Tuesday, January 1, 2019
Covering election night is all about faces and emotions.
It can often be overwhelming, with packed ballrooms like the one set up for Doug Ford's election-night party, where at times the media were trying not to step over each other as they looked for that one person or scene that told the story of the night.
Most of the evening was pretty routine, with not very many strong photographs to be found ... until everyone saw this Ford supporter.
When that happened, it became a frenzy as photographers and videographers scrambled to find the best angle.
For this image, I found that going off to the side gave me the best opportunity to photograph AnnMarie Beaudry, overcome with emotion, after hearing election results broadcast at the Toronto Congress Centre where Mr. Ford's election rally was being held on June 7, 2018.
The side lighting added some depth to the picture, and shortly after this was taken, I had to make my way through the dense crowds to file the photo from my work spot.
It has to be said: One of the perks of this job is getting early access to something destined to become a crowd favourite. So it was with the Art Gallery of Ontario's exhibition Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors. By the time the exhibit rolled into Toronto, it was already well known and had become a social-media juggernaut, especially on Instagram. Photographing the various rooms was like shooting fish in a barrel - it was hard NOT to come away with a strong and visually interesting picture. Because this was a media preview, it was also hard not to show other colleagues, since everything was reflected in mirrors. We also always strive hard to make sure we are not visible in photos either, but this was a near-impossible task.
This particular installation, Infinity Mirrored Room-Love Forever, 1966/94, was a visual puzzle.
You had to really look hard to define the background and foreground, which the mirrors made difficult. The faces peering through the small windows added to the layering visual trickery.
It was late at night when word began circulating that General Motors was possibly going to close the entire automotive plant in Oshawa, Ont., a Canadian car town for many years. Late night e-mails with editors had me starting my day before the crack of dawn, photographing workers heading in for the first shift of the day, possibly unprepared for what was going to be announced later that morning.
By this point, media from all over had descended on Oshawa as we tried to show the effect of this devastating news. No one was speaking, which complicated matters, and access was tight as we tried to figure out how to tell this story. The photos we'd all gotten were fine, but they were nothing that spoke to how the workers were taking the news - until they announced a union meeting for the workers, and that media could attend.
Everyone was scanning the room looking for faces that showed the strain of losing their jobs in one year's time. The other media were photographing something when I saw a man with his head down, waiting for the meeting to start.
I managed to get several frames before he noticed me and picked his head up.
As much as finding a storytelling photograph, I also had to get his name, and I wasn't sure if he'd be receptive to that or not. Names show that we try to go the extra step and get some more background.
The next day, my photo of Carl Dillman made the front page of The Globe, and along with Josh O'Kane's reporting, fleshed out a huge story with national and international ramifications.
I always love a drive out of town and Ottawa is a favourite destination. For this trip, it was an assignment to take portraits of Jean Chrétien, the former prime minister of Canada, who was talking about his coming book in a one-on-one interview. I felt I had to pull out all the stops for this one and hauled lights, a Hasselblad and my Canham 5x7 large-format camera, just in case I had time to use it all.
I usually try to negotiate photographing during interviews (some writers prefer no cameras and some don't mind), and I was allowed to work throughout most of the interview, taking digital colour photographs. My standard operating procedure is to set up lights (if I bring them) so that if I can steal a few minutes after the interview, everything is set up and the subject just needs to step into a spot and I do my thing. I try to work quickly and will chat to keep the subject occupied.
I started with the Hasselblad, then moved to the large-format camera, which is more involved. Once the camera was focused, I hoped Mr. Chrétien wouldn't move or else the framing would be gone and focus would be out, but I only had a few more minutes and couldn't keep checking focus and framing. So I ended up exposing sheets of black-andwhite film, knowing that something might go wrong. In the end he did move a bit, but focus was fine and I actually liked the odd framing since it wasn't superclean and symmetrical.
Sometimes, we get assigned to feature stories that some would photograph with a traditional photojournalistic approach. I'm extremely fortunate that the editors at The Globe and Mail are pretty open about how a story should be covered. So speaking with the editors for this story on rare-breed sheep, I floated the idea that I'd like to take formal portraits of them with a Hasselblad. On film. In black and white. This is normal enough that they didn't bat an eye and told me to go to town.
When I do use black-and-white film, I always also photograph with the DSLR so there are colour images, and options for online and print display. After making sure those were in the bag, I pulled out the Hasselblad and waited patiently for the sheep to stop eating and hold still long enough for me to frame, focus and photograph them.
That they seemed to be curious about me and my cameras helped, and after I was done, I had four or five strong portraits of the sheep ... and made sure I had their names.
AnnMarie Beaudry from Oakville, Ont., is overcome with emotion after hearing the news of Doug Ford's provincial election victory at the Toronto Congress Centre on June 7, 2018.
Media attend a preview of the Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors exhibition at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto on Feb. 26, 2018, a week before it opened to the public.
Carl Dillman, centre, a lift truck operator at the General Motors car-assembly plant in Oshawa, Ont., attends a meeting at the Unifor union offices on Nov. 26, 2018.
Former Canadian prime minister Jean Chrétien flashes a smile at the Château Laurier in Ottawa on Oct. 4, 2018.
A Lincoln Longwool sheep 'poses' for a portrait at St. Isadore Farm in Yarker, Ont., on April 18, 2018.