Curtis Comeau

Curtis Comeau

Instead if your usual BIO.... I decided to have a few of my friends and colleagues send me random questions and I would choose a few to answer.

What was your best shoot of 2015?

That's a good question and difficult to answer. I would say the shoot in Los Angeles with Keltie Knight would be at the top of the list. We shot her in six different dresses in a day. From CBS Studios to the Hollywood Sign. It was a lot of fun.

Do you like to shoot anything specific?

I like it all. Shooting a variety of different subjects helps keeps things fresh for me. I have ADD and Dyslexia so I tend to get bored quickly. Shooting various disciplines of photography has allowed me to keep my ADD in check.

Any advice for young photographers?

Don't read too much into what other photographers are doing. Focus on yourself. Seriously it can get depressing for a young photographer seeing "how awesome" all these other pros are. Shit seems so much cooler online. As I am answering this question you may think I am in a loft studio or surrounded by models...but in reality I am in my home office, wearing fleece pajama pants and have a Neo Citrin in hand -- trust me on this; focus on your own work and not what others are doing.

You shoot a lot of foreign travel. Where has been your favorite place to shoot?

I did from 2003-2011. Including living and shooting in Taiwan and Paris in those years. However from 2011-2014 I focused a little more on home. This year however though my representation over at Getty Images - Global Assignments at my request I have lined up a few more travel jobs for me in 2015. So that should be a lot of fun.

Who was the most interesting subject you have ever photographed since you started?

I have been at this for 15 years. So I have a few. Hugh Heffner was cool, so was NHL goaltender Martin Brodeur and Black Eyed Peas band member This year I was the last guy to photograph Jian Ghomeshi before his scandal broke and my image was supposed to be used as his book cover. It was interesting to shoot someone at the height of his fame and see how quickly things can fall apart.

Comeau, I have much more important things to do other than think of some random question to ask you. But ok. Here goes. Why do you keep using that shitty phone with that archaic slide out keyboard?

Because I can write emails much quicker with a slide keyboard. Touch screen keyboards suck.

Are there any upcoming projects in 2015 that you can talk about?

I have a few things in the works. One that is confirmed is a journey to Northern Ghana to photograph an exhibit on Ghana Medical Help. Its extremely rural and will be a difficult project to shoot. The principal photography is set for June this year. With the first exhibit being released in Toronto in early November and then in Edmonton and Calgary following the Toronto opening.

Tell me something people don't know about you.

I collect graphic novels, minerals and fossils. Mainly dinosaur bones. Holding something that lived between 65 - 300 million years ago is humbling.

Favorite Food?

Tuna or Salmon Sashimi. From anywhere. I don't care if it's from a suburbia mall or at Urasawa in LA.

How have you grown in photography over the past 15 years

I don't over shoot anymore. When I have "the shot" I know it. (as long as my AD is happy)... So I don't need to keep shooting. I am also very fast when I work. My best shots are often the first 5-10 frames of a shoot. When working with famous or pro athletes my shoots are often 30 mins all in. Sometimes people are startled at how quick I am when I work.

Have you ever won an award?

Awards are a curious thing.... When I win I am like - "Oh man this is awesome, what fantastic judges"..... When I lose I am like "Meh... This contest is total bullshit... It's totally rigged..." So I don't really enter my work in awards anymore. Some of my clients enter on my behalf. Last year I won an AMPA for Best Magazine photo in Alberta Venture. I also won an Ontario IABC Excel award for best photography for Defense Construction Canada. I also came with AMPA in SECOND PLACE for best cover... "but that was obviously totally rigged....." Recently my friend The Wrangler nominated me for the Top 40 under 40 and I was selected. That was huge honor for me because there were some great people on that list.

Who inspires you?

My MOM. We call her Mama Comeau. She holds people accountable for their actions and calls you out if you're acting like an ass. She has a way of humbling you and keeping your ego in check. Money or a successful career does not impress her. A few years back at family dinner she asked me in front of everyone “When are you going to get a real job? You aren’t even a very good photographer son...I saw your pictures in READERS DIGEST and you cut the subjects arm off.” – How do you even respond to that?

Do you have social media?

I use Instagram. It's fun and kind of gives people insight into what we do. My handle is @curtiscomeauphoto.

