Video by Pakdi Decnud

Les Chasseurs de Reves are the creation of Jocelyne Meugnier and Julien Gabriel. These two creatives have not only created birds but a whole collection of amazing mechanical creatures… from elephants to butterflies and have toured internationally to perform and share their dream and vision.

I met Jocelyne in the most spontaneous manner possible – in the middle of a creative photoshoot. We were shooting in a studio and the model said she knew someone that would be extremely worth meeting just a couple doors down so we headed over just to say hello. Jocelyne enthusiastically showed me her creations and I was thrilled to see all the detail and workmanship that went into the creation of these unique creatures.

Each bird has a story, each one a history and a unique rider. Everything from the control of the wingtips to the beaks are all controlled expertly by these riders on stilts. Read up more on them here:

Although Jocelyne had an impressive number of performance photos, she didn’t have any that were situational and personal so I rapidly convinced her that taking some photos outdoors in the nature would allow us to get some amazing and unique results. Despite the complications of shooting outdoors (chance of rain, complications of having stilts in uneven ground, public attention) we decided that the photos would be worth creating so we decided on a date, assembled the entire crew and set out to Mont Royal here in Montreal.

The shoot began with an epic setup. Jocelyne arrived with a full truckload of birds, stilts, costumes and makeup. We chose a nice little spot on top of the mountain and set up camp under the curious gaze of a wall of spectators. The birds were laid out reverently and waited patiently while their riders got themselves ready – applying makeup and costumes.

306391 305189056164925 981954478 n

302186 305198396163991 1427640587 n

In the meantime, I walked around the park quickly scouting out potential locations as well as lighting setups. For this shoot, I had a bunch of White Lightning & Einstein flashes from Paul C Buff as well as some Vagabond Mini Lithium Ion battery packs to help power the studio strobes. We had to deal with some pretty harsh sunlight while out with the open so being able to control the light was going to be quite critical for my shots.

I quickly noticed that I was going to have quite some problems lighting my subjects because of the huge variety in color tones – some of the riders were dark, whereas the faces were pure white. I did the best I could to compensate by placing Kletka (blue), the lighter bird by far ahead of the others and focused on lighting her with a soft diffused 86″ shoot through parabolic umbrella and had the other two Zain (red) and Mercum (green) lit from the sides with a separate light source so that I could match the exposures as best as I could. Since I had placed them inside the woods, we were able to avoid any direct sunlight from hitting the image allowing us to have even tighter control over the light hitting our subjects!

301113 305201312830366 1208671762 n

6883736847 b279cae831 o

On the flip side though, while shooting deeper in the woods, I noticed that using a single large shoot through umbrella directly behind me pointing upwards would be more than sufficient to balance with the ambient light coming through the tree line. By placing a massive light source far from our subjects, we were able to get a soft even fill light despite the huge contrasts in lights and dark making this shot of the birds at play with their sheppard look natural and light.

6278294068 706bf61ce4 o

Keeping that same lighting strategy, I reframed and brought the majestic beasts over to a gorgeous row of trees and had them pose… alert. Figuring that it would be fun to bring in a little bit of movement, I enlisted the help of our spectators to help toss some leaves for us! For those of you wondering, that little ray of light coming through the trees in the final image was done in photoshop…~

298613 305215806162250 1247649759 n

6826698919 d6613b8259 o

Finally, to wrap up the shoot, we decided to do a couple individual portraits of the birds. By this time, the sun had already started to fall and we discovered that the birds could actually light up!! This, combined with a low ambient light made the birds look almost magical. I took the time to figure out which emotion each wanted to represent. This was the result.


  • Troupe Les Chasseurs de rêves/
  • Jocelyne Meugnier: directrice de la troupe , designer des costumes / La Bergère
  • Les oiseaux: Marykristñ Simoneau (l’oiseau bleu), Gabrielle Garant (l’oiseau multicolre), Simon Rioux (l’oiseau rouge) / /
  • Photographe: Benjamin Wong / Von wong photography/Montreal based photographer
  • Styliste / costumes: Jocelyne Meugnier /
  • MUA: Les Chasseurs de rêves /
  • Assistants: Jessica Chiasson , Kaleena Jay, May Lim,Jared Reid,Christine Claire Deita /
  • Videastes BTS: Pakdi Decnud, Shi Loh /
  • Photographe BTS: Monique Guilbault /
  • – Facebook – Twitter – Flickr