Monday, 7 July 2014

155th Queen's Plate - My 1st

You would think that after working in Toronto for two of the largest newspapers in Canada for a quarter of a century that I might have at least covered Canada's largest stakes race - the Queen's Plate - at least once. Well, I had never done so.

But that all changed yesterday, and it was a fantastic experience!

I joined a team of about eight photographers and editors, from various backgrounds to cover the race and the festivities surrounding it for Michael Burns. Michael and his father have been the track photographers in Toronto for decades. It was an opportunity I was very pleased to have, but covering an entire day of racing and all of its pageantry, demands many hours of work.

Hats of every kind adorned many of the racing fans who attended the 155th running of the Queen's Plate in Toronto, Ont. on July 6, 2014. (Photos by Peter Power)
The most colourful aspect of the day has to be the Hats and Horseshoes party that lives up to its name, and then some. There were hats of all kinds; most quite striking and beautiful, and some, just, well, not so much. But they were interesting all the same.

The race day culminated with the 155th running of this historic race. It's certainly an exciting couple of minutes, but everything visual depends on the horses, and the jockeys. Photographers, including myself, had remote cameras set up at various places around the track, some that provided good results, and some that did not. The winner, started in the back of the pack, so my remote stuff from the inside of turn one didn't even show him. But I was able to shoot the first turn from the outside and then get back to the finish in time to photograph Lexie Lou, ridden by jockey Patrick Husbands, cross the line first and celebrate.

Jockey Patrick Husbands reaches forward to rub the head Lexie Lou after crossing the finish line to win the 155th running of the Queen's Plate at Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto, Ontario on July 6, 2014.(Photo by Peter Power)

Like many sporting events, everything was very civilized until the big race. Then HBL - or hell breaks loose as Mike described it. But it was great to be in the mix, making pictures at a great, and historic Canadian event. I'm looking forward more horse racing, and certainly this event, in the future.

Sunday, 29 June 2014

World Pride 2014

This week Toronto hosted World Pride 2014 and there were plenty of events for participants to be educated, share their ideas, make their voice heard, and simply enjoy themselves. The gay village in Toronto, and the neighbouring streets, were filled with people celebrating throughout the week. I must say, that I have always enjoyed covering Pride week in Toronto. It is a very joyous event that rarely has a downside.

Two men walk over one of the Pride flag painted sidewalks in Toronto during World Pride celebrations on June 21, 2014. World Pride activities continue in Toronto, Ontario until the parade on Sunday, June 29th.
The only downside for me this year was the application process for getting accreditation. There was nothing unduly challenging about it in itself, but it was another reminder to me of the challenges of getting accreditation as an independent photojournalist. I am finding this process very difficult to accept on a regular basis, and I'm sure it will continue to be a regular issue in the coming years.

In any case, I was successful in getting a media credential for Pride events, and separately I was able to access the Grand Pride Wedding that took place at Casa Loma, sponsored by the Liberty Entertainment Group and The City of Toronto. This was a free event to same-sex couples who wanted to be married, and on that beautiful sunny day 110 couples either renewed their vows or were married. The jury is still out but organizers say this was a record-setting event. Visually this wasn't all that photographers had hoped for thanks to the huge clear plastic tent that was erected in case of bad weather, but we all endured the intense heat, and puddles of sweat to make images of the proud newlyweds.

Today I am preparing to cover the last of the Pride events this week - the Pride Parade - which will shut down much of Toronto's core, and make the streets into a stage for hundreds of thousands of celebrants to express themselves and cap off their incredible week. It should prove to be interesting, especially if the organizers are successful in keeping journalists off the parade route. What a ridiculous idea! They are siting huge crowds and security concerns as a reason. Obviously they've never looked carefully at how the media covers other huge events around the Globe.

In the meantime, I have posted some images from the Grand Wedding on my website.

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Friday 13th Port Dover 2014

So I spent my yesterday making pictures at the 57th Friday13th biker rally in Port Dover, Ontario, Canada. This is the only Friday 13th in 2014 so I wanted to to take advantage. This event is never disappointing visually, although logistically it can be hell getting into an out of the small Lake Erie town when the population swells to well over 100,000 people. I met some great people and was constantly intrigued by the variety of folk who attend this event. If you've never attended I suggest you check your calendar and try to attend the next one.

I'm going to try something new and post the bulk images from the day here instead of on my website. We'll see how that goes.

Saturday, 22 February 2014


Peter Power Photography Inc. is now a registered corporation! 

Now all I have to do is start earning a living with it. Well, not yet, but very soon. And thanks to a wealth of colleagues, friends and family who have been incredibly supportive through this transition I am feeling very confident about the future....most days.

There seems to be a never-ending list of minutia that needs to be dealt with before my business is up and running, and it's not easy getting things done while still working my scheduled shifts at the paper, waiting for that final day. April 2, 2014 will be my last official day as a staff photographer by the way. The fact that it's also the anniversary of my dad's passing doesn't help either. I'm sure it will be an emotional day.

But I'm discovering there's plenty of time to get things done as long as I whittle away at it in a steady, organized fashion. Plenty of time if I'm content to be up and running for April 3rd, but the problem is that in my head at least I've already moved on from being a staff photographer and I'm already running my business. Every day I wake up thinking I need to have my affairs in order TODAY.  I need to be getting assignments TODAY. I need to be invoicing people and depositing cheques TODAY. But then common sense prevails and I relax enough to deal with the challenges directly before me at a given time. This new phase of my career will evolve but I need to take it one step at a time, and allow time for everything else in my life. And that still includes making images for a newspaper, as it always has.

