Sunday, January 31, 2016

The Vibrant Grit of Kensington Market

I might actually be one of the few folks who has never been to Kensington Market in Toronto before, so when we found ourselves there last Thursday evening, I was blown away by the vibrant colours and photogenic grit. What a visual candy store! The pavement was wet, the neon was vibrant on Spadina and graffiti was everywhere. Thanks Lucia for sharing with us, the beautiful gritty canvas of Kensington Market - what a cool neighbourhood to get lost in with or without a camera!

© Dwayne Brown

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Apparently Nice Guys Don't Finish Last!

We were lucky enough to be involved in a pretty cool event last night, capturing a 'fireside chat' with Stephen Smith, who has just gifted a very generous investment of 50 million dollars to Queen's University, for business education. Mr. Smith told his humble story of how he made his money, which at the base was to be generous and grateful. He also talked of how luck and being at the right place at the right time are a big part of success in business - most honest entrepreneurs I think would agree to that. Of course being smart, hard working and extremely determined, were also part of his story. Both Anita and I were most impressed by his kindness, reminding us that being nice should be at the core of any business or entrepreneurial enterprise!

© Dwayne Brown

Monday, November 30, 2015

Accountants Are Far From Boring!

It's one of those old clichés that just isn't true, and the new GGFL site especially helps to disprove that! Their new site was a great project to work on, photographing the partners and senior staff - capturing the professional personality of everyone. Congrats to everyone at GGFL for a new exciting look!

©Dwayne Brown

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Paying Close Attention

Beauty is so often right in front of us. It's in the over looked, within the close-up and it can be hidden in the not-so-obvious. We love the opportunity to look closely for our clients to help beauty and the story come to life!

 © Dwayne Brown

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Making Friends, One Linkedin Portrait at a Time!

As many of you know, we were in Madrid Spain last week. We had the great opportunity to partner with the kind folks at Club 567 (a very cool business networking organization) to photograph some of their members for their Linkedin profiles. Everyone we met and photographed were amazing. They were all friendly, humble and so interesting. The best part of the Madrid Linkedin project was, we felt that we had really made new friends! We had a wonderful space to shoot in, but it was hard to resist taking some of the portraits out on the terrace over looking Velázquez Street, as in the case with this image of concert pianist Alberto Urroz! Muchas gracias to everyone involved, we so loved it! We look forward to returning in the new year.

© Dwayne Brown

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Muchas Gracias Ambassador!

It was such a pleasure to photograph Jon Allen, Canada's Ambassador to Spain - while in Madrid last week! The Ambassador was so kind and generous with his time for our whole team. He didn't just give us time for the portrait, he also sat down with us in his office for a good half hour learning a little about each of us. He so reminded me of what it's like to be Canadian - generous, gracious and humble. Muchas Gracias!

© Dwayne Brown

Monday, October 12, 2015

Thanksgiving Weekend - thank you Anita.

To finish off an amazing Thanksgiving weekend that was filled with many blessings, I wanted to thank someone who is very giving. Last week, as some of you may know, through loveOttawa, Anita and I were asked if we would like the opportunity to meet, photograph and interview a young woman who had recently come to our city as a refugee from Syria. We, of course, very happily and humbly accepted.

We met the young woman, Rasha, in a park downtown on Thursday. She was sad, uncertain and wary. Anita took her aside, helping her feel more secure and at ease. Anita then fixed Rasha's hair and adjusted her clothing with great care, telling her that she was beautiful. Rasha felt better and allowed us to take some very nice photographs. They were sadder than our usual loveOttawa photos, but still very nice.

Anita then interviewed her, or better said, had a conversation with her. She very respectfully asked her to tell the story of her ordeal from Syria to Ottawa (a very challenging 18 month journey). The story was long, emotional, difficult at times and required Rasha to really trust, to be able to share so many details.

After the interview was finished and we were saying our goodbyes, Anita and Rasha hugged and agreed to connect later, after the post had been written. As we were leaving, Rasha came forward to Anita and hugged her again. This was a touching moment for me. This young, vulnerable refugee had lost so much and had been through such difficult challenges. Trust was very precious to strong yet fragile Rasha, and in such a short amount of time, Anita had earned it.

