Independent Photography

From there to here: three years at the charlatan


Part one: vol.38 2008-2009, the volunteer

 

When I first arrived at Carleton University in 2008, I had little to no knowledge of photography.  I did, however, have a cheap Canon SLR and some old lenses.  On clubs and societies day during frosh week I wrote my name on about 50 sign-up sheets.  The one I was most excited about and the only one I have stuck with was the charlatan.  My interest in photography started with this:

A simple photo, which said more about the massacre than words ever did.  I wanted to take that picture, or the equivalent thereof.  The problem was I had absolutely no clue how to get a job as a photographer for a newspaper.  It seemed like volunteering at the student-run paper on campus during my time would be a good call.

 

Field Hockey – Sports

Losing your virginity is a metaphor that I feel transcends boundaries, sexual, eventful, in this case; professional.

I’d already gone on two different photo assignments, however, neither of them had resulted in a published photo.  I was growing angry, at myself, at CJ (photo editor 08-09) and my equipment.  Id’ gotten into the habit of spending my breaks from work at Roosters in the charlatan office. This came to be how I got most of my first assignments.  I came in, CJ was slumped in his chair drinking a red-bull.

“Sup?” he asked.

“Not much, got any photos?” I asked.

“Got a telephoto?” questioned CJ.

“A 75-300mm.” I replied.

With that he passed me a photo request for a women’s field hockey game that weekend.

That Saturday I trekked from Prescott residence to Keith Harris Stadium some 500 metres away.  I had a Rebel XT, a tripod and a kit 75-300mm f 5.6 whose autofocus was busted was not functional.  I’m not really sure how this photo happened, wither way it was intense, enjoyable – yet not totally satisfying –  and over way two quick.

After seeing it in print a week later I decided it was time to get better as a photographer and try this again.

Gulu Walk – National

I didn’t know where the park was, it was off campus… I hadn’t really been off campus before.  I google mapped the location, it was only a 10 minute walk.  Great.  Then came the rain.

It had been a few weeks since my field hockey photo ran and when I had been asked to shoot the Gulu walk I jumped at it.  This seemed cool.  Basically a bunch of people were going to walk the equivalent distance that child soldiers in Uganda walked to reach amnesty.  They do it under the dead of night, usually under threat from the group they’re fleeing.  It seemed appropriate that it would at least rain like hell in Ottawa.

My equipment was not weather sealed – at all – and I might have been a bit hung over.  However, I followed the walkers until I ran out of space on my memory card.

At the time too, the charlatan was printing small photos on the covers as teasers.  I was ecstatic that my photo, although tiny, was featured on the cover.

Inside they’d printed five photos from that day. I was quite pleased.

CERN – News

I read Angels & Demons, I have yet to see the movie though.  Thus I was pretty pumped to go see the director general.  This one is a short story, I learned how to crouch and take photos, I stalked the Ottawa Citizen photog and I jumped on the shot he set up at the end.  This was my first photo for the news section.

Clocktower – Perspectives

I love beer, I like bars, I enjoy learning about how beer is made and I love photography.  Those pleasures collided when I was asked to take a portrait for the perspectives section.  It was the softest least intense photo assignment I’d done yet.  It was kind of nice because for once I wasn’t battling nerves, self-consciousness or equipment limitations.

Patrick took me on a tour of the back room where he brews the beer then we went outside and I took a few photos.  It was one of the best ones I did in my first year and the first time the CJ simply said, “Nice!”

Web Issue

In December CJ asked if I would be one of two volunteer web editors.  It was a trial run for what is now a tradition.  After the last print issue each editor picks one-three volunteers to do their section for an online only edition of the charlatan.  I was paired with a guy named Andrew and we split the load.  Ours was a fairly eventful issue as OC Transpo went on strike on our production night.  The strike would last 85 days and quite frankly piss everyone off, and we kick-started the charlatan’s coverage of it.  It’s still available online here.

Taken from Andrew’s facebook he took this photo sitting at the photo desk on production night. From left to right, Angela Walsh news ed, Adam Dietrich photo ed, Joel Eastwood news ed (now e-in-c), Chris Hannay editor in chief and Ryan Price production assistant.

 

The latter half of that year was an important lesson in deadlines.  About two weeks into the winter semester I was asked to take a photo of a movie poster.  The night before I was going to do it I stayed awake writing an essay, and was quite frankly too tired to do it.  I never called CJ and never gave him a photo.  Needless to say he was a little pissed, I got an angry phone call and didn’t seem to be able to get any assignments during that time.  In March he pulled me into the CIS Final 8 national basketball tournament.  I shot the quarterfinals and my photos never made it to print, but the experience taught me something.  I needed to keep doing this stuff.  Though I needed to be better.

In mid-march the charlatan host’s their elections for the next ed staff, CJ told me applications were due on Tuesday, they were due on monday, journalism has no remorse for missed deadlines.  Although I initially resented Lasia a bit for winning the position by default, vol. 39 (2009-2010) became a very important year.

Part two: vol. 39, the photo-assistant (staff photographer) will be online in a few weeks I think.  When I get time.

Peace,

Adam Dietrich

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