Monday, December 30, 2019

My Year End Bonus

This shiny new Nespresso Expert is my year end bonus for surpassing my sales goals for 2019. The CEO of Spencer Studio (me) and the VP of Employee Incentives (me) decided that the entire sales department (me) needed to be recognized for a job well done.

This new Nespresso Expert makes perfect Espresso, Lungo, Cafe Americano and Ristretto (a double strong espresso, same amount of espresso beans in half the amount of water) each at the push of a single button.

It also messages my smart phone when I am low on coffee pods, water tank is low or the basket of used pods is full.

I love working at Spencer Studio, the board of directors (me) is so generous. Not just to the sales department (me) but also the marketing department (me) and the maintenance department (me).... and we all need coffee....lots of coffee.

#OttawaPhotographer #BarrhavenPhotographer #Business #Ottawa #Headshots #lovemyjob #photostudio #corporateheadshots #photographer  

Friday, November 22, 2019

FEDEX: “When It Absolutely, Positively Has to Be Smashed Overnight”

FEDEX: “When It Absolutely, Positively Has to Be Smashed Overnight”
A viral video shared by photographer Greg Riegler over this past weekend highlights the problem of carriers mishandling packages — in this case, a package containing a $1,500 Canon lens. The video was captured by a video doorbell security camera and recently detailed by Riegler

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Why I'm a Rotarian

I remember seeing many old black and white photos of my father as a small boy wearing a metal brace on his arm. He wore it for two years between the ages of 4 and 6, he had POLIO.

So this news comes decades too late for him but I am still grateful to read this. A heartfelt thank you to Rotary International for taking this on as a project and raising over US$2 billion, and to The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for their 2 to 1 matching grant. People sometimes ask me what Rotary does, well this is what it does.

The Story, the wild poliovirus type 3 (WPV3) has been eradicated worldwide.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Square Thing Upgrade Takes Debit Now

Cool. Square sent me an email this morning saying our little devices have been upgraded to accept Debit Chip & PIN for any dollar amount. Previously they would only accept sales up to $100.

I love the convenience of Square, and have been using it a couple of years now.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Latest 5 Star Review... in Mandarin

I just got this 5 Star Online Review... Love it! I photograph a lot of international students, when he said he was going to leave me a review I asked him if he would do it in Mandarin... so cool.

" 是如何太太华最好的摄像师。他知道如何拍出最好的照片,也知道如何让一个人笑起来并且抓拍那一个美丽的瞬间。"

Translation "The Best Photographers in Ottawa Robin is the best cameraman in the world. He knows how to make the best photos and how to make a person laugh and capture that beautiful moment."

Monday, October 7, 2019

Newest Addition to our Portable Portrait Studio Kit

Each year my portable portrait studio case gets heavier and heavier. It's mainly from following the old boy scouts advice to "Be Prepared" I tend to add things to solve small problems that come up with doing headshots on location.

The latest addition is "Blot It" blotting paper from Sephora. It's tucked in with a couple of spare ties and a few other things designed to save the day.

As you can imagine, fixing a problem on the spot is less time consuming than fixing it in Photoshop later.

This has been an odd summer in Ottawa weather wise, humidity has been high and the need to blot the shine off foreheads seems to be happening much more often.

Up to this point removing shine has worked with some success just using a tissue. But it takes a few attempts and is seldom 100%. So we have added blotting paper to out location kit.

I would love to hear a few suggestions on other useful things to include. Lip gloss was suggested but it would have to be one time use (non-shareable) items for obvious reasons.

#OttawaPhotographer #BarrhavenPhotographer #Business #Ottawa #Headshots #lovemyjob #photostudio #corporateheadshots #photographer 

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Monday, September 30, 2019

Corporate Headshots for Scotiabank

Our simple on location "portable portrait studio" set up in one of the board rooms at Constitution Square to do corporate headshots for the Scotiabank Commercial Banking Team. Hard to believe we did all the headshots, teams and group shots and were done by lunch time, I have never worked with a more organized and efficient group. Thanks Haley.

