Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Jamie Ruben Film & Media Composer and Guitarist

Jamie Ruben in his studio

Another creative portrait of a creative artist in his space! In this case at the home studio of Jamie Ruben, Toronto film and media composer and guitarist known for his work on HBO's Vice, among other documentaries and feature films. It's in this studio that Jamie creates his magic. Our mandate was to create a signature still image in keeping with the realm in which Jamie works: highly creative and imaginative, and well beyond the 'recognizable'. As such, I was allowed and encouraged to take the images well past realistic representation, which I love to do. Really, it was a trifecta of favourites for me: getting to work with a fellow artist, making a small-ish and somewhat modest space look somewhat more substantial and interesting, and getting to bust out creatively.

A few notes of interest: Because of the lighting technique we were using, which involved the lens being open for prolonged exposures, we had to shoot at night, so we didn't even start until almost 10:00 p.m. Nevertheless, the creative spirit overtook both of us so we were energized throughout, partly I'm sure, thanks to the beautiful musical phrases Jamie spontaneously sprinkled out in between every exposure. Thankfully, he was unusually adept at remaining very still during the long exposures, which greatly facilitated the process. 

Given the size and layout of the room we were very limited in terms of composition, so I pretty much had one possible angle to work with, through the doorway to the studio. Thus, we just composed Jamie and the props accordingly. Once again, it was amazing what we were able to accomplish in a fairly small space.

Although we succeeded in getting a magical, full colour shot of the composer in his studio, as we had set out to do, we also, ultimately, got this bonus shot, which I'm not at all sure I don't actually like even better. 

Jamie Ruben alternative shot

This image resulted from cropping and reworking one 'failed' frame from the main, wider angle shot we were working on. (Sometimes I feel, as a professional, that I should never admit to a happy "accident", but what the heck...they happen all the time, especially in the digital age ...may as well be open to them!) We really only realized after completing all the frames necessary to the main shot (which was made up of multiple exposures to be comp'ed together) that we had something really usable as a tighter composition. Even later I realized how effective the tighter shot would be in black and white. And, then I took it a few steps further by (horror of horrors) adding a few layers of filters and effects. (I say the "horror" bit because, once again, as a pro, one does not necessarily want to be caught resorting to funky Photoshop filters, but again...who cares? I love the result, and they are the perfect tools to morph an image further past the boundaries of reality, and not take forever to do it). 

Both images are on my website at at the beginning of the Creative People section. If you're interested in seeing the transformation of the space through lighting and compositing please call or e-mail me and I'll show you.

One final note: once I completed the post-production and Jamie uploaded the pics to his website, I actually didn't love the way his main shot fit into his site layout, so I made one quick adjustment, just on his file, specifically for that use, and now it fits perfectly (here's the link again: Jamie Ruben).

If you need to transform a person or a space via some creative photography e-mail me at and let's chat.