Back in September of this year, I teamed up with costume designer Yvan Castonguay and set stylist Charlotte Grant to put together a series of image that would feature a young ballerina in a larger than life world, made up of the world around us. The result? Check it out below!

Curious to know how the individual elements were assembled? Keep reading.

Building the “Outdoor Studio”

The first step was to actually purchase a tent that could actually fit our entire setup. Though we had initially wanted to get a 20×20 tent to fit a large scene, we didn’t have the budget or the fabric to grab it up so we settled for a simple 10×20″ black pop-up tent.

From there, Charlotte took care of transforming the tent from a mundane party tent into a beautiful theater-esque stage while the rest of us improvised by strapping long black backdrops on the light stands using a combination of twist ties and gaffer tape.


Finding the location

Location, as always is a challenge. This time, not only did we have to find multiple interesting backdrops, we also had to make sure that we had an indoor space for hair/makeup and that none of it would be too far from our shoot locations due to the set and equipment requirements.

As always, I took to my fan page and hit up the VonWongling’s for help and Nathalie Beaulieu turned out to be our saving grace. She pointed me to a beautiful space that belonged to her parents that met all the requirements.

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Building the look

Yvan Castonguay was the stylist for this shoot and he brought together some amazing clothing ideas as well as was key to developing the concept art on an extremely tight budget and timeframe. Massive amounts of fabric were brought into play since we really wanted to build a rich “indoor world” despite the apartment background environment. Larger than life props were built by Charlotte to complete the dream world and all that was left was to find the perfect model, hair and makeup artist to complete the team.

We wanted to find a model that had a ballet background to keep enhancing the story, so I recruited Montreal based model Esthel Racine. And from there the final pieces of the puzzle – Hair & Makeup – we needed individuals that were experienced and capable to work multiple extremely varied looks under a super tight time frame. After a little bit of searching, I picked out Daniel Manzini for hair and Tamsen Rae for makeup. Two wonderful creatives that did an absolutely stellar job.

The shoot itself – Gear/etc…

For the shoot, I made use of a couple key elements – a long lens, in my case a 70-200mm f2.8 Nikkor and a 300mm f2.8 Nikkor sponsored to me by Nikon Canada in order to compress the perspective as well as a CamRanger that was critical for me to set up the complex frame by simply having the camera stream live view straight into the iPad (read more about the CamRanger here.)

I had my lights – a combination of Ranger Quadras, Paul C Buff lights as well as speedlights at my disposal to make sure that we could achieve an optimal lighting setup, as well as a cheap little fog machine that we used to pump up our little studio with puffs of fog.

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BTS photos: Carlos Gouveia –

Closing thoughts

I think that at the end of the day though, the only reason why this project turned out to be such a success was thanks to the fantastic cast and crew (some missing) that came out for the entire day to help bring the concept into reality so two thumbs up to the entire cast and crew that helped bring the project together!! It was great fun, a challenge, and I think proof that hard work and dedication can transform reality into something magical.

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  • Stylist/Designer: Yvan Castonguay
  • Set designer: Charlotte Grant
  • MUA: Tamsen Rae
  • Hair: Daniel Manzini
  • Model: Esthel Racine
  • Stylist Assist: Manuelle Lessard
  • Set assist: Lou Vicente
  • Assistants: Renaud Lafreniere, Claude Campagna Lupien, Neil Armstrong, Nathalie Beaulieu, Guillermo Castellanos, Anthony Phung, Carlos Gouveia, Andy Gouveia, Guildo Gagnon, Stephane Ricks-Zen, Jessika Chiasson
  • Video: Rafael Willits, Julius Adarna


  • Upcoming workshops at Canadian Imaging, Arizona, Mystic Seminars, Mystic, Hong Kong and Singapore… stay updated here

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