Behind The Lens - Paul Misseghers

Behind The Lens – Paul Misseghers

Paul Misseghers, Portrait Artist

“Why would I photograph women the way others want to see them? I photograph women the way they want to be seen,” says local photographer Paul Misseghers. One look at his work and you can see his work speaks for itself.

We are honoured to able to feature Paul in our Behind The Lens series to give Winnipeggers a chance to get to know this incredibly talented photographer.

When did you first think of becoming a photographer?
“It actually happened by accident. In my previous career, I worked long hours and traveled a lot for business – I needed a hobby to help ‘disconnect’ from my day job. So I think picked up my first DSLR about 4 years ago.”

“Photography, especially nature and ‘street’ photography is something that’s very accessible, especially since digital photography has reduced the cost and opened up post production possibilities we just didn’t have with film. Of course, it didn’t take me long to realize that I wasn’t cut out to photograph trees and ducks…I fell in love with portraiture, and well…when I decide to do something, I do it.”

Obby Khan, Green Carrot

What sort of work do you specialize in?
“At my core, I’m a Portrait Artist – meaning I specialize in photographing people. That’s a pretty wide genre though, and I actually operate under two brands.”

Flashbound is the core business, and focuses on Commercial (business portraits, fashion, interiors and product photography) and Fine Art Portraiture for individuals, couples and also families.”

If You Don’t Love Me Now

“My boutique brand is Expressions – a brand new line of beauty photography designed especially for women, offering an alternative to simple ‘boudoir’ photography – it covers a range from glamour, to fashion and into the fine art genre – really, it’s whatever the client can imagine.”

“When my wife and I designed Expressions, our guiding principle was not to photograph women the way others want to see them, but to photograph women the way they WANT to be seen. My unique style of photography is paired with handmade European products to complete the clients experience.”

Did you go to school to study photography?
“Not formally, unless you count the photography club at my Jr. High School in Bird’s Hill (all those years ago) – we were fortunate to have a couple of talented passionate teachers, and our own darkroom. Of course, we were limited to black and white because developing colour prints was just too expensive.”

“More recently, I’m predominantly self-taught, but I have been fortunate to mentor with some phenomenal photographers with several decades of experience to their credit. As a result, I hold dual National Accreditations from the Professional Photographers of Canada (PPOC), and have won Best in Class awards (including 2016 Best Portrait) for the last two consecutive years in Regional competition – I learned by challenging myself and never compromising.”

How would you describe your style?
“That’s a tough question, as my style tends to vary depending on the objective and the situation. The attributes that I am most often complimented on are my ability to connect with people during the shoot, but also my lighting and posing – but I think my overall style is dramatic and impactful. Every image should tell a story, and I try very hard to make that happen.

What cameras and lighting gear did you start with and what are you currently using?
I honestly can’t even remember the first film camera I shot with, other than it was a 35mm Pentax with a 50mm Prime lens. My first DSLR was a Canon T3i, and today I shoot mainly on a Canon 5DMKIII.

My lighting gear includes at least 4 or 5 speedlites for kickers, and three fairly inexpensive monolites that I use in studio and on location. In terms of modifiers, it’s a really long list. Some of my art portrait work involves up to 5 different artificial light sources.”

What is your favourite photography accessory, other than your camera?
“My Camranger wireless tether – hands down. I shoot tethered about 95% of the time – meaning that the images are transferred wirelessly from the camera to a laptop or tablet in real-time – it’s a fantastic tool, as it allows the client to see the results immediately, and allows us to make corrections as we go. It’s especially useful on commercial shoots, as you’re absolutely certain you ‘got the shot’ before you leave the set.”

Are you a MAC or PC lover?
“I spent almost 20 years in Information Technology, so I have a love/hate relationship with technology…but I use Macintosh computers exclusively.”

Can you briefly describe for the readers your photographic workflow?
“Most shoots start with a pose / mood board (other than events or basic business portraits) – it’s a fantastic way to ensure that you and the client are on the same page in terms of the shot list, and for shoots that require wardrobe and hair/makeup it also helps ensure the whole team is on the same page creatively.”

“Once we’ve settled on a basic theme, shot list, wardrobe, etc – we move onto lighting. Studio shoots tend to be more predictable of course – when you’re on location you have to be more flexible and solve problems on the fly, but as most photographers well tell you: light and shadow are your paint.”

