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First Studio Shoot, Featuring Robb Barnes of Ottawa’s The Pale Light.

I’ve known Robb for a few years, as we worked together before I jumped into photography.

Last winter, Robb went down in his basement’s music room and pretty much pumped out an entire album on his own, and gave his one man band a name: The Pale Light.

When he approached me to make some images for his “band”, I really had no idea on how to go about making it happen but agreed to work with him, seeing this as a solid personal growth opportunity.

We thought about it for a bit over a couple of beers to see where we wanted to take this, and I really liked some photos he showed me of a recent Matthew Good shoot. We used the images to work from and the result is heavily inspired from them but worked well as a learning experience. I’m afraid I was never able to identify the Matthew Good photographer, if anyone knows who he is, please let me know so I can credit him!

In any case, we booked the House of Common studio here in Ottawa, and I borrowed some extra lights from my friend Justin at JVL Photo, and off we went one Saturday afternoon to give this a try.

I had never done a studio shoot before, but having been assisting Justin for a few years now, and with some extra counsel from him and Rémi Thériault, I think the whole thing went pretty well, considering it was a first.

Funny story is that between the shoot, and the time it took me to edit and deliver, Robb recruited members for his band and it’s no longer a one man band! So these images might not get used for the band after all, but I’m still happy with them. And maybe we’ll get to do the whole band next!

Here’s a gallery of the shoot!



An Announcement

Time for another belated post.

I do have a hard time keeping the website up to date, but life keeps things busy! Between taking care of the family and entering the process of buying and selling a house, well, some things do tend to by the wayside.

Nonetheless, I have an important announcement to make! As most of you already know, I’ve been doing regular work for the National Observer. Well, I’m happy to announce that since the beginning of the year, I am now part of the Ottawa staff of the publication!

I think it’s necessary to highlight how big of a deal this is. Staff jobs for photographers are few and far between, and even much less for photographers of, dare I say, my caliber. Still, it’s a perfect working relationship with a growing publication that I believe provides much-needed quality journalism, which also allows me to grow along with it. I am getting unparalleled access and exposure, it’s an incredible privilege and I couldn’t be happier.

With that said, I highly recommend you go on and visit the National Observer website and subscribe to support quality journalism outside of the legacy corporate publications for a much needed refreshed views on what’s important in Canada.

And if you hear about stories you think we should cover, let me know!

In the meantime, here’s a short selection of late December and early January work.




On Assignment: Trudeau’s 2016 End of Year Press Conference



In my quest to catch up with my activities, here’s another backdated post!

This one came around mid-December. It was week two of freelance work with the National Observer. I was assigned to cover Justin Trudeau’s end of year press conference at the Hill’s press gallery theatre.

Straight forward shooting, steady and good lighting inside while he spoke, handful of other photojournalists milling around, the usual Hill photographers.

The most interesting image to come out of this is the one you see above as a header. Beyond the actual speaking inside the theatre, the other interesting imagery to get that day was from the Prime Minister’s arrival, outside. It was a snowy day, so that can make for dramatic imagery.

Having set-up my other body inside the room for video along with my main lens (a 17-55 EF-S on the 7D, back then), I had put the 17-40 on the 5DMkII body for outside. We were expecting the PM to arrive by car, and the parking zone was really close.

I learned that with wider lenses, and this 17-40, when shooting wide open, you need to let a bit more light in to freeze action. The shot above isn’t all satisfying because it’s not fully frozen. It’s not bad, it’s a nice shot giving a feeling of movement, as he’s getting out of the car and moving towards the building, but you can probably see that his face looks weird, not very sharp, slightly blurry. The shot is somewhat in between. Some people like it, the National Observer liked it, and in the end it’s what matters. It has some things going for it, but it remains technically flawed.

There was not a whole lot more worthy of publishing to come out of this day, except another headshot of Trudeau himself inside.

It’s an ongoing learning process!



