now ask myself, "What can't Alan Lukatela hang off?"

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Home is Where the Pigeons Aren't.

This is my parents’ house in Welland, Ontario.
They built it from scratch.
Although there have been some renovations throughout the 
years some things have never changed:

This box used for holding potatoes is on a ledge as you walk downstairs.

This is one out of a 100+ Bolo ties that my very sweet Aunt Stephie's husband made. Aunt Stephie is not really my Aunt. We called all adults Uncles or Aunts when I was a kid. She is sweet though.
This doorknob is 54 years old.

This phone doesn't work as the battery last for only 49 seconds. When I asked my Dad why he doesn’t throw it out he replied,

“Why? It works if you only say important things quickly!" 
This is an ashtray that has always been here although no one smokes anymore.

These plastics flowers are in the room my mother calls the "Florida Room." My dad calls it the "glorified porch."A room that's too hot in the summer and freezing in the winter although it is a good place to store Walnut Kolache.

This is a plastic owl that hangs outside to keep pigeons away.

I have never seen a Welland Pigeon but, if they exist, they will not be roosting around my parent's house in Welland.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

The Truth about Turkeys: TTS (tetanic torticollar spasms) or just not so smart?

I photographed a turkey once for a Canada Post 35¢ stamp.
The turkey, who was named Tom, was very uncooperative. During a break in the shoot
the farmer accompanying Tom related a Tall Turkey Tale to me.

"You know Tom (Tom Feiler), if you leave a turkey outside in the rain the turkey will stare up to the sky and open it's mouth and stay frozen in that position. As if hypnotized. It will leave it's mouth open until it drowns."

"Hmm..", I thought.
The shoot continued and I got the shot along with some turkey poo on the studio floor but the question remained:

So why do turkeys sometimes stare skyward? 

Tom Savage, a professor of animal science at Oregon State University, says that the root of this behaviour is not stupidity, but genes. In the early 1990s, he discovered an inherited condition in turkeys, called tetanic torticollar spasms. This condition can cause turkeys to exhibit abnormal behaviours, such as looking at the sky for 30 seconds or more at a time.

Not Tom the Turkey.

So the debate remains: genetic defects as a result of TTS or just plain dumb?
All I know is that Turkeys do not like being photographed and they get nervous. In a bad way.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

My Great Grandfather’s Moustache and Drying Noodles.

The month that people focus their attention on mens’ prostates.
There are a lot of moustaches out there and every time I see one 
I can almost smell drying noodles.


In my Grandma’s house, the upstairs bedrooms were used as places not to sleep. But dry noodles. When I was about 7 years old, I remember climbing up the stairs and entering one of these rooms. Noodles were splayed out all over the bedspread, and on a dresser where there was a framed photograph. I can still remember picking up the frame and staring at the people in the photograph. Especially the solitary moustached man.

I don’t know how long I was upstairs in that room when my Grandma (Mary Curko) walked in and began pointing at the picture.

"Tommy this is my mother. My sisters. My father. And your Great Grandfather. He loved his moustache." 
She paused for a second and then said,

                    "Tommy. It is time for soup.” 

She turned and walked out of the room. I carefully put the frame down, followed her down the stairs and had soup. She made good soup. 

Years have passed and I haven't thought about that photograph until I was asked to shoot this series for Bensimon ByrneThe smell of noodles was in the air that day.

Happy Movember Great Grandfather.

Creative Directors: David RosenbergHayes SteinbergChris Harrison
Art Director: Chris Harrison
Copywriter: Hayes Steinberg

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Famous Creative Dogs Amongst Us: Bill Mastiff

In this the second instalment of FAMOUS CREATIVE DOGS AMONGST US we meet

Bill Mastiff (Davies).

Bill Mastiff, or Bill, as he prefers to be know as, is a FAMOUS CREATIVE DOGS AMONGST US!

I photographed Bill in front of The Hive located approximately at 507 King St E, Unit 16
Toronto, Ontario
Canada, M5A1M3.

