I have been an inactive blogger for sometime. I think in February I thought life couldn’t get busier than it was but that changed in March, when I had an assignment (at least one) due every day for the entire month. By April things started to slow down, and since May it’s mostly been a waiting game.
However, while things in April started to slow, I had also begun my chase for summer work. Initially I began with high hopes, at one point in mid-April it seemed like there were at least three reasonably likely prospects with different newspapers. Those petered off and by mid-May I began fearing I’d have to find work outside photography for the summer.
So I travelled to Ottawa, there I found work as a student house painter. On the day I was supposed to start working though I received an email offering me a job with Metroland’s group of newspapers in Toronto.
While I start tomorrow I realized I hadn’t posted a blog update in months. First I was too busy, then I was too lazy and on summer vacation and finally my computer was in for repair. So now I’ll catch up.
My last blog posted was at the end of February, so I’ll start in February in Ottawa.
In mid-February I photographed the Ottawa Fashion Week for FAJO Magazine. It was an interesting affair and my first time shooting anything in the fashion world. While most of the weekend was spent at the end of the runway, I was able to get some interesting moments and get a tour backstage.
My trip backstage was brief, I was only allowed ten minutes but it was fascinating to see what happens behind the scenes at a fashion week event.
Most of my other February exploits are detailed in a previous post here.
As March dawned the second years began finishing up their final projects in preparation for their end of program internships. The first years meanwhile were trying to keep from drowning in tedious assignments. The program is four semesters long and semester two and three are notorious for their intensity.
On the second weekend in March I returned to Ottawa to photograph the Canadian Interuniversity Sport Final 8 men’s basketball championships. It’s Canada’s version of NCAA final in March.
The games were hosted at Scotiabank place in Ottawa, and they were very well attended. As a student at Carleton I photographed this tournament twice before for the charlatan, Carleton’s student newspaper, you can check out some of those pics here for a look at some of my older stuff. I was flooded with nostalgia, especially because several friends from Ottawa were also there photographing the event it felt a bit like a working reunion.
For a while it looked like it was going to be an Ottawa vs. Ottawa final, but The University Ottawa Gee Gees didn’t quite make it. The Carleton Ravens won again making it a record number championship wins in CIS history.
Next weekend I drove a carload of Loyalist students past Ottawa to Montreal for the annual anti-police brutality protest. The protest was begun 17 years ago in response to suspicious deaths at the hands of Montreal police officers. However, in the years since, the march has attracted a more dubious reputation as an opportunity to confront the police directly on the streets.
After last year’s student protests in Montreal new legislation had been passed. In addition to the more controversial Loi 78, Montreal passed municipal laws requiring rally organizers to submit march routes in advance for approval from the police. If not then the protest could be declared illegal and that gave the police sweeping powers of arrest. Which is exactly what happened, as soon as marchers began assembling the police declared the protest illegal and began dispersing it and making arrests.
Loyalist students, completely by accident, went en masse to Montreal. There were about 23 of us in total. We stayed at hotels and spent a few hours chasing columns of police who were chasing the scattered protestors around the downtown core.
I ended up in a CTV News clip during one of the several on street interactions with the police. You can view it here, I’m on the left of the screen taking pictures when the police charge, it’s at the 48-second mark in the clip.
Just before 7pm, two hours after the protest started, the scattered protestors and police now converged at the intersection of Rue Sainte Catherine and Rue Saint-Andre. The police formed a kettle and closed ranks.
Partly by chance and partly because of experiences learned from the G20 I jumped back, narrowly avoiding a gloved hand that was pulling people in. As we found out later 15 Loyalist students were caught up in the kettle.
Some were released on the street, after Montreal police filmed them, and took down their info. They were told they’d be mailed a $640 ticket and to return home, that if they were found out on the streets again that night they’d be arrested, spend the night in jail and face possible criminal charges. Those not released on the street were loaded onto a repurposed city bus and taken to various precincts where they were processed and released. By 10:30pm we had confirmation that everyone was out and everyone was safe. By the numbers Loyalist students, there to photograph the demonstration, accounted for 8% of total arrests that night.
