Cody Caissie

Biography of the company Founder and Director of Photography

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Cody Caissie

Director of Production & Lead Photographer

Cody Caissie is focused on delivering professional and creative photography solutions to his clients. Passionate about e-Commerce Product Photography and Creative Brand Imagery, as well as business development/growth.

Cody is the Founder of Studio Cody Caissie while being the Director of Production; he oversees all aspects of any project that comes into the business. Over the past ten years in operation, Cody has built a brand that services a diverse and robust client base of e-Commerce businesses while gaining over 240+ 5Star reviews across three platforms (170+ on Google | 50+ on Facebook | 29+ on Yellow Pages) which has positioned the company to be one of Montreal’s top-rated photography studios to specialize in e-Commerce photography and Creative Brand imagery/video.

Born and raised in rural Chipman, New Brunswick (population 1,100+) in a single-parent household (raised by his loving mother), Cody had to grow up fast. He was gaining self-sufficiency by babysitting and cooking for himself at the age of nine while his mom worked two jobs to keep a roof over their heads. At this milestone in Cody’s life, his mother was a great example of what strength, independence, and survival looked like; it was then she gave him the best advice when Cody saw all his friends gifted with new clothes, bikes, CD players, VCRs, etc…it was the 90’s. As children do, he asks his mother, “May I have a new…” but to no fault of her own, Cody’s upbringing was poor. She told Cody, “If you want something in life, you have to earn it, you have to work for it.” From that moment, not fully understanding what she meant or recognizing the significance, the entrepreneur was born.

Fast forward through the pre-teen/teenage years, Cody had a paper root at age 9 to 15, mowing lawns during the summers, shoveling snow for the elderly during the winters, and burning CDs for his friends (remember it was the 90’s and early 00’s).

At the age of 16 (when the teen angst and entitlement was kicking in), Cody was compelled to enter the real workforce by his mother when Cody decided he would take the summer off. Rightfully so, his mom kicked his ass out of the house and told him, “Don’t come back until you have a J.O.B.” Cody, with determination, walked to the local diner, spoke to the owner, and was hired as a dishwasher/prep-chef; however, the official title later awarded to him was “Kitchen Bitch”. This second milestone moment all took place within 30 minutes of leaving the house.

*Thanks, mom.

While he was developing his entrepreneurial sense of self and work ethic, Cody had a keen photographic eye. He was fascinated by Photography and Videography at a very young age. Growing up in a small village in rural New Brunswick was tough for a young kid like Cody, who dreamt of living in the big city someday; being gay and closeted made it that much more imperative to have an outlet of expression like Photography.

Cody knew he was different, not like the rest. He was becoming self-aware of his identity at the age of 12. Like most boys who were gay back when the internet was not so accessible, they were defined by two outlets; one was religious, and the other was the Webster’s dictionary. Cody, not being ashamed or confused, identified himself with the latter. Unfortunately, he did not grow up in what the kids of today are experiencing as a “woke” society; he still had to protect himself from harm. He became introverted and forced himself into self-isolation from his friends and family so that he could build the strength needed for the challenges yet to come. During these years, Cody excelled at being a survivalist, being independent, and reaching for the creative.

Through his teen years and right up until Cody was 19, he always had his camera on him wherever he would go. It wasn’t until a university fair visited his High School, CFAS (Chipman Forest Avenue School), in 2005, where he saw the light at the end of the tunnel. There was a booth that hosted an art school called New Brunswick College of Craft and Design, which offered a three-year Photography program in NBs capital city, Fredericton, which was only 60km away. Cody had no idea a career could be made at producing photographs for others. He quickly applied and was accepted to the 2005 fall semester, i.e., Class of 2008. The next three years turned out to be Cody’s next milestone, the one where his life/career would indeed start.

Cody moved to Fredericton at the age of 19, signed his first lease for a one-bedroom apartment out on Wilsey Street. As soon as the last box was unloaded from the truck, he hugged his tearful mother and thanked her for sacrificing so much, for putting up with all of his bullshit while growing up but most importantly for making him the man he was that day; It was an emotional moment for both, but for Cody, at the same time it was a bittersweet moment. It was bittersweet because, for the first time in Cody’s life, he experienced freedom from harm, freedom to express himself, freedom to be openly gay, freedom to forge his path the way he wanted too, the risk of Cody’s hometown was far away. The introvert could now become an extrovert. 

In Cody’s 1st year at NBCCD, he had his Black & White nude portraits (male & female) showcased at his favorite night club, Boom. At the age of 20, fresh out of the closet and already receiving what he perceived as VIP celebrity status based on his work, life was good.

During his 2nd year, Cody wanted to legitimize his position as a professional and registers his first business, “Cody’s Photography.” at the age of 21. Here he would gain experience while earning a little money by photographing family portraits, baby sessions, weddings, grad portraits, etc.

It wasn’t until Cody’s 3rd and final year at NBCCD that he picked his major, Product/Advertising Photography. From here, he stopped photographing portraiture and focused on e-Commerce/Fashion; this was when he met Erica Steeves, a classmate majoring in Fashion Design, who would later (10-years later) become his business partner in Montreal.

