For an assignment to photograph Canadian sprinter Kudakwashe Murasiranwa, I knew I had to illustrate the feel of speed and explosive energy.
The University of Guelph field house where he was training was pretty busy, but I managed to find a spot with a clean background, away from the other athletes. With the help of the university’s media contact as a stand-in, I was able to figure out the shutter speed and lighting necessary to create this photograph.
I will say that the advantage of digital cameras bore fruit as I was able to look at results immediately, and thus able to find the right exposure, and moment when Mr. Murasiranwa exploded out of the starting blocks.
Having helped shelter whistle-blower Edward Snowden in Hong Kong, Vanessa Rodel was granted asylum in Canada, along with her daughter, Keana. The two were greeted with a large media presence when they arrived in Canada. In this photograph, a wide-eyed Keana takes in all the activity while her mother was being interviewed by the media, wanting to know about her journey from the Philippines, to Hong Kong and, finally, to Canada.
Portraiture is always an important part of newspaper story coverage and often the kind of assignment that can be very challenging.
For an assignment to photograph author Barbara Gowdy, The Globe and Mail was booked into a room at the University of Toronto that had a look and feel that would lend itself to a compelling portrait.
As part of my workflow, I will often use a film camera if I feel that the portrait could benefit from a different visual look. And also to have for our archives. I’m thinking long term when I often shoot film.
After creating portraits with the digital camera, I had a few more minutes to photograph Ms. Gowdy with my Hasselblad (the camera that is usually called upon for my portrait work).
With black and white film, the warm tones of a room in natural light were less important. I was looking instead for subtle shades of grey and the range of tones I could squeeze out of the film.
I wouldn’t go so far as to say black and white film portraits have more veracity, but I feel that it allows the reader to have a different take on the work, and the subject in front of the camera.
A few days before June’s parade for the Toronto Raptors, the newest NBA champions, editors decided that we wouldn’t go with two photographers on the ground. My task was to go up in a helicopter and try to capture the expected million-plus fans that would be lining the streets of downtown Toronto.
Having been told what helicopter I’d be flying in, of course I had to Google it. I jokingly described the helicopter as two flying lawn chairs, attached to a large engine, surrounded by a plexiglass bubble. But with no door on my side.
The day started off with a speed bump when the pilot informed me at the last minute that the airspace over downtown Toronto was closed off. Zero access. I’m up in Kleinburg at the aerodrome. Too late to drive back. Our plan was to beeline to Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport and work from there. Now, we potentially had to take a long detour around the airspace. Fortunately, the pilot was given permission to fly straight through and head directly to the island airport.
While we were on route in the closed airspace, we were then allowed to fly around and take some photographs before having to land. From around 2,300 feet up, all one could see were streets clogged with people waiting for the team to come through. So flying over City Hall where the parade was heading, I saw a huge mass of people and my first thought was that I totally missed the team’s procession.
Upon landing at the airport, a television was broadcasting the parade, which showed that the team buses had barely left the CNE.
Having been given permission by air traffic control to take another circuit around the core, I heard over the radio that the Snowbirds aerobatic team were going to do a fly past, and that they were leaving Toronto Pearson in a few minutes. The airspace was going to be closed again. As luck would have it, while we were airborne, we were told that the Snowbirds were delayed and that we could keep flying. So we made as many laps as we could, trying to find the red double-decker buses that carried the players. On what turned out to be our last circuit, we located the buses and I took as many frames as possible.
After making sure I had what I needed, I headed back to Kleinburg, where I had to rush to make deadline. Now it was all in the hands of the editors and page designers.
I’ve never seen an episode of The Sopranos. Ever. I knew of the show and actors, but that was it. So, of course, I was asked if I wanted to head to New Jersey to cover the inaugural SopranosCon. I joined Globe writer Barry Hertz, who was already there to write a story about the fan convention. I quickly learned that track suits are a big part of The Sopranos backstory and Bada Bing also has a history.
The earliest flight out of Toronto had me camera-ready and working by around 11 a.m. or so. Again, for this assignment, I brought a film camera, hoping to make a portrait series of fans dressed up as their favourite character on the show. I’d also decided that for the black-and-white work, I was going to use a straight flash, as I wanted that fan-snapshot aesthetic.
