2009: Year in Review

January 23rd, 2010 Permalink

I guess this is a bit late but it was something I wanted to do a while ago and am just now getting the time to do it. 2009 was a very big year for me and my photographic career.  When I look back at the work I was doing a year ago and the […]

I guess this is a bit late but it was something I wanted to do a while ago and am just now getting the time to do it.

2009 was a very big year for me and my photographic career.  When I look back at the work I was doing a year ago and the work I am doing now I am surprised to see just how far I have developed as a photographer.  Below is my progression through 2009 and some key milestones.


Family Portrait

This Photo was my first post of 2009 on flickr and it has gotten a lot of attention.  It was featured on awkwardfamilyphotos.com and therefore generated a lot of buzz for me.  Also occurring in January was CFES congress in Ottawa where I grabbed a few shots of the nation’s capital.
CASA Charity Fasion Show Promotional Shoot

In the later parts of December some members of the UW photoclub were approached about an opportunity to collaborate with CASA in providing photos for some of the promotional material for their first annual charity fashion show.  They booked out a classy bar and brought 10 models and some make up artists and we brought our camera and lighting gear.  I had just gotten a Canon 580EXii that christmas and was very excited to use it.  I had never really done off camera lighting before but was excited to try it out.  The shoot was AWESOME and was one of the highlights of my year in both a learning and results prospective.(All of the results are available here www.flickr.com/invite/history/guests/?op en=72157612684426…)


Jump Dante, Jump

February brought the Ontario University Athletics Championships and so I got a lot of great shots with the 70-200f2.8 which was acquired in late 2008.  Experimenting more with off camera lighting became a more frequent occurrence which prompted me to purchase a Cactus v4 wireless flash trigger around this time.  Also in February one of my engineering friends approached me and asked if I could take some shots of him dressed as a lumberjack for his girlfriend for Valentines day (She really likes Lumberjacks).  He offered me beer (Swingline if you are reading this I never did get the mentioned beer) and that was good enough for me.

Lumberjack Devin

This photo was also featured in the November 6, 2009 edition of Imprint (http://imprint.uwaterloo.ca/2009/nov/6/opinion/nikkis-favourite-things/) as well as mentioning me in the article.  CASA also had their fashion show this term so I covered it as official event photographer.

Casa Fasion Show 2009


Grad Ball tonight!

March means another class celebrates graduation from the University of Waterloo (March 2013 can’t come fast enough) at the annual grad ball.  A few friends asked if i could snap some photos of them all made up before heading to the event.  I also did a photoshoot for the Waterloo Engineering Sociey’s new online novelties store (http://engsoc.uwaterloo.ca/novelties/catalog/index.php most of the clothing shots are mine.  Tried to get the feel of those t-shirt websites).  Another exciting shoot I did in March was at an abandoned factory in Kitchener where a few of us gained access and took some pretty sweet shots.


I got a lot of great shots in this factory and Tanya was a great model.  Also in March a trip to Niagara Falls with my roommate and his friend from Beijing who was visiting from Minnesota where he goes to school (I often play the tour guide when people visit) which gave me a few nice shots.  In early 2009 I met a masters student named Julia through a friend and we got to the topic of photography in one of our conversations.  I offered to do a photoshoot while explaining what I was doing so that she could learn a bit about lighting etc.  It took until mid march to get together but the results are pretty fabulous (http://www.flickr.com/photos/mseliske/sets/72157615633980746/ for results)

we did it in her house and the picture above was actually taken in an unfinished corner of her basement. This is one of my favourite pictures in my portfolio and gets me a lot of compliments!  At the end of march another trip to the abandoned factory was planned and this time I brought along Cass as my model (http://www.flickr.com/photos/mseliske/sets/72157623270011650/).  By this time I was getting a lot better at off camera lighting and was using it fairly often in planned photo shoots.

April was a super exciting month for me as it was the month where I took possession of my new baby!  I had heard rumours that Canon was increasing the price of it’s products on April 1st and was already thinking about a camera upgrade but this made up my decision.  On March 31st,  I ordered a Canon 5dMKii full frame 21MP camera and a 24-70mmf2.8L lens.  The body came in fairly quick but the lens was backordered across the entire country, so I had to wait a little bit for that to come in.  Even though I was super excited to use the new camera, I found myself lacking ideas and didn’t really have subjects either.

First Images
This was taken on the day I got the new camera on a quick drive around the Pelham area.  On that same trip home to my parent’s house I visited a family which I have befriended over the years and offered some free family photos just to get some use out of the new camera.  They ended up using one of my photos on their christmas cards!  April also included a trip to Toronto which included a ride to the top of the CN tower (in the elevator this time, I had done the stair climb the year before).  I decided to take a panorama of Toronto from the top of the tower and at 21MP it got pretty detailed.  This photo was featured on torontoist.com and generated a bit of buzz around random forums across the internet.  It is currently my most viewed photo on flickr at 5217 views.


May started off with a trip to Montreal as my roomate had never been and really wanted to go on a trip.  I brought my camera along and was a tourist for a few days grabbing random shots around the city.  After returning from Montreal I was approached by a couple I know through the Engineering Society and was asked to take some photos of them together.

Mike and Jay
May also meant that a new term had started which meant a new co-op job for me.  This term I was working in the field testing group at RIM which had me doing a decent amount of travel across the United States.  My Camera bag became my backpack which contained everything I needed for work as well as most of my camera gear.  On one of my two trips to Atlanta our driver was a nice guy named Durel who got pretty excited about my photography and was an artist himself.  We spent a lot of time together as my job entailed doing drive routes all day which meant 8 hours in the car with the Driver.  Durell asked me if I could take a few photos of him similar to those seen in mens magazines.  I agreed and after I was off the clock, we had a photoshoot on the grounds of the hotel.

