Pre-Holidays Photography

Busy While Idle

Once again, for someone with nothing to do, aiming at "half-time" for my retirement photography business, I feel awfully busy. Overall: happy!

Since reporting last time about a concert-photo session, a number of things have happened, including but not limited to the following.

Nature Conservancy of Canada

I contributed a little to this organization (the "NCC") a year or so back as an-in memoriam to a deceased friend, so started getting email, and eventually I even read a few. There are a lot of opportunities for charity, but this intrigued me, and I sent them a little note asking if they might not want some occasional volunteer photography.

The NCC answered saying yes, how fortuitous, they were just about to embark upon a marketing campaign and some Eastern Ontario, Frontenac Arch work would be wonderful. In due course I spent a day traipsing through protected wilderness, some of it co-managed with Queen's University's Elbow Lake Environmental Education Centre (ELEEC), with an NCC staffer as guide and educator (really helpful, knowledgeable and enthusiastic), camera gear in tow.

My guide looks at the lands under her protection as ecosystems, not as art, so I gave her a new perspective. I look on them as art, not ecosystems, so she gave me a new perspective!

When I slipped and slid down a short rock-face, at minimal peril, she gasped and asked if I was all right. I held up my hand, and proudly proclaimed, "Yes! I protected my camera!"

What a day! The NCC later said it was thrilled with my work, and I was thrilled with the experience, so truly a win-win.

No one says that marketing photographs cannot be abstracts - this of course a reflection in a lake.

To see more from that shoot, check out the eponymously-named album in my Gallery.


I called up some friends about a planned lunch meeting. "I can't make it, but we can meet at Richard's Coffeehouse instead, and I can't tell you why." What had happened was that Sam, of Richard's, had called me and said he needed my services that afternoon. He said, "The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, is dropping by". The PM was campaigning with a local Liberal candidate, Mary Jean McFall, in a by-election. I thought that a good enough reason to change my plans.

I would have liked more notice, but probably so would have Sam!

Some friends have expressed surprise at my hitherto unannounced political affiliation, and I hasten to remind them that although I hold decided political views, I was there as a photographer. And he is our Prime Minister.

I got, by the way, my first press-pass. I might get it framed.

There were a variety of other press-photographers there, and I had found myself in a corner which might not have been the centre of the action, but at the last moment, somewhat spontaneously, and with no one behind me, I hopped up on a chair, and started snapping away. I got some results which pleased me.

The event did not last long. There were short speeches to the mostly-friendly audience, and he was gone - but not before doing a circuit of the room. Score!

A critical technical feature, as always, was lighting. I noted many of the other photographers with a bare flash on their camera. I aimed mine at the ceiling for a more even light, but put a FlashBender on it to divert a portion of the light back into the faces, "lifting the shadows" as we in photography call it. Simple, portable, effective, if not studio-quality. I would say that it served me well.

The baby's political affiliation could be listed as "undecided".

Ultimately, our Liberal candidate, Mary Jean McFall, did not get elected. It wasn't for lack of effort!

Portraits at Richard's Coffeehouse

Honestly, can I just say that we have a lot of great places to grab a coffee and some sustenance in Brockville? But Sam at Richard's and I have developed a friendship and a business-relationship, stemming initially from an exhibition of my work there last year.

And everybody does love the place. There is interesting baking and also a pleasing meal selection, and of course, great coffee.

Sam is always thinking. He asked me about doing free portraits one evening, and he had a specific time and date in mind, which involved some compromises, but basically: I wasn't doing anything else at that time!

In retrospect, I'm so glad that I said yes. It's all mileage, for one thing, and I really enjoyed the work, and the "models" were all great, and very enthusiastic.

Despite some marketing, it was a slow evening in the coffee shop. Anyone in retail will tell you: it happens. It's not entirely predictable or remediable.

But I would say that I photographed absolutely everyone who came into the place (including the staff) during the four hours we had allocated for this, except for two (and when those two said "no" they both meant no - Sam tried his considerable charm, but it wasn't going to happen). So: excellent response rate!

I set up a little mobile studio in a corner, so better than grab-photos (as with Trudeau-McFall) but not as good as a regular studio. Technicals: I used three lights, modified by one umbrella, one FlashBender, one flash gel (to colour the backdrop) and one reflector - not a first-day-on-job setup. The contribution from ambient light was negligible.

As of this writing, I have not heard back from all of the participants, and do not display photos without explicit permission, but am able to show some.

The man himself.

Murray the cook at Richard's Coffeehouse - what a great subject!

This young woman arrived after I had deconstructed the set, so I threw this lighting together very quickly - not quite as good. Fortunately, she has a background in photography and knew just how to pose!

That's not all.

On a road-trip into Southern Ontario, I dropped off some portrait-prints and an art-print, the latter being one of several I have sold recently as Christmas gifts.

Variations on this image remain one of my best-selling photographs.

I have some photos on display at Hang Ups Creative Framing (and art gallery) - all local scenes and ideal for last-minute seasonal gifts.

Hang Ups' Christmas Window

I continue on a regular basis to make fine-art photographs.

King St., Brockville - dark and wet

Feathery Winter Shrub - monochrome

I am preparing for an exhibition in roughly five weeks - more on that later! In the meantime, hold the date of Friday January 25th for the opening.

(I also lead a vibrant personal life, and my inner circle knows who they are, but it involves a lot of love and much photography - but that's for my own personal photo albums, not for here.)

While you're here:

Remember that I make photographs and that I sell photographs.

Almost everything which you see on this web site is for sale. Prices at the time of writing, for example, for an 11x14" fine-art print with a generous white border would start at about $50, and you can go up or down from there. Check the rates page. More importantly, check out my gallery.

Book a portrait-sitting - the right frequency with which to commission formal portraits is a bit more often.

Remember also to leave a comment, or to contact me. Note that on the main blog page you can sign up for new-blog notifications. I am very careful and respectful with your privacy.

Thank you so much for reading.

Charles T. Low


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