August has dawned, nights are cooler and days are getting shorter, as is my time here in Toronto.
This past week I got to shoot the Rogers Cup. It was my first time shooting a world class sporting event. I’ve photographed University level sports and even professional level hockey with the Belleville Bulls, I even once photographed a Raptors scrimmage in Ottawa but nothing at this level or speed.
To say it was a challenge is an understatement, not only have I not photographed sports at this level before, but I’ve never taken a single picture of people playing tennis. Ever. I had ideas of where to stand and which pics to get but factoring in my ignorance of the game and the insane speed of the players it was a bit of a challenge. After ten minutes of fumbling around and getting lots of pictures of returns with no ball visible I started to anticipate better and they started rolling in.
My biggest disappointment was not getting to court level in time to see Serena Williams play. I had a job at the same time her match started, and I wanted to do a good job of both assignments. By the time I drove to North York (30 minutes from the previous job), parked, got my media pass and got in she was well on her way. My route to court level took me past the top of the upper bowl so I snapped a few pics just in case I couldn’t get lower in time. As it happened by the time I had all my passes and was in the right place, her match was over. Although I was court-side for her accepting the trophy and for the doubles match which followed. A full gallery of what I filed is online here.
Earlier that day I attended a Catholic Mass at St. Clare’s church, they were celebrating their 100th year anniversary. It was double booked for me though because the Roger’s Cup Women’s Final started at the same time as this assignment. Somehow I managed to be in two places at the same time.
It was interesting, I find faith and religion fascinating and Catholic Masses are so ornate and full of ritual. Having some degree of access near the alter was really enjoyable.
On Friday I was at the opening of the Taste of Danforth, a huge Greek food and culture festival in eastern Toronto. The festival was opened with an event called the Danforth Dash. Corporate teams of four raced hospital beds down Danforth Avenue to raise money for the Toronto East General Hospital Foundation and to be the winners of the coveted Gold Bed Pan Trophy.
Rewinding a week earlier, I was out on feature patrol looking for standalone to help fill space. I’d wandered over to the Ashbridge’s Bay Skatepark down by Toronto’s beaches. Usually I have good success with the skateboarders there, but this time there was nothing. So I wandered up to one of the upper bowls in the park and found a scooter team doing tricks, they were really good, so I asked to take some pictures, one kid eagerly hoped in and promptly did a backflip for my camera.
The day before I was down at the famous Caribana festival for the grand parade, due to a logistical issue I spent over an hour waiting outside. It turned out the media check-in booth was inside the paid admission area, which I wasn’t able to access until I picked up my media pass from the media check-in which was located in the paid admission area which I couldn’t access…. The only way I got out of that repeating loop was because a photographer friend of mine who had a pass went into the event and came back with mine.
That headache set me back and meant I was only able to spend little under an hour at Caribana, and never quite got into the vibe. Maybe next year?
My week that week started in the extreme ends of Toronto. On Thursday morning I headed into Etobicoke in Toronto’s west end, it was my first time working in this part of the city. Seems a local boy, Dave Bolland, was in town with the Stanley Cup. Bolland won it playing with the Blackhawks, but everyone there was excited because he had just announced he’d been traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs. The crowd was a mix a dejected Blackhawks fans and hopeful Leafs fans.
Did I mention it was Etobicoke on the day of the by-elections? Rob and Doug Ford were there leading the parade and campaigning for their guy Doug Holyday who ended up winning Etobicoke-Lakeshore.
That gave me the rest of the day and evening to get across town into Scarborough where another by-election was happening. It was my first time shooting political news, unless you want to count student council election at Carleton University. It was intense because I was fighting with crowds and other photographers. I know a few of the photographers ended up on insanely tight deadlines because Mitzie Hunter arrived late to the after party (by insanely tight I mean they had 15 minutes to shoot, file, edit and transmit). For my part Inside Toronto wanted their pictures that night as well, although I was had more time.
The last two weeks have been busy but good, with a few bigger assignments. While the stress level is always much higher with these types of events so is the reward.