On Assignment: First Ministers Meeting



Note: I’m behind in these posts and am still populating the website. Bear with me, today’s post is about an assignment that is 6 weeks old.

For a first week doing work for the National Observer as a freelancer, it was one hell of a week. This assignment was taking me to the First Ministers meeting, held in Ottawa at the Diefenbaker building, not to be confused with the bunker. There was an extra treat that day, coming along with extra security; for some reason, Joe Biden was to take part in the morning session.

While photojournalism is a recent thing for me, I couldn’t ask for better events to start with. I was going to shoot all the premiers, the prime minister AND Joe Biden.

The Vice President of the United States of America was obviously one of the main targets of the day. While I did capture a few shots of the man, I must admit that I failed to capture something I was satisfied with. The National Observer editors were happy with what I provided, but I wasn’t. I didn’t get that shot I’d be happy to toss in the portfolio.

It was an interesting experience as a whole, getting packed with the photographer pool, sharing small dedicated podiums with the TV cameramen, generally having to contend behind them.

Oddly enough, Brad Wall, the Saskatchewan premier, and Christy Clark, the BC one, were the two people I ended up getting the most satisfying pictures of. I got a handful of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as well, including a great profile shot that I’m rather happy with.

That week, I was trying out post-processing approaches, trying to crush some blacks with the tone curve and then pumping up the contrast, along with a healthy dose of clarity. It’s given me some interesting results, some better than other, but is probably more on the over-processed side of things. It’s part of my current learning curve.

In any case, here is a gallery some more of my favorite images from that day of nearly 3000 images taken, including a few not yet published by the National Observer.




First Assignment, Gord Downie, Prime Minister Trudeau

I haven’t posted in a few weeks, as things picked up and got busy, really quickly! Here’s why.

On the first week of this month, I got my first assignment with the National Observer, a new up and coming online publication covering news and in-depth reports on under-covered Canadian stories in the area of climate, energy, business, culture and politics. It was exciting in and of itself since photojournalism is what got me into photography to start with.

The assignment was to cover the First Nations Special Chiefs Assembly, I did not really know what I was getting into on that day, but it turned out to be a fairly emotional one. Gord Downie was honoured by the chiefs in a special ceremony and received a spiritual name, Man Who Walks Among the Stars, for his work on advancing the cause of Canada’s First Nations. If that wasn’t emotional on it’s own, the fact that Downie is suffering from incurable brain cancer really drove the tragic element home.

As if this wasn’t enough, Prime Minister Trudeau was also set to speak there. As a matter of fact, he was on stage with Downie. For his speech, he was presented with a gift by young Autumn Peltier, who had prepared a speech but broke down in tears before she could finish it.

Finally, Mike De Souza interviewed Chief Serge Simon of Kanesatake, which yielded some decent portrait. Simon was present at the Oka crisis years ago, when I was 10 years old, and has an awesome perspective on these events, which I only saw through the lens of the young privileged suburban white boy all these years ago.

It was quite the first assignment, and in a sense, it lead busy weeks afterwards, of which I’ll write more about in later posts. But in the meantime, you can read more about the Chiefs Assembly here, and see more images from the day in the gallery below.



Vigil Against Kinder Morgan Pipeline in Ottawa



Last night, I was asked by and the Council of Canadians to come out and cover the Ottawa vigil organized to oppose the Kinder Morgan pipeline proposal.

That shot up here is probably the best one that came out of this gig. I was able to get it towards the end, as people were scattering.

The proposal would see the construction of a pipeline from the tar sands in Alberta to the city of Vancouver, to allow for the shipping of diluted bitumen to the Chinese market, significantly and dangerously increasing the tanker traffic in choppy, dangerous waters of the west coast.

The vigil was one amongst many organized by throughout the country, to raise awareness about the issue, as the government is about to make its final decision on approving, or refusing the proposal.

Here are a handful of the better shots to come out from the event, happening during the first snowfall of the season.