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Editorial: “The Granny Cube” for Ottawa Magazine

In Print -

Working with Margot Johnston on an editorial photography shoot for Ottawa Magazine’s 2013 Interiors issue was a real treat. Mrs. Johnston’s father was the director of the National Gallery of Canada during a period that many consider an artistic Canadian renaissance. She had interactions with Prime Ministers, and many, now, famous artists. Apparently, having these sort of connections and being a teen also made her the subject of many pieces of original art. Many of these pieces (though certainly not all) adorn her modest 700 sq ft (literally squared) flat, attached to her Son’s family home.

The shoot itself ended up being fairly tight, we planned for a sunset exterior photo (which ended up being a less-than-5 minute window because clouds rolled in), following the writers (Paul Gessel) interview that morning. Mrs. Johnston would be tired and napping when we arrived, resting for the shoot, and Paul would send me a shot-list of art that they discussed that morning so that I could incorporate it into the images.

In hindsight I do wish I had spent a bit more time moving furniture around, it’s an important aspect of interior photography, but the balance of figuring out space for the works of art, as well as including Mrs. Johnston in portraits, made me approach the scene with a more “as it is” editorial style – this is her apartment as it’s set up for her life; not idealized. The lead image on this post was taken at the very last minute, I should have been outside getting my exterior shots, but I also needed to figure out a way to capture one-last portrait of her portrait. We popped in a DVD for her to watch while I quickly set up my speedlights, no subtlety here, I just zoomed a flash right in on that painting and rushed outside to get the exterior.

Thanks to Alex for the assist on this job, I think he had a great time chatting up the family too, and thanks to Ottawa Magazine for the unique experience – meeting such special people is one of the reasons my job is so great!

You can see the header image bigger, with technical details, over on Flickr.

Update: it saddens me to say that just as this feature was going to print Mrs. Johnston’s condition worsened, and she soon passed away. Ottawa Magazine was able to get her a copy, though, and now this piece stands as her eulogy.

One thought on “Editorial: “The Granny Cube” for Ottawa Magazine

  1. DaniGirl says:

    I love the brighter shot of her sitting on the sofa. Really love it. Also, I want to live in this gorgeous little space. Good work here!