Peter Power Photography: Blog en-us (C) Peter Power Photography (Peter Power Photography) Mon, 16 Mar 2020 07:28:00 GMT Mon, 16 Mar 2020 07:28:00 GMT Peter Power Photography: Blog 120 107 Photography and Mental Health May is Mental Health month so I’d like to take a brief break from discussing the technical aspects of photography and address an issue that impacts everyone in some way shape or form.

I’m certainly no expert in mental health and do not presume for a second that my advice is a solution for serious mental health issues. The trend towards more open conversation about our mental health is very positive and I encourage anyone who is struggling with mental health issues to speak with friends and family and to seek professional help when required.

As a photojournalist for the better part of three decades I have been fortunate to have had opportunities to document many world events, both joyous and incredibly tragic. It is the nature and most vital component of journalism that we bear witness to history in order to record it accurately and with sensitivity for the world to see, to feel, and to learn from. It is impossible to imagine that exposure to tragic events, either brief, prolonged, or repeated over years of work does not have some level of impact on the mental health of the professionals who share stories from around the globe. Yes journalists choose to work in these environments, as do soldiers, doctors, firefighters, police officers, paramedics, and so on. But it is only in recent years that PTSD among soldiers and first responders has really been getting the attention it deserves and in my personal experience the journalism field lags far behind in addressing the needs of its professionals.

Haiti 2010Haiti 2010Stenlove Migine, 8, in her white dress, walks home from her father's funeral on Jan. 20, 2010. The whereabouts of her mother were unknown. The earthquake that struck Haiti on Jan. 12 , 2010 devastated the country and left hundreds of thousands of people dead, suffering and homeless. But 45 per cent of HaitÕs population is children, and these survivors are among the most disoriented and vulnerable. Many are confused, have lost their parents, their homes. Separated from their families many have taken shelter in camps or orphanages, been taken in by relatives or have just been picked up by strangers. Many can be found wandering alone, foraging for food, or looting with violent mobs. Their lives have become a thing of nightmares, but yet, the resiliency of a child could still be found amongst the destruction as some children played with kites, and soccer balls, and doing their best to be children. There is a myth that the camera acts as an insulator between the photographer and what they are shooting. In my opinion this couldn’t be further from the truth.

When we are making images the level to which we must visually engage with what we are photographing is elevated far beyond the glance we can give something with our naked eyes. It is the details in a scene that we cannot look away from while we wait for that moment when the image is strongest. We cannot look away when looking becomes too difficult. And we cannot be cold to the people whose lives we are portraying. It is those photojournalists who feel compassion and empathy for the individuals they interact with who are able to tell their stories in the most effective way. If you can remember an image that has left an indelible mark on your psyche then imagine what the person who lived and worked through that moment must feel.

If you choose to work in these environs, or know someone who does, perhaps there are things you might do to mitigate the impact of these moments.

In my career I have enjoyed beauty and have shed tears of sadness in hospitals, conflict zones, and during natural disasters. Telling any story honestly in challenging circumstances can be difficult but I will always look for moments of beauty - no matter how small - that give me hope and a brief break from everything else that is going on.

Rarely have these images been published but they are important to me because they show hope and human resilience when surrounded by chaos. They are a reason to smile when there are few, and a memory to look back upon that can be a distraction from the more dire details of that period in time.

ppower1596-080911Refugee portraitRefugee girl, and her tortoise in Mogadishu, Somalia. In Haiti I encountered a little girl in a white dress walking along a rubble-strewn street following the 2010 earthquake there. She was walking home with her uncle after a funeral for her father. There was no single assignment harder to photograph than Haiti in 2010 - physically, logistically, and emotionally - but I think that being able to find something to smile about, even if for only a brief moment, helped me get through those terrible days.

While in Mogadishu, Somalia I most unexpectedly stumbled upon a refugee girl and her pet tortoise. I was working on a story about mental health in Mogadishu and was visiting a very run-down warehouse that was being used as a mental hospital by a local doctor. In the courtyard I came across the little girl whose family had fled from conflict and famine and had found shelter inside a single, dilapidated room. She simply sat there, looking strong and confident, and allowed me to make images as her tortoise slowly tried to inch out from beneath her. n That scene, stark contrast to the famine around her, will bring a smile to my face until the end of my days.

Outside of Kabul, Afghanistan, a country whose people have endured centuries of war, I was able to photograph some school children playing among the ruins neighbouring their schoolhouse and was struck by their laughter as they danced.

KABUL CDNS_PMP070.JPGKABUL CDNS_PMP070.JPGChildren play inside the rubble strewn Naswar Primary girls school in the village of Tangi Seyyedan. Most of the school has been destroyed during past fighting. Twice before NGO's have promised a new school, but nothing has been done.(Photo by Peter Power) These images may be few, but they are a regular staple of my work and endure as reminders to me of all that is good and beautiful in the world. When I look back on my career and my images I realize that I never set out to find these moments of respite from an often cruel reality, but I can see now how they have helped me focus on something uplifting instead of something much worse when I needed it.

Today I find peace and tranquility in the company of family and friends; most often surrounded by nature. My personal images, and often my approach to making them, help me slow down and appreciate the wealth of love and joy in my life.

Dealing with mental health issues is of course not as simple as thinking positively or finding a distraction from the world around us. It is not just a matter of finding something to smile about. Our mental health needs to be taken seriously regardless of who we are, what we do, or where we live. We are all a family and need to trust in others, share our thoughts, speak our minds, and provide encouragement and support in whatever forms that may take.



(Peter Power Photography) advice career communicate community conflict disaster famine health inspiration instruction learn mental photo photography photojournalism ptsd support talk teaching tips Tue, 08 May 2018 14:57:39 GMT
Photographing Texture for Impact Photographers are always on the hunt for beautiful light, interesting subjects, great moments, spectacular colours, inviting compositions, and dramatic contrast. These are many of the things that contribute to the final images that people remember - the kind of images we all want. This is by no means an exhaustive list and there is one photographic element that is all too often left off a photographer’s list of “go to” compositional tools; and that is, texture.

Forest Texture 01Forest Texture 01Similar textures in the limestone and a tree on the Bruce Trail at Split Rock Narrows side trail in Mono MIlls, Ontario. Forest Texture 02Forest Texture 02Various shapes on a mushroom peppered with snow add texture in this image from the Bruce Trail at Split Rock Narrows side trail in Mono MIlls, Ontario. Defined as the visual and especially tactile quality of a surface texture can provide great opportunities for photographers to make images that may not be obvious at first glance. This is one reason why, as photographers, we need to look harder to see (and then capture) images that others may not even imagine.

Texture may be subtle, found throughout a scene, or be the dominant element in a fine detail shot. It may be simply be apparent in the finer details of your subject or only be visible when the light falls in just the right way.  To capture texture you first need to see it, and then you need to find the best time and method to capture it.

You may find good textures in subjects that have similar shapes or patterns, like the image of the tree against the limestone cliff. Other textures may reveal themselves in contrasting shapes. The image of the leaf and other forest debris on the mushroom is helped by the fine crystals of ice throughout. Sometimes it depends on how the light is falling on a subject for the texture to be revealed so you need to imagine how the appearance of the subject may be altered depending on the light.

This is where an understanding light and shadow and the impact they have on every image is very important. Why do photographers venture out in early in the morning? Or later in the day? Of course the warmth of the light at these daytime extremes is quite nice, but beyond that the lower angle of the sun adds shape and contrast, and helps to reveal detail in your subjects. This is texture.

If you’re not out looking when the light is interesting you may not see textures that are right in front of you. Consciously look for textures and if the light isn’t right in the moment make a mental note and revisit the scene another time. By this I mean another time when the light falls on your subject at an angle that helps to create highlights and shadows and reveals all of those rich textures.

Mr. ButcherMr. Butcher pauses while fixing up his garden late in the afternoon in rural Nova Scotia. Think of photographers who add or completely light their subjects with artificial light. Rarely are lights placed directly behind or above your camera. Photographers place their lights off camera, at angles that will help give their subjects shape, and of course, texture. If you have a subject whose face is “full of character” you want to have your light, natural or artificial, at an angle to your subject in order to create those areas of light and shadow and enhance the those facial textures. [A very common exception to this is the use of beauty dish where the light falling squarely upon the subject reduces the apparent skin texture and “softens” the skin in a very flattering way. Shadows on the sides of your subject may still be present which helps give shape, but the fine textures will have been largely eliminated. More to come on this in a future blog.]

Remember that with every image you shoot, you may wish to consider if the effect you are hoping for will look better in black and white, or colour. Textures may naturally look better in colour but don’t discount how a conversion of your image to black and white may really help those textures pop. The choice is yours so play with the possibilities.


(Peter Power Photography) help instruction learn light photography shadow shape teaching technique texture tips Sat, 28 Apr 2018 22:20:07 GMT
Creative use of shutter speed Most people appreciate a photograph with a peak moment frozen in time with every detail crisp and able to be studied at length. But what what happens when we allow movement into our images by using slower shutter speeds? Once again, as a creative photographer, the choice is yours to make.

While shutter speed is one of the three necessary elements to be adjusted along with aperture and ISO for a proper exposure there is far more that to consider if you’re to make the best use of your camera to create the memorable images you crave.

CFL: 1/1000 sec @f4, ISO160020170715 CFL Hamilton Tiger Cats B.C. Lions - Hamilton Tiger-Cats Brandon Banks (16) pushes off off BC Lions defensive back T.J. Lee (6) during first-half CFL action in Hamilton on Saturday, July 15, 2017.

