Canadian Imaging 2018 was a Success!

May 09, 2018


Yesterday evening I returned from Vancouver. It was a whirlwind weekend at the Canadian Imaging 2018 Conference hosted by the PPOC at the River Rock Casino. Kaylee Greer, Greg Blue, and Nikki Harrison were some of the speakers I was honoured to listen to! It was great to see my friends from across the country again!

I knew I would be presented with my Craftsman of Photographic Arts (CPA) designation at the gala - this was not a surprise. What was a surprise was seeing that my image, Rough Night on the Job was a finalist in the Best In Class - Editorial category. It also made the 2018 Loan Collection which is a collection of the top 40 photos from the 2018 National Salon. I was even MORE surprised when I won the award for Best in Class - Editorial. A nice bonus was receiving my Accreditation in Weddings as well. 

So in light of this exciting weekend, I thought I would share with you the making of Rough Night on the Job. 

My inspiration for this image was from one of the many Street Art Instagram accounts I follow. Although I myself have zero talent for it, I really love the colour, clarity, texture, and distortion that can be created by street artists. One such images was by Gum Shoe Art; which depicted a pair of legs donning Jimmy Choos and stepping in a big wad of bright pink bubble gum on the side of a building. This imagery reminded me of my early 20s when I would be walking to my vehicle after a waitressing shift at a seedy bar which is one of the jobs I had to pay my university tuition. I was a terrible waitress so most shifts were pretty rough nights, but something like stepping in a pothole, pile of snow, or gum with your already sore, high heel clad feet was just the first world problem that would really take the cake.

My unfinished basement which my husband has made into a rugged gym space would service as an indoor location where I could control light and not have to content with the wind and rain. This would provide the gritty setting I needed.

I required a massive wad of gum, and I certainly did not that enough time or muscular endurance in my jaw chew that much on my own. As I also have a career where I provide rehabilitation for hand injuries, I knew that the florescent pink Theraputty I provide to patients for physical rehab would be perfect. The oiliness of the Theraputty would also add interesting light dynamics and specular highlights. This oiliness also added a challenge; it would not stick to the bottom of the shoe. I ended up using double-sided tape on the bottom of the shoe to get the putty to stick to it.

I asked my model to bring black boots, but she also brought pink pumps she was planning to wear on a date after the photo shoot. After playing with the black boots as per my original vision, I felt that the result lacked the impact I desired. I asked her to try the pose with the pink heels she had brought. The colour harmony was improved with these heels. Unfortunately for my model, they did challenge her balance a little more as she had to stand on one foot as I very carefully positioned the Theraputty into a formation that I felt provided the desired look. The viscosity of the Theraputty is such that it does not stay in the same position for very long and gravity pulls it down into a viscous blob in a matter of seconds. I had to set it, grab my camera, quickly press the shutter, then go back to the putty to re-position. I found hand holding the camera was the best way to achieve this.

I spend a great deal of time placing the props so they would not distract from the main subject but still contribute to a story. Imagine my husband’s surprise when he walked into his basement gym and saw myself and a model with the contents of our garbage can and recycle bin spewed all over the floor. Luckily, he has learned by now not to ask questions. 

When designing my lighting, I wanted the quality to be harsh, and resemble the shadows and colour temperature one may see in a back alley with streetlights. I experimented with more fill for the shadows, but decided this looked more contrived than I desired. Eventually, I settled on a 4 foot rectangular softbox on a strobe roughly 3 feet off the ground and 4 feet away from the subject. High about the model and to the right, I had a speedlight without modifiers. 

I wanted a bit of a distorted image that would hopefully increase the 3D aspect. I used my Canon 7D and an old 18-55mm f 5.6 kit lens at 18mm at close range to my subject to achieve this. 

Inspired by the concrete and texture, I utilized Lightroom to adjust colour and density as well as increase clarity. I used Photoshop for some skin retouching, hue adjustment, and to remove some of the specular highlights in the glass bottles that I had not noticed in camera. I chose to add a heavy blue hue to the image as it offset the luminous pink of the Theraputty well while reminding me of moonlight. The end result appeared heavily contrived, however it reminded me of the original graffiti art I was attempting to play tribute to.

I was elated when my mentor told me this image could have potential to be accepted in a provincial salon as my original goal was just to enjoy a creative project that was outside my usual photography. The original name of the image was, “Sticky Situation,” however after entering it in the 2017 Alberta Provincial Salon I felt this title did not provide enough context to the vision I originally had especially for the Editorial class. I then titled it, “Rough Night on the Job,” knowing that this would evoke storytelling and impact in the viewer, while still being a throw back to own personal experience. 

I guess there are worse things to step in!


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