Life by Selena Photography
Montreal portrait & wedding photographer


The official blog of Montreal portrait and wedding photographer Selena Phillips-Boyle. Explore her signature photojournalistic style and stay up to date on her latest wedding and portrait photography projects here.

11 : Houtwerk Design

From time to time, your nostrils catch an unexpected smell that catapults you twenty years back in time. For me, the smell of wood chips and the thin layer of sawdust covering everything in the room was enough to throw me back. Suddenly I was six, back in my Papa’s workshop on the family farm. I was directed to keep a safe distance, my face eclipsed by a pair of safety goggles, as I perched on a stool watching my Papa cut wood to exacting measurements with the table saw. I was “helping” around the shop, picking up discarded pieces of wood and sweeping sawdust into piles with a broom twice as long as I was tall.

Needless to say, entering Ashley’s studio felt like a familiar embrace. Apologetic for the sawdust, Ashley suggested we tuck my camera gear into a sealed section of the shop, typically used to lacquer and paint the wood pieces in their final stage. I was handed an elephantine set of ear defenders, and we got to work. The shop’s constellation of noises were muffled into a white noise that allowed each of us to to retreat into our respective artistic zones. Working on a custom table, it seemed to me as though she could feel the lifepulse of the wood as she sanded and shaped it to her vision.

Throughout the shoot I used tight compositions and high angles to emphasize the solidity of Ashley’s stance and the sense of focus projected by her facial expression. In one of my favourite shots, I used layers of exhaust piping and electrical wiring to frame her figure as she guided a piece wood through the saw. In the final portrait, I asked Ashley to invoke the feminist strength of Rosie the Riveter, a perfect complement to the 1920s aesthetic Ashley embodies outside of her woodworking studio.

For me, the beauty in portrait photography lies not within the walls of a sterile studio, but rather in the dust-covered workshop of a professional artist. After all, it would be difficult to photoshop in the woods chips flying around Ashley’s hands as she worked.

If you’d like to see more of Ashley’s work, follow Houtwerk Design on Facebook or click over to the Houtwerk Design website. I stand by her cheeseboards.

Tech Specs
Location: Studio 5333 Avenue Casgrain, Montreal, QC
Date: June 15, 2015
Equipment: Canon 5diii, Canon 35mm, Canon 24-105m

Up Next
On Thursday I sit down with Toronto photographers Maria Szemplinska to chat about her acclaimed aviation photography in the international gliding community.

This Life by Selena Photography blog post about environmental portraiture was written by Montreal portrait photographer Selena Phillips-Boyle. You can see more environmental portraits by Selena in this post with Ottawa Artist City Witch and Toronto nutritionist Alina Islam. This post was edited by Montreal communications professional Max Baru.

Cet article de blogue sur la photographie de portrait environnemental Life by Selena était produit par Selena Phillips-Boyle, photographe montréalaise. Cet article de blogue fut révisé par Max Baru, spécialiste de communication à Montréal.