Let’s not get too technical

While there are many technical factors to be considered when choosing a shutter speed I am not going to go into any of it in-depth here. Shutter speed is simply the amount of time, measured in fractions of seconds [or whole seconds] during which the mechanical or electronic shutter of your camera is opened, allowing light to pass through the aperture of the lens to strike the camera’s film plane or image sensor.

You need to understand that your choice of shutter speed will be dependant upon the speed of movement of your subject, the focal length of your  lens, the stability of your shooting platform, and the artistic effect you hope to achieve.

Simply put, to freeze peak action you need to choose fast shutter speeds - in the 1/500 sec range and higher - while still lifes or slower moving subjects can easily be photographed with slow shutter speeds as long as you are able to steady yourself appropriately. The general rule of thumb is that 1/60 sec is the minimum shutter speed for handheld photography, although with practice many photographers are able to shoot much, much slower than this.

Freeze the Moment

Assuming you have a suitable lens, decent light, and an interesting subject you should have no problem photographing peak action and keeping your image sharp, both in terms of focus and motion blur. This is where you may need to increase ISO in order to get the fastest shutter speeds possible. If you need your shutter speeds to be higher and you must sacrifice a small amount of image quality by boosting your ISO then do so.

Motion Blur

Don’t think for a moment that you cannot shoot action if you don’t have the best equipment or the light available to you is poor. This is where you can use your imagination to use shutter speed in some creative ways.

Many photographers allow a certain amount of motion blur into their images on purpose, creating very dynamic photographs that bring life to the subject matter. If you’re using slow shutter speeds in this manner you may need to brace yourself depending on how much of your image you want sharp.

Motion is relative

The other creative method for incorporating slow shutter speeds into your work is called panning. Panning the method of matching the speed of your subject as it moves with the movement of your lens. Since motion is relative you can essentially eliminate movement in portions of your frame by equalling the movement of your subject during a slower exposure. Since your camera and lens will now be moving “relative to” the background this is where the motion will now appear. Panning takes practice and getting an image is often the result of trial and error. The shutter speed at which you can pan is heavily dependant on the speed of your subject and how smooth you can pan with them. Objects moving in one direction perpendicular to you are more easily panned that those that are changing their position on two planes relative to you.

NAIG: 1/15th sec @f22, ISO200NAIG Athleyics - Women race down the opening chute during 2017 North American Indigenous Games X-country 16U competition held at the UofT-Scarborough campus in Toronto, Ontario on July 17, 2017.(NAIG2017/Peter Power) With both methods success will often mean having the focus of your image sharp while allowing motion blur to dominate other portions of the photograph, although it can be quite interesting and/or effective to have an image that is completely filled with some level of motion. There are other techniques that incorporate slow shutter speeds that I will write more about in future blogs. One incorporates the use of slow shutter speeds with flash, and the other is the use of extremely long exposures, sometimes measure in minutes, to achieve some very cool effects.

Knowing how you can be creative with shutter speed will help you to prioritize your settings and help you to simplify the entire photographic process. Go shoot, experiment, and don’t be discouraged by the amount of images that don’t work. You only need one gem from your series to shine.


(Peter Power Photography) blur instruction learning motion pan panning photography shutter speed technique Sun, 04 Mar 2018 16:53:59 GMT
Creative Use of Aperture As a photographer your creativity weighs heavily on an understanding of aperture and shutter speed (in combination with ISO) that goes far beyond proper exposure. There are very good reasons for choosing one setting or another which forms the basis for the decision-making I wrote about last week. This week we take a closer look at aperture.

Every photographic exposure is based upon the exposure triangle. The three elements of the exposure triangle, ISO, shutter speed, and aperture need to be set in combination to achieve an appropriate exposure. The rule of equivalent exposures states that if you change any of these variables you must change one or both of the others to achieve the same exposure you started with. So how then do you decide where to begin?

Bokeh ExampleDundas Valley, Hamilton, Ontario on Saturday, October 15, 2016.(Photo by Peter Power)

Artistic impact

Understanding the artistic impact that aperture has on your images will allow you to make critical decisions to produce the images you have in mind from any particular scene. The ability to manipulate aperture (and shutter speed) is what differentiates a person who records a given scene and the person who is actively makes a memorable photograph from it.

Aperture, which is measured in f-stops, is the physical opening of the iris or diaphragm of the lens. Just as the iris of your eye adjusts itself according to the level of light available a photographer is able to open and close the aperture of the lens. Aperture is measured in f-stops and the terms “open up” or “stop down” are most often used to describe the process of changing your f-stop to open up or stop down the opening of the lens. The mathematics behind the f-numbers requires more space than I have here but you should understand that they generally range from f2.0 to f32. What you need to know is that the lower f-number, f2.0 is a very wide open aperture that allows a lot of light while f32 is a very small aperture which allows a much smaller amount of light to pass through the lens during a given time frame.

Shallow Depth-of-Field

The aperture you choose impacts the depth-of-field (DOF) of your image or the area of acceptable sharpness before and beyond your point of focus. Many portrait and documentary photographers today choose to work with the lower f-numbers (shallow DOF) which helps to separate your subject from the background. Lenses with large apertures like f1.2 and f1.4 have become very popular despite their higher price tag. The aesthetic quality of the blur in out-of-focus areas in an image, known as bokeh, has become quite popular with amateurs and professionals alike. The use of very shallow depth-of-field not only separates your subject from the background but the out-of-focus areas themselves very much help make the image unique.

Portrait from Nunavut - Shallow Depth-of-FieldPeter Ningeosiak, 73, and eleven of his family members reside in his small, three-bedroom house in Cape Dorset, Nunavut on November 10, 2010.

At the other end of the spectrum landscape photographers and those using long-exposure techniques (a topic for another blog) choose to work with their lenses stopped down to their smallest openings, usually f22 or f32. This allows them to have sharp, crisp detail in their foreground elements as well as distant objects.

If you understand depth-of-field and how to control it you can then prioritize your aperture setting to give you the look you desire. You have now taken control of your settings and once again the complicated exposure triangle has been reduced to a single element. Because your ISO will likely be the first thing you set at any given shoot there remains only shutter speed to be adjusted to find your perfect exposure and give you the artistic effect you’re looking for.

With this knowledge your imagination and creativity can more readily be applied to the technical decisions needed to elevate the quality of your images. I encourage you to get out with your camera, experiment a little, make mistakes, and learn from all of them.


(Peter Power Photography) aperture bokeh creativity depth-of-field exposure focus instruction learn photography teaching tips Sun, 25 Feb 2018 12:30:00 GMT
Photography Simplified by Creative Choices There is one practice you can adopt that can dramatically change quality and consistency of your images. But if you think there is an easy solution to all of your photography woes then you are mistaken. Photography’s magic bullet simply doesn’t exist.

Your mind’s eye

The one key element that makes or breaks a photograph is the photographer’s ability to decide what your final image will look like before ever bringing the camera to your eye. This ability to “see” an image and its importance to successful image making cannot be understated. Once you understand what it is you want to accomplish with the camera the rest becomes mechanics. You must decide what is in front of you that you want to capture and how you can best use the tools available to you. You must make this decision and commit to it.

The manipulation of the tools of photography, the craft if you will, is what most people are able to learn. But the creative aspect remains heavily dependant on the eye of the photographer. Some say that you either have an eye for a photograph, or you do not. The photographers whose work stands out certainly have a unique eye - a unique way of seeing the world - that differentiates them from the masses. But if you are able to master the tools of photography to match what you see in your mind’s eye you will have made great progress toward a dramatic improvement in your own images.

Children play on an Innu swing, a Ueuepeshun, at an Innu camp on the western shores of Mistastin Lake, in the interior of northern Labrador on Sept. 21, 2014. Community leaders from Natuashish have come to these traditional Innu hunting grounds to help some of their young men and boys discover some of their culture and form better community bonds. The hope is that fewer of them will follow a path of substance abuse that has plagued these communities for many years.

Today’s cameras can be quite intimidating and do not easily inspire confidence in a struggling learner. The seemingly endless amount of features to choose from all need to be understood and navigated in order to make the best use of all the cameras have to offer. But, if your goal is to make great, thoughtful, inspiring images, you might consider simplifying your process. This simplification begins with knowing what you want and then using the tools available to make it happen.

I encourage my students to resist being intimidated by the plethora of dials and buttons and to reduce the necessary adjustments for their photography to a bare minimum. In practice there are only a few adjustments that one needs to concentrate on, and these become even more simple once you understand their relationship to one another and how they will impact your final image.

Basic exposure involves the choice of shutter speed, aperture and ISO - the exposure triangle. Add on an understanding of how focal length, focus point selection, and composition impact an image, and you have the makings of good photographs. There is no avoiding having to learn the relationship of the elements in the exposure triangle. A reliance upon an automatic camera mode may result in some pleasing images but will not necessarily give you the images you had in mind.

Shoot in manual mode

You must take control to make the most of your creativity to get the images you envision. This means working in manual mode. With a clear goal for your final image(s) you can then prioritize your settings and check them off one by one starting with the setting that will have the most impact on the final image. Doing so will reducing the confusing exposure triangle to a single variable that you adjust for the best exposure.

If shallow depth of field is your goal, for a portrait for example, you would choose the lowest ISO possible for the situation and set your lens aperture to the widest available. The final setting to adjust will be the shutter speed. This process can be repeated if you understand what the various camera settings will do for you and you make decisions to make your image a certain way. Once the creative decision is made and you know which variable will most impact it the other variables became secondary.

It can be a frustrating process trying to figure out how to get the images you want. There will be times you are pleased with your results but more often than not you may find yourself scratching your head and asking why your images did not meet your expectations. Professionals and skilled photography enthusiasts make the creation of memorable images look far easier than it really is. Try not to compare your photography to the works of those you admire, but rather use their images as inspiration for your own vision.

