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Shepherds of Good Hope Creative Portraiture – A Taste For Hope fundraising calendar

Danny Mongeon by Justin Van Leeuwen

As a commercial photographer, I’m not always given the opportunity to explore more creative portraiture. We work to serve our clients needs, and rarely does that allow for some of my more outlandish ideas to come through (of course, some exceptional clients definitely like to “play” right along with me.) The ability to have creative control over my vision and play on my own eccentricities is exactly why I jumped at the opportunity to work with the Shepherds of Good Hope and their fundraising calendar concept: taking Ottawa’s top Chef’s out of the kitchen.

Danny Mongeon

Danny Mongeon by Justin Van Leeuwen
Danny’s a success story. Not only is a sought after commercial chef in Ottawa (and abroad), he’s also been through some of the same hardships as many of the people the Shepherds serve. As a former street-punk living out of shit conditions I wanted to bring him into a dingy motel for a night of wiener roasting and MGD. I took a lot of care to keep the room moody, working just above the ambient and adding some flash that, although obvious, I felt was fitting for the space. It wasn’t until I stepped outside with assistant-Taylor for a break that I realized we may have a different shot, one that didn’t need any setup. I cranked my ISO sensitivity, asked Danny to have a quick smoke. And we got the best shot of the series; you can see it at the top of this post. To give it a pop of different colour we added a green gel to a speedlight, but otherwise that was it. All the personal styling was Danny’s too. The patches stitched onto the chefs jacket, his old head tattoo revealed again with a fresh haircut. Sometimes you work hard only to find it’s just not the right one, so the one in the room didn’t go to print, at least you can see it here.

Jason Laurin

Jason Laurin by Justin Van Leeuwen
Jason was the one who brought me into this whole thing, requesting that he be photographed in a “league of his own” at a baseball stadium. We were able to secure some mid-day field time (I would have preferred dusk, but that wasn’t going to happen). Jason’s catering company, Essence Catering, produces some of the tastiest food bites I’ve ever had the pleasure of consuming. It was a pretty warm day out on the field in the full sun, I’m sure it was especially so for Jason, since we put a large 6′x6′ silver reflector in-front of him to bounce that sun right onto his body (I suppose he needed the tan anyways). We added to the composite with him running, hitting, and catching, much like he has to do in his work; a master of all.

Stephen K. Lasalle

Stephen K Lasalle by Justin Van Leeuwen
Stephen’s a chef after my own heart. He loves Star Wars, Nerf, and killer Caesar’s. He’s since moved on from his chef role at the Albion Rooms to Andaz Ottawa, so aside from his emroidered jacket, the rest is still very much him. He bikes to work, supports local breweries, wears a Stormtrooper helmet on dates and likes long romantic walks along the Rideau Canal. We set this one up at sunrise to catch that lovely golden light as it hit the fall leaves. I didn’t want everything to have a high-contrast colourful look, and this image was the departure from that style.

David Wallace

David Wallace by Justin Van Leeuwen
I had the pleasure of working with David briefly last year for an Ottawa Magazine article I photographed. He’s the owner/butcher at Ottawa’s finest purveyor of meats: Around the Block (I tried some of his meat so I know from experience). Unable to secure an *actual* cow for my original photo concept. I took David out for a date. Now, playing with this idea I foresaw a number of potential misinterpretations of what I was hoping to convey. Associating a woman with a “cow” or a butcher are huge red-flags for me, and that kind of violence and misogyny wasn’t where I wanted people’s minds to go. We carefully set up a vegan salad (thanks again to Stephen Lasalle for that and the use of the Albion Rooms!), had him on a date with someone who was potentially wary of his profession. I think it does force people to think a bit more about what’s going on, and hopefully I didn’t miss my goal of making something contentious, but not necessarily offensive.

The Shepherds of Good Hope: A Taste For Hope Calendar features photography by some of Ottawa’s finest shooters; including Jessica Deeks, Valerie Keeler, Lindey Gibeau, Christian Lee, Shane Francescut, and Chris Schlesak. It’s an 18-month calendar (July 2016 – December 2017) so it makes a great gift (buy two!). It also comes with a bunch of recipes, so it’s perfect for anyone who’s into food (we’re all into food right?). You can buy it at this link today: https://foundation.shepherdsofgoodhope.com/taste-for-hope-calendar

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