“Light sets the mood, and proper lighting is what distinguishes a professionally made image from a snapshot- and so exceptional lighting is often what distinguishes a ‘good’ image from an ‘excellent’ image.”

“Of course, those are the technical aspects of the shoot – and with enough experience that becomes pretty quick, and fairly seamless. The majority of the actual shoot involves connecting with the subjects to help bring out their best in the photographs – if the photographer is too tied up with the technical aspects of the shoot (lighting, camera, lenses) they won’t connect with the subject and the final product will suffer. Of course, if the photographer doesn’t have the necessary technical skills the image will fall flat – both are equally important.”

What gives you ideas and inspires you to create such great imagery?
“In a way, the Internet is both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, beautiful inspirational images are at our fingertips….but conversely, we’re flooded with images and that can sort of overload you creatively. For me, it can be images I see online, music, or even scenes from TV shows or movies…I usually take a few different concepts and try to merge them together.”

“The main thing I try to start with for a conceptual image is the requirements of the client or subject, and then create a mood and feeling to best compliment their look and personality – ultimately I think about how I want the client and person viewing the image to feel – that’s really important to me.”

What has been your most memorable assignment and why?
“That’s a toss up…. Divinity’s Toll involved 6ft angel wings made out of swan feathers, and no small amount of glitter and little pearl beads…I’m still vacuuming them up once in a while.”

“Also, you’ll see later on that I consider Richard Avedon to be an iconic photographer – and I decided to do a tribute called Serpent’s Kiss to his famous NYC shoot from the early 1980’s of Natasja Kinski, which is an iconic art nude with a very large python. I decided to kick it up a notch and had the model body painted with snakeskin, and used two snakes instead of one. The model was amazing to work with…snakes, however, do not take direction worth a damn.”

Where would be your dream assignment?
“Shooting Conceptual Fashion anywhere in Italy or France, or pretty much anywhere in the Mediterranean…we just don’t have architecture and history like that in North America.”

After Dark

What is your favourite image you have shot recently? Can you describe its creation in regards to location, lighting, composition etc., also your thoughts when creating the image and what it means to you?
“That’s a tough one – but I would have to say ‘After Dark’ is my current favourite. Not only did it win ‘2016 Best Portrait’ for Manitoba, but it also received a Merit Score in National Competition this past week.”

“The image was made in my home studio (I now have offices and work out of Aspire Professional Studios downtown). I really don’t know where the inspiration came from, but I do remember the basic concept came to me as I was falling asleep one night.”

“The lighting on this one is fairly complex, in total there are five discrete light sources, and the set was designed to mimic the dressing room in a fancy hotel suite. The image would not have the same impact without the crazy talents of Laine Burgess of Born Salon for the hairstyling, and Kim Brennan of Mardi Gras Face Art for the intricate body painting – not to mention my wonderful model Holly Knight who put up with hours of prep to create a single frame.”

“My thoughts when creating it are really hard to describe…I just know that I had an image in my head that I NEEDED to make and share with others….as to how I feel about it? Well…I love looking at it not only because it turned out exactly as I pre-visualized it, but mostly because it seems to tell a slightly different story to each person who views it.”

What do you consider the most important breaks in your career and why?
“I’m still waiting for one actually. Being a full-time Professional Photographer is a pretty tough thing to accomplish today. On one hand, the advent of digital has made it much easier to learn and grow into the profession….that’s a double edged sword however, because anyone can buy a DSLR, print some business cards, and call themselves a photographer – and that has really hurt the industry.”

“That’s the primary reason that I pursued Accreditation with the Professional Photographers of Canada (PPOC) – the standards to become Accredited are rather high, and so when clients hire an Accredited Professional, they know that person has not only met the standards of a National Review Board in terms of their skills, but that they are also bound by a code of conduct, carry insurance, etc.”

Who are some of you favorite photographers past or present?
“I really admire Richard Avedon (enough to shoot a tribute piece) – his work, especially from the 80’s, really speaks to me on several levels. In terms of current working photographers, Sue Bryce for beauty, Peter Coulson for fashion and glamour, and Renee Robyn for surrealism.”