Do your homework to equip yourself with the basic technical know-how. Once you understand how creativity is impacted by your choices you will be free to make decisions and see pleasing results more often.

(Peter Power Photography) creativity exposure focal improve instruction learn length photography simplify teaching tips Sun, 18 Feb 2018 12:30:00 GMT
Photography and Navigation There are few things I enjoy doing more than wandering around, camera(s) in hand, looking for good light, interesting shapes, beautiful vistas, striking details, and great moments. If you’re at all like me it is easy to lose track of time while on the hunt. But it’s important that you don’t get lost yourself whether you’re in the city or the wilderness.

Preparation is key

Perhaps it’s my previous military training or simply a personal need to be organized down to the smallest detail, but past experience certainly contributes to how I prepare for every shoot and for every outing. Seasoned wilderness travellers know the safeguards necessary to ensure your ability to enjoy yourself and get home safely; preparation is the key.

Limehouse after fresh snowLimehouse after fresh snowAt Halton Hills Conservation Area during fresh snowfall in Halton Hills, Ontario on Saturday, February 10, 2018.(Photo by Peter Power)

Always let someone know where you are travelling, and when you are expected home.

Prepare by researching the weather, looking at maps of the area you’ll be in, download maps to your smartphone (in case you lose your cell signal), as well as a navigational app or two. I use MapMyHike+, Canada Maps, or AllTrails to keep track of my location but I’m old school so I still insist on carrying a paper map and compass with me in the woods.

Noisy River Provincial ParkCanada Maps App for Navigation Using the Canada Maps App to log position while hiking on the Bruce Trail in Noisy River Provincial Park in Creemore, Ontario on Saturday, February 3, 2018.(Photo by Peter Power) You cannot beat local knowledge

Seek out local knowledge to better understand areas that might provide you with some great photographs but also where you might want to avoid or road/trail intersections which may cause you problems.

In the city or in the wilderness take some time to make note of key landmarks. Experts suggest taking photographs of unique features or prominent intersections, especially where you change directions. This should be easy for photographers, as long as we don’t mind making the odd snapshot just for safety’s sake.

Keep track of where the compass points are relative to you. Where is North, and in which direction is your destination or closest safe point?

Navigate safely home

If you do wander off the trail, or take a side street, stop before going too far and have a look back the way you came. This mental picture will help you navigate back to the trail/main street once you’ve captured and image of what caught your eye in the first place.

At the moment you realize you may have lost your way maintain your position and employ the STOP method of finding your way again. Stay calm, think about where your “error event” may have occurred, observe the area around you to find recognizable features, and plan how you will move from this point without getting lost further. This is the point where you should begin marking your trail clearly so if worst comes to worst you will be able to find your way back to this point - which may be the closest point to your original trail/route.

Remember, anytime you venture out it’s a good idea to bring along a few safety items. At minimum, bring some extra food and water, a map and compass, an emergency thermal blanket (space blanket), a first aid kit, a lighter, a flashlight, and a smartphone for when you do get a signal again.


(Peter Power Photography) apps city navigation photography preparation preparedness stop streets tips trail travel urban wilderness woods Sun, 11 Feb 2018 12:30:00 GMT
Cold Weather Photography - How to Dress Winter provides many amazing opportunities to capture great photographs. But the challenges of working in the cold can limit your enjoyment and reduce satisfaction with your photographs.

Track and Tower TrailTrack and Tower TrailOn the Track and Tower Trail in Algonquin Park, Ontario on Sunday, December 10, 2017.(Photo by Peter Power)

Anyone who has ever had frozen fingers or toes has experienced the pain and nausea when the blood finally starts to slow into your extremities again. There are a few basic things you can do that will not only dramatically decrease your chances of getting the “screaming barfies” but will allow you to concentrate on capturing the great winter images you desire.

The bare necessities

All things metal, including our cherished cameras, lenses and tripods, become heat sinks in sub-zero temperatures. You cannot avoid handling your equipment so the first thing I want to stress is the use of a pair of thin gloves or glove liners. Avoid holding your cold gear with bare hands or exposing your bare skin to the elements for any period of time. The effects of windchill on exposed skin can be swift and serious. To protect against this I wear gloves made with wind-stopping fabric that are small enough to fit inside a larger pair of over mitts. I keep a small carabiner attached to my clothing or backpack to ensure that my over mitts don’t get lost on the trail, are easily accessible, and remain free of snow. Many brands of thin liner gloves are now made so that you can use a smart phone without taking them off. This is handy if you are using a helpful photography app like The Photographer's Ephemeris or similar.

Get a grip

Warm, waterproof boots and a pair of traction devices like YakTrax (or crampons for serious ice) will keep your feet warm and you upright and injury free. I always purchase an extra pair of thermal insoles for my winter footwear. Inevitably you will find yourself standing for a spell making your long exposures images or time lapse projects. This is when the frozen ground or ice beneath your souls you will zap the heat from your feet very quickly. A small investment in some good socks - I prefer wool - and some thermal insoles will help protect against this.

Track and Tower Trail, Algonquin ParkTrack and Tower Trail, Algonquin Park

Layer Up!

Adding and removing layers of clothing is the key to staying warm and dry. Avoid working up a sweat as damp clothing will draw heat quickly from your core. A prolonged period of time with a reduced body temperature and no way to warm yourself will not only distract you from your photography but can prove life-threatening. I pack a huge down jacket that I can throw on over everything else to stay warm if I’m stationary for a lengthy period of time.

A balaclava or a buff will help keep the chill (and spindrift) off of your neck and can be pulled over your face when it’s biting cold. Chemical hand and toe warmers can be useful and a thermos of hot tea or chocolate is always a good idea.

Finally, I always carry a small pack of basic equipment which includes a small first aid kit, headlamp, knife, and a method for making fire. Educate yourself, review your systems, invest in the items that will keep you warm and your cameras working in the cold (last week’s blog) and go make some great images.


Good luck!

(Peter Power Photography) camera clothing cold dress equipment how-to photography technique tips weather winter Sun, 04 Feb 2018 12:00:00 GMT
Cold Weather Photography - How to Keep Your Cameras Working There are many photographic possibilities when temperatures drop below zero degrees Celcius and if you adopt a few simple practices your shooting experience will be prolonged and will preserve your cameras for future outings.

Battery performance is decreased in sub-zero temperatures but it’s important to know that they are not necessarily draining more quickly. Despite what your camera may suggest a battery indicating a low charge can often be resuscitated simply by warming it up. I  recommend having at least two batteries per camera body with the spares being carried close to your body where it will remain warm. Make a switch whenever the cold battery is indicating a low charge and each time you’ll discover that the once "depleted" battery inside your clothing will now indicate a greater charge. Continue this routine throughout the day and you’ll get much more life out of your batteries.

Not all batteries are created equal so shop carefully. I prefer to stay away from third-party manufacturer’s batteries because sometimes they do not hold a charge as well and may not “communicate” with your camera to provide you will the battery level. This is the case some after-market batteries made for the EOS 1D Mk IV, which is why I now make the investment and purchase only the Canon batteries.

Chemical hand warmers are a great addition to your kit that will not only keep your hands and feet warm in a pinch but can be used to keep your batteries warm, even while shooting. As part of a larger series on the Arctic I shot a three-hour time-lapse above the arctic circle - during a very short day - and needed to leave the camera in the elements to do its thing. To help preserve my battery’s function I left the 5D MkIII body I covered it with a waterproof cover and taped a hand warmer to the body adjacent to the battery compartment. It worked like a charm! Arctic TimelapseA collection of short time-lapse videos from a 2013 trip across the Canadian Arctic with Ian Brown for The Globe and Mail. When shooting extreme long exposures or time-lapses in the cold the possibility of your lens fogging up is very real. A simple solution is to wrap a hand warmer or two around the body of your lens. A bit of tape or elastic bands can be used for the temporary fix.

Condensation on and inside your equipment can be another danger which may limit the lifespan of your equipment. If you are moving your gear inside at all condensation will form when the warm air comes into contact with the cold air surrounding the camera. Everything will fog up, possibly including the elements inside your lenses. Should you then go back out into the cold you will have a major problem with ice on, and possibly inside your camera. The way to avoid this is to seal your gear inside an airtight bag before going inside. The condensation will form on the exterior of the bag and not on your gear. Carry a few ziplock bags in a variety of sizes that will fit your equipment and keep them where they can be easily accessed. These bags now come large enough to fit a full camera bag in if need-be.

Remember that snow is solid and will not leak inside or melt on your equipment. Even if your camera is buried in powder you can simply brush it off, give your lens a wipe, and get back to making photographs. Just don’t use something warm on your lens, or blow on it because that is when you will leave fog or water residue behind.

Next week I’ll share my system for staying warm while shooting in winter.


(Peter Power Photography) camera cold condensation equipment experience instruction lapse outdoors photography time tips wet winter Sun, 28 Jan 2018 18:27:47 GMT
PPPInc. going strong! It has been awhile since I last posted but I'm happy to say that things are going great and PPPInc. (or P3 as friends fondly refer to it) is progressing very well.

While I continue to do assignments for my editorial clients, I have been steadily increasing the client list for PPPInc. with valued companies in the corporate and commercial sectors. I have embraced this new work and new partnerships and am finding it a wonderful environment with new challenges and many opportunities to showcase photography and grow my business.

We Built This - Communitech - Vol. 1We Built This - Communitech - Vol. 1 In the the past couple of years my work has ranged from writing a 5,500 word essay to accompany my images from a self-assignment in Natuashish, Labrador to a book of creative portraits of technology industry leaders for Communitech, all shot on location using Profoto lights. Both were very different but satisfying professional achievements.