#OttawaPhotographer #Business #Ottawa #Headshots #lovemyjob #photostudio #corporateheadshots #photographer

Sunday, July 28, 2019

I "Booked" It

I received a phone call from an author last week about doing her headshot for a book jacket. I said "what a novel idea". She said "I'm glad we're on the same page"

#lovemyjob #OttawaPhotographer #BarrhavenPhotographer #Business #Ottawa #Headshots #photostudio

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

RBC Bunch in the Vineyard

Judy and I made the long drive down to Niagara on The Lake for the "RBC Bunch in the Vineyard" charity fundraiser on Sunday. Perfect weather, free samples from eight amazing restaurants and twenty wineries. Very pleased to find so many vegetarian options too. A true first class event and well worth the trip. We have already planned to attend next year.

When I travel now I only bring my little Fuji X100 digital camera to get my travel photos. A simple non intimidating camera.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Thirty Nine

This month Spencer Studio celebrates our 39th year in business. Our launch in 1980 went unnoticed as the business world focused on the newest high tech invention from Japan, the fax machine, and 3M's launch of Post-It Notes, the birth of CNN and of course the world changing release of Pac-Man.

In 1980 the whole world was fixated by Mount St. Helens, the assassination of John Lennon and was wondered Who Shot JR?

So here we are in 2019, and after 39 years, surviving three recessions and reinventing ourselves about four times Spencer Studio is still here and doing fine.

I just wanted to say thank you for the decades of support, the opportunities and the love. Thirty nine years thrilled being part of your lives, there to photograph your graduations, your weddings, your promotions and your babies. With no plans to retire in the near future I look forward to next year and opportunities it will bring.

Robin Spencer
Master Photographer
Paul Harris Fellow

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Headshot - Great Expression

It was a pleasure meeting and photographing Erin Langevin of Langevin Learning Services this week. She was after an updated headshot for her company website. There were a lot of great images but I loved her expression on this image; strong, confident, successful.

#OttawaPhotographer #BarrhavenPhotographer #Business #Ottawa #Headshots #corporateheadshots

Friday, May 31, 2019

Wooden Leica Music Box?

For the photographer that has everything I guess. A wooden music box in the shape of a Leica Camera. You have a choice of several tunes Harry Potter theme song being one.

About US$12 on Amazon Check out the video

#OttawaPhotographer #lovemyjob #photostudio #photographer

Monday, May 27, 2019

Wow Nikon slips from #2 spot to #3. Pushed out by Sony.

Wow Nikon slips from #2 spot to #3. Pushed out by Sony.  I keep telling photographers that things are changing too fast to spend big bucks on soon to be outdated equipment. Best to sit back and watch before parting with $7-8K on a new camera

Read about it below.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Frizzy Hair Fix?

For years I have had to Photoshop out the fly away hairs on some female business headshots. The process is more tedious than it looks. Even though I made a Photoshop Action I called Fly Aways #3 (after my first two versions)  it is often a slow process

A client came in on a humid Friday (a doctor) she pulled out a bottle of Kerastase Elixir Ultime Oleo-complexe Versatile Beautifying Oil, to tame her frizzies. I wondered if that might be the solution to help my clients with their fly aways. She said it was great and cost about $40-$50

I discussed the idea over the weekend, my daughter suggested JOHN FRIEDA® Frizz Ease® Original Smooth Serum,  for only $11-15

Reading the reviews on Amazon made me believe it was exactly what I was looking for. So click click and it arrived in less than 24 hours. 

A bottle of JOHN FRIEDA® Frizz Ease® Original Smooth Serum now sits on the counter of the studio bathroom. Time will tell.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

2018 Marketing Goal Achieved

Midway through 2017 I set a marketing goal for myself, this is a very competitive business and we're all looking for an edge right. I thought I found one.

