Shedding light on the subject

Artist Profile: Joe Silva


Friend and well established Music Composer/Producer Joe Silva was featured in this month’s DJ Mag Canada (Page 32). Joe runs record label Purespace Recordings, under which he also scores music for movies, TV and radio - this, in addition to pursuing his personal projects, continually expanding his repertoire, as well as remixing other artists' work in the electronic music genre.

We’ve collaborated with Joe in some of our recent videos, including the BTS Richlu Reel as well as the very recent BTS ANNA reel. Joe’s involvement in the film scoring industry really shows in his ability to match the music to mood and timing of the moving picture. Although we used original recordings to set timing and direction, assets were handed back to Joe for fine-tuning the mix for the final cut.

If you need original score for your next video project, Joe Silva is your man.


Purespace Recordings

Comment on article

Adobe, Please Bring Creative Cloud Down to the Ground


After some deliberation, protest and inevitable temptation, I finally bit the bullet, spent a whopping $30 (promotional offer for registered Adobe software owners) for the first month of use of just about every software suite Adobe offers. After a few weeks of fun trying out new software, I’ve decided that Adobe needs to offer another option to dedicated, working pros.

Being in the stills profession, I didn’t realize just how much kit was available in other disciplines, until I saw the full list. Fifty four (54) applications in the “Trial” list alone. If you attempt to use all the software, or realistically, even just a few apps, the $30/month is a no-brainer. Even at the regular $50/month to new customers, this is a fantastic deal. However, as a current owner of various photo-centric apps such as Photoshop CS6 and Lightroom 5, I prefer to have full ownership of these tools, without the need for constant verifications connectivity to the web. Here’s why.

Photoshop and Lightroom have become a part of my camera bag tool kit (I literally carry disks around in a camera bag along with an OSX rescue disk etc). Few years ago I ended up on assignment far from civilization, on the shores of Hudsons Bay, photographing a Polar Bear Tour. The only access to the camp was by a special charter flight (a bush plane, really) and the only access to the internet, was the host’s slow and very expensive satellite connection. On day 3, and a few thousand photos later, my laptop’s program disk became corrupt, requiring a fresh install of the operating system and all the necessary apps to continue the shoot. Quietly, without drawing too much attention to my little chrysis, I was able to reinstall OSX, Photoshop, and was back up and running within a few hours.

With a Creative Cloud subscription, what would have been the solution to this crysis? Old Photoshop disks? Possibly. But with constantly updating operating systems and compatibility issues with aging software, this will become a major problem on future assignments. I currently own Photoshop CS6 and I’ll hang onto it for the foreseeable future, but I certainly hope Adobe offers a non-cloud solution to these pivotal products soon.

If you have knowledge on this, I’d love to hear it! Please share in the comments below!


Comment on article

Taking Food Photography to the The Next Dimension

Happy belated 2014.

I've spent most of it so far in the edit suite, cutting video footage from a few projects we shot in 2013. I'm not new to this motion picture thing, as I've shot and edited video in the past, but everytime I sit down to tackle a new edit I am reminded how much more involved the discipline is compared to editing stills.

Don't get me wrong, I love shooting video. Video takes photography into a whole new dimension, (literally, it's the dimension of time). But that's also the problem. Where it took 4-5 hours to edit, present, then colour correct, retouch and deliver still images from the shoot, the BTS video that follows took 4-5 days to edit, cut, and grade, not counting the late nights and self-induced creative direction changes.

One can argue that I can do it for the love of it, but I also love an efficient workflow, something that also comes with the passage of time.


Let's eat.


Food Photography: ANNA Magazine Production Reel. from Jerry Grajewski on Vimeo.

Comment on article

In the Press: Salisbury House Advertorial.

In April of 2012, I was interviewed by one of my culinary clients, Salisbury House, for an advertorial piece that ran in The Winnipeg Free Press, and The Winnipeg Sun. Being a bit media-shy (yes, believe it) I was surprised at how Duncan Owen, Marketing and Communications Manager for Salisbury House, was able to sucsessfully pry more than just "yes" and "no" answers from me during the interview.

Here it is, as published:

Often when our guests are in a Sals restaurant they linger over the many historic photos that decorate the walls of our restaurants. They are the history of Winnipeg, the history of Sals and more importantly, the photos are also their history.