I lost track of how many laps I made around the convention floor. There was so much to see and photograph, and I had to keep checking to make sure I didn’t miss anything.
This particular fan, Steve Katrensky from Dunellen, N.J., was dressed as the title character, Tony Soprano. There were a few Tony Sopranos walking around, but he had The Vibe and also was a great subject. I ran into him often and photographed him often as well. It was this photo of Steve looking at the wall of Sopranos memes that was one of my favourites from the convention.
The Globe set up a bureau in Thunder Bay in 2019 to cover First Nations issues and give their stories prominence in a media landscape that has often overlooked their problems and grievances. This Northwestern Ontario city had been in the news because of its relationship with the First Nations community, one fraught with racism.
With writer Geoffrey York, we flew into the First Nations community of Neskantaga (Lansdowne House, an hour or so flying time north of Thunder Bay), to cover a continuing water crisis. The community has been under a boil-water advisory for nearly 25 years. At the same time, many students were flying south to Thunder Bay to continue their schooling at a First Nations high school.
Trying to find students to speak with was challenging until we came across Elias Atlookan near a boat launch. Mr. Atlookan had already been down in Thunder Bay for high school and one of his closest friends was among the seven young people whose deaths were the subject of an inquest in 2016.
For the Toronto Raptors’ playoff run, I was accredited to cover the home games at Scotiabank Arena. With courtside seats reserved for media outlets that cover the team throughout the year, I was among many who had to photograph the game from the stands. High up. This might seem like a bad position, but often the higher angle can produce something that just can’t be captured from up close.
My coverage basically involved keeping my lens on Kawhi Leonard whenever he was on the court. No other player mattered. It was all Kawhi, all the time. This made things easy, but also tough because there were spots on the court that were blocked from my high position. Nonetheless, it was pretty straightforward and with enough opportunities, a good frame of Kawhi being blanketed by the opposing team was the reward.
There was a time when we covered almost every business luncheon that had an important politician making the keynote speech. We don’t do that as much any more, but if it’s Brian Mulroney, a former prime minister, it was a given that I’d be going. These events are pretty standard for coverage. The subjects are photographed at the head table or behind the podium during their speech and/or Q&A session. But one can only photograph someone behind a podium for so long, before one needs to look for another angle.
Much of our job as photographers is waiting. But if we look hard enough for a different angle, we can usually find something else that goes beyond the static “man-and-podium” photo. We try to find the candid moments. They can be very quick and fleeting, but that’s why we wait – and watch.
When we found out that the RCMP had recovered what they believed to be the bodies of Bryer Schmegelsky and Kam McLeod, I knew this was the photograph I had to capture. It was the grim ending to a manhunt for two murder suspects that had stretched across half the country and into the endless forests of isolated northern Manitoba.
It was my 13th day in the Gillam area covering the story with Renata D’Aliesio. The photo was created 10 minutes before deadline after I had spent hours hiking through the forest, unable to find the site where the police were working the scene.
It was surreal to capture the end of this ordeal in a photograph. Hours earlier, the police had confirmed to us that they were leaving the area. The families of both the victims and the suspects, and the people in Fox Lake Cree Nation and Gillam, would have no answers. Then they announced that they found something and the scramble was on.
It was a sorrowful photo to create, but I was gratified to have the opportunity to show the country the end of this story.
I arrived in Gillam, Man., on July 26 with Renata D’Aliesio a few days after the suspects had been spotted near the area. We had to start reporting and photographing right away to get a story online and make deadline for the Saturday paper.
It was difficult to arrive late into the story. We had to stay together since we had one vehicle and didn’t know the area. I was struggling to find interesting storytelling images while Renata was conducting interviews.
About an hour after we landed, I jogged across a parking lot to catch up to this family. I wanted to capture the family walking through town because there were very few people out and about at the start of the manhunt. I spotted the RCMP’s armoured vehicle parked behind the detachment headquarters and created this picture as the family passed. I think the vehicle shows the intensity of the police search, as the young family tried to continue with their regular lives.
In Thunder Bay this summer, I had the opportunity to spend time at the small diner, Coney Island Westfort, for an Eric Andrew-Gee story. The diner has been open for more than 70 years. It’s in a working-class neighbourhood, across the river from Fort William First Nation. Eric’s story focused on positive vibes of the employees and regulars, and the lack of judgment in a city that often sees conflict around class and race.
