The collodion – or wet plate – process was developed in the 1850s and was a popular yet somewhat inconvenient way for photographers to produce portraits. This form of photography required the photographic material to be coated, sensitized, exposed and developed within the span of about fifteen minutes and this inconvenience was probably one of the reasons that the process was largely replaced by dry gelatine emulsion in the 1880’s. Nowadays the look originally achieved by this process can be replicated by skilled photographers using a digital darkroom.
At the end of August we shot a number of performers over the course of one afternoon. The photos were lit to help create the wet plate ‘look’ that would be further enhanced in the digital darkroom. Circus is an age old form of entertainment and the performers that we shot are some of the best in the world… they are the type that, in a different century, might’ve made their living travelling the world entertaining people young and old.
This is the way that we envisioned their ‘promo’ posters might’ve looked back then, developed using the collodion process.
Let us just say right from the start that working with NBA star Tristan Thompson and his family – mother Andrea and youngest brother Amari – was a complete pleasure. Recently Tristan launched the Amari Thompson fund in partnership with Epilepsy Toronto to provide support to those in our community who aren’t fortunate enough to have the advantages that Tristan’s family does in terms of financial support and the access to medication and services that they might find they need to not only live, but to live their fullest life while managing epilepsy. You can learn more about Tristan’s initiative here and watch his video here:
We came away from the shoot that we did with the Thompsons with a very real admiration for not only Tristan – who immediately upon finding himself able to give back, did just that – but for his mother Andrea, who is clearly very much responsible for the huge heart and the strong character rooted in Tristan.
Amari has been through a lot in his young life. He is one of the 1 in 100 in our community who live with Epilepsy every day. With the generosity of those who have already contributed to the fund in its first week – and those of you considering making a donation soon – it is a very real possibility that all the OTHER ‘1 in 100’s in our community will have the opportunity to access services they need regardless of their circumstances. That’s a pretty awesome possibility.
As you may know, each year we cover the ScotiaBank BuskerFest in Support of Epilepsy Toronto. This year the festival moved to the Downtown Yonge neighbourhood and spanned the area from Queen St. to College/Carlton. Above you will find scenes from the festival and some of the talented performers who provided Toronto with four days of world class street performance.
In its new home on Yonge Street the festival drew enough people (over 2 million) be be officially recognized as the world’s biggest busker street festival. That’s no small accomplishment, and all of the dedicated and talented people that we’ve had the pleasure of working with on and off the pitch over the past 10 years (this is the festival’s 14th year) have all had a part in making it the biggest, and – we think – the best street festival in the world. Congratulations BuskerFest!
To those performers (and readers of this blog) who asked us about the staged portraits we usually do, we apologize but weren’t able to do them this year… we hadn’t realized that they were quite so popular, so maybe we will arrange something different next year. Who knows…?
For now, enjoy reliving the fun of the festival’s best moments – above.
One of the things we seem to have become known for – and in fact Mark has inadvertently become quite an expert in – is fire photography. It takes a specific understanding of lighting and fire, not to mention very precise timing to capture fire the way he does. When we covered Toronto Buskerfest at the end of August we were reintroduced to Pyromancer (David Bolee), one of the world’s best fire breathers and a fantastic performer. He wanted some new promo to showcase the funnier/whackier side of his fire show and so we collaborated to come up with some ideas on how to bring this side of him to light.
We don’t want to toot our own… oh, never mind… but we think we managed to bring out a bit of that fun in the photos above… what do you think?? 🙂
David Boelee, also known as Pyromancer, is a master pyrotechnician – he is one of the best firebreathers in the world and we were lucky enough to work with him last week on a series of photos for some of his new promotional material. David puts on an incredible show and can adapt his feats with fire to a variety of show styles – but first, to keep things safe, he must train his fire to behave.
Above, an example of how we imagine he might do that.
The winners of this year’s People’s Choice Award at the ScotiaBank BuskerFest in Support of Epilepsy Toronto was Dream State Circus – the multitalented duo made up of Sophie and Jacob McGrath. We have shot several of Dream State Circus’ performances in past years – they were also People’s Choice Award winners in 2009 – and this year when they approached us to do a full on promo shoot for them in the week following the festival we jumped at the opportunity.
Apart from being a world renowned acrobalance, fire juggling, and highly synchronized circus act Sophie and Jacob are really wonderfully fun and honest people, they are very open minded and our shoot was a complete collaboration of creative ideas – the best kind of situation that we can hope for when shooting promo. We shot using a few different locations and were enjoying ourselves so much that it seemed the time just flew by (well, it flew by for US – we’re not sure about Sophie and Jacob who were responsible for doing all the acrobatics required and still had to make the trip to Niagara that night in preparation for another festival that weekend)!
At the end of the afternoon we felt we’d created some material worthy of these power performers – a couple of samples can be seen above.
We also should take a minute to thank Julie Pilkington and the staff at the Novotel Toronto Centre. We are becoming known for our fire photography and as I’ve mentioned before, when we shoot fire the fire is real – there is no photoshopping or post production to make it bigger, brighter, or more ‘fiery’ – it comes out of the camera just as you see it in the photos and Dream State Circus does BIG fire. With our assurance that all of the necessary precautions and safety measures were in place (Dream State is also very safety conscious) Julie allowed us a perfect location to shoot uninterrupted, so again – our thanks to Julie and of course to Sophie and Jacob of Dream State Circus. We had such a lot of fun.
One of the most popular performance duos at ScotiaBank BuskerFest this year was 2 on 1, made up of Peter Rabbit an established drummer and all around entertainer (who we last shot in 2005) and Snap Boogie (aka Cjaiilon Andrade) a blindingly talented dancer who some might have recognized as a semi-finalist from Season 6 of America’s Got Talent. As 2 on 1, Peter drums on buckets demonstrating his incredible skill in percussion while Snap Boogie displays his talent and passion for dance in a routine that ends with him front flipping over a line of audience members – inevitably to wild applause.
While this duo puts on an energetic and masterful show for the audience, a part of their obvious fan appeal is in the way that they approach everyone who has come to see them perform. Peter Rabbit and Snap Boogie are two very open, friendly, and accommodating professionals and we can tell you first hand they are a real pleasure – and a lot of fun – to work with.
We grabbed each of them individually for a series of portraits in an alley on the grounds of BuskerFest – as you can see we also grabbed a few helpful chefs who came during a break from a nearby restaurant to see what we were up to and ended up standing in for some lighting tests. Both Peter and Snap collaborated fully with us bringing their own ideas, and though their schedules were busy and they had been performing all day they gave us as much time as we needed to bring the ideas to life.
Above a portrait of each.
After seeing the proofs Snap mentioned that he’d like to work with us again because we made him look ‘ripped’ and ‘sexy’… but that’s no trick. The talent, charisma, the positive attitude through adversity that he shares with Peter, and of course – the 8 pack abs – are very real, and combine to assure us that this young performer has a serious future.
And we would never turn down the opportunity to play a part in promoting it.
Above, the final set of portraits from the greenroom of the ScotiaBank BuskerFest in Support of Epilepsy Toronto. We would once again like to thank everyone who stood in front of our camera, allowing to create a collective picture of all those who are so important in making this festival the success that it is.
Next week we will post some of the portraits that we took outside of the greenroom as well as some photos from a private shoot that we did with the festival’s People’s Choice Award winners, Dream State Circus earlier this week.