That being Said I’m now into the last two weeks before school resumes and the summer job ends.
Jack Layton’s death was an unwelcome shock. While it is true he looked “cadaverous,” to borrow a phrase from Ms. Blatchford, when he took his leave of absence, I guess I, like many others, never considered the posibility he might die.
As a political science student I can’t help but immediately evaluate the political aftermath; its not good. The Liberals have a minority and much of the NDP’s support in Quebec was due to Jack’s personality, and tireless work to bring them into the federalist fold. Thats why we saw so many, very young, MP’s elected without living in their ridings. They weren’t voted in, Jack was, over and over again. Jack’s guidance will be missed in September and if the NDP can’t organize then Harper will have clear reign for the next few years.
Why does this matter to me? I’ve always been interested in politics, even at my worst cynically I still can’t help but constantly digest and take an interest in politics. This interest began to develop as the US began deploying troops in Iraq. Half a year later an election was called in Canada and the NDP fielded their new candidate, Jack Layton. I was in the back seat of my friend’s dad’s car in Guelph in 2004, we were driving home from a screening of Team America World Police, my friend’s dad saw the campaign bus outside the Woolwhich Arms Pub and pulled up. We got out and for the first time I saw a federal party leader in the flesh. He was invigorating, he spoke honestly it seemed, with fire and passion but there was compassion behind the fire too. In 2006 a friend and I formed the Human Rights Committee at our school, the HRC strived to provide access to students at our high school to fundraising materials and people. One of our first efforts was take a group of ten students to a rally in Toronto which was calling for a UN peacekeeping force to be deployed in Darfur. It was here I first met him.
After that I decided to take a partisan role in my views and I became involved in the riding association in Guelph. I agreed to try and work as a high school ambassador, a difficult task in my Conservative high school.
Over the next few years I grew into my politics, a staunch libertarian socialist (sometimes called collective anarchism). Jack was not those things, he was a social democrat and so we didn’t really see eye to eye, in fact if I’m being honest until 2010 I wanted him ousted as leader. Then Harper decided to prorouge parliament. That winter there was a huge rally on Parliament Hill (one of the larger ones I’ve seen since moving here in 2008) some 6000 people showed up in -40 weather to shout their anger at an empty legislature. Jack, like other opposition leaders was there, demanding Harper bring everyone back to work. Throughout the whole prorougation debacle I fell in love with Jack’s ability to wave a wand and find unification in the patchwork quilt that is Canadian political culture as the coalition was largely the work of Jack and the new democrats.
As the summer came so did the winds of election, also the Ottawa Centre riding association’s 100 km social, an evening with food and beer sourced from within 100 km. Its always a blast and in summer 2010 organizers had both the provincial leader and Jack in attendance. Halfway through the night Jack threw back the rest of his beer and gave one of the most impassioned speeches I’ve ever seen from him…
This is how I will remember Jack, not as a man I always agreed with but as one of the few politicians I hold respect for and I’m not the only who feels this way. A head of state for the leader of the opposition and we have almost a full week of pan-partisan national grieving, Jack Layton clearly meant something to this country.
Well the week finally came to an end and included a beautiful funeral and memorial service in Toronto on Saturday.
On Sunday I found myself walking through Ottawa’s Gay Pride Parade. It wasn’t my intention to go, I had left to walk with my girlfriend to the bus stop. As a result I only had a camera with black an white film on me. Its not that I didn’t want to go, rather I’d actually forgotten Pride was that weekend (stupid I know). Still I enjoyed wandering around following the parade, very colourful… too bad you can’t see that.
Oh and one more which came about quite randomly. I was biking home along the canal on Thursday and I had my camera out. As I Lansdowne Park I saw a guy in a kayak and snapped this.
Thats it for this week, for those curious the colour photos were shot on Fujichrome Sensia 400 and the black and white photos were shot on Ilford Delta 400 pushed to 1600. All photos were taken using a Canon EOS 1n with a 24mm L f/1.4.