Here are a few recent portraits. Each set of three has been created with different quantities and qualities of light: The first set, featuring the lovely Heather Setka, was made with two off-camera speed lights, each placed in a different position from one image to the next. The second set, featuring writer and friend Danielle Roberts, was created using a balance of ambient light and a single off-camera speed light. The final set, featuring Forest Lawn resident and mechanic Saad Chemali, was created using only natural light.

While I do enjoy the challenge presented by using additional light sources, I find the organic nature of the final set of portraits to be my favourite. The images of Saad are part of an ongoing documentary portrait project, in which I am photographing a resident of Forest Lawn — arguably Calgary’s most poverty-stricken neighbourhood — once a week. The captions for his images are a little long, so I’ve included the full information below.


Saad Chemali, 31, has worked in Forest Lawn for five years as a mechanic at Canadian Auto Shop. The shop, located at 2125 52 St SE, has recently been purchased by nearby competitor Checkered Flag Auto Sales. Chemali, who was born and raised in Calgary to Lebanese parents, says he’s thinking of moving to Forest Lawn.

“I like the action, the people — the city’s alive in this area. Two o’ clock in the morning and there’s people walking around, doing things. Where I live downtown, it’s just dead.”

Chemali says if he could do anything to improve the area, he’d work harder.

“Let’s work harder, make this place look better, and work with people in the street.”