We had a pretty good time and on my next trip to Atlanta I requested he be our driver again.

June was fairly slow in the way of photography but I did manage to do a joint photoshoot with a model found using the modelmayhem website (www.modelmayhem.com/mseliske) and Chris Zhu (http://www.flickr.com/photos/chriszhu/) who is a friend of mine.
It was a different experiance working with a model that had done this before because previously everyone I had worked with were just friends of mine.

The end of June was an exciting time as Demoman was added to the family and so I couldn’t help myself and snapped a few pics.
Name Suggestion?I
une also saw the launch of MichaelSeliske.com which followed shortly by blog.michaelseliske.com which was a very exciting next step as a photographer.

July means Canada Day and the University of Waterloo’s annual Canada Celebration.  I was volunteering at the kids olympics event that is hosted by the Waterloo Engineering Society and had my camera handy for some random event type photos as well as some concert shots.  Later on in the term I was approached by Kevin Liu the charity commissioner for the Canadian Federation of Engineering Students (CFES) with regards to finding an image for the charity cookbook he was putting together called “Iron Ring Chef”.  I played around with some photos and eventually ended up with the winner.
CFES Charity Cookbook - (I was published!)
Other then the cookbook the only other photo related happenings in July was a photoshoot I did with a new model who I knew from Engineering that needed to build her portfolio.   We went to a few different locations and had a fun day.

August started off with another friend of mine approaching me regarding some photos of him and his significant other.  She was headed to Rome for 4 months and he wanted some good photos of them together.
By this time my work placement at RIM was coming to an end but at a Brick Brewery Tour organized by a friend I met a fellow RIM co-0p.  I gave her my card and straight up said that she would be a great model.  We talked a bit at work and set a date for a photoshoot which turned out really well.


Also in August I was approached by a family friend back home who’s daughter was approached in the mall about possibly starting a modelling career.  She needed a few shots for her interview so I went back to Niagara for a sweet photoshoot in the gorge at Decew Falls.  Word of advice though, stick to something a bit easier in terms of location for a models first photoshoot.

September was an exciting month as it marked my first real paid wedding/engagement booking.
I answered an ad on the RIM internal classifieds service about a wedding photographer and before I knew it was doing the try out engagement shoot.
Swati and John
soon after that it was time for a new group of first year students to start school which means orientation week.  This year I was selected to the role of EDCOM which can only be described by the photo below.
I also did a few more studio shots for Kayla who needed a bit more for her portfolio.

October was also exciting as I had the opportunity to shoot my very first wedding.

Swati and Jon's Wedding
October was a busy month with event shooting at a CASA event as well as two more engagement shoots.  I also did a fun photo with members of the photo club in celebration of halloween which was featured in the UW Daily Bulletin.
Happy Almost Halloween

As the weather gets colder outdoor photoshoots become limited and since I don’t have a great place to set up a studio my photoshoots grow a bit more spread apart.  I did manage to book a few shoots however, one being with a girl I met at a photoclub meeting.
It ended up being a rainy day but we worked with it and the results were really fun for a quick shoot.  November also marked a busy time for me as I was acting as Chief Returning Officer for the Engineering Society Executive elections.  I took some headshots of all of the candidates to include on the ballot so that people can put a face to the name when voting.  We ended up with a 33.67% voter turnout which is a new all time record.  I have been bugging a band my classmate is in for a long time that I wanted to do some promo shots for them and so one afternoon during one of their jam sessions, we took a break and went for a short photoshoot.  I am happy with the results!

Sea to Sky
November was another exciting time because I once again did a major expansion of my equipment inventory.  I added two AlienBee B800 studio strobes as well as a softbox and an umbrella.  In my excitement I tried to book a few shoots which would take advantage of the new lights.  I did a fairy themed shoot with a classmate and was approached by another friend of mine about a shoot he was doing with a DJ from Toronto.  He arranged access to the studio located in the Environmental studies building which has some seamless paper backgrounds.


December brought exams and therefore a reduction on things to photograph but there was still some fun to be had.  The beginning of December brought Engplay which was a hilarious play put on by Engineering Students each term and it provided some funny photo ops.  I was then approached by a friend who recently graduated from mechatronics at Waterloo and had started a robotics company (http://www.clearpathrobotics.com/) which needed promo shots for their products.  I agreed to help them out and had a fun afternoon with some robots.
after I was all done my exam shifts at the engineering Coffee and Donut Shop I headed back to Niagara for christmas.  A few months ago my mom had emailed me about the Olympic Torch Relay and how it was stopping in Welland and they needed volunteers.  I decided to volunteer my photography services and went for a fun day of shooting.
Torch Handoff
before I knew it Christmas was upon me and the end of 2009.

Merry Christmas

The year 2009 saw me get a new camera, a new lens and studio strobes as well as arrange my first paid work.  If this much happened in 2009 I am super excited to see what 2010 brings.  I already have three weddings booked for the summer as well as being a second shooter at one.  More and more people are talking to me about photography opportunities as well as more and more inquires from people that stumble across my work at various websites.  People are using my work in various locations around the internet and a friend recently asked if they could print a few of my images to put on their wall.  I am super excited about the growth of my reputation and love the compliments people give me about my photographs.  In light of this growth I do want to ensure that this “Hobby” stays a hobby and doesn’t start consuming my life.  I am a computer engineering student first and a photographer second.  When I first started this post I thought it would be a quick run through my flickr photostream but 2500 words and a few hours later it has turned into a pretty impressive walkthrough of the previous year.  It amazes me how much I’ve done and would love to stay busy in 2010.  Thanks to all of the people reading this as you have allowed me to do what I do!  Here’s to a good 2010!!

For a large portion of my work please visit www.flickr.com/mseliske

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