I spent the lunch rush over two days in the diner and ate a few Coney dogs. Coney sauce is inspired by the original Coney Island in New York. Thunder Bay has at least five spots that specialize in the dish.
After lunch at the Westfort, a regular patron, Jake MacLaurin from Fort William First Nation, hugs his sons before they leave. You can see what we call camera shake and distortion on the edges of this photo. I had just changed lenses and had to quickly adjust the frame to get the hug. In the end, I was happy to capture a genuine moment that helped show the family feel of the diner.
After the Raptors won the NBA championship, they took part in the largest, wildest parade I’ve ever seen. It seemed like every photographer and videographer in Toronto was covering the event.
This photo was created at the start of the parade under the Princes’ Gates at the CNE. Raptors president Masai Ujiri and his family were in a car together. The parade was stopped when a young fan mustered the courage to walk up to Mr. Ujiri and ask for an autograph. They shared a fist bump and the young fan slipped back into the crowd. It was a sweet, subtle moment between Mr. Ujiri (who is only the second black NBA executive to win a championship) and the young fan.
Last winter, I spent the day with Burton Goicoechea and his mother, Jan Genge for a story with health reporter Kelly Grant. Burton lives with spinal muscular atrophy, or SMA, a rare genetic neuromuscular disorder that causes a loss of nerve cells and severely weakens his muscles. The 15-year-old can no longer walk, stand or turn over in bed at night.
We were documenting a day in their life as the family waited to hear if Burton would have access to a new, expensive drug called Spinraza that could help slow the degeneration of his disease and possibly even improve his mobility.
This photograph captured an exhausted Burton after he had endured a number of exercises to test his baseline mobility at the Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital. Ms. Genge spends much of her time caring for Burton, who is a funny, vibrant teenager, but, because of SMA, needs a lot of assistance.
The dynamic between the pair is loving and familiar, and with as much sass as most teenagers and mothers that I know. I like this photo because Burton’s face is showing some of the strain of his condition, while his mother helps him in a brightly painted room. There’s no way around it, Burton and his family don’t live an easy life, so to me it was important to show that struggle either explicitly, or with a bit more subtlety.
Burton is now receiving publicly funded access to Spinraza.
I arrived at Queen’s Park early in the morning before Toronto’s wave of the Sept. 27 climate strike was to start. I had been give the task of getting a good overall shot of the protest.
After being denied access to any buildings in the area, I spent some time trying to get the best vantage point from the historic Queen’s Park building. What I ended up with was a fairly good overall image. However, once I had filed that photo to the office, I decided to try to head down to the crowd. I squeezed my way past other media and some protesters to the front of a stage that was set up for speeches and music for the day before the group would head off for their march. It was a hot day and I was crouched down trying not to block the audience.
During a speech, the crowd began to shout “shame” and I quickly stood up and raised my camera above my head to try and get the young protesters in front. I also wanted to show how far back the crowd went. Thankfully, the photo worked out, and it ended up being my best photo of the day.
I spent a bit of time with Shameela Shakeel and her daughter for a project on the rise of violent incidents in schools and how boards across Canada struggle to manage children with complex needs. Eight-year-old Yasmeen had a difficult time in school the year before. She had to deal with anxiety after multiple incidents where a student with complex needs lost control in the classroom, requiring the room to be evacuated. While I was at their home, the two played a game together in the kitchen with natural light shining on them and I documented the lovely moment.
On federal election night, I was in Regina, mostly to film and edit video of Andrew Scheer giving his concession speech. But I was also able to spend time beforehand taking some photographs of supporters in the audience as the results were revealed. The lighting in the venue cast a Conservative blue hue over the crowd. At the start, there was the usual excitement but the tone became more serious as reality sunk in.
This photo is part of a Globe investigation on distracted driving. When I met Larisa Mann, who had been hit by a distracted driver, I was impressed by how happy she seemed despite everything that had happened to her physically and mentally. More than a year after the crash, she is still recovering, working hard on getting back to normal. When she is able, she attends chiropractic sessions and message therapy, as well as counselling appointments. And, she tries to go to the gym twice a week. Ms. Mann is building her strength in her legs and body again, trying to recover from injuries that were a result of someone else’s bad decision.
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