Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Stay positive students!

I spent my day yesterday in Belleville with other members of the Advisory Committee of the Loyalist College Photojournalism Program. It's always a good day, but a long one because of the three-hour drive each way.

The first and second-year classes seem quite promising this year, but historically there are always a few surprises that emerge before graduation.

I was especially moved to speak to a first-year student who seemed demoralized by other students with some experience, and a bag full of fancy equipment. That's exactly how I felt in first-ear myself, but with a lot of work, and determination I was able to establish my own abilities gain some confidence to continue successfully. Having the right attitude is a huge part of the battle.

We were speaking about having another reunion party in Belleville to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the program. I can't believe we're nearing that milestone. It seems a lifetime ago that I was there. First year was such a year of transition for me, not just into a new area of study, but into civilian life again after five years in the Canadian military. this is me near the beginning of second year.

Thankfully my hair was growing by second year, and the button-down collars weren't an every-day thing. (I believe that's my landlord's old fishing vest!!!-Thanks Jeff!)

Anyway, it's always refreshing to meet with the students, to look at portfolios, and be able to share some thoughts that may help them in the future. Their enthusiasm is contagious, and I think the visits to Belleville do us veterans a lot of good as well.

Friday, 6 November 2009

NPAC Member's Blog - Day 5

Much of my morning was spent just getting to the office. It always amazes me how the people who commute to Toronto for work seem to lose brain function at the slightest hint of bad weather. Throw a tiny bit of precipitation onto the roads and windshields, and traffic nearly comes to a halt. I always figure my drive to work - 80km each way – to take anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour longer if it’s wet out.
Once I got to 444 Front Street West I spent the first few hours doing some “house cleaning.” I filed photographs from a Wednesday shoot, burned a few DVDs to clear off some of my laptop’s hard drive, helped to arrange an afternoon shoot, and began to write a proposal for a story idea I’m investigating/pitching.
I’d like to mention a few things about story proposals and ideas. I regularly try to pitch stories that I think would make good visual pieces and I’d like to work on, so I’m always looking and listening for things that will lead me in the right direction. Many ideas I have get written down in my “little black book,” and include large story ideas and single feature ideas. Many of these ideas never go anywhere, but I’ll often refer back to it between assignments. The pages get turned more often when I feel I haven’t been productive or it’s an especially slow time. This book is very important to my regular routine. I even have a section called “colors” where I’ll jot down the locations of colorful landmarks things that can be used for fashion, features, etc.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

NPAC Member’s Blog – Day 4

I’m chuckling at the few comments that these blogs have received so far. Thanks for the kind comments that I truly appreciate. What I find amusing are the references to being “lucky.”

Reuters photographer Mike Blake once told me that photographers make their own luck. We all make our own luck in ever way I suspect. In other words, luck is that sweet place where preparation meets opportunity. Be ready and prepared, think about possibilities, research your subject, and more importantly make yourself available to capture images when situations present themselves. I’m like everyone else in that I only find images when I’m out and about with my eyes open….and I get lucky once in awhile too I guess. I did a workshop a few years ago on feature hunting and anyone who attended it will hopefully agree that there are a number of things you can do to improve your own luck.

NPAC Member’s Blog – Day 3

You have to have sympathy for a photo editor whose first words when given you an assignment are “Let me apologize in advance.” This was how I was given my first assignment for Tuesday morning, and I felt bad for Dave Lucas who seemed more upset by having to give me the assignment then I did getting it. You have to realize that in the newspaper business you are going to get great assignments, and once in a while real a real stinker. We’re of the opinion that we’re all in this together at The Globe and Mail, and we struggle as a department to make the paper as visually strong as we possibly can.

The assignment I’m speaking off showed little promise. The story needed a photograph of a man who was laid off, understands his ex-employer’s decision, now works from home - even for his old employer from time to time - and is fairly happy with how things have turned out. Cripes! What the hell do you do with this? Well, after meeting Bob, I decided to just allow him to go about his business and I’d work around him. I assured him he’d be more comfortable, and I’d find a way to make it work. (You must do this for your subjects.) This plan appealed to him so back to work he went; in the dining room. In a case like this I really prefer to use my 24mm f1.4 wide open. This way the only thing that will be sharp will be my subject, and everything else in the cluttered space will be softened and much less distracting. The shoot was going fine when much to my surprise, and gratitude, Bob’s two house cats showed up. What says working at home better than a house cat? Anyway, for what the assignment was, the result was better than expected.

Bob Rohrer works from his some ever since being laid off in June. (Photo by Peter Power/The Globe and Mail)

Following this shoot I had time to look around for an enterprise picture so ZI began a slow meander toward downtown Toronto. I like to take different routes into town when I do this. Taking the same routes day after day really limit you opportunities to discover new things.

