The Cannes Lions was just last week (17 – 23 June 2017) but we’re still over the moon about Arash Moallemi‘s shoot with IKEA Canada winning a couple of Lions, and social media mentions from FastCo, Mashable, Huffington Post, Design Boom (and even the official Cannes Lions Twitter!).

This unbelievable response to Cook This Page, was led by Anthony Chelvanathan of Leo Burnett Toronto, so naturally we called up Arash to find out what the process was like, and to share some behind the scenes shots :

“It was a standalone, one day shoot where we had to execute every recipe in the book in both motion and stills. To keep it tight, we made sure the set was optimized to shoot both genres at the same time.

It almost didn’t happen, because the ink had to be food safe but a printer finally pulled through and everything fell into place. A year of planning had gone into this so on the day of the shoot, Anthony C and Lisa G knew exactly what they were looking for and the direction the shoot had to go in. For me, I didn’t have to guess and it was easy to set up for the next shot and so on. It was plain execution, no need to “figure it out”. On the day of the shoot we let the wood surface set the tone for the overall feel.

What makes me happiest is delivering on Anthony’s “baby”. As a commercial DP and photographer, my job is to realize my clients goal and this is an example where it went really well.”

Content has been condensed and edited for brevity. 





It was hot, sweaty and windy. Arash Moallemi had flown down to Dallas for the State Fair of Texas to shoot an engine prototype for Ford, unsure of what he was walking into.

Pierre Bourjo, had recently accepted a new project for to create an interactive 3D model. The idea for Ford’s new engine prototype seemed simple enough – tap and zoom in with your fingers to see details from all angles of an object suspended in space. And then you find out there are no blueprints, no references, but the only physical prototype in North America was somewhere in Dallas for show. To somehow bring back all the details, Pierre figured photogrammetry was the solution. Simply put photogrammetry is a process of creating a digital model from hundreds of photographs.

When Arash arrived, the engine was under a tent on grass. He had a couple of hours to shoot before the fair began, keeping in mind all the supporting plates Pierre will require to build the animation. Arash said, “The engine was on a podium that didn’t spin. So this meant that we had to mark our distances and shoot around it in 360….It was a challenging shoot as technically I had to do my best to be perfect, but the engine was crooked (as it was sitting on grass), the wind was crazy high and kept ripping up the background paper and knocking it down. It was so hot and humid even this Middle Eastern boy had to take a water break between each set of images. [Finally] Got all the images in the bag, just in time for the fair to open.”



The solution of photogrammetry was a little risky – would any parts be missing or incomplete? There was no opportunity to reshoot. Armed with tons of visual references, Pierre started to build. To produce a fully controllable model with fleshed out details, he created some sculpts but also entirely recreated all details, so it was clear and precise when viewed at various angles, or zoomed in.

He says, “In the span of a few weeks, I processed the base shape of the 3D engine from the photographs, modelled additional parts by hand and fine tuned the textures to ensure everything was optimized for real time interaction. The client was able to carefully inspect the 3D model onscreen throughout the process and I made the necessary changes to reflect the product accurately.

Over 1 million polygons later and after perfecting the high resolution texture maps, the result is one of the most detailed interactive model we have seen of its kind. Just a perfect engine in space. It’s always rewarding to push new technology to its limits with a successful outcome!”



For those who love food but want to explore a little, who have ‘”done” the comfort food train for long enough and crave fresh vistas of experience, Actinolite is probably your next stop. Hello… kale sorbet?

It might sound left field, but Actinolite‘s menu is simply field-based. Led by chef Justin Cournoyer, the curated, ever-changing menus focus entirely on local, sustainable ingredients and foraging the fields around the actual town of Actinolite. Photographers Arash Moallemi and Jim Norton has been following one of Canada’s Top 100 restaurants since its inception. See below for images of the restaurant and its menu, to be featured on tonight’s premiere of Chuck & Danny’s Road Trip on Food Network Canada!


Foraging outside Actinolite, Ontario

Photo credit: Arash Moallemi


The restaurant at Dupont/Ossington
Actinolite shot by Arash Moallemi

Photo credit: Arash Moallemi

Actinolite Inside Arash Moallemi

Photo credit: Arash Moallemi

Actinolite Flour Jim Norton

Photo credit: Jim Norton

Actinolite Kitchen Jim Norton

Photo credit: Jim Norton


Last words

Arash Moallemi: The menu might not be for everyone, but the curating is amazing. One dish leads to another perfectly. I find myself thinking about it a week later – it inspires my work even. The dedication to bringing out the best in an ingredient’s essence, that was at the back of my mind when I was shooting the next round of IKEA products. How do I really bring out that knife or cheese grater? It is all about doing simple, well.


What a blast! The Advertising & Design Club of Canada had its annual do at Koerner Hall, doling out awards at the industry’s version of the Oscars. Here’s a list of campaigns we were grateful to have worked on:

“Printed By Somerset” – Leo Burnett Toronto wins Gold in Graphic Design and Interactive Advertising. The client was Printed By Somerset. Video and part photography by Arash Moallemi.


“Smith Brunch Menu” – Leo Burnett Toronto wins Gold for Graphic Design. The client was Smith Restaurant. Images shot by Arash Moallemi.

Arash Smith Restaurant ADCC Arash Smith Restaurant ADCC Arash Smith Restaurant ADCC Arash Smith Restaurant ADCC

“A Bottle of Sunshine” – Leo Burnett Toronto wins Silver for Package Design. The client was Yellow Pages. Lemonade bottle shot by Adrian Armstrong

AA Lemonade Stand Yellow Pages ADCC


“Hot Fuzz” – Carlyle Routh wins Merit for Photography & Illustration in Editorial Photography for her work in The Globe & Mail.

CR Globe style ADCC

CR Globe style ADCC
CR Globe style ADCC



“Pavlova Series” – Rob Fiocca wins Merit for Photography & Illustration in Unpublished Photography.

RF Pavlova ADCC
RF Pavlova ADCC



IKEA Canada brings in a different perspective for the 2016/2017 #IKEAMarketHall campaign. Arash Moallemi shot the following stop motion and stills for digital as well as out of home use. We asked Arash for his take, working on such a unique set:



Q: Wow Arash, how long did this take?

A: My part was about 2 days, although a full build at my studio had already started before hand. We spent the morning of the first day getting the cameras in position and then lighting for Set One. Next, Sonia our prop stylist, took over and started dressing the set and we worked on finalizing the propping.

Q: You’ve done a number of architectural spaces over the years, how did this shoot compare?

A: I’ve shot a lot of room sets before, but this was the first we did with such a forced perspective from above. It was a very technically challenging shoot as the lighting had to make sense, particularly since it is not a traditional room, so there was no pre-established template of how it would be lit.

Also, once we set up the cameras we had no access to them as they were 30 feet above the set. It’s interesting as a photographer to do a 2 day shoot and not look through or hold a camera for 2 days.


See the time-lapse of both shoots going at the same time:


Behind the scenes stills:
Arash IKEA market Hall BTS
Arash IKEA market Hall BTS

The floor sticker:

IKEA Market Hall Arash Moallemi

And here’s the rest of the stop motion series: