Tag Archives: photojournalism

Year in photos 2011

A man poses in front of a burning pickup truck after the Vancouver Canucks lost the Stanley Cup to the Boston Bruins on June 15, 2011

As 2011 comes to a close, I took a look back at my first full year as a photojournalist. From the Stanley Cup riots to the Occupy movement there were no shortage of great photographic moments. I compiled a short list of my favorite shots of the year.

Around the world many other significant changes took place and with it many powerful images were captured. From the Arab Spring to financial turmoil in Europe to the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan, there were no shortage of captivating photos. Here’s a list of  some of the top photos for 2011 compiled by various news outlets:

My top-5 news photo events for 2011:

5. The 4/20 pot rally Every year on April 20 thousands of pot enthusiasts gather at the Vancouver Art Gallery. In 2011, a record 15,000 gathered this time taking aim at the 2011 Canadian federal election and demanding the drug become decriminalized. With four former Vancouver mayors pushing for legal pot later on in the year, there is no doubt that this issue won’t go away.

Jodie Emery, wife of marijuana activist Marc Emery (currently in a U.S. jail for selling marijuana seeds to U.S. citizens) gets ready to speak to the thousands gathered at the 4/20 rally outside the Vancouver Art Gallery on April 20, 2011.

Marijuana enthusiasts gather around one of the 4/20 rally organizers as he throws outs hundreds of marijuana cigarettes to the crowd.

A girl with marijuana body paint holds a sign showing she has pot cookies to sell at the 4/20 rally at the Vancouver Art Gallery on April 20, 2011.

A man takes a toke at the annual 4/20 marijuana freedom rally on April 20, 2011.

4. Political leaders making their mark – 2011 saw a Canadian federal election and municipal elections across British Columbia. I was able to snap a few photos when then federal Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff stopped by Langara College on the campaign trail in March. And I went to Vision Vancouver’s headquarters when Mayor Gregor Robertson and his municipal party swept the Nov. 19 Vancouver civic elections.

Michael Ignatieff, former federal Liberal party leader, visited Langara College on Tuesday, March 29, 2011.

Mayor Gregor Robertson celebrates with Vision Vancouver supporters his re-election at the Sheraton Wall Centre on Saturday, Nov. 19.

3. Arab Spring hits close to home – After interviewing an Egyptian student about the revolution unfolding in his home country in February, it really hit me just how significant the uprisings taking place in Arab world were becoming. Two months later, I attended a peace rally held on April 9 at Vancouver’s Library Square where many Libyan-Canadians attended to voice their concerns with the events taking place back home. The crowd of nearly 100 was divided on whether NATO forces should intervene with the former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and his forces. Some of the protesters voiced concerns that the NATO countries had their own motives.

A young girl waves a Libyan flag alongside her family and fellow Libyan-Canadian protesters who support NATO's intervention back home on April 9 at Vancouver's Library Square.

A protester shows his discontent with NATO forces intervening in Libya at a peace rally on April 9, 2011.

An outraged Libyan-Canadian man demands the crowd of protesters understand the need for NATO in his native country where civil war was unfolding.

2. Vancouver gets Occupied – On October 15 Vancouver and many cities across the world joined in with the Occupy Wall Street movement. More than 5,000 protesters gathered on the first day to voice their frustrations with social and economic inequality, corporate greed and government corruption among a host of other topics. The blog post I first created that covered the event generated great interest, especially the unique “We are the Nyan Nyan percent” sign made by a woman who blended the internet meme the Nyan Cat with the popular Occupy Wall Street slogan.

A protester attending Occupy Vancouver holds a sign that blends an internet meme the Nyan Cat with the popular Occupy Wall Street slogan "we are the 99 per cent" while marching downtown Vancouver on Oct. 15.

Three men dress up in suits and sport pig masks to protest corporate greed on the steps at the north end of the Vancouver Art Gallery during the Occupy Vancouver protests on Oct. 15. (Photo by Jared Gnam)

A protester wearing a Guy Fawkes mask holds a sign claiming it's a "nice day for a revolution" during the first of two marches held as a part of the Occupy Vancouver protest on Oct. 15. (Photo by Jared Gnam)

A family of protesters hold up signs protesting the military industrial complex in a sea of bubbles on Georgia Street as they partake in Occupy Vancouver on Oct. 15.

Vancouver, B.C. -- Thousands of protesters gathered at the Vancouver Art Gallery to take part in Occupy Vancouver, a peaceful protest that is a take on the Occupy Wall Street protests, on Saturday, October 15, 2011.

1. The Stanley Cup riots – For a journalism student looking to get experience in the field, I can’t think of no better scenario (unfortunately) than a full-blown riot. After the Vancouver Canucks lost the 2011 Stanley Cup to the Boston Bruins on June 15 fans turned over and torched cars, smashed store windows, looted while lighting the city on fire. It was a dark day for Vancouver as the Stanley Cup riot gained international attention and a multitude of epic photos including the world-famous shot of the couple kissing shot by Getty Images’ Rich Lam.

Vancouver Canuck fans pose while pouring beer over each other in front of an overturned pickup truck as it burns in downtown Vancouver after the Canucks lost the Stanley Cup to the Boston Bruins on June 15, 2011.