Everyone in my car, myself included, avoided the kettle and arrest and the next day we were all cheerfully headed back to Belleville, where Loyalist College is located. Along the way as we were passing Napanee, which is near Belleville, we spotted a huge plume of smoke rising from a field off the highway. We pulled off the highway and found the source of the fire, a barn in a farmer’s field and began taking pictures. The timing was convenient as we had a spot news assignment, any news that is not scheduled, due in class in two weeks time.
Later that week came the second round of advisory board meetings of the year. Advisory board is a once a semester picture review with photographers and editors from newspapers and newswires across Canada. I sat down with four different people and showed them the same sets of pictures, I heard four different critiques ranging from, “Yeah! This is great!” to, “None of your pictures are memorable.”
The most useful piece of advice I received was to stop pursuing things I thought others wanted to see and instead go with my gut more. So I decided to try and do that, although I was a little uncertain what that meant, I thought I had been going with my gut before.
Around this time we had a whole host of different projects to work on, from videos to picture documentaries, and once a week a lighting assignments. One of the more interesting lighting assignments was the environmental portrait. Which is a fancy way of saying a portrait in a relevant environment… So a firefighter in a fire hall, or a doctor in a hospital. Ours was specific, we had to find either a CEO or business owner, a blue collar worker or a luthier (someone who repairs stringed instruments, specifically lute based designs). I was in Ottawa one weekend, so I started phoning luthiers in the city and David (below) agreed to pose for a photo.
A week later I found myself once again in Ottawa. It was now the end of March, school was truly slowing down and I was trying to find a way to keep busy. So I returned to photographing the drag queen Savannah Couture. Savannah had agreed to let me photograph her before during and after performances a few times and the project had been universally well received amongst the advisors I met with.
Savannah started drag professionally only a month earlier, but with the help of her brother, who also happened to be a well-known queen in Ottawa, she was able to secure a regular weekend performance at Edge, a well-known gay bar in Ottawa.
A drag performance is essentially three parts, the first is the dress, which needs to compliment the queens own style and the song choice. The second is the performance, which is generally a lip sync set to music, song choice determines clothes, hair make-up and the dance itself, and most queens won’t repeat songs, every weekend it’s something new. The final part is audience interaction, like at a burlesque show in part drag is a celebration of sexuality, and so queens interact with and tease audience members usually as part of the show.
On this night there were three individual queens who performed and a fourth, Savannah’s brother and drag mother, who MC’d the evening. The night ended with all four of them dressing like the girls from the Lady Marmelade music video and performing the song as a quartet.
I had produced far better performance pictures that night than I ever had but I also recognized the familiar symptoms of artistic burn-out starting to set in. All of my pictures looked like crap, or that’s how I felt at the time. Scrolling through contact sheet after contact sheet they all looked uninspired. I began to understand what the advisor had meant about photographing things as I felt others wanted to see them. As the end of semester began to wind down I started focusing more on the multimedia projects I had to do, and writing.
In the final week of classes I received a call from the Oakville Beaver, they had been one of the many places I’d applied for a summer internship with. I had been selected for a working interview of sorts along with two others. So I scheduled a day to come down to the 905 and work for the Beaver for the day. In addition to a job interview I was asked to photograph two assignments as a freelancer, one for the Oakville Beaver and one for the Burlington Post, they both work out of the same office.
The first event was a children’s French ‘rock’ concert with Gregg LeRock, I remembered going to a similar show with a guy named Etienne who had songs like, “Etre is to be not, not, to be…” and other such clever things. The kids seemed to genuinely like it though which was the point after all.
Next I had to hop on the 403 and race to Oakville for a presentation at a local public school about a new energy use and education initiative that was being launched in the region.
A week later I was told I didn’t get the job. Later that afternoon I applied for another job at Inside Toronto another paper owned by the same company. After an interview there and a few more weeks of waiting I was offered a paid-summer internship there.
