Creating something out of next to nothing

Major Renovations … in Photoshop!

What do you do when you need to promote a new product line that isn’t available on the market, and hasn’t been used on any installations yet? Call mcmphoto!


Earlier this year, I was contacted by a good client to do a photo shoot of a new product line of paving stones. We would photograph the product in studio and insert it into an existing photo, replacing the original wood floor with the new pavers. Simple, or so I thought.

The catch was that only 50 square feet of product had been manufactured and we needed to create a setup large enough to fill an area of approx. 800 sf. Time to get the thinking cap on!

With the perspective all figured out and the camera on a tripod and properly immobilized (people on set were warned that bumping into the camera would be bad, very very bad), we set the pavers up into an area 20′ wide by 4 rows deep, placed the lighting and snapped the first photo. Then we moved all but the 4th row, adjusted the lights and shot again. And again, and again, and again! All told, over 25 photos (and just a little cloning) were used to create enough floor to fill the area needed.


Are we having fun yet? Just in case you’re thought we might need a little more challenge, there was a second camera setup to the left, simultaneously shooting the same pavers from a different angle, in order to insert those frames into a different photo! Including a completely different lighting setup! Many thanks to my photo assistant Olivier and the team of people moving paving stones all day. Good times!


I love my job!


Aerial photos over Montreal

There’s nothing quite like flying over a major city in a tiny helicopter, barely bigger than a Mini Cooper, while hanging out a half-open window. You should really try it one day…



Shoulder to shoulder with the pilot, there’s a quick briefing and then we take to the skies. The thrill I experience every time I fly is like no other. Flying at 1000′, we head towards the river and await instructions from the air controllers. In the distance I can see a jumbo jet that looks like it’s flying over the Big O. It’s tiny in the sky and I know it’s really far far away, but I still look over at my pilot to see if he is concerned. He’s not. How odd…

While we head to our first destination, I snap photos of suburban backyards and whatever else catches my eye.  From this distance, the houses look like they belong in a Monopoly game. I am amazed by how many people have pools in their backyards. The controller interrupts my observations and gives us the go-ahead to cross towards downtown.  Bridges, marinas, parking lots, city streets and local landmarks all have a different quality from this perspective. There are no street signs at this altitude and finding your subject can sometimes be a challenge, but we persevere and it’s time to go to work. Circling the area a few times looking for the ideal location, until we stop and hover while I snap away, working to get the best possible shots. Now it’s time for the direct overhead photo, a moment which requires the pilot to tip the helicopter and try to make me fall out the open window. Not for the faint of heart. No time to be concerned, there are other locations to be photographed, and off we go.

Five minutes turns into an hour, and it’s time to head back. Sadness starts to set in as I realize that this experience is coming to an end. There’s so much more I’d like to photograph, but it will have to wait until next time.

More photos after the break…

Thanks for tuning in.


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Everyday something new…

Shichi-Go-San (7-5-3) is a traditional Japanese rite of passage celebration for 3 & 7 year old girls and 3 & 5 year old boys. It is to celebrate the passage of children into middle childhood and their healthy growth. Girls will be dressed in a Kimono and Obi, along with the traditional Zori sandals and Tobi socks. Traditionally, once dressed and coiffed, they visit the shrines. A more modern practice (and given that we have no shrines in Montreal) is to photograph them. That’s where I come into this.

My model was a 7 year old girl, daughter of a corporate client I have photographed several times before. The shoot was planned several weeks in advance, and included a indoor studio session and outdoor session as well. She spent over 2 hours at the beauty salon getting her hair and makeup done, along with the preparation of the kimono and obi. Once in my studio, I photographed her for close to an hour, making sure to capture all the details, as well as some family portraits. As you can imagine, it was very difficult for this little girl to walk around in the 3″ Zori sandals. She even fell over at one point, simply not able to balance herself in these high-rise platform sandals! (Not to worry, no children were injured in the making of these photos!)

Once the studio session was done, we went off for our outdoor session, but due to rain, were forced to find a suitable indoor location. I chose to use the Montreal World Trade Center. It’s just like being outdoors, but with all the comforts of a warm (and dry) indoor spot. We spent close to another hour shooting.

All told, this little girl spent close to 4 hrs all tied up in her kimono, being asked to smile and behave. She never faltered. Not once.

What a pleasure!

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Art Reproduction

Michelle Thibault is a talented artist (please visit her website ), living in Montreal, and has travelled all over the world. She finds her inspiration in architecture, both locally and abroad, both in reality and in her immagination.

Shanty, Acrylique sur toile, 30 x 40 pouces
Her latest work is colourful and bright, painted using acrylics on canvas. It is highly textured, making it quite difficult to photograph. As decribed in her recent blog post, she attempted to do her own photos, but found it difficult to get good results. Colour acuracy, even lighting and glare control are all difficult to achieve. I photographed 10 pieces from her most recent collection (you can see many of them here).
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Taking Off … the movie.

My first aerial shoot over Montreal. I took the opportunity to shoot some footage and incorporate some personal shots.

I flew out of St-Hubert with my pilot (Philippe Landes) in a Hughes 300 CBi helicopter. The cockpit is very small – imagine the front of a compact car, minus the dash board, and the glass in front going all the way to your feet. A great view! I had originally been told that they would remove my whole door so that I could take my photos. I have to admit, that freaked me out a little, so I was very relieved to find out that, instead of this, my door featured a large zippered window which allowed me pretty much full access from which to shoot. 

After a 10 minute safety briefing from my pilot, which included emergency procedures that I would need to complete if ever he was indisposed (huh?!!?), we took off and flew into Montreal via the Jacques Cartier Bridge. Airspace is very controlled. We were either under control from the St-Hubert or Dorval control towers. We arrived at our first shooting location, only to be told a few minutes later that we needed to clear the airspace for a while.  They sent us to the north end of the mountain, and allowed us to return about 10 minutes later. We circled each location several times at the minimum 1000′ altitude, flying at approx 30 knots, allowing me to capture many images as we went around the sites. The best (scariest) part was when I told my pilot that I needed a direct overhead view of the site. He completely caught me off guard when he tipped the helicopter onto its side, allowing me to shoot almost straight down!

All in all, we were flying for about an hour. It seemed like only a few minutes! What a blast. I highly recommend trying it one day if you get the opportunity.

Taking Off from Mario C Melillo on Vimeo.