I was very pleased to see my story, Hunting Demons in Labrador, given five pages in The Globe and Mail, and a wealth of space and promotion on-line. Sharing such a wonderful experience with the people of Natuashish was a privilege I will never forget and it was an honour to be able to draw some attention back to the many challenges faced by the people who populate Canada's remote northern regions with a story that is both chilling and to a small degree, encouraging. My thoughts still go daily to the people I've met I'm my travels and wish them  continued success in their struggle to make their communities happy and healthy places for families to grow and prosper.





(Peter Power Photography) aboriginal business canada canadian career community current affairs globe and mail issues labrador photography projects Thu, 14 Apr 2016 06:23:00 GMT
155th Queen's Plate - My 1st
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.

(Peter Power Photography) Queen's Plate event horse jockey photography racing remote sport Mon, 07 Jul 2014 07:51:00 GMT
World Pride 2014
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.
(Peter Power Photography) Sun, 29 Jun 2014 06:37:00 GMT
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.




(Peter Power Photography) 2014 bikers festival friday 13th motorcycles port dover rally Sat, 14 Jun 2014 06:38:00 GMT
Incorporated! 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.
(Peter Power Photography) business career life photography transition Sat, 22 Feb 2014 06:36:00 GMT
Career Change 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!

(Peter Power Photography) arctic career exposure globe and mail long mining newspaper north nunavut photography photojournalism publishing technique tent web Sat, 25 Jan 2014 10:40:00 GMT
Lac-Mégantic, Que
In the early hours of Saturday morning a run-away train hauling 72 tankers filled with light crude brought hell-on-earth to the town's historic downtown. Media from across the country flooded to the small town to cover this story. The track configuration will certainly be a consideration in the investigation, as are the events that lead the rolling time-bomb to begin rolling down the steady grade from where it was parked in Nantes, about 20km away. The momentum alone of this mass of steel derailing in an urban centre is frightening enough, but the explosions, inferno, and a flowing river of fire toward the lake meant that people nearby never stood a chance. Officials estimate that as many as 50 people may have lost their lives, but the recovery process will be painstaking and lengthy. Many more residents were displaced for several days as the fire was brought under control, and the "crime scene" secured. Most were able to return to their homes by the end of the week, but many, still in temporary housing, will likely not return to their homes, if they are still standing, for weeks, or months.
A house still stands adjacent to the destruction in downtown Lac-Mégantic, PQ on July 11, 2013.(Peter Power/The Globe and Mail)
For those whose homes are inside the screened steel fencing erected by the authorities it will be some time before they experience the emotional return to home and re-uniting with neighbours that we witnessed on the 11th. For many their homes are tantalizingly close but unreachable; peeking almost mockingly at them over the menacing black fencing.
This lengthy barrier, purported by authorities to be "protecting a crime scene," has screening that denies passers-by a view to the carnage beyond. On the sides where public, and media access, is denied, there is no black screening. But the Lac-Mégantic's residents are curious, as are the media, and now, there are throngs of tourists who have been flocking to the small town to catch a glimpse of their own of this disaster. For the media, who have had limited access to the site, the curious onlookers have themselves become a story.
Someone has elected to decorate the screened fencing in Lac-Mégantic, PQ on July 13, 2013.(Peter Power/The Globe and Mail)
What hasn't become a story, and should at some point, is the fact that authorities in Lac-Mégantic have repeatedly done everything they can to inhibit the media, and the public, from witnessing the work being done beyond the fencing under the guise of "protecting the evidence." Photographers especially have been told repeatedly that "it is illegal to photograph a crime scene." Nonsense. Or, "it is illegal to photograph a body." Nonsense. It even became ridiculous to the point that photographers were denied the ability to approach residents to ask to use their balconies to secure a view.
The scope of this disaster is yet to be fully understood and absorbed by everyone who has been touched by it. The pain felt in Lac-Mégantic, and the healing that will take place over many years is certainly what is most important. In its scope and its impact, this disaster is unprecedented in Canada.
A small hand-made cross placed by local Helene Drapers sits at the front of St. Agnes Church in Lac-Mégantic, PQ on on July 13, 2013.(Peter Power/The Globe and Mail)
What is not unprecedented is the methods used by authorities to stymie the efforts of a free media, in a democratic country, to gather information. Authorities in Lac-Mégantic have chosen to police morality rather than the law. They have taken it upon themselves to decide what images are gathered from the scene, and are attempting to decide for the media what we can or cannot publish in good conscience. This is simply wrong, and outside of their mandate.
Their concerns, that some media will publish something that is hurtful, or insensitive to the community are not without precedent either. But in my experience most media organizations historically err on the side of caution especially when it comes to image use. The instances where an organization consciously or inadvertently publicizes disturbing material are few, and is not the responsibility of the emergency services to control.
At one point, we the media were even asked, by a PR official, not to take images of people working on the site. What a ridiculous request to make.
What is almost as upsetting is the way every media outlet allowed this to continue without any real challenge. I know of only one photographer, perhaps a little motivated by a late arrival and the need to generate some fresh images, who challenged the top PR man, their policy, and their lack of authority to enforce it. Without the support of the mass of media present, which should have existed, this attempt was doomed to fail, as it did.
Police and forensic team members take a break in the shade of a home inside the red zone in Lac-Mégantic, PQ on July 14, 2013.(Peter Power/The Globe and Mail)
It has not been lost on the media that much of the work being done inside the perimeter borders on the heroic. Many workers have fallen ill on the site. Long hours and exhaustion in the extreme heat have been a constant concern. Over time the horrible job many workers must endure is sure to take an emotional toll. But this is indeed part of the story, and should be told, in words, and in images. Asking residents to keep us off of their roofs, or suggesting that their insurance wouldn't cover an injury to a media person is, again, untrue, and beyond the mandate of authorities.
In a community that is coming together for strength, two women smile and clasp arms following a moment of silence at noon in Lac-Mégantic, PQ on July 13, 2013.(Peter Power/The Globe and Mail)
Lac-Mégantic has felt this tragedy at its core. Many of us have witnessed the community coming together and showing great strength, and support. Compassionate acts of condolence have filled the memorial inside Sainte Agnes Church from near and far. I know that I have been touched by the kindness of the people I met on this assignment, and the strength this community showed despite such a great loss.
For more images from Lac-Mégantic, go to my personal website or The Globe and Mail.
(Peter Power Photography) Lac-Mégantic MMA Quebec canada community curiosity derailment disaster grief photojournalism train Sat, 20 Jul 2013 07:13:00 GMT
Birth of a Notion
These words lead off a Folio centre spread in The Globe and Mail about a new program of free healthcare for expecting mothers and mothers of young children. Geoffrey York, our African Bureau Chief wrote the piece and the images are mine. Designer extraordinaire David Pratt did the layout.

So much of our work in the media involves bringing light to problems and difficulties around the globe. It's critical that we continue to draw attention to areas that need it, but it felt great to be able to help tell a positive story, especially out of Africa, and specifically Sierra Leone, a country that has seen more than its share of suffering.

While there is much to be done in Sierra Leone there is no denying that this dramatic step is a very important one. The program in itself is not without problems, and the long-term sustainability of it in such a poor country will be a question for some time.

In Somalia last September Geoff  and I witnessed a lot of death and suffering. I photographed a 7-year old boy who had just died, and his grieving family. Those are images that I feel need to be made, and stories that need to be told.

But I have to say that being allowed to photograph a woman giving birth to a healthy baby boy, and coming through it herself without issue at Princess Christian Maternity Hospital in Freetown was a real privilege, and one that I will never forget.

Ruby Williams, Matron, Princess Christian Maternity Hospital

Likewise I won't ever forget the smile and the generosity of Ruby Williams, the Matron of the Hospital, who took a lot of time during her hectic day to shepherd me around her hospital and patiently waited while I made images. Thank you Ruby.

Geoffrey York's story and links to a photo gallery and audio slideshow can be found at