Starting Monday I expect to be busy for at least the next calendar year. This internship has me working full-time until I start school, then I enter into the most important and competitive parts of the Loyalist program and hopefully that leads to an internship and summer job next summer. All of that is to say I spent the last week watching cheap made-for-tv documentaries on Netflix and playing computer games, biking, reading and generally having a pretty ideal summer break.
Fortunately I have a friend who has agreed to rent me an air mattress in a corner of his bachelor’s apartment near High Park and the Junction. So for two months I’ll be living the dream… of sorts.
So with a new job in hand, motivation, functioning computer and period of artistic burn-out conquered, hopefully I’ll be inclined to blog more regularly. I think the summer’s going to be a good one.
Hey all, here’s what happened to me this evening at Bluesfest.
I had been booted from the media pit of the MBNA stage this evening, right before Cheap Trick began their set. The media guy didn’t seemed to think a university newspaper was big enough to deserve access? So I bitterly wandered into the crowd and snapped some photos regardless. Then I looked back and saw the same ominous sky I saw the night of the Black Keys. I Decided, “fuck this,” my gear was breaking, Bluesfest wasn’t letting me shoot, and it was about to piss rain. Time to go home, crack a beer and edit. So I started to leave. Around 7:15 and 15m from the exit I turned and watched the MBNA Stage fall on Cheap Trick. My camera was in my bag so I missed the actual collapse but I whipped out my pass and camera and rushed forward to photograph the aftermath and damage. Needless to say, Death Cab for Cutie who was slated to take the stage after didn’t play…
I’m gonna relax a bit. Work on a stats lab but photos from Lupe and Cheap Trick’s performance before will be up shortly.
It’s been a busy couple of weeks since I last posted here. On March 16 there was an event to celebrate Islam awareness week. I didn’t have a whole lot of time to do any photos and most of the events were low key. I did however, find this in the Atrium. I like the vibrancy of the orange.
Shortly after that I developed another few rolls of film and found this photo on the roll. It was taken in Guelph, I was playing around with some fine art photography during my last trip back. This is from the church of our lady.
Speaking of fine art… below is a photo that happened almost accidently, but I’m quite proud of it. Mitch the charlatan features editor was looking for some pictures for his sections look into whether or not porn contributes to sexual/gender-based violence. We decided to use shadows in the layout, one group of shadows is supposed to be kissing… the other mimicking domestic violence. It so happens that Mitch’s girlfriend, Catherine is a friend of mine from res so the three of us spent some time working on getting the shadows just right. Then I happened to catch them and the shadow while shooting, so I threw it into lightroom and played around with vignettes and some spot burning and dodging to come up with this.
On Tuesday this past week Students Against Israeli Apartheid (SAIA), a Carleton student group which believes Israel is an apartheid state held a protest/sit-in. Normally these things sorta fall flat on their faces here at Carleton… Not this one. Essentially the Carleton Board of Governors keeps some of its pension fund in investments, several companies which SAIA claims are complicit in war crimes committed by Israel. Carleton does have investments in companies like Northrup Grumman which sells Israel jets, bombs and missiles but also companies like Motorola which apparently help with surveillance technology for the Israeli government. Anyways SAIA activists met at the university centre and walked to the admin building where they staged a sit-in. They blocked enough members from the board of governors that the meeting actually had to be called off.
I’ve shot a lot of student protests, this was the most directed and organized protest I have ever seen. The above photo was used for the cover of the charlatan this week. The article can be found here but I also put together a web gallery of images here. And below is a fun crowd shot to give you an idea…
As a final note. Metro news Ottawa called a day after the protest and asked if we had any pictures. The guy promised me, “Exposure and full credit,” which was great. I also inquired into whether or not there was a freelance budget, so they’ll be paying me. It was my first photo published in a daily newspaper! It was in the Print edition and online. The article with the photo is here. I’m not gonna lie, Thursday night (the photo was published Thursday) I walked home from school and passed about 15-20 empty Metro boxes. Free papers have pick-up and it was cool to think that at least for that day, lots of people were looking at my pictures….
