Advertising Photography for York Support Services Network

Written by Robert Lowdon

Robert Lowdon is an internationally published commercial photographer based out of Toronto, Canada. He spends his time photographing architecture and industrial projects for the most part.

Published August 5, 2019


One counselor holds a coffee cup while a client stands in the background. © robert lowdon

One counselor holds a coffee cup while a client stands in the background. © Robert Lowdon

I was asked to complete a photo campaign for YSSN back in March of this year. The client wanted the photographs to really showcase the people of all backgrounds that they help throughout the community.


A employee of yssn drinks coffee with a client. © robert lowdon

A employee of YSSN drinks coffee with a client. © Robert Lowdon

We set up with permission in a local Tim Hortons. The reason being is we wanted to create images similar to the meetings the staff of YSSN have with their clients on a daily basis. I wanted to create some honest images which would show a lot of real and not so staged emotion (even if they were at times).


Three people share a conversation of coffee. © robert lowdon

Three people share a conversation of coffee. © Robert Lowdon

For the dynamic of the shots, I wanted the images to be warm and inviting but be very “crisp”. To achieve this I used various lights and modifiers inside the coffee shop.


A mother with her daughter. © robert lowdon

A mother with her daughter. © Robert Lowdon

I was careful to balance the brightness of the outdoors to maintain certain details. While still giving a natural look similar to what the human eye would perceive.


A counselor for yssn talks with a young adult. © robert lowdon

A counselor for YSSN talks with a young adult. © Robert Lowdon

Almost all of these editorial style images were shot with a very large aperture. The reason for this, was to pinpoint the viewer’s focus.


A young client of yssn with her mother. © robert lowdon

A young client of YSSN with her mother. © Robert Lowdon

By creating a large amount of bokeh, it really adds a perceived amount of increased sharpness to the viewer. It blurs the background giving a warm and almost comfortable effect.


Three stand together at the coffee shop. © robert lowdon

Three stand together at the coffee shop. © Robert Lowdon

With the group shots, I almost always want to pull one person forward. It adds to the dynamic of the individuals. And most importantly, the image itself.


Mother in the forefront of the image. © robert lowdon

Mother in the forefront of the image. © Robert Lowdon


A counselor with her two clients in the background. © robert lowdon

A counselor with her two clients in the background. © Robert Lowdon


A women drinks coffee over conversation. © robert lowdon

A women drinks coffee over conversation. © Robert Lowdon

For all of these images we are using real people. I think it is really important. We could use models or actors, but you never get that realness in the eyes that you are looking for. Long story short, use real people.


A closer headshot style image with the window in the background. © robert lowdon

A closer headshot style image with the window in the background. © Robert Lowdon


A counselor for yssn brings a coffee. © robert lowdon

A counselor for YSSN brings a coffee. © Robert Lowdon

Most of the images simulate views from other tables. You are going to see shoulders in the foreground, heads in the background. I wanted to really simulate that coffee shop experience, and the images to match. There are even diagonal ones, similar to a look you might take over your shoulder.


A conversation over coffee. © robert lowdon

A conversation over coffee. © Robert Lowdon


A close in shot © robert lowdon

A close in shot © Robert Lowdon


A moment of reflection © robert lowdon

A moment of reflection © Robert Lowdon


Two staff members at a table © robert lowdon

Two staff members at a table © Robert Lowdon

I never work too hard on staging my subjects. You just don’t get those natural moments by telling someone how to stand and hold themselves. Of course, I will guide them, but the best images come from backing off and letting the scene just evolve.


A client and counselor share a laugh © robert lowdon

A client and counselor share a laugh © Robert Lowdon


A conversation over coffee and doughnuts. © robert lowdon

A conversation over coffee and doughnuts. © Robert Lowdon


Close up of a conversation. © robert lowdon

Close up of a conversation. © Robert Lowdon

From there website: “York Support Services Network is a community-based agency that offers a range of case management and community crisis services, to support individuals with a developmental disability and/or a serious mental illness. YSSN also provides services within the Children’s Services Sector, offering Children’s Case Coordination.”

YSSN is located in the York Region of Ontario. You can find out more about them here.


That’s a wrap. © robert lowdon

That’s a wrap. © Robert Lowdon

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