In 2008, Cody received his Diploma in Fine Craft Photography from the New Brunswick College of Craft and Design. He was bestowed with the Duffy Award as the graduate most likely to achieve success. Every year since then, Cody has been invited back as an Alumni to speak/teach a mini-session to the 1st-year students as part of their Professional Development course. Following graduation, Cody didn’t stay in New Brunswick long and set his eyes on Montreal, Quebec.

Upon visiting Montreal in early January 2009 (that’s right, winter in Montreal), it was love at first sight. Cody fell deep in love with the city that would soon become his home, which set in motion future milestones that would forever change his life.

Cody Caissie Director of Production Lead Photographer

Young trailblazer Cody, who was 23 years old, with $2,000 in the bank, no job prospect lined up and knowing very little French besides Chiac, a dialect of the Acadian French language; he moved to Montreal on April 1st, 2009, with a dream and ambition of being a successful e-Com/Advertising Photographer, while learning Québécois.

Fast forward to the present; you will hear Cody say “J’adore Montréal; c’est ma maison”

It was not easy in the beginning; the first 6-months were very difficult for Cody with no family close by to call for help and making friends was a slow endeavor. As an anglophone who recently migrated to Quebec, the only available work that offered sufficient pay was telemarketing. Cody went through 4 job postings during those 6-months, the first being door-to-door surveying Montreal’s English suburbs, while the rest were phone sales working for Bell, Rogers, etc…that’s right; Cody was that asshole calling you when the hockey game was on asking if you were happy with your long-distance provider. He wants to apologize officially and hopes it is understood that a young man has to make rent just like everyone else.

All-in-All, Cody accepted this chapter in his life as an initiation to be a Montrealer. He would describe to any newcomer who may be struggling to assimilate/survive in Montreal to make it a point to understand who she is and what ideals she holds close to her heart. Do this by walking around and visit her many diverse and historic neighborhoods and not just once but as many times as possible. One of Cody’s former Art History professors, Johnny Leroux would always say, “when exploring a city, don’t forget to look up; the architecture, the design, the molding, even the material can tell you more than what is seen at eye-level; look up.” Cody also recommends to try and learn French #obvi.

If Montreal were a family member, she would be that rebellious, freethinking, artistic but not truly understood aunt. We all have one in our family or know somebody who does. If you show her respect and genuine interest in her company, she will be the one who sneaks you your first drink and eventually introduces you to the right people at the right time. Show her disrespect and disinterest, well she may not do you any favors or even know you’re in the same room as her. #Who?

When Cody looks back at those first six months, it was a positive learning experience; it was this milestone that taught him customer service, confidence to make in-person + on-phone sales, and that dreams can come true if you have perseverance.

Fast forward to November 2009 when Cody would stumble onto a Craigslist job post ad, which would forever change his career. He would soon be introduced to his then-new mentor/boss and still to this day, close friend Joshua Jones, the Director of Photography at a new e-Commerce company known as Beyond The Rack.

BTR was hiring a full-time product photographer with full salary, health benefits, paid vacation, and opportunities to grow within the company. Cody had hit the mother-load, the big break, and the reason why he moved to Montreal in the first place, i.e., to be a successful professional photographer.

Cody met with Joshua Jones at BTR’s headquarters (at the time) out in Ville-Saint Laurent on rue Isabey. It was approximately 1.5 hours commute by public transit from the Gay Village. Nervous as hell, with portfolio and CV in hand, Joshua, who recently moved to Montreal himself and originally from New Zealand, conducted a very informal 3-hour interview with Cody. During this time, the two small-talked and flirted a little *professionally speaking, i.e., they flattered one another. Lastly, Cody had a trial shoot of photographing 50+ women’s scarves. All the while, Joshua not once looked at Cody’s CV or portfolio.

After the interview with Joshua, Cody was presented to the co-founder and COO Mr. Robert Gold; Cody shook Mr. Gold’s hand firmly and laid out the floor plan on how he was going to bring value to this new and exciting company. Little to Cody’s knowledge, Mr. Gold would be a pivotal player some years later in his career path. 

Two weeks later, Cody receives a phone call from Joshua, who informs him that he got the job and starts Monday. Cody, with tears of joy in his eyes, realizing a dream had just come true, and a new chapter of his life was about to begin; he asked Joshua that fundamental question that all recent hires should ask their employer, “Why did you pick me out of all the candidates? You never even looked at my portfolio.” Joshua responded with a multilayered answer that Cody uses as a qualifier to this day when hiring his staff/freelancers at the studio. That response Joshua gave was, “I didn’t look at your CV or review your portfolio during your interview because it would not have been relevant when making my final decision. I formulate my choice when hiring an individual based on our interaction together, their character, and how they carry themselves. From there, I ask myself two questions: will this person annoy the hell out of me? Will they bring value to my department? I could potentially be working with this individual for the next 3 to 5+ years; I need to make sure there is chemistry there. It wouldn’t matter if you had the weakest or strongest CV/portfolio. That can be course-corrected with proper guidance; one’s personality and character are fixed. Who am I to change who you are? I found when talking with you, Cody; you’re personable, you made me laugh, you engaged in a two-way conversation while being interactive, and you seem very interested in learning more about the company, the studio, and the position. What solidified my decision is that you were the only candidate who expressed and said, “I want this job. I want to work here, and I will work very hard to help the company grow”.