A photographer friend once told me, “keep your ego in check and always remember, you’re only as good as your last photo.” Let’s say I’ve been a little cocky this week…
That’s all for now. Peace,
I was told to shoot every day. Regardless of what, go out and find something to shoot everyday, so I’ve been trying to do that:
On Monday I received a last minute email from Carleton Now! an internal communications newsletter, they were asking for some last minute head-shots of a few Carleton Profs who were receiving awards for their research. I was asked for head-shots, specifically only shoulders and up and told to make it interesting…
Prof. Michel Rod – Sprott School of Business – is looking at the realities and the causes of burnout to help companies either prevent it or decide how and when they can help their employees who work on the front lines, according to the Nov 21 2009 issue of Research Works.
On Tuesday, Aboriginal Awareness Week kicked off in the Atrium. There was a performance featuring different dancers. I really liked the frame I got.
Stephanie Sarazin, from Algonquins of Pikwakanagan First Nation – Golden Lake, Ontario. The hoop dance is symbolic of the circle of life – the never ending cycle of renewal. Hoop dancers tell stories with their hoops, often depicting Mother earth, nature and all its elements – from the sun and the moon, to insects like the butterfly and animals. The fluid movement of the hoops from one story to the next, represents the interconnectedness of all living things, according to Naomi Sarazin the Aboriginal Cultural Liaison Officer for Carleton University and one of the organizers of Aboriginal Awareness Week.
Wednesday was production night, the night before I had taken a TV apart in my living room. It was for the cover of this weeks paper. The headline was also my suggestion. Although I set up and took the photo Tuesday night I spent most of Wednesday afternoon touching and retouching in Photoshop. Some of the clone stamping on the left hand side of the TV is a little shaky, however, overall I like what we did.
On Wednesday night Andrew Nguyen, one of the news editors, shot a quick sign-off and tacked it onto video I had taken the night before showing how I took the photo. The segment is called “Making the Cover” and it’s on Youtube. Check it out here.
Thursday I started in Westboro helping a journalism student with an audio slideshow. I really loved the background and lighting in the store, so I asked the store owner if she wouldn’t mind posing for a photo. This is what I got.
Later that day I was at Carleton. They were unveiling of the new Canal Building which opened for the faculty of engineering. The building was constructed using federal tax dollars as part of the governments economic recovery plan. There were some interesting people there… So I went over and took some pictures.
In a nutshell that’s been this week for me in pictures.
Until the next time, peace
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!”
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.
IT’S HERE! THE LAST (print) ISSUE OF THE CHARLATAN IS OUT! I may rest (a little).
Still the last week of the semester was a hell of a week. I woke up monday morning after having slept in the office Sunday night, I was up until 7 writing an exam because my laptop isn’t working. My phone was ringing, on the other end was Andrew Nguyen, news editor, “uh there’s apparently a deer in the quad and uh the admin has given CUSA their money back.” My process went something like this, albeit slowly as I was half asleep, oh… I get to keep my job. Shit my essay is due in half an hour I need to print it and go to class. Fuck! there’s a deer on campus. I pushed the CUSA issue to the side and ran to the quad and saw nothing, so I handed in my essay and returned to the office. By this point there were a few people there, including the cleaning lady. The deer was a big topic of conversation, and I overheard the cleaning lady, Liz, say that the deer was apparently cornered under the University Centre/Tory Building loading docks. I wandered down the stairs and came face to face with three campus cops and one Ottawa cop. I took a couple photos and asked the campus safety guy how the deer got here. He had no clue, so I went back to the office. Next thing I know i’m with my boss, Joel Eastwood and reporter Hilary Roberts, literally tracking a blood trail and hoof prints for an hour an a half. We figured out the deer’s route two hours before safety did.
(Two Campus Safety officer watch as a deer stands cornered by saftey and Ottawa city Police bylaw officers. Authorities cornered the deer after it had fallen through the ice at Dow’s lake then crashed through two windows in the Herzberg Building at Carleton University, Ottawa Ontario on November 19, 2010)
Here are the photo’s from the trail of destruction.
That’s all for today, time for a housewarming. I’m certain i’ll find reasons to shoot between now and 2011. However, the charlatan’s out of print until then. Feels a little liberating.