I set a goal deadline of Christmas 2017. My idea was working well but I was disappointed when Christmas came and I missed my goal by only two points.

January 2018 I set a new goal, more than double my 2017 goal. I was thrilled when by Christmas 2018 not only did I reach my marketing goal but exceeded it by three points.

Silly and superficial maybe but I decided I needed to mark the occasion by getting myself something special, a Movado.

So did my my marketing idea work, yes very well. Am I going to say what it was, no.  We live and die by our marketing, and in this industry when you come up with a creative idea, marketing or new tagline it is stolen within hours by your competition.

As to my Mavado I only wear it on special occasions, or when I need to dress up. Probably silly too right?

#OttawaPhotographer #BarrhavenPhotographer #Business #Ottawa #lovemyjob #photostudio #corporateheadshots #photographer #marketing


Monday, May 6, 2019


Hands on Sunday cooking class. Cordon Bleu trained Chef Julia Hsin is teaching us to make a "Japanese Omelette Rice."  I love meeting other creatives, they love what they do and have a great sense of humour.  Later this month Okonomiyaki (Japanese Cabbage Pancake)
 #OttawaPhotographer #Ottawa #Creatives

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

The Real Gold At The Professional Photographers of Canada Conference

At the Professional Photographers Conference in Montreal this past weekend. I go for one reason only, to hang out with Robert Provencher, (shown here) James Hodgins and Dan Morency. All at the peak of photographic excellence. I learn more from these three guys in a couple of hours than most photographers will learn in a lifetime. In fact James gave me aB2B marketing idea in the first 10 seconds of my arrival  that made the whole trip worthwhile. Dan said three words that helped me solve a marketing problem I have been struggling with for two years.

The secret techniques and ideas discussed are at such a high level you almost get dizzy, I love it. Thrilling like nothing else. Nothing is written down, it is all verbal. We speak in whispers and in code, like the Windtalkers but in 128-Bit encryption. Keeping these secrets from our competition allows us to remain full time working professionals in this crazy competitive industry. 

I hope whatever business you are in you have people like this to teach and inspire you.

#OttawaPhotographer #BarrhavenPhotographer #Business #Ottawa #lovemyjob #photostudio #corporateheadshots #photographer #marketing

Saturday, April 27, 2019

My New Manfrotto Alu Air-Cushioned Compact Stand Quick Stack 3-Pack

I continue to look for ways to make my location photography simpler I saw another photographer using these Manfrotto Alu Air-Cushioned Compact Stand Quick Stack 3-Pack and I just had to buy them.

Three light stands made with a rectangle base instead of the roundish base. That means that in my light stand case they take up a lot less room.The three stands take up the same space as two of my old stands.
I always bring three stands with me, Main light, Fill light and Background light. These new stands fit in my new Photoflex Transpac Single Kit Case but barely. If they were 1/2" longer they wouldn't.

My old Manfrotto stand have been with me for almost forty years and still work fine, just heavier and bulkier than these new ones. Believe me they have paid for themselves at weddings, family portraits, commercial headshots and studio portraits.

But forget all that. These new stands attach together when folded. Yes really, so cool.
They have a tab on the bottom the clips into the one beside it. There doesn't seem to be any limit to how many you can stack. There is a safety lock so they don't come apart by accident.

Takes up a lot less room and are much lighter. Love it. I paid about US$200 for the set.
I'm a full time professional photographer not something I do on the side so when it comes to buying equipment I need to justify it. These will make my life easier and I don't need to hire an assistant to carry additional heavy equipment.

I do a lot of location headshots and this will make my life easier jumping in to an UBER and heading downtown Ottawa.

Hey I found a video from Manfrotto about these. Check it out 

Older, wiser. Old dog new tricks.

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Wednesday, April 17, 2019

A Challenge To Photographers (Notre Dame Donation)

This morning I made a donation to the Notre Dame Restoration Fund. I just wanted to challenge other professional photographers to do the same.