(Peter Power Photography) Africa Canadian Crisis Maternal Sierra Leone birth birth rate death healthcare maternity midwife mother nursing photojournalism story telling success training Fri, 11 May 2012 06:57:00 GMT
Monrovia: Charles Taylor Found Guilty
Only minutes after the special court at the Hague announced it’s verdict in the five-year trial of former Liberian President Charles Taylor on April 26, 2012 a halo appeared around the sun as it hung almost directly above the crowds gathered in downtown Monrovia to listen and watch the news. Immediately people here began to speculate on the meaning of this strange, and rare, atmospheric phenomenon. If people were supportive or not of the former warlord seemed to determine whether they thought God was happy or unhappy with the court’s guilty verdict in the eleven counts against Mr. Taylor for crimes against humanity.
The day before the verdict the inside back page of The Globe and Mail – a coveted glossy paper space usually reserved for international news – featured an advance story by our African bureau chief, Geoffrey York, and two of my photographs. Yesterday we ran a double page spread of stories and images from the streets here as Liberians waited and reacted to the news.
Geoff’s thoughtful planning ensured we were here in Liberia’s capital for the moment that the Charles Taylor’s verdict would be read at the Hague. The piece in yesterday’s paper provided some background to Globe and Mail readers and spoke of the level of support the warlord still has here. There are many here who support Taylor. There are many here who do not.
I sent ten images for my photo editors and editors to choose from for Wednesday’s story, and in the end they chose as their main an image of a young man named Peter Tarr. When he was eleven years old Tarr was captured by Taylor’s forces and was soon carrying a weapon and fighting battles. His story is similar to other child soldiers during that bloody time in that he was later captured by opposing forces and then forced to fight against Taylor. Somehow he survived the war and became a member of President Taylor’s Liberian Army. It was during this time, while fighting some of Taylor’s opponents that he was injured twice; first by a bullet through his upper thigh, and later a gunshot wound to his right arm that required an amputation from just below the shoulder.
Tarr’s story is heartbreaking, but sadly, not uncommon in Liberia. Unemployed and disfigured, Tarr now spends his days, like many of this country’s child soldiers begging on Monrovia’s streets.
Remarkably Tarr has few angry words. He is unhappy that Taylor brought war to an otherwise peaceful nation, and that the years of war affected him, and so many others in such a negative way. And yet he seemed confident that justice would prevail. He was confident that if Taylor was guilty of war crimes he would be found guilty. If he was not, he would be found innocent.
In a country where many people seem to be judging Taylor based on the price of rice during his presidency (it was far cheaper then), this indifference by a grievously damaged young man like Tarr amazes me. Perhaps he is resigned after his ten-year struggle on Monrovia’s dirty streets and knows that neither decision in Taylor's case will change his fate.
Perhaps he is right.  Any damage that Charles Taylor, and men like him, could ever inflict upon Peter Tarr, and thousands like him, was done a long time ago.
But as several people expressed on Thursday, regardless of the verdict, Liberians may now finally be able to put this dark chapter in their lives behind them and move forward. 
[The complete articles and a gallery of images can be found on]
(Peter Power Photography) Africa Charles Taylor Liberia Monrovia child children conflict court crimes dictator hague humanity news photojournalism soldiers verdict victims war Sat, 28 Apr 2012 13:04:00 GMT
A Delicate Balance of Respect and Boundaries (This entry was originally published at on March 17, 2012. It accompanied stories by Globe and Mail writer Lisa Priest about hospice care in Ontario). The original piece can be found here with links to two image galleries.





The Globe and Mail was granted access to Kensington Hospice to observe care provided to those who come to die and to see how people live out their final days.





Why hospices? End of life care is an important health issue, one that given the aging population, will grow in importance. About 70 per cent of people die in hospital, even though most say they want to die at home. Hospices offer something between those two worlds: they provide a residential, home-like feel with doctors and nurses for those who can't die at home, but for whom a costly hospital bed isn't appropriate, either.
Mostly, they come to accept what we all must: death. Their willingness to allow journalists to document that journey is a gift.
– Lisa Priest
Basia Hoffman hugs Kensington Hospice Social Worker Maxxine Rattner during a visit with her mother, Andree Hoffman, a few short hours before she passed away on Feb. 9, 2012.


There are few phrases more painful than “It is with a heavy heart.”
After the death of a loved one, these words most often mark the earliest stage in the grieving process – an intimate and emotional moment when family and friends are coming to grips with their loss.
For journalists, even though many have heard these words repeated several times throughout their careers, the emotional charge never seems to fade.
These emotions – pain, sadness, confusion, loss – make covering death and dying one of the most challenging assignments for writers and photographers.
The best way for a photojournalist to approach this kind of assignment is to draw on personal experience – to put yourself as much as you can in your subjects' shoes. This means trying to remember what it feels like to touch a loved one for the last time, to have them look upon you for the last time, and to desperately want more. To realize there is no way to fully prepare for that final moment.
For a recent story about hospice care, I found myself drawing on this personal experience, as well as the many stories I've covered in my career, where strangers have granted me the privilege of witnessing some of life's most intimate moments.
These experiences help when trying to approach people and families in the most unobtrusive manner possible.
And this is the point. You cannot, and must not, endeavour to work on stories about one of the most challenging times in anyone's life if your presence will in any way make those moments more difficult.
Before I introduce a camera into any sensitive situation I always try to introduce myself first. Meeting people in person allows me to better understand their situation, but it serves the more important purpose of helping them to understand who I am, my goals and my methods. These meetings might be brief, or may take hours, days or months depending on the subject, but for everyone involved they are critical.
At Kensington Hospice in Toronto my involvement started with a meeting. My goal was to build on the trust earned by my colleague, reporter Lisa Priest, to gain permission to come and go as the story required, and to establish rules so I could work in a manner that fell within their guidelines, and with constant consideration for all of its residents, not just those I was documenting. Lisa had already laid much of the groundwork for me, and so this meeting was very straightforward. The next step was meeting the families involved.
You never simply ask if you can take photographs of someone. To do so is risking immediate refusal. Photographers understand that visual storytelling requires a more sophisticated approach and I have yet to speak to an individual who does not appreciate the difference.
I have never worked on a story of this nature without believing that I can do justice to the story, and that I can do so honestly while preserving the dignity of everyone involved. This is what I try to convey in trying to secure someone's trust to participate in a story.
This is what I concentrated on during my initial conversations with members of two families with loved ones at the hospice. While I would always prefer not to rush into any story, time did not allow a leisurely approach to this one. While Marianne Kupina and her husband, Andrew McCarthy, weren't quite sure what to expect from me, they readily accepted what I proposed in terms of photography. There would be no posed portraits, but only real moments as they arose. Andrew, a handsome man, who, at 55 was dying of cancer, seemed all too aware that time was of the essence. After only a short conversation he simply looked at me, smiled, and said, “Well. Go get your cameras.”
Marianne Kupina spends time with her husband, Andrew McCarthy, at Kensington Hospice in Toronto on Feb. 7, 2012. Mr. McCarthy passed away on Feb. 20, 2012.


This rapid progression from introduction to working is certainly not the norm, and yet it did repeat itself the following day. Basia Hoffman, who had travelled from California to be with her mother, Andrée Hoffman, during her final moments, did not hesitate to allow me to be present in their lives. I think she was pleased that I hoped to find beauty in some of the moments that would be so sad. Where there is sadness in death, there is also love and tenderness.
While both families agreed to the presence of me and Lisa, it was still critical to have a frank and honest conversation. Not every acceptance comes so readily, but regardless, the initial conversations are when you lay it all on the line. This is when you try to understand the comfort level of each individual, improve it if you can, or at least determine how their comfort level might change over time. I try to establish a starting point with an understanding that the rules might evolve.
I would never photograph, or use images from a moment, that in anyway betrays the trust that people grant me. Only by being present, aware, flexible and sensitive, are you able to make photographs of those tender moments that will enhance the readers' understanding of your subjects' true experience. It is this trust that you hope for, and this trust that will allow you to be present when it really matters.
But you also need to know when to draw the line. You need to know when to back off, when to get close, and when to stop shooting. There may be moments when you are unsure of how to proceed. Anticipate this and discuss the possibilities openly before they arise. I simply let people know that if ever they find a situation where my presence is too much they only need give me a “look,” and I'll understand. They need to trust that they are in control, that they are making the rules, and that their comfort level and their lives are most important. And you need to understand that it is not your story that is paramount, but their lives.
You need to judge which moments are needed to tell the story and when an image is perhaps not worth the discomfort it might cause. This is a constant challenge, but one of which to be keenly aware. It will challenge your sensitivity as a human being and your skills as a visual storyteller.
This method has never failed me. I have certainly missed some moments over the years, but I have never walked away from a story feeling that I did more harm than good.
Stories of this nature can be emotionally draining, but it helps, at least for me, if you can take away some of the positive from the experience.
Mrs. Hoffman passed away during the night, with her daughters, Basia and Tatiana at her side, only hours after I had the pleasure of first meeting them. During the evening I was able to photograph some beautiful moments and before I left for the night I whispered a few words to her in her native French that included goodnight and thank you.
Andrew McCarthy, who had been a resident at Kensington Hospice for nearly six months, passed away on the afternoon of Feb. 20, 2012 with Marianne at his side. He was only 55 years old. Theirs was a love story, and one that I was privileged to see. On a Sunday, a week before he died, Marianne poured Andrew and I each a wee dram of Irish whisky. I was the last to have a drink with him and feel honoured to have done so.



(Peter Power Photography) care death dying health hospice life photojournalism Wed, 28 Mar 2012 17:39:00 GMT
Hugs for Free!
That's not to say I'm not a fan of love, and romance, a nice meal, flowers, soft music. Kathleen and I are on the same page when it comes to allowing this extremely commercial day to come and go without much fanfare at all.

I stood in the rain on Valentines Day, while taking a break from another story I'm working on, to get a photo of a young woman and man giving away free hugs. I thought it was very refreshing to see this, and was pleased to learn that there were absolutely no strings attached. It was just a nice gesture by two people trying to pass along a kind act.

Stephanie Mulhall, 23, right, and Fernando Brava, 22, behind, braved the cold rain to stand on the corner of Yonge and Dundas Streets in Toronto to offer free hugs and valentines to passers-by on Feb. 14, 2012.(Photo by Peter Power/The Globe and Mail)
While I'm happy not to participate in the mad dash for flowers and chocolates, I have to admit that I am still of two minds about the whole thing.

I don't think we need a special day to tell those most dear to us how we feel about them, or to do something romantic. However, as a society that seems to be getting busier and busier, with each passing day, if it is necessary to have a special day to kick-start some lazy lovers then I guess that can't be all bad.]]>
(Peter Power Photography) free hug love photojournalism street valentines Thu, 16 Feb 2012 08:50:00 GMT
"Maybe Next Year!" and mean it!
Today the results of the World Press Photo contest were released and I have to say that the winning images are seriously impressive. Congratulations to the winners!

While we don't, or shouldn't, work as photojournalists to win awards, it is nice to have your work recognized. WPP is the worlds largest photo contest and a prize in it isn't exactly bad news to wake up to.

