Independent Photography

Munir Sheikh

First post of the New Year?

My year started out with the purchase of a brand new Canon 24mm L f/1.4 mk II.  It’s an incredibly nice piece of glass.  The super fast f stop lets it work in light where most lenses fall short.  And even as wide open as f/2 I still seem to get really nice sharp images.  Generally photographers tend to buy the 16-35mm f/2.8 L mk II or the 24-70mm f/2.8 L.  The allure of fixed focal lenses for me is simple, the faster f-stop gives me more space to work and the fact that its not a zoom lens forces me to be more careful in my framing.  Currently I have the 24mm but also Canon’s “thrifty 50” or their low-end 50mm f/1.8, which is still a solid lens.

The first real assignment where I was able to use the lens was on Wednesday morning.  Munir Sheikh, the former head of statscan who quit during the summer in protest over the governments decision to scrap the mandatory long form census, has started work at Carleton.  He’ll be working out of the Carleton school of journalism and communication, he is here as a distinguished scholar and will also be teaching a course on public policy.

Naturally we were all really excited about breaking this story, since no other media has covered it.  We managed to get his home phone number, so on Tuesday I called and left a message and two hours later he called back.  We set a time on Wednesday for 11:30am I thought…

So Wednesday morning I trekked out to Hunt Club and Prince of Wales to go and meet Mr. Sheikh at his house.  When I arrived he answered the door in his bathrobe.  It seems there had been some confusion, he thought we’d said 1:30.  He was very gracious about the whole thing and I waited in his living room while he changed.  After we went into his basement where he has sort of a quasi office set up.  I made about 6 pictures before calling it a day.


I was generally pleased with what I got.  There’s one awkward shadow that I didn’t notice on the back of my camera.  I was operating with one flash off camera, I probably need to get a second flash to properly do portraits.  For me the whole expirence was an important one.  My friend Jenn Pagliaro (Jpegs) interned at the Globe and Mail this past December and at the Ottawa Citizen over the past summer.  The thing she noticed that differed between small daily photojournalists and Globe photogs was the ability of Globe photogs to work with their sources, e.g. be a journalist as well as a photographer.  Overall there were setbacks, but it was successful and I’ll watch my timing and lighting more next time.

We rarely run portraits or head-shots on cover.  However, in this case the news value of the situation meant we ran with another of my Sheikh frames.  We don’t use them typically because, honestly they’re usually not that grabbing.  I would argue this one was actually pretty decent.  You can view the pdf here.

One final note: I set up an account at and applied to Loyalist College’s photojournalism program.  There’s still a few hurdles, but the very real possibility I will start a 15 month program in photojournalism in September…  Now I must wait.


Adam Dietrich

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