Have you ever considered how one small innocuous thing happening can change your life’s course? This is the story of how I met Phillip.

It’s not often that someone comes into your life and impacts it so profoundly and so immediately. Phillip Fourie did that for me, or to me, or made me do it. It really doesn’t matter which one it was. The impact has been significant.

It started rather innocently enough when I received a call from someone (Phillip Fourie). He had seen my images at the Mississauga garden counsel. He was rather persuasive and persistent. Phillip had a proposal about a high end Mississauga magazine that I had to absolutely listen to before I was allowed to decline. Little did I know!

Around the same time as that phone call, two other completely unrelated things happened.

Derry Bunting had approached me previously and wanted me to join him in a collaborative of photographers. He would be an agent for artists and photographers. His first limited edition prints would be a partnership with me. We made two below is the “Heron in the Mist”

Another friend, Al Seymour, was having breakfast with us at a church men’s group. At that event, Al shared with us a concept he had about a high end custom built garden shed business. His drawing was made with a dot matrix printer.

Go forward another three weeks and I get that phone call from Phillip. Sensing an opportunity to assist Derry, I called him and asked him to be in my office visiting around the time Phillip would show up. Derry and I decided that if the opportunity presented itself, I would broach the subject of his business. Not only that, but if it was the right fit, we might even bring Al’s project up.

Phillip came into my office and his proposal was for me to do photography for the magazine in exchange for the byline, and seeing my images broadcast to over 20,000 homes. Additionally, I made a deal to get my financial planning practice a discounted ad. I’ve always wanted to be published in a high end magazine.

Phillip told us more about his magazine and there seemed to be wonderfully aligned objectives. It was a win-win situation. We were able to tease a free ad out of Phillip for the limited edition prints to boot!

I sensed the perfect opportunity to mention Al’s wonderful sheds. I suggested an article featuring a back yard before and then after a shed was built might be interesting. No apparent interest was shown for that idea and we ended the meeting.

Three days later, I get a number of calls from Phillip. How would my friend Al like to have his shed not only in the magazine, but featured on the front cover. He would have a high gloss full colour image of his sheds in 20,000 homes. Because of time pressure for the magazine publishing deadline we needed to have the shed ready and photographed in three weeks. I replied to Phillip with a little fib, I had to connect with Al and find out where he stored or built one. I promised to get back to Phillip within two days.

Within seconds of hanging up I put out an all points bulletin for Al. We tracked him down and the conversation went very much like this. “Hi Al, I have a proposal for you that you are not allowed to refuse! How would you like to have 20,000 full colour high gloss images of your shed in some of the best homes in Mississauga. That image would not only be in the first ever issue of this high end magazine, it would be featured on the front cover!”

Al wanted some time to think about it. I gave him long enough for me to catch my breath. Then I asked, ” By the way how long would it take you to build one?”

He thought about it and said “Two to three months.”

“You’ll have to do better.” I said. “In fact, if you can implement my plan we can be ready sooner. Our deadline to press date is three weeks! Tell me, yes Naguib, we can do it.” An hour later, Al called and gave the go ahead. I called Phillip and told him the truth, Al is in the process of building a shed that would make him proud of the first cover of the Mississauga Quarterly.

We met early the next day, to plan the shoot. Our outdoor studio was going to be like a movie set. We also needed to remember that the look was to be that of a spring garden. It was April!

My plan was as follows:

  • We only need to have a front face with windows and a door plus one side
  • The roof has to be shingled on the one side
  • Landscaping must also have plants in bloom and a walk leading up to the front door of the shed. Box plants for the windows.
  • Lighting for the walkway
  • A barbecue and furniture would complete the look
  • The shed must face the early morning sun for mood lighting. Oh and did I mention that the sun must be shining?

Al was fortunate enough to have in-laws who had the space to build our set on their driveway. We marshalled a lot of resources, borrowed plants and windows as well as a door. A high end barbecue was donated just for the shoot.

The day of the shoot was supposed to be overcast, but we got sunniness really early before it hid behind some clouds We did the shoot in less than an hour.

It’s been exactly fifteen years since this project went from a piece of paper, to the starting of a construction business. That stretch saw the launching of a magazine that the city could be proud of.

It also unleashed the photographer in me. One that only saw the possibilities and not the obstacles. It taught me to be brave enough to realize that when an opportunity presents itself, to grasp and to jump in. It’s the stuff that enriches life’s journey. It taught me that seemingly unrelated things happen for a reason and we may not be smart enough to know why until it all fits together.

We’ve all gotten closer and have had many adventures since. Stay tuned for more.

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