is an innovative fashion photographer, traveling to
exotic locations. Christopher work has been featured in top
fashion magazines such as; Cleo, Elle and Harper’s
Bazaar to mention a few.
A couple of months ago, Christopher shared with me that
he has been exploring the moving picture. When I
viewed the short film, I was immediately drawn to the
concept. “During my fashion shoots I get to see
wonderful things through the viewfinder that no one else
can share. There are these incredible subtle transitions
of emotion as we move from one frame to the next and now
I find myself drawn to these fleeting moments
Be sure to check out the videos featuring
models; Sydney, Drea, and Dajana.
Exclusively Fashion Magazine:
Can you tell me how you were drawn to photographer?
was younger I used to borrow my Dad's SLR and snap
photos when I could grab a roll of film. My grandmother
used to paint. She was the artist in the family, and
sometime when I was about 12 she looked at a photo I had
done of a palm tree and said that I had found a very
different way of looking at it. That simple
encouragement was enough to spur me forward.
EFM: Where do you reside?
Currently I am based in Toronto, but travel when I
can, mostly to South East Asia. I was based in
Bangkok for a few years and still maintain a few
clients and many friends there.
style of camera do you use and why?
I have always felt that the camera
is like a brush or sometimes even a hammer. It
isn't the tool it's the hand that guides it that is most
important. And with the world gone "post" crazy it is
becoming even less relevant. I have seen wonderful
work in hi and lo-fi, it's the idea that is paramount.
For me in the beauty/fashion world it is most refreshing
when I actually see real skin, even if it has been
cleaned. How many of us have friends who
personally re-touch their snaps before they post them on
social media? But I digress; to answer the question the
majority of my work is done on a Canon 5D Mark II.
For me it was the ideal combination of cost (considering
I will flip it in 2 to 3 years), ruggedness (again, if I
drop it, sink it etc., it's not a Mark III) and
features, in this case the ability to film in a
wonderfully shallow depth of field in very little light.
I own a Mamiya 6 x 7 which was my key tool for years and
I still run some film through it and occasionally visit
a darkroom. I have about 4 other cameras that see
only rare use. I'll probably purchase or rent a 1ds Mark
IV when they release it, as it seems there is a gain
about 2 stops in usable speed. Which means, I can shoot
in more and more locations without lights, again this is
more relevant to filming that stills. If I am shooting a
beauty campaign I may use a phase one for its larger
file and the greater colour range, but for editorial I
don't need this and right now I feel there is more
growth happening in the 35mm world.
As a photographer, did you find it hard to break into
Looking back over 11 years
now it seems easy as I have the benefit of hindsight.
But I never doubted I could do it. What also helps
me is that I spent 6 years as an Art Director/Designer
before picking up the camera again. I knew my
clients world and their language, and that made things
much easier. When I left design I picked up a
course or two, one introduced me to models and make-up
artists and how to run strobe without electrocuting
myself and the other taught me how to print colour.
Again, here my design experience helped as I was used to
judging colour on a press and in proofs and adjusting
it. What separated me from most of the other
students was I knew that I wanted to be a pro, so I shot
more, did more, set out on more ambitious shoots. Malcom
Gladwell talks of 10,000 hours required to achieve
mastery of something and simply put, this means time in
the saddle. The more you do something, especially
with intent, the more fluid it becomes. My 1st year was
all about wondering if I had exposed my film properly
and should I push here or pull there. By year two I
could stop thinking about that and focus on composition.
When that became easier I could start to direct and
articulate what I was looking for to my subject. This
last aspect is a life's work.
What was your first big break?
Two local magazines, one was a
fashion magazine that sent me out doing a wide variety
of topics and subjects and the second was about design
and interiors. They helped me to build a solid
first professional portfolio. The next life
changing was my third year of shooting. I had
solid year of good work and a few decent money jobs that
paid for my gear, and then I had a very good job with a
buyout. I had gone straight from art school to
design (6.5 days a week) to shooting. I had never
travelled. So I started making plans and about 3 months
later left for South East Asia with a small back pack of
clothes and 2 pelicans of my gear. Some much came of
that start. Travel brought me out of my shell, it
taught me the world is a much friendlier place than the
news would have you believe and it provides such
perspective. The best thing about travel is that
it puts you off balance, you spend time adapting,
comparing what is the same and what is different from
home and your comfortable cultural assumptions no longer
apply. It made me much more of an extrovert, and
it allowed for much growth and personal introspection.
There were a lot of luminal moments during that period.
One shoot in particular had a crew of about 35 and we
were running three groups of models at the same time,
that way one group could be changing while another was
being photographed. I had
to continually think 2 to 3 shots ahead of what I was doing, planning for
shifting daylight and conditions, all of which was
possible as I had a great team with me and a very
What or who gives you inspiration?
There are a few ways I express this. The first is
Truth. That is whether or not something I am
looking at, reading, tasting, watching or someone I am
speaking to, feels authentic and genuine. In the
simplest sense is the smile I see authentic. What
I look for when I cast is someone with emotional range,
someone who will give me a wide variety of expressions
and tensions that feel right to me on a gut level.
