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.

38 : Heavy Ghost

I barely caught a glimpse of Kat at the back of the cafe before my glasses fogged up from the cold winter air. Americano and latte before us, we hunkered down for our first creative work session to map out the music video for her latest single Heavy Ghost. We sketched out a storyline where the subject would push through her grief to reach a breakthrough. We wanted to play with the ephemeral by muting the colours and slightly over-exposing the shots. An island scene would be the perfect backdrop to shoot the video.

In keeping with my life motto “If you’re going to get wet, you might as well go swimming”, Heavy Ghost was my first intensive video project. With guidance from colleagues more experienced in video work, I gathered the essential equipment: a shoulder rig, a tripod, large memory cards, spare batteries. Looking back, there are more tools that I would add to this list today: a dolly, a jib, and an assistant to name a few. An honest and constructive critique of this project would identify a few scenes where stabilization was added in post to steady a shaky shoulder rig shot, or where movement was added in post which could have been accomplished during shooting using a simple jib. But given the tools I had in my belt at the time, a fair critique will also identify the strong compositions and consistent overall colour tone that I achieved throughout the video. Heavy Ghost allowed me to accomplish my winter 16/17 goal of filming a video project and editing it to completion. Subsequent gigs during the summer/fall of 2016 added to my skillset and refined my ability to develop a creative vision on future video projects.

The bridge is my favourite segment of the Heavy Ghost music video and most strongly develops the birdhouse storyline. It is filled with dynamic and detailed shots: the opening of hammering the birdhouse together, the pan across the working subject, and the pull focus from subject to dead flowers. In hindsight, I would change the ending point of the pull focus to the frontmost piece of the bouquet.

The bare trees in the opening of this shot provide a nicely composed background to the emerging subject. I love Kat’s calm and contemplative expression in this moment. Using a jib as the subject emerged from the trees would have provided added dynamism to this section. In the final scene of the video, I used a two-camera setup to allow for changing angles as the subject hangs the birdhouse and leaves it swaying on the tree.

To hear more of Kat’s talents, you can download Heavy Ghost on iTunes or purchase her last album Bound. You can also support her upcoming album launch on Patreon and follow her on Spotify. Of course, you can also give her a follow on your social media of choice: FacebookInstagramTwitter, or YouTube. Animations done by Legend in Motion. Finally, here's a portrait session I did with Kat.

I am currently looking forward to shooting my next music video project and making use of new skills and creative processes. If your band, or a band you love, is interested in collaborating, I’d love to meet to discuss it with you!

This Life by Selena Photography blog post was written by Montreal photographer and videographer Selena Phillips-Boyle.