The thing about most people I know in this industry is this; We love what we do, and we take great pride in doing it exceptionally well. This includes photographers, writers, editors,....everyone! Regardless of work environment, politics, circumstance I know very few people who would ever "mail it in." Of course, employers know this, and count on it on a daily basis. 

But I don't just work out of personal pride, or professionalism, or because somebody expects it of me, or because my name might appear with an image, or a video. The most important reason I work hard to make the best images possible is because I owe it to the subjects of my images.

Whether its a simple portrait or a sensitive documentary story we owe our best to everyone we focus our lenses upon.

Pride, professionalism, respect, passion, patience, commitment, consistency, innovation, dedication, determination, duty, dependability, flexibility, compassion, sensitivity, honour, honesty, and humour are all things that I have tried to live by and base my career approach upon. I have always done the best possible job for everyone involved and this has always served me well.

So now, as I transition from being a staff photographer to working independently I have no intention of changing the way I work and the way I approach my life.

Peter Power Photography Inc. is my company, but my company is me. Everyone I know, meet, photograph or do business with will continue to get the absolute best I can offer, and they deserve nothing less. In this I will not compromise.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

My Bittersweet Blue Period

This past couple of weeks has been like riding a roller coaster from hell.

It all began with planning meetings for The Globe and Mail's recent project on the North, and the excitement of being involved with something so large, and with so many resources being poured into it.

(Peter Power/The Globe and Mail)
Smoke from oil stoves heating temporary housing tents for workers at the Baffinland Iron Ore mine site at Mary River, Baffin Island, Nunavut. 
Then the proverbial shit hit the fan, and news came that three of the four staff photographers in Toronto would be getting layoff notices on Feb. 5th. Fawk!

There was no math to be done. No bumping. No uncomfortable union shit. Myself and two talented colleagues had essentially been shown the door. Another friend who has been working as a part-time photo editor is sadly gone as well, along with about 30 others. It was a sad, sad day.

Its a hard pill to swallow on the best of days, but to say it wasn't somehow expected would be a lie. I simply didn't think it would happen quite the way it did, and I didn't expect our department to be hit so hard. There will remain only two staff photographers for Canada's National Newspaper; one in Toronto and one in Vancouver.

"Oh well!" necessarily became my motto for the rest of the week.  There were only a few days left until publication of what would essentially be my last hurrah as a staffer at The Globe and Mail. I have been determined to accept the layoff for what it is and to maintain a positive outlook on the future. Thoughts beyond the coming days needed to be kept in the back of my mind, and if they did creep forward I didn't want them to compromise the work I still needed to do with a great team to make The North project as good as we possibly could.

(Peter Power/The Globe and Mail)
Walrus hunter Nuna Parr's footwear is made from sealskin, which when sewn with traditional methods is waterproof.
I spent 25 days in November and December north of The Arctic Circle with Ian Brown. (Ian is @BrownoftheGlobe on Twitter) This was my second trip to document life in Canada's North and it was a spectacular professional and personal experience. [I wrote about my first northern assignment here.] Not only is Ian one of Canada's best writers, but he's a funny, thoughtful, and gregarious travel partner. We had a blast! [We last paired up while working on The Boy in the Moon]

Everyone who touched this work gave a fantastic effort, and it will forever stand out in my memory as one of those assignments that was done right from its inception through to publication. In the office I spent a huge amount of time with our web team and our newspaper layout designers. The new web publishing tool rolled out for  The Magnetic North on the web is brilliant thanks to them, and the paper was no less so impressive. If you haven't opened this link on a computer with a large screen I suggest you do so. It is a model we are all very proud of.

We also elected to return to larger photography galleries for this series and two from my work were published in similar formats. A Kaleidoscopic Portrait of the North and Twilight in Canada's North are the two titles of these galleries. I've been joking that this has been the "blue period" of my career. The incredibly unique, and very cool blue light in the north is half of that equation. The rest you can figure out I'm sure.

(Peter Power/The Globe and Mail)
A young boy hides from the biting cold while his mother walks backward to protect her own face in Igloolik, Nunavut. 
In addition to the galleries there are also a number of videos that can be found here. These include a small compilation of the my first ever attempts at time-lapse photography. Feedback on the entire series has been extremely positive, and through it all I have received an incredible amount of moral support from friends and colleagues in Toronto, across Canada and throughout the globe. (That's the big blue ball in space I'm referring to, not the newspaper) For this experience I am forever grateful, and humbled by the generosity shown me in so many ways.

I doubt this will be the last of my work published in The Globe and Mail, but my career is about to take a dramatic turn. I am excited about the possibilities that lay before me and while I am determined to continue working on stories that matter to me, and to continue to work as a photojournalist, I will also be seeking out new challenges with photography, video and multimedia.

Journalism has always been my first love, and the reason I became a photojournalist. This will never change. But our evolving world has provided people in our profession with a wealth of opportunities in many, many areas and I would be a fool not to be excited about new challenges, new adventures, new techniques, and a new and varied group of people to work with.

Beginning in April I will be making images for which I will be the first copyright holder for the first time in my career. That is very exciting to me.

And so, I was laid off one week and published insanely well the next. Bittersweet indeed! But the sky is the limit from here on. Bring on the next 25 years!