Our loveOttawa project is fun, creative and we know it helps shine light on the city, yet since I've partnered with Anita, it has matured and evolved. We are now at an interesting place where we can also help. As with Rasha's post, we hope we are able to highlight how Ottawa can help others on many levels. I am sincerely thankful to Anita for bringing such a graceful heart to loveOttawa. 

Sunday, September 6, 2015


Beauty is, has and likely always will be subjective. Whether it be a face, a flower, a landscape or architecture - we all see beauty differently. For me as a photographer, my eye is always drawn to the beautiful and the interesting, but my view of what is beautiful is perhaps not the typical. I'm not usually drawn to the shiny or the new, or the obvious. I often gravitate to the overlooked. I so believe there is beauty everywhere, all we really need to do, is to look more closely and with more care. Flowers that are on their way out or dying are especially interesting to me. They have a randomness that just does something for me, with their petals curling, drying and surrendering themselves to the inevitable - they are so stoically beautiful!

© Dwayne Brown

Saturday, May 23, 2015

The Inspiration of Emerging Talent

I've been shooting for more than half my life and I'm still mesmerized by what inspires me. Inspiration comes in so many forms. It might be something I see or experience, it might be music or even just the feeling of the day. Sometimes I'm inspired by another photographer's imagery or just by being surrounded by a creative environment. The one thing that is always consistent when I am inspired, is that I'm also humbled in a way. Humility is an amazing concept that I believe is also the gateway to strength and confidence. Of late, I've been very inspired by my creative partner Anita's hunger to create imagery. Anita didn't go to photo or art school. She hasn't followed a traditional creative path in life, but she is profoundly creative. She has an open heart, an open mind and wide open eyes! I feel so fortunate to be inspired by her passion to create and share - and for her eagerness to break the rules. :)

© Anita Ruivo

Sunday, March 22, 2015

the value of great ideas and loyalty

It's no surprise that everyone loves great ideas, and my friend and colleague Shawn MacDonell has loads of them. Now ideas are one thing, but where the real sizzle is, is making those ideas come to life. Shawn definitely has ideas, but he also has the drive and courage to make things happen with his creative company Creativision. This is all great of course, but what I love the most about Shawn, is his loyalty and commitment to friends. The other night Shawn was hosting a table at the ConnectOTT event, while Anita and I were photographing a handful of entrepreneurs for loveOttawa at the event. In fine Shawn MacDonell style, he was proudly wearing our loveOttawa t-shirt under his suit and couldn't wait to share it with us. The point of the story is, Shawn is always the first to shed light on others, and I love that about him!  :)

© Dwayne Brown

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The Dynamic Mix

We were shooting yesterday at Conversant, a local Intellectual Management Company, capturing executive portraits as well as a wide variety of vignettes to help tell their story. It was cool seeing CEO John Lindgren working at his standing desk. I've always loved, when possible capturing stilllifes of desks, as they tend to be a revealing portrait of the executive. With John's desk, I loved the dynamic mix of technology and analogue - not to mention the problem solving metaphor of a Rubik's Cube!
John Lindgren
John Lindgren

© Dwayne Brown

Sunday, February 22, 2015

We love shooting on location!

As a photographer, I love shooting on location. Every space and environment brings challenge and opportunity. Every space has it's own sense of scale and composition, and the great spaces also have great light. This week we got to shoot portraits in some very different spaces - The Indigo Hotel here in Ottawa, The new Jack Astor's restaurant in Lansdowne and Celestica in Toronto for Banfield. The Celestica space was so lovely, with such great light and cool lines - and it provided a powerful yet calming backdrop for this corporate portrait. Perhaps they're right, location IS everything, or at the very least, it's helpful! :)

© Dwayne Brown

Monday, February 16, 2015

jazz is love

We had such a cool experience the other night shooting loveOttawa portraits backstage at the Valentine's Day Leonard Cohen Tribute concert, for The TD Winter Jazz Fest. We photographed artists, staff and volunteers - asking them what they love about the festival and jazz music. Considering the cool folks and great personalities we shot, I thought some of the images deserved a little more love - and presenting them in black and white!