But as I've said in the past, a person can't sit on any single contest prize and hope to be successful on bragging rights alone. Photographers who are successful over time, and some time and time again, repeatedly use their skill, their motivation, their creativity, and their opportunities to make images like many that are included as winners in this year's WPP.

Success at anything is about continuing to work hard to improve yourself and your craft. It's about not being happy with the status quo, and about thinking outside of the box. It's about never giving up and finding inspiration in the work of others around you.

Finding the proper and most efficient ways to do this is more than half the battle.

What strikes me often about many winning images I look at from contests, beyond the memorable images of course, is the access that photographers were able to secure, for one reason or another. Access takes forethought. It takes planning. It takes organization. And it takes vision. It takes patience. And it takes persistence.

There will always be award winning images that come from a photographer "just being there," but in my opinion these are the exception.

Beyond the stellar images produced this past year - and not just those that placed - I want to congratulate those photographers and photo editors that see the value of time spent planning, envisioning, and working to create those rare situations where compelling photographs are made.

The starting point for great photojournalism is foresight and fortitude.

I think we all have the potential to make stunning images, and to tell compelling stories, but you have to be there, and getting there is where the difference is made.

So, again this year, I'm doing my best with the opportunities I have, and trying to reach beyond what's immediately obvious, or available. We should all do this. And in doing so we can hope for great images and stories to develop from it.

And then we can say, with conviction, and not hollow words, "Maybe next year!"]]>
(Peter Power Photography) WPP World Press Photo motivation photojournalism vision Fri, 10 Feb 2012 05:54:00 GMT
Photography's Dark(room) Days  
I just read an interesting article by Peter Turnley about a printer to the greats in Paris named Voja Mitrovic and while it was enjoyable it also made me think about how our industry has changed through technology.
The art of print making may be slowly disappearing but we are also losing the great art of photo editing. Every photographer can benefit from the critical eye of a talented photo editor. Today's photographers rarely ever have another eye looking over their work, finding the frame within the frame, or the elusive moment missed by the first edit.
While I personally do miss spending time in the darkroom, like many I'm sure, I don't yearn for those days.
New technologies have helped the process of making images by photojournalists, and I guess specifically by those of us working for newspapers, but we are paying the price for speed and immediacy in other ways; good editing being the greatest of these IMHO.
While we are now able to shoot and deliver our images more quickly, our ability to do so means that editors want to see more, sooner, and more often; for the blog, the tweet, the web, the gallery, ....and of course to appease the query, "do you have any other good ones you could send?" We all need to be reminded that quality, not quantity should be our goal.
It's rush, rush, rush now for many of us, especially if you want to capture a few jerky seconds of video as well, and throw it together quickly back at the office, so it can be posted, clicked on, and clicked off just as quickly. We are in a reckless rush toward mediocrity that needs to be examined more critically.
While we are all expected to do more, in less time, staffing issues, expanded use of photos, and a broader field to search for photos in, means that most photo editors have much more demands on their time as well. It would be nice to say that we should all have a photo editor oversee our work more often, but could you imagine how many of them would react to a small staff of people sending them hard drives full of images to edit? This would sadly be an overwhelming situation in most cases, if possible to do at all.
The path our industry has taken through changes in technology has been an interesting one to say the least. There have been  many positives, but also many negatives - the loss of the negative certainly being one.
I don't wish for a moment to go back in time. I love what I do, and I love the immediacy of it now. But I also love that I have had many years to experience the process of developing negatives, and producing prints in the darkroom. There is a certain Zen quality to time spent working on a print that all photographers would enjoy I'm sure.
If you haven't yet had the darkroom printing experience I would encourage you to seek out the opportunity. Shooting on film, editing from a strip or a selection of square negatives, and painstakingly producing a print in a darkroom will give you an enriched appreciation for the art of what we do, and the value of the single, solitary, perfect moment that we all seek.
(Peter Power Photography) darkroom photo editing photography photojournalism printing Sun, 27 Nov 2011 08:15:00 GMT
Photographing Death and Hope in Somalia  
Note: This blog entry was originally published here on 
Stepping off the aircraft in Mogadishu, Somalia, I recognized the wall of oppressive heat that I’d first felt there in 2006. This time I was there to work with The Globe and Mail’s Africa correspondent Geoffrey York, and the situation would be dramatically different from each of our own previous experiences there.

Every assignment I’ve ever accepted that involves some level of risk has always been accompanied by a series of emotions. Packing and waiting to get on with the job is an anxious time. I find foreign assignments to be more difficult as my children grow older. Now teenagers, their understanding of the world and the places I am sometimes asked to work in adds to their own anxiety. As hard as it used to be to leave behind two small children, I found it more difficult knowing how worried they were while I was away this time. Unfolding events in Mogadishu didn’t make this any easier to deal with.

As I passed through security at Pearson airport, I received sad news from Geoff that a Malaysian cameraman had just been killed in Mogadishu. At the time details were sketchy, but it was still a very blunt reminder of the place I was about to visit and the need for constant vigilance. I hoped my teenagers wouldn’t see that report in the news.

Care must be taken while working in such a potentially hostile environment. Paid security is a must right now if you’re there independently and not working under the watchful eye of the UN forces. We entrusted our safety to a local named Bashir who has become legendary for his ability to broker agreements among various factions in Mogadishu that help keep foreigners relatively safe. He said to us: “You’re going to ask for things, and you won’t always be happy with the answer, but your safety is our primary concern.” Those were comforting words but unnerving at the same time. Working while surrounded by a group of heavily armed men dedicated to keeping any threats at bay offers its own challenges. The men knew when to be close, and when to make themselves scarce. They quickly learned what my needs were as a photojournalist and made their best efforts to stay out of the way of the images I was making. It’s Somalia after all, and weapons are everywhere, so having an armed man in a photograph is nothing unusual, but I didn’t want gunmen in my photographs to be those paid for by us.

People are dying by the thousands in Somalia. For the moment it’s not the violence itself, but widespread famine and disease that is killing people. It didn’t take us long to find our way to Banadir Hospital where hundreds of desperate families were converging to find help for their dying loved ones – primarily children.

The situation in the emergency area was surreal. Every bed had a child -- sometimes two -- with a parent close at hand. But the beds were being shuffled back and forth across the floor while cleaning staff pushed inch-deep mop water around the room until it found a place to drain near the walls.

One of our security team drew our attention to a small room off the main corridor. “A baby has died,” he simply said.

The sight and sounds of the inconsolable mother in that room after her seven-year old boy had just passed away, and of the father gently closing the boy’s eyes, will never leave me. My photographs are the best way I know to help people fully comprehend the human impact of such a tragedy, so I made images and tried to contain my own emotions.

It’s never easy to photograph peoples’ pain, suffering and grief, but the need to make the best photographs possible that speak to the issue and will affect readers pushes everything else aside -- at least temporarily. I find that after my cameras are away, and I have a moment to reflect, is when the gravity of the things I have witnessed fills my thoughts. The idea of photojournalists being insulated from what they are shooting is a myth. In fact, we must look harder at the scenes in front of us, and those images are forever captured, not just on film or in pixels, but in our minds.

The sick children in Somalia are so small compared to healthy children around the world. I was fooled by their size, and their frail bodies, into thinking many were much younger than they were. But I was startled, on many occasions, to see reactions from children that I did not expect from those so young. There was much more wisdom and experience in the eyes that often peered back at me – and sometimes turned away - and my heart sunk at the realization that they understood all too well what was happening to them.

Everywhere we went in Mogadishu we found signs of recent deaths. Small shallow graves littered the open ground next to each camp. Other than the mounded red earth there was little to mark the graves, except a small circumference of earth that had been raked clean of debris, and occasionally a thorn bush laid on top to keep the dogs away.

There is no lack of suffering to bear witness to in a famine zone, but the rest of the world has a limited appetite for these stories. In Mogadishu we tried to look beyond the obvious, to find stories related to the death and disease that would help readers understand the broader picture. While working on one such story I found myself making images in a seaside fish market where the day’s catch is casually laid out on the floor and Somali cash changes hands above.

A young man politely asked if he could speak to me, and with our vigilant security guards edging closer to my elbows I welcomed his inquiry. After several attempts, and just as I realized that his level of agitation was growing dangerously high, I was finally able to understand his message. He was upset that while there was an ongoing famine in Somalia, and people were dying in the thousands, I was making pictures in a fish market. He did not understand nor appreciate why we would do this, and nothing I tried to say could help him understand, nor sooth his agitation.

This was exactly the kind of situation to be avoided - one that could turn ugly in an instant. The growing crowd, this conversation and the man’s tone dictated an early departure for us and within moments we had extracted ourselves from the crowded market as quickly as we had entered it.

A short time later while our small group of armed men, translator, and journalists sped toward the safety of our compound in the fading light of the day I couldn’t help but wonder, how, while trying to help the rest of the world understand Somalia, we might help Somali’s understand what we are trying to do there ourselves.

Each day in Mogadishu we found dispossessed families doing their best to survive. Shelters were thrown together with material salvaged from nearby fields, and the city’s rubble. The resourcefulness and determination to survive of those we witnessed was impressive. It was next to impossible to wander through the paths between shelters without drawing attention to ourselves, and for safety-sake we rarely stayed more than a half an hour in any one place. People spoke to us, told us their stories, and occasionally touched their finger tips to their sternums in a gesture that said, “I’m hungry.”

I’m convinced that one can find beauty and hope in every situation and there were certainly moments in Mogadishu, where I was occasionally able to photograph children playing and listen to their laughter. In one strange but beautiful encounter, while being escorted through a warehouse that served as a rehabilitation center for mentally ill patients, I spotted a little girl in a pretty, colorful dress, sitting atop a tortoise. She was curious to see the strangers in the compound, near her family’s home in a single room beyond a broken wall. She didn’t even flinch as the animal struggled to crawl beneath her weight.

