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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.