This is my favourite portrait from the Group of Eight series on Vancouver visual artists I did for Vancouver Review’s Fall 2010 issue #26. This one is of Jeff O’Brien, fine-art photographer of many an abject urban streetscape. I wanted a playful, conceptual approach in keeping with the kind of work Jeff does and appreciates. This unique opportunity presented itself as we were doing a preliminary location scout. It appeared directly across from his apartment on Clark Drive in an area of town noted for its downwardly shifting fortunes as a light industrial hub. An odd place for a Chanel ad but perfect to refer to the artist’s living environment and practice.
I shot the scene at dusk just as the sign’s backlighting was coming into effect. I removed the male model’s face which originally appeared at the right hand edge of the frame and replaced it with a photo of Jeff that I match-lit in studio. The beauty of the ready-made nature of the scene is that the crossing wires and swinging CBS logo suggests there is more post production work at play than there really was. They are convenient distractions from the ease of making the final image. And of course the backlit commercial display has long been favoured by the established Vancouver photo-conceptualists.