According to owner Klint Davies, Bill is a polite, non-biting, quiet dog who loves to be spooned.

"... He does let you spoon him."

Klint Davies

Guilty pleasures for Bill Mastiff include gaze longingly into his friends' eyes and mud eating (Pica or Geophagy).
Klint Davies explains:
"... Bill used to chomp on poo and mud a lot. Thankfully, he kicked the poo part of that gross habit. However, he still loves a good pile of mud though. " Klint Davies

Who doesn't love a good puddle of mud now and then?

Is it their time to be recognized as a FAMOUS CREATIVE DOGS AMONGST US ?

Bill Mastiff asks, "What's all the fuss about?"

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Famous Creative Dogs Amongst Us.

In this the first installment of FAMOUS CREATIVE DOGS AMONGST US 
we meet Ludwig Von Beagle (Spivak).
I photographed Ludwig on the southwest corner of Ossington and Argyle Street in Toronto.

According to owner Michelle Spivak, Ludwig Von Beagle is an affectionate yet equitable beagle.

"...when we call him up on the couch and he won't choose who to lean on or sit with, but instead positions himself exactly half on me and half on Jonah - just so he can have a bit of both of us. And then he'll stay there even if we move around, until we actually have to force him back down to the floor. All he wants to do is cuddle with his pack." 

Michelle Spivak

Guilty pleasures for Ludwig Von Beagle include unsolicited belly rubs and sneaking cat poop into his mouth whenever he can. Apparently this behaviour (coprophaegia) is quite normal. Zebras do it too.


Tuesday, 1 November 2011

The Classic Farrah Fawcett Red Bathing Suit Poster.

My friend Dennis Lefebvre had the classic Farrah Fawcett red bathing suit poster in High School.

He had it in his locker for about two weeks and many of us came by his locker during that time to see the cultural icon.
Our research into the newly discovered artifact lasted until Father LeBlanc our school principal caught sight of it and 
the classic Farrah Fawcett red bathing suit poster disappeared into the office never to be seen 
by any of us again.
This was devastating to us having had only two weeks of research time. 
We all felt deflated in this unexpected stoppage in our studies.

I hadn’t really thought about Farrah Fawcett or that poster for years until recently I was at the Aberfoyle Antique Market strolling amongst the vendors shooting porcelain figurine  after figurine when I stumbled upon 
a Farrah Fawcett trading card.

I didn’t know Farrah Fawcett cards even existed.
I don’t think Dennis Lefebvre did either .
For if he did  I'm sure he would have bought the classic Farrah Fawcett red bathing suit poster and trading card.

Just in case.

For purely cultural and anthropological research.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Famous Creatives Amongst Us: Michael Tung

In this third instalment of FAMOUS CREATIVES AMONGST US we meet Michael Tung.
Michael Tung works at SAATCHI & SAATCHI.

I photographed him on the north west corner of Yonge and Bloor near the entrance to The Bay
in Toronto.
A lovely woman apparently named "I Can't Say" was walking along when, upon learning that Michael Tung was a FAMOUS CREATIVE AMONGST HER, became coercively compelled 
to be photographed with Michael Tung.

The lovely woman named "I Can't Say" stood close to Michael Tung!
The lovely woman named "I Can't Say" held Michael Tung's hand for approximately seven seconds!
Overwhelmed, she left briskly the moment being far too much for her to digest all at once 
but what bravery!

Bravo indeed! 

May the meaningful gestures continue!

Who will be the next FAMOUS CREATIVES AMONGST US revealed? 

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Famous Creatives Amongst Us: Niall Kelly

In this second installment of FAMOUS CREATIVES AMONGST US we meet Niall Kelly.
Niall Kelly works at TAXI.

I photographed him on the southwest corner of Wellington and Portland near 
Victoria Memorial Park in Toronto.
A lovely woman named Jen was walking her dog when upon learning that Niall Kelly 
was a FAMOUS CREATIVE AMONGST HER was instantly, shyly compelled 
to be photographed with Niall Kelly.