Kevan Morin

Kevan Morin

How long have you been involved in photography and when did you start with Curtis?

I first got interested in photography when I was attending College in Montreal around 2001 – purely on an artistic level with a lot of travel photography. I met Curtis around 2006 and since then, my abilities as a photographer have improved drastically. Not many professional photographers have the time or care to mentor someone so I’m incredibly lucky to have gotten involved with Curtis.

Why did you decide to become a photographer?

My initial dive into photographer was purely to use it as an element in my web and graphic design. After traveling and shooting in Europe in the summer of 2011, I came back to Edmonton with the intention of moving into commercial photography with Curtis. I won’t lie about it – my decision was based purely on making money and turning it into career. I wanted to make a decent living while remaining self-employed, but I still wanted to be a photographer. It’s next to impossible to make a living purely as an artistic shooter and so looking at it more as a business than a hobby was the obvious next step.

What is your roll as an associate?

First and foremost, I manage our gear and studio space. This includes everything from prepping gear for every shoot, transporting it, loading it at locations, tearing it down and transporting back to the studio. I keep the studio cleaned and prepped for when we make use of it. I also take care of a lot of contracts – communicating with clients and I assist Curtis on nearly every shoot he has. This involves a lot of travel in and outside of the city – most often Calgary and around Alberta, Vancouver and the US.

What areas of photography do you specialize in?

I specialize in product, industrial and studio work on the commercial side -- so a lot of corporate style portraits. On a more personal side I do a lot of travel photography with a focus on architectural and locations.

Whats it like working with Curtis Comeau as an associate?

The first thing that comes to mind is simply how busy it is – every day is a new shoot and a new experience. We meet a lot of incredible people within various fields of work which is often quite inspiring and motivating for us as photographers. We also get into a lot of interesting locations that we otherwise simply would never have access to.

Coolest shoot you have worked on?

It’s hard to pick just one -- there have been a lot – but the first one that usually comes to mind is a shoot we did in The Dominican Republic on a gold mine a few hours north of Santo Domingo. Insane travel, tropical downpours of rain, extreme heat, communication break downs and high security were just some of the issues we faced on that shoot. We've also been doing some work with Sherwood hockey for the past couple of years, most recently in Montreal and Ottawa this summer (2014) so any excuse to get back to Montreal is awesome. Working with NHL players like Jacob Trouba, Bobby Ryan and a few others -- and professional athletes in general -- is always great and a fun experience but it also teaches us to plan ahead and focus hard as our time with athletes is often quite limited.

Do you have any hobbies?

I tend to have more than I have time for – I hate being stagnant. Aside from my personal photography, I’m also a web designer & developer. I’m an avid cyclist both road and mountain and I couldn’t live my life without music. When I’m not spending time with my family I usually have my nose in a book or I’m watching the latest sci-fi flicks. I love movies and film in general and I’m constantly watching something while I’m working.

What advice can you give to someone who is starting out?

There are the obvious things like learning your equipment and experimenting with different styles but I don’t believe there is any real guide for the world of photography as it is does have so many potential avenues to explore. That said...

Try your best to get on as an assistant with an established pro – learning photography in a classroom is one thing, but jumping into the real world is entirely different and as an assistant, your ability to take a nice photograph is completely irrelevant. Being an assistant means hauling gear and getting people coffee. Don’t come into this with an ego – just do it. Learn from it. While you’re on location, keep your mouth shut. I mean that as nicely as possible, but commercial shoots are not social outings and until you’ve worked with the same people enough to develop a friendly relationship, you’re best to just keep quiet and do your job. Don’t tell stories. Don’t constantly ask questions. But be attentive, friendly and open.

Be patient and expect years to go buy before you’re really rolling. Be willing to take risks but don’t say YES to everything. If you’re advertising yourself as a professional you will be expected to produce at a professional level. One of the worst things you can possibly do early in your career is take on a project you’re not ready for. This is a tight market and everyone knows everyone. Don’t be afraid to say no – that simple act will carry you further than screwing up a shoot and ending up on a black list.

Do you have social media?

I seem to be using less and less social media these days so like Curtis, Instagram is the outlet of choice. I’m on there as @kevanlucmorin.