Leonard Cohen, 2001
He could tell I was nervous, and I told him that I really wanted to do something great and special. He looked at me and said, “If you are meant to make a really wonderful picture, there is nothing in this world or any other that can stop that from happening.” And I thought, “Wow, that’s cool.” He paused and then said, “If you’re meant to make a bad picture, there’s nothing in this world or any other that can stop that either.”
Seth Rogen (and honourary Canadian Paul Rudd), 2007
This was on one of the Universal Studios lots, where there was a Bavarian town set up. I shot it for GQ and they wanted them in lederhosen. Seth and Paul were so excited. It’s all they talked about that day. This is actually a pretty low-key picture. I almost needed less from them; it’s about letting the costumes do the work.
Michael J. Fox, 1996
I’ve learned to have measured expectations when meeting the famous; generally the best of what they have to offer is nicely distilled into their work. But sometimes I’m wowed by the charm and personality of a subject; working with Michael J. Fox was one of these occasions. We shot at his publicist’s home in Los Angeles, and he was warm and gracious — but on top of that he was super funny and charismatic. When he found out that I was also Canadian, he broke into doing accents from different regions of the country. This might sound a little corny, but it wasn’t; it was weirdly nuanced, while still hilarious. Of course, I also love him because he wrote me a letter supporting my American green card application.
Margaret Atwood, 2000
We began making a real connection when I told her about my experience nine years earlier photographing Robertson Davies. I had never felt so unsure about how to approach a subject. What could he find interesting about an awkward 27-year-old photographer? Atwood told me that Davies could not have written such carefully and lovingly observed novels if he were not interested in people. And then she went on to tell me a funny story: One day, a middle-aged film producer came to discuss a possible project [with Davies], accompanied by his young mistress, whom Davies described as dowdy, unkempt, with tousled hair, little makeup, awkward shoes. And he told Atwood (with his wife standing next to him) that this was not what a mistress should be — she should have beautifully manicured hands and a glamorous hairstyle, and dress extravagantly. What else was a mistress for, if not her excess and decadence? After sharing her story, with 15 minutes left, the session began again, and we made this interesting picture together.
Martin Short, 2004
The idea for this shot actually came from a visit to China 10 years before. Driving on a semi-rural road from the airport into Beijing, I saw a number of people getting a high cut just like this. The patron was sitting on a simple chair, while the barber stood behind them, cutting away.
Jim Carrey, 2001
For a long time, my assignments were with comedians, and I never thought “let’s make this a funny picture.” I’d go to them and say “let’s find something surreal and weird.” Jim is actually a really serious guy, but he entertained every idea. I set up a scaffold to shoot this one in an old metal tub. Reo Speedwagon was playing, which he liked.
Tegan and Sara, 2014
I met Tegan and Sara through an intern I had. I was playing their music in the office, and my intern was like “You know I know them, right?” His band opened for them, so I went to one of his concerts and Sara was there, and I was a total fan boy, nerding out on her. Amazingly, she talked to me and eventually looked up my work and they hired to me take PR photos.
Neil Young, 1992
I was whisked into his dressing room at the old Ed Sullivan Theater just after midnight. Neil was in a good mood and wearing a large overcoat with a hood, presumably to keep warm after a long, exhausting performance. He jumped around and did a playful Muhammad Ali impersonation (the coat looked like a boxer’s training robe), and then I managed to get him to settle enough to accommodate my slow shutter speed. Five minutes later, I was politely invited to wrap up the session.
George Stroumboulopoulos, 2012
I shot this for the CBC. He’s one of these guys who is very sweet and easy to work with, but he’s not so comfortable in front of a still camera. So we did a lot of stuff to make it relaxed and weird and funny. I love this shot because the pillow has a map of Canada on it.
David Cronenberg, 2005
I shot this for Toro, and we were in one of those crappy westside motels along the Lake Shore in Toronto. Cronenberg just did this thing, and I pushed the button on the camera. I was using film, so I had no idea if I got it or not until a week later. You can see a hand holding back the curtain, which is kind of creepy. It’s like you’re being spooked by Cronenberg.