Big thanks to all the behind the scenes folks and especially to the artists below! Dan Francks (Iron Buffalo), Jay Malinowski, Martha Wainwright, Reuben and the Dark and Scott Helman.

All images © Dwayne Brown

Sunday, February 15, 2015

the simplicity of ideas and the strength of a respectful dynamic

We had a shoot the other day for Carleton University, photographing an aerospace engineering student for an ad promoting the university. The conversation started with Carleton's creative director Greg MacDonald calling to book some time with us, then us meeting him in his office to chat more about the tone and feel of the ad. We knew we needed it to a confident portrait of a student - confident but not overly cliché. We knew we needed to allow for copy space. And we knew we needed the portrait to be honest and authentic. I guess the reason I'm writing this blog post is because it's worth mentioning that so much goes into a simple enough looking photo, before we even take the camera out of the case - and much of that has to do with getting into each others head (and having each others back). It has little to do with what equipment we use or how much lighting we set up. The success of any commercial photo has everything to do with the respectful dynamic between everyone involved, as it did the other day! Thanks Greg for always being a client who trusts. Thanks Connor for bringing your confidence and pride to the shoot (not to mention a nice ironed shirt!). And thanks Anita for always being such a supportive creative partner.

© Dwayne Brown

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

there is no greater love......

So many people have great ideas and good intentions, and some people take these ideas and put them into action - and action almost always makes a difference. Today was one of those days that an idea became an amazing reality and I believe made an amazing difference. A week ago Elizabeth Young, owner of Flowers Talk Tivoli (a beautiful flower shop in Westboro), reached out to Anita (my loveOttawa partner) and I through our loveOttawa initiative, via twitter, to talk about Valentine's Day. I ended up having a coffee with Elizabeth and suggested the bold idea of making 50 bouquets for the teen moms at The Youville School as a surprise Valentine's Day gift. Elizabeth didn't blink an eye or even talk about what that would cost - she just said "Absolutely, we HAVE to do that!" All of this led us to today, when Elizabeth, Anita and myself delivered these beautiful bouquets to The Youville Centre this afternoon. The young moms were so appreciative and Anita and I were so humbled - especially humbled when we overheard one girl say "This is the best Valentine's ever." and another saying "I've never had flowers before." Thank you so much to Elizabeth and her generous team of florists for giving the Youville girls such a meaningful Valentine's Day!  :)

© Dwayne Brown

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Authentic Intensity

I've been shooting for Elmwood School for quite some time now - maybe a dozen or so years now. And they've always been the most awesome client! They have in many ways just let me come in and shoot what I've wanted to shoot, which is often when the best photos happen. The consistent element that I've always tried to shoot for them was authentic imagery - imagery that is honest. And at the end of the day, honesty often best tells a story and allows you to really believe in a brand. Thanks so much to Teresa Stirling and to Cheryl Boughton (Elmwood's Head) for putting their faith in my camera! :)

© Dwayne Brown

Thursday, December 25, 2014

A Very Humbling Merry Christmas.

Christmas morning is magical to wake up and come down the stairs to the smell of coffee brewing - then to see a treasure trove of gifts under the tree all ready to open. Then a big breakfast surrounded by your loved ones, to then start preparing a massive feast of turkey and all the fixings. Such a beautiful picture. But what if you don't have a home, or a tree, or gifts, or food to cook, or a family to be surrounded by? Not so magical. There's a surprising large amount of people here in Ottawa in that very situation. Anita (my loveOttawa creative partner) and I got to meet a bunch of these folks this morning while handing out hot chocolate to them. It's so humbling to say the least, to hand a simple hot chocolate to someone who likely doesn't own much more than the clothes they're wearing and for them to look you in the eye and say a very appreciative and heartfelt "Thank You - Merry Christmas". Very Humbling!

Doing this on Christmas morning has become somewhat of a tradition now, and I hold it very dear. It's cool how a small gift of a hot drink on a cold day, lets someone who is marginalized know they matter and are respected - and their appreciative words back to us are the most amazing gifts in return.

 © Anita Ruivo - the loveOttawa project