I work in very staged environments. I bring in lights,
elaborate clothes and make-up and frankly not always
very believable scenarios. Why would any woman
wear 6 inch heels on a river bed filled with jagged
rocks? All of that could be very ridiculous if there
wasn't something in the model's face or body language
you in. I look /live for that moment
in a image where I "fall" into it. It is the point
where I suspend my disbelief and simply follow the story
The other way I look at this is from a
note I wrote to myself after watching a couple: "the
space between us". I am fascinated by body
language and the little ways in which we either welcome
someone in or keep them at a distance. It is a
beautiful thing to watch a couple that is in tune come
together. Today I watched a woman greet her
boyfriend; she reached up and slowly stroked his cheek.
The warmth of that gesture spoke volumes to me. It is
these little moments that I like to bring into what I am
shooting, sometimes it is as simple as a bend to the
wrist and a curl of the fingers, but that little
adjustment completes things. That is why it is
important, even during a beauty shoot, for a model to use
her whole body; all that energy comes back up
through the eyes. That is the truth that I look
for in the fiction.
I carry a notebook and not a
camera. When I use the camera on my phone it's to
remember something like a scaffolding set-up or a place
to return to and stage a shoot. Ideas come from random
sighting and collisions; something I see or overhear and
that sparks an idea and my
mind runs with it.
If I write them down I don't lose them and if I don't
shoot them right away I always have that bank to go back
to and mine.
Lastly, I am only as good as the
people I work I with and usually better because of it.
The energy of a creative team is very exhilarating; the
sum is greater than the parts. I am privileged to
have the trust of many people and that is important to
client is believing that I will “do
my thing" and then push it forward past the expected.
A model is trusting me to bring out his or her best side,
even if the way they are contorting or behaving seems
strange or off. The beauty team is trusting me to
make their work shine. I am trusting their skill
and abilities and their tastes and fashion sense and we
are all mixing this together. So I look for creative
people who are positive and energetic and participators.
I try and keep an open set, as someone else's perspective
can send you off in a new and unexpected direction.
All this talent, this volatile creative collision, comes
together and when I am lucky, helps push a
what I hoped for or first saw in my head.
Do you like shooting on location or in studio? Why?
I shoot both, but prefer location, unless I can build a
set. I find it simply brings more depth to a story
when you have a location. It is a secondary
character, it gives a model something to push back
against, a hook, if you will, and that gives them a path
to travel down.
EFM: Can you define your personal
style as a photographer?
No, I'll leave that to someone else to decipher.
I love the company of smart women and I have a respect
for and a fascination with them. My work comes
from that more than anything else. I choose
fashion, as I get to tell stories with it. I see
strength and sensuality in the women I take photos of
and like to keep something hidden too. That way
there is always something more to know about the
character. The actual way the photo may look may
change depending on what it is I wish to say at that
point in time.
I want to elaborate on the hidden
point. To me it's about questions, not answers.
If you see someone walk down the street ahead of you,
you only know part of the story, for me this spurs my
imagination. I have only some of the information
and my mind tries to complete the rest
conjecture. This is very deep in us on a
biological level, were we to judge very quickly if
someone is a friend or foe. What does there gait
tell you, light and flowing or heavy? Are they moving
quickly with purpose or idly? Do they dress to
show or to hide? I'll quickly notice this and then
style clues, is their hair healthy and cut well, are
their shoes practical or are there little details that
show a certain flare and playfulness. All this
helps me quickly form
some point of view, and it can
very well be inaccurate, but it's my reaction that is more
important to me here, about this person. But I
don't know for sure and that not knowing is what is most
fascinating. That means there is always something
more to learn.
This also relates to some of my
influences. Most of my books in the professional
sense are about film and not photography. Stills
from movies always seem to have a context to them, an
emotional resonance. They are filled with clues
that suggest a larger whole. The films I
most are the ones that bring you into a complete world
with complex characters and you have to figure them out
for yourself. People are rarely one level and I
appreciate a character that is the same way. My
favourite films seem to begin at the end and end at the
beginning, slowly leading you back to some loose
understanding of what you first saw. It is
interesting to me that you have spoken with
Wing Shya (I always wondered who did the lush still
work for Kar Wai, Props!) because Wong Kar Wai is one of
my top directors. His films are the complete
package to me, original arresting visuals, costumes,
design, with wonderful acting and ambiguities. He
leaves things unfinished, when his films end my mind
runs ahead and tries to see where the arc of the
character will continue to. I become involved and
participant because I am left to interpret.
Questions not answers.
Not all of work has this
or may even succeed in this, but this is the background
level of thought that goes through my head when I work,
this is what colours my approach to most things.
Do you think it’s important to have an agent? Why?
Yes. I think it is important to have the right agent who
will know where to place your work and able to see
where it can evolve to. From a business point of
view, someone else can be promoting while you are working
your billable hours.
What advice would you give to an aspiring fashion
Practice. The more you do
something the better you will become, the easier it is
to hold more in your head at one time. Mushashi
said, practice until you forget and I believe it to be
true. 11 years as a professional and time on the
planet have taught me that the other simple lesson is
time. Time gives perspective, you simply have more
experience to draw upon and assess with. So give
yourself time to learn. What you know now you will
know more of later, what you do now you will do better.
Agency Chantale Nadeau enquired Christopher to film
model Sydney to show off her presence before she headed
to New York for show season.
Christopher jumped at the chance; saying: “It is
simple and direct and Sydney carries it off beautifully.
That quickly led to "Drea" who I had always
wanted to work with. With Drea I was interested in
seeing if I could layer in more of an emotional
storyline in a very short period of time and Drea
out that with both moving pictures, he had ‘no crew’ for
both Models: Sydney and Drea.
Interview by Rochell “E” James