Today’s events are tomorrow’s history so when Sals wanted to capture images - the essence - of a restaurant that had played host to so many musicians, writers and artists, amongst others, over the years, it seemed only fitting to turn to an artist in his own right, photographer Jerry Grajewski.

A well-known Winnipeg photographer, Jerry is the son of an architect mother and an engineer father and says photography is the perfect blend of the two disciplines. “Photography is more about problem solving. The creative aspect is the underlying core, but you have to pull from various disciplines - physics, light, the equipment. I enjoy the problem solving aspects of the job.” Anyone who has worked with him can attest to his attention to detail and the thorough way he approaches concepts and ideas.
Jerry has been shooting photos professionally for 15 years. “My main focus has been commercial photography - ad campaigns and product photography,” he says. For the last decade much of Jerry’s work has involved food, shooting for culinary and hospitality magazines as well as for restaurant and hotels – including Sals.

It was his skill photographing food that Sals first got to know Jerry. When we needed to bring our food to life for our menus, he was brought in. And it is a job he still relishes - since he gets to sample his subjects.

As a Winnipeg restaurant chain that has spanned more than 8 decades Sals knows the importance of capturing our present, Winnipeg’s present, to be able to present a visual story of today to future guests. So that one day in the not to distant future you too can look back, point and say, “I remember that photo. I was there."

Duncan Owen

Comment on article

QUICK TAKES: David Richert

This is David Richert, a home-grown professional race car driver in pursuit of greatness. The obvious omission from these shots, is the lack of  a car  - an editorial touch that helps  illustrate David's story. Get caught up on the details on the magazine's website and keep up with David's progress on his Facebook page


Comment on article

An Honest Day's Work: Dr. Seps Pin-Up Shoot

Here's a behind the scenes look at a recent shoot for a brilliant ad campaign by Honest Agency, representing Dr. Sheps Hair Transplant Clinic. For this series, we went back in time to to let the target demographic know, that just as we can bring back the nostalgic pin-up fashions from the past, Dr. Sheps can do the same for your hair (methods will vary). Complete with QR codes, bikini models and bleary-eyed/over-worked photographer (that's me), enjoy this BTS reel, curtesy of At First Sight 


Comment on article

RETRO FOTO: Darkroom Nostalgia

The Signature Awards are here again, which means a short trip down memory lane for those who are entering. In reviewing my work from 2010, I stumbled across a Signature Awards call for entries from way back—a piece I had shot for the 1998 event.

Upon this discovery, I was immediately struck by the contrast between the sheer amount of work required to achieve certain aesthetic results a decade ago versus what can be attained digitally today in fraction of the time. The five images below were produced entirely in the darkroom, and the process for all five, from first print to end print, took over 12 hours.

At the time that these images were produced, the photographic industry had reached the peak of what was possible by analogue means of photo-chemical image reproduction. Aside from the introduction of colour, the process of darkroom printing has remained largely the same: a negative was exposed, developed, placed in a condensing or diffusing enlarger, backlit, filtered onto a sheet of photosensitive paper and processed through various chemical baths. The final print was analyzed for technical and subjective issues, the process was repeated again and again, until a satisfactory result was attained. And while the quality of materials and the technology to reproduce images vastly improved, photographers and ex-darkroom technicians (such as myself) spent their free time mudding up this process to achieve unique and stylized results.

There were many techniques one could exploit, such as "pushing" or "pulling" film as it was being developed, boiling then freezing the film in between chemical baths, sandwiching multiple negatives together during printing, Polaroid transfers and my personal favourite—the print-to-print process, or using paper prints as negatives.

The images below are the result of the print-to-print process. They are unique not only in the increased saturation and contrast, but also in the fact that the actual paper fibre pattern from the paper negative was exposed right onto the end print—the over-all result lending the photo a painterly effect.

Part of the fun in working with this technique was the randomness of the final result. A minor adjustment anywhere in the process could change things radically in the final. Unfortunately, that same randomness often spiked the already high production costs and worked against its adoption as a regular service to advertising clients.



