From a Lac-Megantic survivor to a mother mourning her teenaged son, The Globe and Mail's staff photographers have chosen the one image from 2013 that meant the most to them, and explained why.
For a deeper look at The Globe's year in photography:
When Toronto Mayor Rob Ford made his surprise admission on Nov. 5 that he had indeed smoked crack cocaine, I was asked to go over to City Hall, to be prepared for whatever came next. When I arrived, there were already a lot of media outside his office – and more and more continued to show up. I managed to snag a spot just outside his office doors, a difficult position to get. Once you were in a spot like that, you couldn’t leave it or you would lose it.
Finally, after what felt like hours, one of the mayor’s staff members came and said Mr. Ford would make a statement in the protocol room, off the mayor’s offices. A small, cramped space on the best of days, I knew that with all the other journalists, this assignment was going to be tough.
I managed to grab the prime middle spot at the front. The room began to smell like a locker room, with everyone stressed from having to stand around for hours and jockeying for a spot. Finally, the door opened, and Mr. Ford, wearing an NFL tie and a poppy, walked into the room. Flashes began to fire; the sound of shutters was almost deafening. Mr. Ford, his brother by his side, read his statement and admitted once again to smoking crack cocaine, apologizing to the people of Toronto.
I think this photo summed up the moment, with Mr. Ford looking red-faced, embarrassed and a bit beaten down at having to finally admit to something he had tried very hard to avoid. The photo ran on the front page of The Globe and Mail the next day.
On a quiet Saturday in July, I received a call to head to Lac-Mégantic, a small town in Quebec that is a few hours from Montreal. A train derailment and explosion had devastated much of the town. Hours later, as I approached the scene, I recall being met with a strange sense of calm and quiet. The smoke had started to clear, and rescue crews and media gathered as townspeople tried to make sense of the catastrophic event that had unfolded just hours before.
For days, I would point my camera toward a section of what used to be the vibrant downtown and, at its heart, the popular nightclub the Musi-Café. It was there that most of those who died in the explosion spent their final hours. It was the kind of place I would often go to myself.
It was weeks later when a colleague who was also there that first day in July told me about a story he was working on about the survivors of the Musi-Café disaster. Survivors? This may sound strange, but I hadn’t thought of there being any survivors. Immediately I wondered: Who are these people?
And so we met them and listened to their stories. They agreed to be photographed. In this photo, Christian Lafontaine, 45, poses showing a tattoo of the crash that he now has on his arm. Mr. Lafontaine lost three family members, including his brother, in the inferno. He and his wife, Melanie, were the last to leave the Musi-Café alive.
This year I spent five weeks in China covering the economic and political turmoil, four weeks on the campaign trail for the B.C. provincial election and a week covering the Alberta floods. But, to me, this photo I shot only a few kilometres from my home stood out the most.
Photojournalism is often seen as a romantic profession, one in which we travel far and wide in search of interesting and unusual images. This photo reminds me of the importance of not overlooking your own community.
Over the years I’ve made several trips to Richmond, B.C., to photograph the cranberry harvest that usually takes place in early November. It is always rich in colour – from the intense red cranberries to the glowing fall sky.
The Globe’s Life section ran a series through the summer called Brought to Light, a photography-centric feature of whatever subject we thought interesting. I considered it an opportunity to showcase subjects that I felt people should know about. Call it educational.
I’d passed by Coach House Press over the years and have always wanted to do a project on it, since it is one of the few remaining independent book printers in Canada. I felt that its story is like that of the newspaper industry, with e-readers attracting more and more people who prefer to download countless books onto their devices without having to set foot in a bookstore.
For many readers, myself included, news is consumed daily through electronic means. But there’s a certain tangible comfort in picking up a newspaper, flipping its pages and folding down the crease to make it easier to hold while sitting in a coffee shop or on the back deck.
This particular photograph reminds us that through the printing process, there are real people handling raw materials that will become books – books that will be read and reread by generations to come.
Some things don’t have to live in the cloud. They can exist in a world where it’s okay to get ink on our hands.
The eyes are the most defining features of our face, believed to be a window to the soul. They are a fundamental part of any portrait, so it wasn’t a strange request to ask Slash, former guitarist of Guns N’ Roses, to take off his glasses while I was taking his photo portrait in August. When he refused, I had to find a different way to show his personality – so I decided to focus on his nose piercing and lips.
When we are lucky, we get five minutes to get the portrait of celebrities; in this case, I only got three. With no time to set up lights, I decided to use a very tiny ray of sunlight coming from the window. It was narrow enough to illuminate the features I wanted to focus on, while leaving the rest totally black.
My decision worked, and I had the rare opportunity to get a beautiful portrait even though the eyes could not be seen.
Toronto was already reeling from the shooting deaths of several teenagers when 15-year-old Tyson Bailey was shot to death in January. News of another life lost was difficult to fathom, but it also made the story even more important to investigate, and so Toronto’s media were out at the Bailey funeral in force.
In covering something like this, one has to be keenly aware of the sensitive nature of the moment, as well as the heightened level of emotion of those in attendance. As outsiders, most media approach a funeral like this with caution and respect.
But this community, and the members of this church in particular, understood too well that theirs was a grief that needed to be shared with the larger community. The senseless deaths of so many young men was a problem that everyone wanted to address, and this community took the opportunity. We were all welcomed out of the cold – and into the church.
Any tragedy is best seen, and shown, in the grief of those who live on. You could feel the collective grief in the church that day, and there were many images to show it. None was stronger than this: Tyson Bailey’s mother, alone in her grief for a few moments, with her son for the last time.
This was not the first time I have shed a tear while working, and it likely won’t be the last. It is an image that stays with me, and I hope helps to communicate the utter waste, and the hurt, that comes from senseless violence.
Kevin Van Paassen
When Southern Alberta saw the worst flooding in a generation, I recall seeing the images of Calgary, where I grew up, overcome by a massive torrent of muddy water. Bridges and roads were washed out, homes were destroyed, and much of the downtown core was submerged, including Stampede Park.
With just weeks until the gates were to open on the 101st Calgary Stampede, I couldn’t imagine how the city would manage to stage the 10-day event. After such devastation, it seemed unfathomable.
But when Stampede president Bob Thompson announced, “We will be hosting the greatest outdoor show on Earth, come hell or high water,” the city rallied. It was amazing to see Calgarians demonstrate such resiliency in the face of disaster.
I was thrilled when The Globe and Mail sent me home to cover the Stampede. The story, of course, wasn’t just about the bull riders and barrel racers but about how the city had pulled together and overcome so much.
Still, for some reason, this faceless photo of bareback rider Jake Vold of Ponoka, Alta., with his boots tightly wedged in the stirrups, stood out for me. I think it reflects the grit and toughness that Albertans showed us this year.
Editor's note: Friday’s Folio of pictures of the year incorrectly said Toronto Mayor Rob Ford was wearing an NHL tie when he admitted he had smoked crack cocaine. In fact, it was an NFL tie. This online version has been corrected.