For Erin Simkin, the journey began eight years ago.
“Color, location and people are what drive me to create,” she said.
And create she has.
The impeccably talented photographer from Vancouver has maneuvered the trenches of action filmmaking with Dominic Purcell, Stephen Lang and Danny Glover. She’s been on set in the depths of an abandoned subway station in search of paranormal sightings with Rose McGowan and Christopher Lloyd. She’s shot for leading magazines and brands such as Toronto Life, En Route, The Grid, Peroni, Grolsch and Sephora.
Simkin’s vast list of achievements have propelled her to the top of the photography industry. Her creative and technically versed work has refined qualities and characteristics that rope in viewers time and time again.
Whether on-set photography used for film marketing and P&A, portraiture, lookbooks, editorials or branded imagery, Simkin drives her craft forward with a photographic passion that reveals itself in each and every image she captures.
“My style is very clean, colorful, bright and with an air-like openness,” she said. “I’m very much inspired by natural light, as I feel there is an inherent beauty to it that artificial lighting can’t quite match without a lot of work. I love exploring new places, meeting new people, and capturing and combining all of that in one image in order to tell a visual narrative.”
With color as the catalyst driving her vision, Simkin’s images embody texture and a dynamic use of interesting spaces. She’s most recently shot for the films “Lower Bay” (with McGowan and Lloyd) “Gridlocked” (with Purcell, Lang and Glover) and writer-director Joey Klein’s romantic drama, “The Other Half.”
“There are always great locations that we get to shoot in, amazing costumes and beautiful lighting to tell the story of the characters,” said Simkin, who shoots primarily with the Canon 5D Mark III. “I love photographing people. Each person has such a different history and tells their own story through their facial expressions, their style, hands, their energy and I love being able to document them in their world and in their work.”
Applying the same approach, Simkin photographed for the feature film, “Mean Dreams.” Due out later this year and directed by Nathan Morlando, it stars “The Book Thief” Sophie Nelisse, Josh Wiggins (“Max”) and Golden Globe nominee Bill Paxton, of “Titanic,” “Apollo 13” and “Aliens” fame. According to Variety, Paxton plays a corrupt cop and Nelisse stars in the role of his daughter. After stealing drug money from her father, Nelisse goes on the run with Wiggins’ character.
Filming commenced in Sault Saint Marie and Simkin said, “The pure beauty of the landscape and light paired with the incredibly talented actors all combined seamlessly into such beautiful imagery.”
“Mean Dreams” features the work of cinematographer Steve Cosens, a five-time Gemini Award nominee who won a Leo for his cinematography in Keith Behrman’s “Flower and Garnet.” With “Mean Dreams,” Cosens shot using ambient lighting, which provided a challenge for Simkin to match her still camera shots with that of the motion picture camera.
Simkin shot for the film using a lower shutter speed equipped to capture images in low light scenarios. “The resulting images I was able to capture was worth the challenge of shooting in low light constantly,” she said. “The photos I was able to get while working on the film were extremely poetic and it allowed us to capture the delicate and subtle natural light working that far up north.”
For TV, Simkin shot for the CBC’s “Baroness Von Sketch Show,” a new comedy due out this summer. She was hired to shoot set stills and create key art for advertising the show.
“The cast of incredibly funny and talented women made this project so enjoyable,” she said. “We went for a “Vanity Fair” Hollywood style gallery shoot and both the cast and the producers loved the final images. We had so much fun creating the style of the gallery shoot, yet I still made sure to stay true to the characters and the visual tone and style of the show with its various sketches and characters that our cast played.”
Simkin worked again in the comedy genre in writer-director Matt Sadowski’s 2014 romantic comedy feature, “Pretend We’re Kissing,” that starred Dov Tiefenbach, Tommie-Amber Pirie and Zoe Kravitz. With a huge filmmaking presence in Toronto, the tax-friendly filming location is often used as a simulated location rather than as its own true setting. The Canadian theme resonated with Simkin, who currently resides and works in Toronto.
“I got to work with some amazing actors on a really fun film that heavily featured Toronto actually as Toronto,” Simkin said. “Many native Torontonians commented on how they had been living here for x number of years and they’ve never seen Toronto shot the way that we showed them, which was exciting because it meant that we were able to show a new side to the city which is relevant to the story as the main character [Tiefenbach] falls in love and then views the city in a different way. Working with Zoe Kravitz was a real pleasure, as she was so driven and fun to work with as her character was an extremely memorable one.”
Simkin’s photographic journey has included her work for Lindsay Mackay’s family drama, “Wet Bum” (also known as “Surfacing”), that received seven international award nominations. She also worked as photographer for the documentary, “Sweet Daddy Siki,” which covers the life and times of Siki, one of the first African-American pro wrestlers.
“I had the chance to visit with Sweet Daddy Siki for a few hours in his home and was asked to photograph his story, his history, and take his portrait. He was so gracious and open to anything, including putting on his old wrestling costumes, which added so much to the portrait that we took,” said Simkin. “I felt like I was opening up a time capsule and meeting an icon.”
Simkin credits her mentors in the still photography world including Kimberley French (“The Revenant,” “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford,” “Brokeback Mountain”) and Cate Cameron (“Arrow,” “Bates Motel,” “The 100”). “Their help and advice and support have been invaluable,” she said.
While also a long-established portrait photographer, Simkin worked with Elle Ziegler of Blissful Back, a Toronto-based retailer of yoga and meditation support accessories and contoured pillows.
“We have a family business and needed our images to tell the story of my father and I’s amazing relationship, and the uniqueness of our father-daughter business,” said Ziegler. “Erin’s best quality is her ability to tell a story though her lens. She captures vulnerability and honesty in her portraits by making people feel completely open and comfortable in front of the camera. She made decisions based on the locations, sunlight, shadows, props and backgrounds – things that we never could have predicted and things that I didn’t even notice – that resulted in stunning images.”
Talia Chai, founder of Talia Chai Wellness, echoed similar sentiments. Simkin shot portrait, lifestyle and blog photos for Chai’s wellness brand. The shoot featured a combination of people and interior spaces.
“I think Erin has a fine-tuned, expert eye when it comes to photography,” Chai said. “She multitasked effortlessly, working the lights, me, props and of course the camera all at once. She was in complete control of her environment and knew exactly how to take advantage of natural elements already found in the space. She has an incredible eye for detail, lighting, color, shadow and uses these elements both strategically and intuitively to create absolutely stunning images that stand out.”
Simkin’s other photography experience includes her shooting key art for Brendan Canning’s new forthcoming album, for a Samsung Vue social media campaign and boardroom wall photography for Accelerated Connections Inc. She’s shot at events for the Toronto International Film Festival and Russell Peters Live at the ACC, as well as for the Globe & Mail, Toronto Star, National Post, Peroni, Samsung, GAP, Scotia Bank, Women of Influence, Women of Action, the Jewish National Fund, Sharp Magazine, Flare Magazine, Canadian Cinematographer and more.
For more information, visit: www.erinsimkin.com