Photographers,  I know we share a love of beautiful places. The city of Paris famous the world over for supporting the arts, our art.  Paris has given us so many iconic photographers like Louis Daguerre, Robert Doisneau, Jeanloup Sieff, Catherine Leroy, Brassaï, Henri Cartier-Bresson and Eugène Atget.

I encourage you to click the link below and make a donation to help recreate the beauty of Note Dame and support the city that has given us so many inspiring photographers.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

A LEGO Leica? Yup, Really

In the "Strange but True" category of photography is this. Leica probably the line of the world's most expensive cameras has teamed up with LEGO and has released a Lego Leica. Yes assembly required. With Mother's Day and Father's Day coming up this might be perfect for the photographer who has everything. No this Lego Leica doesn't work and is sold as a novelty only. The price I am hearing is US$45. And in case my family reads this, No I don't want one.

Oddly the only screams from the photography community is "Where's the red dot?" All leicas come with the iconic red dot. Good new however some enterprising person has produced a red dot sticker you can buy on eBay to complete the look.

Once again I find myself sitting here, head down, questioning the priorities of our culture. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

My New Portable Studio Case

This Photoflex Transpac Single Kit Case just arrived here at our studio today and I hope it will make my location shoots a little easier... on my shoulders and back LOL.  Here's what's got me excited. 

First: it's about 8" shorter than my old case. My old case would barely fit in the back of my JEEP.  

Second: while it is a little heavier this one has wheels. Although with the weather lately maybe it should come with skis.

Third: look at it. The inside is red. Most pro camera cases/bags are black inside and all professional camera equipment, cameras, flashes, meters, radio slaves etc. are also black. Finding something black, in a black case in a dimly lit room is almost impossible. For years I have been bringing a small flashlight or just have to feel around until I found something that felt like a wide angle lens or whatever.

My old case (now for sale I guess) had one large compartment and two small pockets. This new case has a large pocket on the inside cover for my umbrellas. And a number of compartments. One long compartment for my light stands and I'm hoping to get a couple of camera bodies, a couple of lenses and a couple of flashes in the smaller compartments.

I am optimistic this case on wheels will replace both my camera bag and my light stand case that I have been carrying up till now.

Older, wiser. Old dog new tricks.

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Saturday, March 30, 2019

Coffee with Derian Tuitt

Derian Tuitt spoke to our Rotary Club two months ago, born in Antigua he has an inspiring rags to riches story. I was very impressed and wanted to follow up. We had very similar philosophies on life and shared a similar sense of humour.

We met for coffee yesterday to catch up and share some business ideas, he gave me a copy of his book "Life Success Hacks" I of course asked him to sign it.

One of the many things we agreed on was that "networking" is done best face to face and that networking for the sake of networking is silly. Maybe the term should be changes to "Relationship Building".

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Your Business Cards are Always Available With These Apps.

I usually ask for a business card from clients and people I am interested in. Often I get a "Gee I don't have any business cards on me" response. Possibly they think, I'm not giving this idiot one of my business cards, but hopefully it's because they actually don't have any cards on them.

I'm rarely without business cards in my business card case. My wallet goes where I go and always has a half dozen extra cards in it as well.

But I have recently discovered two cool high tech apps for when I don't have any business cards on you.

Vistaprint offers a FREE App called MyCard downloadable from the usual places. It is simply an image of your business card (printed from your Vistaprint order) that you can Share (email, text, Messenger, Facebook etc.) with the click of a button. The person gets an actual image of your card (both sides) and the option to add you to their contacts.

So when someone asks for your business card and you don't have one you can say, Sure give me your email, smartphone number etc. and I will send it to you right now.