Jen and her dog Molly stood close to Niall Kelly!
Occasionally Jen made eye contact with Niall Kelly! 
Jen even gave Niall Kelly permission to pick up and hold Molly!

Molly was thrilled and gave Niall Kelly an undocumented kiss (a meaningful gesture certainly).

May the meaningful gestures continue!

Who will be the next FAMOUS CREATIVES AMONGST US revealed? 

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Famous creatives amongst us: a series of revealing portraits.


See, there was nothing to fear at all!
However you might even pass a FAMOUS CREATIVES AMONGST YOU  walking down the street and yet wouldn’t know it.
It doesn’t seem right does it? 
It is time the world knew and embraced these FAMOUS CREATIVES AMONGST US  (for they are embraceable!) 
But if full body embracement is too much for some, perhaps a small yet meaningful gesture
such as holding hands, standing somewhat close to them or even gazing at them meaningfully would suffice.

If even these quaint gestures are too much you could approach one of the FAMOUS CREATIVES AMONGST US and say,


Is that too much to ask?

Case Study 1: David Tupper

David Tupper works at Y&R (Young & Rubicam).
I photographed him on the northwest corner of Yonge and Bloor in Toronto.
The two lovely ladies, upon learning that David Tupper was a FAMOUS CREATIVES AMONGST US were instantly, powerfully compelled to be photographed with David Tupper.

Dolly, the brunette who was missing her two front bottom teeth, even gave David Tupper a familiar squeeze and back caress!

May the meaningful gestures continue!

I invite other FAMOUS CREATIVES AMONGST US to reach out to me and let your face be known to the world, nay to the World Wide Web!

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Who are amongst us?

They are all around us.
Here and there.
Amongst us. 
Often obscured in our every day lives.

What are these creatures I'm talking about? Stay tuned for my next series.

Keep your eyes peeled or at least open!

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

I slept in Annie Liebovitz's bed.

While traveling in Portugal, a number of years ago, I checked in to a Pousada, Portugal’s version of a quaint B&B. Exhausted from a long, crowded flight, I flopped myself onto the bed and happened upon the room’s guest book.

Opening it, my eyes locked onto the last 2 signatures on the page:


“Annie Liebovitz and Susan Sontag had just stayed in my room! In this bed!" I thought to myself.
Before allowing myself to look up and read their entry, I thought of all the meaningful things they could have possibly written.

"The camera makes everyone a tourist in other people's reality, and eventually in one's own."


"A thing that you see in my pictures is that I was not afraid to fall in love with these people."


And then I read the thoughts that these two intellectual giants had left in the room's guest book...

“What a beautiful room. And wonderful people.”


Not exactly the moment of enlightenment I was expecting to receive but I suppose that even these two photographic monoliths are entitled to like a comfy room too. But as the years have passed, Annie and I have crossed paths again as I have had the honour of being accepted in this year's very prestigious American Photography, for the following series.

Past winners include: Mary Ellen Mark, Edward Burtynsky, and of course, Annie Liebovitz. Which is what made me recall our Pousada interlude. And no one can prove that I rubbed this camera all over those sheets for luck. No one!

Camera that was on the same sheets as Annie and Susan.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

The Man Behind the Tire

Lately it seems, a week doesn't go by before Canadian Tire is back in the headlines.

But who isn't a little curious about Canadian Tire? It's in our Canadian DNA.

At least it's in mine. Growing up in Welland, ON, my brother and I both worked there. My brother's true ambition however was to be a Gas Jockey. He thought the ladies would be enamored with a man who knew his way around the pump. Nowadays, who would know that feeling better than Canadian Tire CEO, Stephen Wetmore.

When I shot him for this month's Report on Business magazine, I had to know:

Who is the man behind the Tire?

ROB: How to Fix Canadian Tire

Unfortunately, I can't say he imparted much on me personally. But I do think some of these shots say more about the man than I'll ever really know.

One thing does remain clear. With all the self-service stations around town, we all have become Gas Jockeys now. Haven't we dear brother, haven't we?