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Sports photographer Johany Jutras is on a much-needed break. This is the off-season for the 31-year-old official photographer of the CFL, who recently self-published her second photo book Together, depicting the Toronto Argonauts’ 2017 journey to Grey Cup victory.
Raised on a family farm near Drummondville, Que., Jutras began taking pictures when she had to watch her three brothers play football. “My mom said, ‘come and cheer for them.’ I had a camera, and I thought it would be less boring.”
The brothers played all through high school, college and university with Jutras on the sidelines, shooting two or three games a weekend. The better the brothers became at football, the better she became at photography.
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Her brothers never made it to the CFL.
“I’m the only one who made it to the pros and I’ve never worn a helmet in my life.”
Nov. 26, 2018: Stampeders head coach Dave Dickenson hoists the Grey Cup after Calgary beat Ottawa 27-16. For Jutras, lining up shots like these isn't just a matter of good timing and luck: It takes hours of preparation, drawing on years of practice. Jutras is blunt about how she did not go on to postsecondary education after high school: Her camera was her education.
One thing I think people will be surprised to find out about my job is the amount of hours of work behind the pictures they see. I’m at the game for eight hours shooting and editing. They think you just press the shutter and it appears to be perfect. It took me 10 years.
About three weeks into the season Toronto Argonauts head coach Marc Trestman told me my work had to be better. I remember crying on my way home, thinking this guy thinks I’m not good. He said he was the coach of a team and didn’t want to see pictures of single guys all the time. It’s not what we are here for. He never felt one player won the game. My work became better after that. I started to watch the game differently and to tell the story he was trying to tell the players. Do it together.
The challenge in the beginning of being a woman sports photographer was to earn the trust and respect of the teams. Some coaches think you are a distraction for the guys. At first I wasn’t allowed to go in the locker rooms. I needed to prove that I was here to do my job. I took me a year. I’m there and nobody really cares because they are used to seeing me.
I feel like I’m more than the photographer. I’m part of the team.
I want to do more books. I want to get better. I want people to trust me and let me in to tell their story.