Somalia’s children, certainly the most vulnerable now, must also be the hope for that country’s future.]]>
(Peter Power Photography) Somalia assignments famine photojournalism Sun, 02 Oct 2011 14:08:00 GMT
Words of Cartier-Bresson Duckrabbit on Twitter. As he says, "Listen and Learn." This video - the voice and images of one of the great masters of photography - "Henri Cartier-Bresson - Life is Once Forever" by bt645 on Vimeo is well worth your time.

While Mr. Bresson denies he is a photojournalist, there is no doubt he set the  bar as far as composition and timing are concerned. He insists that facts are boring, and facts without interpretation are meaningless.

As photojournalists we are presented with the "facts" on a daily basis, and I submit that while we all attempt to portray events accurately, our personal interpretations of the events, and how we elect to capture them in images, is indeed photojournalism. Try as we might, we cannot escape our own vision.]]>
(Peter Power Photography) Cartier-Bresson classic decisive moment master photojournalism video Sun, 05 Jun 2011 05:47:00 GMT
RIP Leo Nangmalik death of Leo Nangmalik in Repulse Bay, Nunavut. Patrick White, who wrote the original article "The Trials of Nunavut" which ran the previous Saturday, provided an update - an obit of you will, a post script - which was a sad but poignant reminder of the reasons we went to Nunavut last November to investigate crime in Canada's north.

It took four months of editing, writing, web development, scheduling delays, and other publishing conflicts before the piece was finally ready to be published in The Globe and Mail on April 2, 2011 and on Everyone involved in the story worked incredibly hard to combine the wealth of visual material, heart wrenching stories, and masses of facts and information into an efficient presentation. The story of Canada's newest territory and it's dysfunctional nature, lack of funding, huge cultural differences, and incredible challenges in a rapidly changing world is one we all felt deserved the time and space on our pages.

We were not prepared for what came only hours after publication.

We were not prepared for the tragic news from the remote hamlet of Repulse Bay that Leo Nangmalik, 50, one of the key people in our story - a man who shared his incredible story with all of us willingly - had taken his own life only two days prior to publication. The news filtered in slowly to us on Saturday afternoon but hit us like a ton of bricks.

My heart goes out to Leo's family and friends. While we only had the pleasure to spend a small amount of time with him, his willingness to share his story with us, and every Globe reader was very brave, and in my opinion, very necessary. The path his life took is sadly similar to far too many people in Canada's north, and the problems they face have been overlooked and swept under the carpet for far too long.

Of course there were discussions in the newsroom about how to deal with this tragedy, especially in light of the fact that Leo's image was huge and bold on our A1, and he was such a huge part of the story we had told. In the end we went with an Editor's Note to simply state what had happened, and followed up the next week with Patrick's update.

Reader reaction was mixed. Of course there are those who accuse us of killing Leo; a claim that we all know is ridiculous, but one never wishes to hear. For the most part readers were saddened by the news, and expressed condolences for Leo's family, and concern for future tragedies in that troubled area.

I liked Leo very much, and felt a real empathy for what he has been through. I felt hope that his success at finding some peace and a path to redemption might symbolize a greater opportunity for all people of the north. A day hasn't gone by since news of his death that I haven't thought of him.

I'm sure that everyone involved in this story is pleased with how this story has been received by our readership, and hopes, perhaps naively that some change may come from it. But it will take a long time, if ever, before any of us will be comfortable celebrating any of it. For now I'll hold on to the memories of the fine people I met during those short weeks in Nunavut and especially the one man whose life ended as yet another senseless tragedy in Canada's north.

Leo Nangmalik was fifty years old. During his tear-filled interview with us he expressed hope that the next fifty years of his life would be better than the last fifty.

Rest in peace Leo.

(Peter Power Photography) Sat, 16 Apr 2011 09:23:00 GMT
Portfolio Tips for Photojournalism Students Loyalist College Photojournalism program in Belleville, Ontario. Incidentally this is the same program I graduated from in 1989, in the second graduating class in the program.

As always it was great to meet with some old friends - fellow advisors and college staff - and it's a great opportunity to meet and speak with the current crop of enthusiastic (and scared stiff)  students. While a portion of the day is spent behind closed doors dealing with the business of running the program, its development, and its place in the changing landscape, the bulk of our time is spent meeting with the students, listening to their concerns, and providing them with feedback and critique on their portfolios. As always it was a long day, but worth the time, and the long drive in the fog.

There is plenty of good work being done by the students at Loyalist College.  (some published work in PDF format is available for viewing here.)

I don't think any of us were able to get to review every portfolio, but I'm certain that each student who showed enough interest to ask for critique went away with many helpful suggestions, encouragement, or motivation. While the level of ability demonstrated by the portfolios varies quite a bit a few general themes seem to arise from the bulk of the portfolios - the ones that I saw at least.

Many budding photojournalists are terrified to ask professionals to critique their portfolios. This is something you have to get over. Showing your work, and accepting critique will only assist in your development.

Here are a few thoughts for students when building their portfolios.

1. The Bias - Just because mom and dad like it doesn't mean it's good. Mom and dad have to like it 'cause they're mom and dad.

2. The Standard - Variety is a good thing in a portfolio, but remember that the worst image in there will set the standard. Edit tightly. Having others give you some honest feedback on your edit would be a good start. A lack of good image editing is pervasive in our industry for a variety of reasons, and this is rarely different at schools.

3. The World Traveller - An image isn't automatically a winner because it was taken in a foreign land. It's great to demonstrate a willingness to travel and explore our world, but most editors will still want to know you can make pictures in your back yard.

4. What's in a name? - Lose the politicians and concert images unless they are of extraordinary moments. Editors are looking for images that speak to your ability and your vision. The names of the people in your images are irrelevant at this point.

5. A Sporting Effort - If you must shoot sports and feel the need to include sports in your portfolio the images have to at least be sharp. Many students initially have difficulty with sports for a variety of reasons. Improper equipment, poor lighting, etc. Don't begin to include these images until your results improve. Also, nobody ever said that every sport needs to be shot tight, and bright. If you don't have the long lens, the access, or the skill yet for action there are many sports features and beautiful images to be found at sporting events and venues.

6. Lighting - If your image is included to demonstrate your ability to light a subject, ensure that it is done well. Otherwise you are only demonstrating your difficulty with using artificial light.
7. Picture Story - The key word here is story. A collection of images does not make a story. Stories need to have a focus. They must inform the viewer from the beginning, to the end as well as be visually interesting throughout. Edit your stories tightly to ensure that they are presented in an order that makes sense, progresses the story, and captures the interest of the viewer. Maintain  a consistent style throughout a given story, and avoid redundancy. Every image should add a new element to the story you are trying to communicate.

8. The Image Within the Picture - Most images we see have something going on within the frame that is of interest. The question is, is this something effectively communicated to the viewer? Abilities differ, and everyone learns at a different pace, but there is one very simple premise to remember when making your images. Every time you are motivated to point the lens and release the "shutter" you have a reason in mind - something that interests you or evokes and emotion in you. Define this and consider how best to capture it in a single frame so the rest of us will appreciate what your motivation was. So we will fully appreciate the moment. Make your photographs. Work the subject. And ask yourself again if you've captured an image that emphasizes what is most important about your subject; your reason for shooting it. If the answer is no, do not move on until you have what you want, and what you need.

9. Muitimedia - The industry is changing and as a result students are responding by developing their abilities to tell stories in different ways. While it is important to learn and demonstrate an ability to produce multimedia stories, it is equally important to remember that the strength of these stories still lies in the strength of the imagery, and in your ability as a journalist to root out and tell a story. Future employers will very likely appreciate your multimedia skills, but more importantly your stories will serve to highlight your skills and instincts as a journalist. No matter how you produce what you show, keep the images and stories strong!

10. Technically Speaking - Do not show images that are poorly prepared for presentation. If you do not yet have the skills to properly prepare an image in Photoshop or a similar program, ask for help. The care that you take in presenting your prized images will speak volumes.

Every one of us in this industry has gone through the fearful days of having to show work we're not yet proud of. Opinions differ among professionals and feedback can vary, in substance, and in delivery.

But the critiquing process is a necessary one, and one you must steel yourself for. Seek out critique as often as possible. Consider the feedback you are given and take advantage of the insight shared with you. You will grow and learn and your skills will develop as a result. You will establish relationships that may grow over time, and create contacts that may benefit you in the future.

Do not hesitate to begin showing your portfolio until you think it is perfect. By waiting you will miss out on opportunities to demonstrate your development, your willingness to learn, and your enthusiasm to succeed. The portfolio is a dynamic entity that will evolve over time, and should continue to evolve with you throughout your career.

Good luck!]]>
(Peter Power Photography) photography photojournalist portfolio student tips Tue, 22 Mar 2011 05:57:00 GMT
POYi Award of Excellence POYi competition with an Award of Excellence in the Issues Reporting Picture Story category.

The twelve-image entry was part of a larger project shot in November 2010.]]>
(Peter Power Photography) POYi addiction awards canada crime documentary issues north nunavut photojournalism picture story reporting Wed, 23 Feb 2011 08:37:00 GMT
World Press Photo 2010 Results Announced

Congrats to all the winners and especially to the winner of World Press Photo of the Year by Jodi Bieber, South Africa, Institute for Artist Management/Goodman Gallery for Time magazine for a portrait of Bibi Aisha, disfigured as punishment for fleeing her husband's house, Kabul, Afghanistan. Apparently she has previously won eight (8) World Press Photo awards!