Original concept and design by Fusion

Comment on article

SHOOTING STARS: Israel Idonije



For the latest issue of Winnipeg Men, we managed to intercept the Chicago Bears Defensive Tackle, Israel Idonije. Izzy was in town in support of the Israel Idonije Foundation, visiting various inner city schools.

The man stands tall at 6'6" and weighs in at almost 300lbs, and while on the field he intimidates the opposition, in person, his charm and charisma precede him - while setting up for the shoot, we could hear cheers resonating through the empty halls, as Izzy delighted a full assembly of school kids. In between classroom visits, Izzy took a five minute time-out, giving us the opportunity to capture the cover shot below.

Read the full story at the Winnipeg Men website.


Comment on article

An Honest Day's Work: Richlu Catalogue Production Reel

If you work outside in the middle of a Canadian winter, you better be dressed for it. Professionally, I prefer head to toe Richlu gear.  To prove this we documented the behind-the scenes photo shoot for 2011 Richlu Manufacturing Catalogue, where the models and production team were bundled up tight against the hazards of the job.

Production credits include Honest Agency for concept and design and Bill Acheson for video production, credits & editing and Purespace Recordings for the music score.



Comment on article

Artist Profile: Gerald Kuehl - Portraits of the North

For the past few years, local artist Gerald Kuehl has been dropping by the studio every six months or so to digitally document his incredible portraits for archive and reproduction. The portraits Gerald produces are jaw-dropping, realistic pencil drawings of members of Canada’s northern Aboriginal community and are part of an ongoing personal project named Portraits of the North.

The project began in 1997 and has since garnered international recognition, won awards and has taken Gerald on a journey of a lifetime. Travelling to northern communities regularly, he has accumulated a large body of work, not only in the portraits themselves, but the stories of those who are posing for them. He says, “I was fascinated by the stories of the individuals I met who had endured so much in their struggle to survive in the harsh northern environment. Those stories were often etched on the faces of these proud people through the lines and scars and even affected the expressions they wore.”

I recently heard Gerald’s presentation on the project at The Winnipeg Art Gallery, and found it incredibly inspiring in both sight and sound. If you’re a book publisher, jump on this. The body of work and documentation attached to each piece is soon to be one of Canada’s national treasures.

Get inspired for yourself at


©Gerald Kuehl 2011 

Comment on article

I Heart New York

In December I celebrated a milestone: my first trip to NYC. A Mamiya AFD with an old PorBack in hand, I happily lugged the heavy gear to all the usual tourist traps. Since this was a personal trip, I wasn't concerned with quotas, layouts and deadlines.

In a city like this, there's a photo opportunity around every corner, and the challenge was to find something unique to my experience there. After about a day of overwhelming stimulus, I decided to just shoot the cliches. Since I've always been influenced by the classic nostalgia of black and white images from NY's past, I ended up taking a similar approach. Classic NYC.



Comment on article

Behind the Scenes at Hilary Druxman Studio

In June 2010 Hilary hosted a shin-dig for her clients, complete with wine, cheese, hors d'oeuvres and  photographer with a full studio set up. The event offered clients an opportunity to have their custom pieces re-newed, polished and professionally photographed.

Darren Wall was on hand with a Canon 5D MKII and years of film industry experience, our friends at Balanced Records provided the music, and the resulting behind-the-scenes clip is the result of our collaboration. Enjoy.  


Comment on article

Joe Silva Sinks to New Heights

Acclaimed producer, music composer and DJ Joe Silva, forgoes dry land and oxygen for the cover of his as of yet, un-named album. Shot with permission, at a public pool, we worked around some unexpected extras. 


Comment on article

Wonderland: RWB Keeping It Surreal

Last month the Royal Winnipeg Ballet turned my studio into the Queen's boudoir, for a promotional shot of their world premiere production of Wonderland. The creative brief called for an exotic looking image, bordering on the surreal, to reflect the "contemporary", and "mature rendering of Lewis Carroll’s psychedelic fantasy." From a technical standpoint, this called for turning traditional studio lighting approach on its head, modifying lighting equipment and creating new HDR target recipes on the fly. So in other words, another day at the office. Check out the results below.