Plan B is BIZ-CARD : THE BUSINESS CARD APP, you download the FREE app, fill in your contact info and it produces a QR code. It saves the QR code to your smartphone. With the click on the App the QR code pops up on your screen and all someone needs to do is scan it on their smartphone and it instantly adds you and your contact info to their contacts.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

David Proulx Insurance Team Photo

David Proulx of David Proulx Insurance came to us a few years back and wanted a team photo that would allow an easy way to add new team members or remove them if they left the team.
After some thought we just used the layers function of Photoshop, we photograph people individually and drop people in or hide them as needed.

David is always on the cutting edge of new ideas.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Great Grad Photo Pose Idea

I wish I could take credit for this idea but it was the client who thought of it. Her university graduation photo

holding her kindergarten school photo.  I loved the idea.

#OttawaPhotographer #BarrhavenPhotographer #lovemyjob #ottawauniversity #gradphotos

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Green Screen/Extractions Floating Images

Nobody seems to know what to call these types of images. People often ask for a "floating image", an "Image with no box" or "a photo with no background" I know what they mean but there doesn't seem to be a layman's term for them. Sorry not even sure there is a common professional term for them. But we see them everyday.

​An image that just seems to be cut out (extracted) and dropped into different scenes or backgrounds. They are supplied with no background, well actually there is sort of a background made of light and dark gray squares like a checkerboard that will really only show up in programs like Photoshop.

 Where are they needed.
They are used on websites where you want to see the web page behind you, or on a business card when you want to look like you are part of the card instead of a photo stuck to it. (See samples)

We often use them to drop someone in front of a scene, realtors in front of a nice home, lawyers in front of the Supreme Court or financial planners in front of the stock exchange. 

How Can We Help?
For the person that wants a "floating no background" image, we simply do the shoot, you give your best Hollywood smiles, then you pick the best expression, we retouch it so you look spectacular and then we save it as a PNG file and email it to you. The same file can be used for your website or business cards.

More information and prices 

Friday, January 25, 2019

CMP, Always a Fun Awards Gala

It's always a pleasure photographing the Canadian Mineral Processors Awards Gala. A yearly event for me, I am always so surprised how many attendees remember my name year after year.

Certainly worth fighting my way there through a horrible snow storm and freezing rain to get there this year.

Of all the galas and award events I photograph every year it is safe to say that the CMP are the friendliest and most fun.

#Ottawa #CorporateEvents #Business #Westin #CMP

Thursday, January 17, 2019

9 Tips on "What to Wear For Business Photos"

We can suggest slimming poses, and our professional retouchers can help with blemishes, lines, wrinkles, yellow teeth or double chins etc. But here are a few suggestions that you can do to really improve your final professional images. We have taken our nine top tips from our "What To Wear For Your Business Photo and Corporate Headshots" downloadable tip sheet. It is full of suggestions and advice.

1: When in doubt about what to wear, a slightly conservative look is best
2: Keep jewelry simple
3: Wearing Green sends a "Don't Trust Me" message
4: Wearing Purple sends a "Cheap Image" message (Eggplant is OK)
5: Wearing Brown sends an "Unsophisticated" message
6: Wearing Black or Navy sends a "Successful and Trust Worthy" message
7: Wear lipstick or lip balm to avoid dry chapped lips

8: To appear slimmer do: wear solid dark colours that fit properly
9: To look slimmer avoid: short sleeves, bold patterns, plaids, shiny fabrics, heavy fabrics and large areas of white or pastels.

More ideas here:

Headshots, but different.

I love this sort of photo session, something a little different than our usual business headshot.

The client wanted a few shots for some vintage clothes she was selling.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Lots of Room for My Portable Studio

It was so nice to be able to set up my portable headshot studio in a location with some elbow room. Thanks CFN Consultants, it was a pleasure meeting and working with you all.

Usually when working in a downtown I end up setting up my portable studio in the corner of a large boardroom. Unfortunately boardroom tables don't move leaving me and my subjects little room to maneuver. Working in this location was a very joy.

Finer details about are services can be found at