As always, and like every contest in existence there is sure to be some discussion about the merits of the winners, but overall I'd say the winning images are very strong. I'm sure the overall winner will get some discussion. The NY Times Lens Blog is already on it, with a title on the blog that asks "Is this the Best News Picture in the World?"

One Canadian photographer on the winner's list this year. Ed Ou, Reportage by Getty Images wins 1st prize stories: Contemporary Issues for Escape from Somalia.

I must be out of the loop but I didn't know Ed was Canadian until this week's story on The New Time's Lens Blog.

For the rest of us.....maybe next year.....]]>
(Peter Power Photography) Bieber Ou World Press Photo awards contest photography Fri, 11 Feb 2011 04:57:00 GMT
Pix between assignments
I'm a newspaper photographer; photojournalist if you will. Many assignments we do can be routine or mundane, while others can be life altering.

I don't travel as much as I'd like perhaps, but just about as much as my family life can afford, and certainly more than some of my colleagues. I've been fortunate to have had many opportunities, and I've tried to make the best of them.

I'm not in Egypt right now, and yes, I'm somewhat disappointed about that. But since I'm not I try to please my masters here in Toronto with the best job I possibly can.

My job, over the past 24 hours, has included shooting Wynton Marsalis with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra at Massey Hall, a frustrating effort over the span of two songs, in poor light while Mr. Marsalis himself, practically hid at the back of the 15-piece band! My favorite pic from the night was taken from the front seat of my car however, while waiting to meet the PR guy at the stage door.

Today, during my 3pm shift, I was shooting Pee Wee hockey, trying to get a good body checking photo for yet another study on the impact of body checking on minor hockey players. Seems body checking is like wine....good for you one year, ....not so much the next. I love hockey. But Pee Wee hockey doesn't always provide the best hit-action. Anyway, it was a snow day here, so before the first game I thought I try and catch up with the rest of the staff and find a weather pic, so off to a few tried and true feature holes, and lo and behold.....I got lucky.

Like I said, I love this job for the variety.]]>
(Peter Power Photography) assignments canada night photography power snow surf Wed, 02 Feb 2011 20:07:00 GMT
The "HIGHS" to "LOWS" & Inspiration where you can get it
Needless to say, I spent that evening speaking with my family, answering concerns from my teenagers, who are both old enough now to understand the risks that are sometimes involved with my profession, and preparing for a phone call to tell me which flight I was on.

What transpired over the next twelve hours is not relevant to this conversation, but the result of it was that we would not be sending a photographer into the region.

I was disappointed, but similar things have happened in the past, and likely will in the future. It is the reality of working in a profession where preparation is key, yet decisions don't always come as quickly as we'd like them too.

The next day, Sunday, it was back to work as usual, except this was an unusual day that comes along every six weeks for me and my fellow staff photographers. I was schedules to work the evening shift as a Photo Editor - a shift that I dread, not because of the work I do, but because I feel under prepared for the demands of the shift, and because it is next to impossible to make informed decisions without having been involved in much of the debate leading up to that point.

My shift overlapped with Tim McKenna's (Tim is a NNA winner, and now second in command in our department). The man is a saint - a fine achievement for someone who nearly followed a path to the priesthood when he was 13 - and works harder over longer hours than any staffer I have ever met.

With the combination of what was going on in Egypt, a few technical glitches, a smidgen of staffing issues, and perhaps a wee bit of my limited ability to complete some of the more technical tasks as they arose, Tim ended up staying very late into his shift. In fact, after starting six hours before me, he only finally left the building about twenty minutes before my own shift ended. As I said, the man is a saint, and an inspiration.

Anyway, in the span of 24 hours I went from anticipating a flight into Egypt and all that would entail, to helping select images for a A-section that was 75% devoted to the crisis there. There are some amazing images coming out of that country and I would certainly prefer to be there, making similar images myself.

My colleagues - photo editors - who work very hard to make sure we get the best assignments possible, and desperately push to get the best of every image selection in the paper, will no doubt take exception to me referring to a shift as a photo editor as a "LOW." But everything is relative, and I would think that although the job of our photo editors is extremely important, and challenging and rewarding in its own ways, few would argue that compared to what was possible from my weekend - in relative terms - feeling completely out of my element as a photo editor was certainly a "LOW."

Now I'm looking forward to the 3-10pm shift all week, and hoping I can make some images that will turn heads from the opportunities I'm given, and those I can dig up myself.]]>
(Peter Power Photography) canada globe work inspiration photo editor photography Mon, 31 Jan 2011 12:26:00 GMT
A "Classic" non-assignment
Although this wasn't an assignment, I did spend some time recently shooting hockey. The story and photographs appeared over two pages in The Globe and Mail on Monday, Jan. 17, 2011, as well as on the website.

I've been interested in photographing Mennonites for many years, but I've been waiting for a reason to do so. A short time ago, while watching the NHL's Winter Classic I got to thinking that other than the game being outside there really wasn't much "classic" about the game.

So where do you find hockey played in a true classic fashion, the way it might have been played in it's genesis? The answer, I discovered, is among people who choose to live a simpler life - the Mennonites.

I was able to get an "in" to meet with some members of the community in north Waterloo region, but I was fearful that my efforts to make images would be fruitless. The group I was sent to meet are some of the most strict of the Old Order - the David Martin Mennonites. My instructions from my Mennonite friend were to introduce myself, explain why I was there (the story I wanted to tell), and ask questions as I would anyone else I'd just met. But NEVER could I ask to photograph them. Due to their faith they are obligated to say no to photographs, and that would have been the end of that. Despite this they have, on occasion, been photographed in the past, so I was optimistic that I could work within their comfort level.

My hope was that they would allow me to spend time with them, and gradually I would begin to make photographs. The approach worked like a charm, although I felt as if every image I made would be my last of them. It became a game of sorts, with the boys tolerating my presence, my questions, and seemingly my camera, as long as I remained subtle. It wasn't easy to make photographs because it was difficult to bring the viewfinder up too long to study the subject and wait for moments. I only had one young man give me a sideways look while I pointed the lens at him, but I stopped and he carries on as if nothing had happened.

It was great shooting these boys playing a game I have always loved. The experience of being around them playing a game simply for the pleasure of it is one I'll not soon forget. Just before the game ended, I was sitting on one of the chairs, at the end of the "bench" so to speak, when one of the boys leaned out and spoke in my direction. "Did you get any good shots," he asked, with a smile on his face. I could only smile as I answered with a nod, and the words "I think so," which was as honest as I could possibly be.

The images have also been posted in a gallery at]]>
(Peter Power Photography) canada classic hockey layout martin mennonites photojournalism power sports tradition Mon, 17 Jan 2011 04:39:00 GMT
Street Photography - Invisibility duckrabbit for posting this video link with street photographer Matt Stuart.

His quote, "Invisibility would be my superpower," is excellent, but I think the key thing to learn here is the way he carries himself while photographing. His demeanour is unthreatening because he is confident that he is doing nothing wrong, and certainly no harm to anyone. I agree completely that people sense whether you can be trusted or not, and you have to project that they have nothing to fear from you.

I see so many young photographers trying to work, while being almost frozen with fear that someone might ask them what they are doing? Why are they photographing them? If you know in your heart that individuals have nothing to fear from what you are doing, it really isn't too difficult to explain yourself in a unthreatening manner.

I also can relate completely to his words about being among people on the street and sharing a moment with them, without them ever realizing it. We are very privileged in what we do because of all of the moments we get to experience - all of the emotions, both good and bad.]]>
(Peter Power Photography) approach invisibility photography power street stuart Sun, 09 Jan 2011 06:43:00 GMT
Street Photography-The Dance I was just looking at a post by Rob Skeoch on the NPAC site that I found interesting about a documentary that has been done on street photographer Joel Meyerowitz. The video is shot by Cheryl Dunn and is part of documentary called "Everybody Street." The piece is here on the site of The New

Two things that he mentions even in this short teaser struck a chord with me - things that I have tried to explain to people myself over the years.

The first is the way he speaks about moving with people in the street, even referring to Robert Frank being "balletic."

I've often described moving with people I'm photographing almost as if you are dancing with them, or around them. This helps me become a part of the flow of the situation, and somehow less intrusive. There are times when you want to stand back and remain apart from a moment, but more often than not, especially on the street, it is extremely productive to immerse yourself in the "flow" of what you are photographing.

This leads to the next point that Meyerowitz mentions which is the sensibility of the photographer. This is not just a sensibility of the people living life around you, but a sensibility for the energy, the life, the moments that are intertwining all about you. [A source for up-to-date Meyerowitz exhibition listings is here.]

In a related piece Mary Ellen Mark speaks about the subject "showing you what the picture is." Street photography, as challenging as it might be, is not about concepts, but about watching life. She goes on to speak about it being an advantage to be a woman because she is less threatening than a man, which, for the most part, I agree with, but as with any generalization, it doesn't hold true to all individuals. How threatening you are depends largely on your own personality and your approach to people.

A Yorkville, Toronto bicyclist sends pigeons scattering. (Photo by Peter Power)

Your personality. This is the piece of the puzzle that is impossible to teach aspiring photographers, but is perhaps the thing that contributes most to the images you are able to capture. Your demeanour, your interaction with people, your ability to approach others without triggering defence mechanisms, your honest face, and genuine interest in people are all personal traits that will pay off in spades as a photographer, as well as in life.



A great hat at the Bloor Gladstone Library in Toronto. (Photo by Peter Power)



(Peter Power Photography) canada library mark meyerowitz photography power skeoch street street photography technique toronto yorkville Tue, 04 Jan 2011 04:59:00 GMT