-- ISTOICA is our team name, it's the collaboration between Chris Altorf and Jessica Hayes. To us it represents our two perspectives coming together to make something that feels cohesive.
Can you tell us about yourself and how you got started in video and photography?
-- We really started taking photography seriously when we started our photoblog ISTOICAeveryday. We would shoot our friends around the city or rearrange our apartment to make a studio and then we would post one image each day to the blog. At the same time we were studying Cinema at U of T and starting to shoot commercial video work. Our video work has always been influenced by our creative photo work, sometimes we test out an idea in stills before we put it into motion.
What is it like to be at every show filming production and runway at Toronto Fashion Week?
-- It's always a surprise to see how designers can transform the runway, and how models can play chameleon to the style and tone of each collection. There is a lot of pressure to make sure everything goes smoothly, especially when we are live editing the shows. The energy in the tent is always frenetic, and it keeps people upbeat. Our daily output is quite extensive, so we focus on making sure our workflow is in step. We don't have time to make mistakes so we have to work very efficiently.
What other fashion weeks do you shoot?
-- We have shot New York, Miami, Tokyo and Toronto. They are each so different!
Describe a typical shoot.
-- Every shoot starts with a concept or source of inspiration. Whether it's photo or video we want to create a sense of story as well as surprise, its so easy to make imagery that's repetitive so we try to incorporate new technology to give our work a little edge. For example when we did the music video for Evening Hymns- 'Family Tree', we knew we wanted the video to be about a family, but in a nostalgic or ghostly way so we shot all these scenes of a family in a house and then projected the scenes back into the same space at night time. It was sort of a low-tech projection mapping hack but it gave us the effect we were looking for. When we shot the Born Ruffians video 'Needle', it was a night out in New York but we shot it all in photos and then used software to merge the photos together creating a drunk-melty effect.
What are the biggest challenges of working in Toronto?
-- One of the challenges is also a benefit, which is that there is really a wealth of talent here. I think Toronto is also competitive because we're so close to New York, and I think sometimes there a sense that you need to leave Toronto to really make it in Toronto.
What does fashion mean to you?
-- Fashion is kind of one of the commercialized arts, so it's an industry that really values new ideas, or a new perspective on old ideas. I think that's what we really love, its an industry that's very picky and aesthetically discerning. Working in the photo and video side, clients aren't afraid to take some risks, they aren't looking to create what they've seen before.
What artists from the past or present have influenced you the most?
-- In photography David Bellemere has always been a favourite, his photos are sexy and powerful and the lighting is always amazing. Before he was super famous we actually went and stood outside his studio in Paris for two days trying to meet him. From the film world there are so many but one that stands out is Errol Morris, he created the interrotron- a two way teleprompter system that he used to get extremely candid interviews. He understood that there are micro-expressions that people make when they are communicating, and those are different from they way we look when we look in a camera.
You can only have one lens for the rest of your life, what is it?
-- That's a really hard question - probably a 50mm f/1.4 it was our first real lens and still our go-to if we need to put a lens on and go.
What projects are you working on right now?
-- We're shooting some young Olympic hopefuls this weekend, that should be really fun. We're also working on a project about the impact of Uber with a professor at U of T, we've got episode six of akimbo's 'Artland' in the final editing stages among other things!
What would be the most important thing you want potential clients to know about you?
-- I think what we really focus on is the technical aspect of our work, we are fast and efficient but we also really want to push what we're doing creatively, we were really quick to start shooting with a drone, we're exploring the potential of Occulus Rift, we built an interrotron for a documentary we did a few years ago, we like testing out new small cameras and LIVE editing, basically we like projects that use technology in a new creative direction.
What advice do you have for the next generation of artists?
-- There's a strong aesthetic in our industry towards snapshot style shooting, low production and documentary style shooting. We really value this look ourselves but it's important to not let that style keep you from learning the technology of a more slick and heavily produced look. Part of great shooting is being in the right place or situation but the other part is knowing your gear.