More Wonderland and general subscription info at the RWB website. Tara Birtwhistle & Vanessa Lawson in Wonderland photos: David Cooper Behind the scenes image: Michelle Blais

Comment on article

Online Profile: Skycandy

Two of my favourite sci-fi movies, Blade Runner and Minority Report, portrayed visions of the not-too distant-future, as imagined by the author of the books they were based on (Phillip K. Dick) Both featured high tech gear such as guns, flying cars, and last, but not least, interactive signage. Owners, Simon Burgess and Adam Duguay are bringing the future into the present with the recent launch of their new company, Skycandy.

Don't worry, unlike the movies, Skycandy's software for digital signage won't try to get chummy with you, or know your name. But by using face detection, it will know that you are indeed looking at the signage, for how long and at what time of day. Add to that audience measurement software, remote management, and social network connectivity, and you can lock yourself inside facebook all day and technically, still be getting the work done. How sweet is that?

Internet yourself over to the Skycandy website for more info.

Comment on article

Web Developers Love Flash (strobes)

Visual Lizard, the developers of this site, recently tore themselves away from their work and dropped by the studio for a visit. These guys are skilled web developers, but also exhibit traits of Zen Masters. During our web development process,   not only did they patiently suffer through a barrage of my naive questions, but also took time to educate me on some sweet developer lingo, such as "increased scope of the site" and  "stop cheating the platform". So during our visit I managed to return the favour by sitting them down in front of the camera and teaching them a few of my own terms such as "nose out", "are you chewing gum?" and "stop looking at the computer". The photo session was for their upcoming new website, which you can read more about here.

Comment on article

Wear The West End

I've recently had the great opportunity to give my support to a worthy cause. From Hilary Druxman's Facebook page:

;Ace Burpee and jewellery designer Hilary Druxman have collaborated on a special necklace in support of Winnipeg's West End. 100% of net proceeds from the sale of each piece will support organizations committed to making a difference in the community.

The "Wear the West End" necklace is $36 and will be on sale to the public beginning July 14th at Hilary Druxman (258 McDermot Avenue) and at both Moksha Yoga locations (2 Donald Street & 1090 Waverley Street).

Proceeds will be divided between the West Central Women's Resource Centre & the Spence Neighborhood Association."

Launch video below.

Comment on article

April Showers Bring May... Showers.

Out-door photo shoots are fun, especially when the sun is shining. In the middle of a rainy week, we managed to secure one perfect sunny day for the Winnipeg Women fashion feature shoot. Special thanks to our models and stylists (make-up by Sarah Gurevich, hair by David Regnier at Salon POP) and the Studio Publications team. Also, a very special thanks to the weather man - had we listened to you, the shoot would have been cancelled.

Sneak over to the Latest Work section for a look, but not before you view the behind-the-scenes video, courtesy of




Comment on article

Spring Back To The Beginning

There's nothing better than the beginning of summer for a website launch. Except maybe spring! The snow has gone and seeds have been planted… in your mind. 

You may have seen these while driving - billboard campaign for Garden City Shopping Centre. The concept called for spring-related items supplied by the mall's retailers, to be arranged in the shape of  a flower. To lay product down and shoot it from above in one go sounds much easier said, than done. In fact, to do it in one shot, it would take a week of full day shoots, and even then, we would only get close.

Instead, we came up with a solution, as described by Neuhaus Design.

Comment on article

First Post!

At long last, it's finally here. The "Coming Soon" sign has been taken down (actually it fell down, it's been up for so long) and replaced with a welcome mat. It seems like I've been working on this project as long as I've been a photographer. That's dedication. Speaking of dedication, most recently I've had the pleasure of working with some top-notch talent that made this site possible: Velocity Branding and Visual Lizard. Their work speaks for itself, so please follow the links and  hire them immediately.

Other shout-outs go to Chris & Karla of Spacecadet Design, for their previous efforts to get the site going, Bill Acheson (former Cadet) for the preliminary work on the design, and all of my clients, past and present, as without you there would only be the 'Unpublished' gallery for you to enjoy.

I should also mention the blog section that you are currently reading: FOTOBLOG. The world of photography often takes me to places and situations that some may not have the opportunity to experience. FOTOBLOG will serve as a new channel of communication. From updates on the latest projects to behind-the-scenes footage, it's my goal to keep you informed, and eventually entertained.

More to come!

Comment on article