The rest is as they say History; Cody started his first job as a product photographer at Beyond The Rack in late 2009 as employee #40. He would go on to befriend Joshua as his righthand. At the same time, Cody would introduce and implement processes and streamline workflows between multi-leveled/integrated departments, i.e., The Photography Department (TPD) with The Imaging Department, TPD with The Merchandising Department, Sample Management with Styling, Styling with TPD and so on.

BTR was fresh on the market and riding the shock wave of The Great Recession; it put Canada on the map for online Flash Sales, we were known for our innovation in technology and UX design. More specifically, The Photography Department has been credited to output 200+ samples per day, per studio thanks to Cody. He wrote the manual on how samples were photographed and processed internally, which caught the upper management’s attention, including those C-level executives. This milestone would be the first of few promotions and title changes during his 5-year tenure.

All the while, Cody, on the weekends and during those 1 to 2-hour commutes to BTR (to and from FYI), was building his empire, i.e., Studio Cody Caissie by working on his Blog “Photography Smartz” (which is making a come back soon) + pitching to new clients, editing photos, working on his SEO, etc. Cody did all of this while being a full-time Studio Manager / Project Coordinator of Photography in the end. During that time, Cody credits and offers thanks to the schooling he received at BTR. He accumulated experience in photographing a multitude of diverse subjects such as jewelry, cosmetics, clothing, both on and off the model, and so much more. The volume of SKUs was extremely high, which forced him to think quickly on his feet and develop processes/workflows for his staff, which resulted in meeting tight deadlines. At the same time, Cody learned management skills from maintaining regular staff, freelancers, and models while being responsible/overseeing BTRs 12 studios (8 in Montreal, 2 in Las Vegas, 1 in Plattsburgh, and 1 in their New York City office). It was a fun ride.

On August 7th, 2010, Cody registered with the Quebec/Federal government, Studio Cody Caissie, as a sole proprietorship. After five years of building his business slowly on the side while being a full-time employee for BTR, in January 2015, Cody took a chance. He gathered the courage to leave the security of his full-time, high-status salary job and jump 110% into his own business. The risk was high, and the payout was low, but he did it regardless. For Cody, it was and still is not about the money; it’s about building something worth calling your own.

If you did ask him, “Were you scared?” he would answer, “Hell yes,” he would also share the proverb “Fortis Fortuna Adiuvat; Fortunes Favors the Bold.” 

During the following two years i.e., 2015 to 2017, Cody conducted his photography business out of his loft roughly 300 to 500sq foot working space, which was located in the plateau on Avenue de Lorimier. He would endure a few set-backs, some sleepless nights, and hair loss from the top of his head while accruing new but slow growth as the company i.e., Cody, was finally spreading his wings and flying to new heights as a full-time independent freelancer.

In 2018, Cody saw the need and opportunity to reach not just one but two new milestones, which were to incorporate the business i.e., officially separate him from it and two, moving out of the small loft and into a larger/more commercial space i.e., 4000+ sq foot space in the Old Cadbury Factory on the corner of Bordeaux / Maison, still in the plateau.

Fast forward to 2020, five years after going independent and ten years after its founding, Cody now employs and works with 20+ creative individuals i.e., Photographers, Retouchers, Stylists, plus many others, and we’re still growing; while servicing over 50+ accounts, outputting 100+ photoshoots/projects and delivering 1000’s of images every month; Cody feels fortunate and grateful to those who have helped him get from where he was to where he is now.

If you are based in Montreal/Toronto and are working in the e-Commerce/creative industry while looking for additional work, visit our Careers page on our website: https://www.studiocodycaissie.com/careers/

If you are a brand, a merchandiser, a wholesaler or Amazon Seller and would like to work together to bring your content to the next level at affordable rates, please Contacting Us on our website: https://www.studiocodycaissie.com/contact-us/

In conclusion, Cody continues to take every opportunity to hire locally + build a team full of junior assistants, photographers, retouchers, stylists, and many more. As a DOP and a businessman, Cody likes to think that Studio Cody Caissie acts as a Bootcamp or incubator for other Creative individuals who want to work in this visual content creation industry, i.e., Photography & Videography.

Cody is a firm believer in hard work, patience, and determination. Cody will do his very best to coach his staff/freelancers while helping his clients market their brand with the visual assets created by the studio, so they may stand out in a multi-channeled digital world; while not breaking the bank.

As a leader, content creator, businessman, and digital marketer, with the help of Studio Cody Caissie, Cody will continue to develop his expertise, foster, and build a community of up-and-coming creative professionals while setting new goals to take SCC not only nationally across Canada but internationally across North America.

Upward and Up.

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