Photo Friday

Events are important communication tools. They connect people face-to-face, and allow emotional connections to be forged in ways that print or online media just don't match. For attendees, they feel part of the proceedings, whether they're active participants or bystanders.

In my last post, I talked about the art of wedding photography. Weddings are very special and emotional events, with huge artistic opportunities.

Today, I'm talking political events. When I worked in government, I'd organized and photographed many of them. This post is my own photography - one I took of Justin Trudeau at a family event hosted by LiUNA Local 183 at Downsview Park in 2015, three months before he was elected Prime Minister of Canada.

Justin Trudeau speaks to the media

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks to the media at LiUNA Local 183 family day in 2015

What do you like about this picture? What could have been better?

Things we can't control

Weather: It was a very bright day, so Justin and the other members of his team have shadows on their faces. We can use fill flash to help reduce the shadow. Cautious that when it's hot, people are sweating, that can lead to glare. Post-processing can do a lot, too. The subjects are also squinting in the sunlight, which can make them look severe. It isn't Justin's typical look.

Bystanders: The fellow in the striped shirt, standing in front of the LiUNA trailer in the background is a little distracting. You wonder what he's saying as he gestures with his hands. Depending on what your role is, maybe you can have assistants serve crowd control, often this isn't the case. You can try to be aware of them, and use the subject to block them out while not compromising framing.

Subject placement: Sometimes as a photographer, you can direct people where to stand - in a group portrait for example. Sometimes you can't. Experienced politicians learn to be aware of their positioning for photos, but there is never a guarantee you'll get the exact shot you want when groups of people are involved in a candid shot.

Things we can control

Framing: At most political announcement events, the speaker will be standing alone. This makes it very easy to frame the speaker with just the podium sign and backdrop. The theme of this event was unity, so his team of Toronto candidates were clustered around him, along with officials from the hosting union. I think the framing is good, with Julie Dzerowicz and Ali Ehsassi at either shoulder, looking towards their leader with pride. I bisected Michael Levitt, which is a little unfortunate in this tight shot.

Exposure: I think Justin is captured with good exposure in this shot. I'd used fill flash, to reduce the shadows on his face. It didn't use quite enough power to reach his team to the side and a little further back. The gentleman behind Justin has some shadow on his face, cast by Justin and my fill flash. I think it serves to give separation between the main subject and others around him in this example.

Our own positioning: I was standing directly in front of the podium for this shot. The sign is straight on, while Justin is scanning the audience catching people's eyes. He happens to be looking away from me at this moment. We can say it demonstrates his ability to connect with in-person audiences, but that means he isn't connecting with the viewer of the image in the same way he would If I'd caught him looking straight at my camera.

Field of view: Choose the right lens. Event photographers will typically work with a standard zoom like a 24-70mm and a telephoto like a 70-200mm. These are your workhorse lenses. This photo was taken with a telephoto, to keep the shot tightly framed around Justin and his team standing nearest to him.

Post processing: This image was good right from the camera, but I used post-processing to adjust the exposure so the sky isn't blown out. I adjusted the crop slightly, as well.

What would you add to this critique? How would you use this photo to share the story of the event afterwards?


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Wedding photography. Let’s talk about it for a moment. For many years now, weddings and photography have shared a romance as intimate as the couples sharing their special day with family, friends and others important to them.

The wedding lasts a day, or at most a few days, depending on traditions. Photographs and/or videos are the memories of the day, captured in images. Brides and grooms are looking for beautiful images to remember their wedding by.

Photographers have their own motivations. Paying their bills is always one. Ensuring their clients are satisfied once the contract is fulfilled is another. They may also be motivated by the art of photography. While capturing images of a happy couple on their wedding day, there can be ample opportunity to create truly artful images.

While scanning through Explore on Flickr, I found this image that astonished me. I love the juxtaposition of the veil and the waterfall, against the solid rocks. Both the veil and waterfall appear soft and flowing. The rocks are hard and eternal. Finally, the bride is in the middle, framed on all sides.


photo by Donfer Lu

I can't say whether it's actually a photo of a bride on her wedding day. It may be of a model in a wedding gown.

How important do you think wedding photography in the world of photographic art?


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We don’t see a lot of film being shot these days, it's true. That doesn't mean it isn't alive and well. My friend John Meadows is connected with an avid group of film photographers. Search a photography community site like Flickr for film photography groups. You'll find plenty.

Digital is convenient, and in many practical ways, superior to film. Most professionals will agree that they'd prefer to work in digital for most applications, especially when there's action. But for special applications, the photographers who work in film can produce stunning results.

If you want a photographic experience - and I've said this before on my old blog - try out film. Especially if you've only ever shot digital. Find an older manual film camera on the cheap at a garage sale or 2nd hand shop and play, or borrow a film camera if you know anyone who has them. Then find a shop to develop and scan your film for you.

Here's a recent photo by John Meadows. I hope you'll visit his website or Flickr Photostream to see more of his work.

Bus line 2

I've been planning to try developing my own film for a while, and John set me up with a few pieces of important equipment. I've since bought the necessary developing chemicals and will try it soon.

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I’ve been admiring George Socka’s work on Flickr (mostly from afar) for a number of months. I find his surrealist photo art astonishing. This is one of his more recent pictures that wowed me.

His work reminds me that photography is a broad art form, and there's so many ways to approach it - beyond capturing landscapes, portraits, wildlife and action - to evoke stories and emotion.

Digger breakout, July 9, 2016

If his work appeals to you, I definitely recommend following George Socka on Flickr.

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