As luck would have it nothing jumped out at me during my cruise so I headed to the lakeshore to check on a cit pool that I knew was being renovated. For a variety of reasons this was not going to make a picture today, but I did see something nearby that did.

Local artist Hilary Porado sits atop a lifeguard station on Toronto's Sunnyside Beach, braving the single-digit temperatures and cool breeze to work on a new painting. (Photo by Peter Power/The Globe and Mail)

This just helps to show that covering ground, and keeping your eyes, and our mind, open can prove productive. I’ve seen a lot of photographers sitting around idle in the office when they don’t have an assignment, but I have yet to see a great image made from any newsrooms.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

NPAC Member's Blog – Day 2

This is a great week for me to blog I must say. Mondays aren’t exactly my favorite day of the weeks as it is, and this week I’m on my least favorite shift – the 8am to 3pm. This shift gets even more difficult after the clocks are turned back an hour like we all just did. Leaving at 6:15am from Hamilton for an 8am shift in Toronto is brutal.

NPAC Member's Blog - Day 1

This is the first installment of my blog during the week of Oct. 1st to 6th, 2009 for the News Photographers Association of Canada (NPAC)

My daily posts from a typical work day will be posted on that site, and I'll mirror them here.

Photographer's Blog – Day 1 – Peter Power

Blogging for me is not foreign, but when I have blogged in the past it has only been on an occasional basis, and generally only when I’ve felt strongly that I have something significant to share. I don’t have a Facebook account and I don’t Twitter. My on-line presence is very minimal and I’m sure the number of hits my personal blog gets is pretty minimal. Frankly I’d rather not know how small the number is and remain blissfully ignorant.

In my home I have two strange people – teenagers who have somehow snatched away my two lovely children, and replaced them with opinionated, pimply-faced, adult “wanna-bees” who have little interest in what I have to say. I love them dearly, but this phase in their lives is certainly a challenging one for all of us. Balancing work hours, photography, driving schedules and other responsibilities as a husband and a father keep me busy, so I cherish the quiet times at home, when the only one with any demands on me is the cat.

Easton is curious to know what I'm up to following a beautiful autumn rainfall in Hamilton.

Student Request - Q & A

I just finished answering a series of questions for a photojournalism graduate student in Ohio who wanted some of my thoughts on multimedia, and specifically the Marshmuckers story that we just published in The Globe and Mail.

On the off chance that others may be interested, I've posted the questions and answers below.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

My apologies

Since we have changed our website at The Globe and Mail some links that I have posted down the right-hand side of this page no longer work. You will find that the bottom few still work, as well as the top few, but many in the middle do not. We are working to reformat these stories, and will hopefully find a new area to post them on globeandmail.com.

In the meantime, I have renewed my contract with my website host, Big Black Bag, and will hopefully be able to post videos as well in the very near future.

Monday, 26 October 2009

Guest Speaking

A few weeks ago I received a call from an instructor at Mohawk College in Hamilton asking me if I would be interested in speaking with a group of first-year students in a Media Career Discovery class. I always try to accommodate requests like this, (although it isn't always possible) and do my best to provide an interesting, informative, and hopefully somewhat entertaining presentation.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Marsh Muckers

About three years ago, while I was driving south from an assignment in Barrie, I decided to stop and have a drive through the Holland Marsh. Like many commuters and cottagers that travel the busy Hwy 400, the fertile fields of the marsh had always caught my eye, but there never seemed a reason to venture in.

The light that fall day was magical, and everywhere I looked it seemed there were images to be had. I stopped several times to photograph and to speak with locals. Along with some photographs I was pleased with, I also learned that the people who worked and lived in the Holland Marsh were affectionately known as Marsh Muckers.

Saturday, 3 October 2009


It's been a crazy week, and although I'm normally really slow to update the blog, I thought I'd try to give a quick recap.

I think I've finally recovered from the cruise, and enough work has happened to lock most memories away in a safe part of my mind. Part of my job on the cruise was to present a visual recap of the trip to all of the guests, which I did, in the form of a 22 minute slideshow. I've since edited this down to about 8 minutes, limiting it to our destinations only, and it is available for viewing here.

Monday, 7 September 2009

Back from The Odyssey

It has been a long time since I've last posted a blog. A little too long, even for an "occasional" blogger.

Well I've had a fantastic summer, personally that is, with plenty of time off, and plenty of time spent with my family.

I'm sure many people are wondering where the heck I've gone and am I still at The Globe and Mail. The questions wouldn't be unfounded because it certainly has been a while since my images have appeared on a Globe page.

For these past two weeks (and a bit) I've had the absolute pleasure of accompanying many Globe colleagues and some 300ish guests aboard the Seven Seas Navigator during a fourteen-day cruise in the Mediterranean. The Globe and Mail's Mediterranean Odyssey has been like no other assignment I have ever had.