Level Ups: February 2015

Celebrity Shoots: Emo, Kevin and Maria

Celebrity comedian Emo Philips. Photo by Kevin Patrick Robbins.

Emo Philips

While I was on vacation in North Carolina, attending the annual NC Comedy Arts Festival, I had the opportunity to catch up with my friend Emo Philips, whom I had met at previous festivals, and have performed with and even taught in one of my improv master classes a few years ago. Emo was one of the comedians I loved to watch growing up. He is an idol and comedy legend.

On Tuesday, I sent him an email to let him know I was at the hotel. I told him I was no longer teaching improv in Toronto or running my company but that I would love to photograph him while we we both in the same place at the same time. He called me Wednesday morning, sad to head I was no longer teaching comedy and bonding over the previous night's pun-based show at the festival. He had remembered all four of rules I have when teaching improv, from when he was in my master class a few years back: no leaning against the wall, no crossing your arms, no chewing gum, and no puns. "And I mean it!" he recalled me saying, which is very likely.

After his fantastic Wednesday night festival show, Emo and I went to the DSI Comedy Theater's training centre space on Franklin Street in Chapel Hill and spent an hour taking some great images (see image at top of post).

Kevin Allison

The first weekend of the festival was filled with sketch comedy, standup comedy, and hilarious storytelling. Kevin Allison brought his show and podcast RISK! to DSI, featuring four great stories told by four wonderful storytellers.

I emailed Kevin prior to my departure for North Carolina and asked to setup a shoot. He checked out my portfolio and happily agreed to do a shoot with me while we were both at the festival. Kevin and I spent a couple hours in and around the DSI Comedy Theater taking a variety of portraits that he could use for publicity and the would be great for my portfolio. 

At one point, when we started to head out back behind the theatre, DSI performer Paul Kilpatrick was coming back from lunch and jokingly asked if we were at the topless point of our shoot. A quick "yes and" later and Paul was topless in the background by some random pickup truck. The photo above is right after Kevin turned around to see what was actually going on behind him. Amazing!

Maria Bamford

Finally, I got to meet and perform with the incredibly hilarious Maria Bamford. While I didn't get to catch her set at the Carolina Theatre in Durham — I was actually getting a much needed half-hour back massage at the Streets of Southpoint mall due to two gruelling days of shooting more than 80 performer headshots — I did catch her during her show for MISTER DIPLOMAT on Friday night at DSI. As expected, she was amazing.

While we weren't able to find time in our schedules for a proper portrait shoot, it was great to have her sit in with us as we performed in The Bat, the show that traditionally closes out the main weekend of the festival on Saturday night. The Bat is performed completely in the dark and all characters are distinguished only by the voices, a show totally up Maria's alley. She offered up some of the funniest lines of the show and we all had a blast playing with her.

Future Celebrities

While I was in North Carolina, I took headshots for two days of more than 80 of the U.S.'s top up-and-coming comedians. Many past festival performers are now writers and performers on SNL, starring in sitcoms, and have produced amazing shows for AMC and HBO. After seeing the amazing level of talent at this year's festival, I suspect many of these performers will go on to do great things, as well.

RISK! Show and podcast producer and host Kevin Allison (foreground) poses while North Carolina comedian Paul Kilpatrick plays it up in the background. Photo by Kevin Patrick Robbins.

Maria Bamford, standup comedian and funniest woman on the planet. Photo by Kevin Patrick Robbins.

Studio Move

Since September, I have been renting and sharing a studio space with my close friend Ashley of Ashlynn Imagery. It's a fantastic space at the corner of Barton and Ottawa, in the fastest growing BIA in Hamilton. However, since Ashley is primarily (though, not exclusively) a consumer photographer (portraits and boudoir), and I'm primarily a commercial, advertising and editorial portrait photographer, I need a space more suitable to the needs of my business. (NOTE: If you're looking for a studio to use/share on a regular basis, I highly recommend you contact Ashley and inquire about her space.)

As of March 1, my studio will be located in Studio 2C at 468 Cumberland Ave., where I will be sharing a space with Jon Evans. Jon is moving his office to his home and we will be working to make the studio more flexible for each of our commercial photography needs.


Finally, while I was in North Carolina, I received notice that I have been accredited by the Professional Photographers of Canada. "The Professional Photographers of Canada is a diversified group of creative artists dedicated to the highest standards in professional imaging."

I will be teaching a workshop on retouching at the PPOC Hamilton-Niagara branch in March. Additionally, I have been asked to join the board of the Hamilton-Niagara branch of PPOC.