A woman, later revealed to be Alicia Price from Surrey, poses in front of Vancouver riot police during the Stanley Cup riot on June 15, 2011. Price is currently one of 27 suspects charged for particapting in the riot.

A woman poses in front of a burning pickup truck and various debris for the many cameras in the crowd, including cameras used by the media, during the Stanley Cup riot in Vancouver on June 15. (Photo by Jared Gnam)

A Vancouver Canucks fan loots hard copies of The Land of Painted Caves from a downtown Chapters store during a riot after their team's loss to the Boston Bruins in game seven of the NHL Stanley Cup final hockey game in Vancouver, June 15, 2011. The 768-page novels were used shortly after to throw at riot police.


Sports photojournalism: taking tips from 36-year veteran Bruce Bennett

Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin tries to get a shot off in mid air during an NHL hockey game against the Boston Bruins at Verizon Center on October 19, 2010. (Photo By Clyde Caplan)

With fierce action unraveling at breakneck speeds, shooting sports can be one of the most challenging areas for photojournalists to cover. It takes years of experience to get it right, so who better to talk to than 36-year National Hockey League photographer Bruce Bennett.

In photojournalism class our instructor warned us right off the bat the most difficult assignment will be shooting sports. Quality sports photos are somewhat rare, but when the timing is just right the image can burn into the viewer’s brain forever. It may be the shot of Bobby Orr flying through the air after scoring “The Goal” or Michael Jordan slam dunking from the foul line, almost every sports lover has a favorite photo. Capturing great sports moments in a single frame is all about timing, reacting and execution. It also takes serious commitment, as you will need at least entry-level professional gear and many hours of practice to hone your skill and instincts.

However, to launch yourself faster into the world of sports photography, it’s helpful to consult some experts in the field for advice. The Internet is full of great material such as photo.net’s extensive article that’s chalked full of technical advice and a unique list of tips for covering individual sports from soccer to volleyball. Also, I stumbled upon a great how-to video for amateurs with limited equipment that was just released earlier this month. But for a more personal approach, I interviewed Bruce Bennett, a sports photographer for more than 36 years covering thousands of NHL and international hockey games.

Tips from Bruce Bennett: one million sports photos and counting

Veteran NHL photographer Bruce Bennett braces for the shot during an NHL game in November, 2000. (Screen grab from YouTube)

With more than one million sports photos under his belt, veteran photographer Bruce Bennett knows what it takes to capture a good sports photo. Bennett began his career as a fan taking pictures of National Hockey League games from the stands at Madison Square Gardens in New York City. He sent some photos, which he describes as being “absolute garbage”, to the Hockey News in Montreal who in turn offered him $3 a shot. Bennett jumped on the offer, but more for the press pass and to gain shooting experience than the paltry pay.

Bennett says at first “I had no idea what I was shooting” and it took the first few years to learn how to consistently take captivating sports photos. In order to capture the fast pace action of sports such as an NHL hockey game, Bennett says it takes a combination of three things:

  • Experience
  • Anticipation
  • Instinct

For Bennett experience is key. He finds a cardinal mistake rookie photographers often make is the players are too small in the frame. Even with digital technology, making major crops to a photo also decreases the quality of the images.

Bennett suggests to gain more experience to relentlessly shoot as much as you can at first. “Don’t just sit around and hope someone’s going to call you to shoot something,” says Bennett who suggests scanning local newspapers for listings of college or high school sports games to shoot.

“I would shoot anything and everything that I could either sneak into or buy a ticket to.”

Photojournalists that are starting out can attend amateur sports games or look for skate parks to hone their sports photography skills.

To better anticipate the unfolding action at sports games, Bennett says it helps to know the sport you’re covering:

  • Research the rules and technical aspects of the game
  • Check beforehand the big personalities/ who stands out in the sport
  • Check to see if any players are on the verge of reaching a milestone or certain career goals
  • Know the players and their backgrounds on each team (this helps with writing cutlines)

Instinct also develops with experience and knowing the sport helps capturing the peak action, Bennett says. In order to tell the story of a game (in his case hockey) you should look for players who are hot and having great games such as goalies recording shutouts. You need celebration shots, dejection shots and moments of pure athleticism such as big hits. Bennett says wire services and photo agencies usually look for 20 good photos with these scenarios and it often takes shooting up to 600-700 photos to achieve these results.

Capturing peak action can require much practice. It took me more than 200 shots to get this photo which was used for The Voice, a newspaper produced by journalism students at Langara College in Vancouver.

A side note Bennett added that’s also important for people trying to brake into sports photojournalism is their business approach. Bennett is well established today and mainly works for Getty Images. He sold his company, Bruce Bennett Studios, to Getty in 2004. But before he reached success, Bennett says it was key to dress presentable and take a professional attitude to the arena. He says many of his fellow photographers “dressed like slobs”, but because he took this approach he made many connections with writers for magazines and other publications who would come to him and ask for photos.

For more information on Bruce Bennett’s career check out this interview with Swedish sports station Canal:

Occupy Vancouver captured in photos

A protester encourages the crowd of thousands over a loud speaker attending Occupy Vancouver at the Vancouver Art Gallery to get ready for long protest on Oct. 15. (Photo by Jared Gnam)

As thousands of protesters gathered at the Vancouver Art Gallery to take part in the first day of Occupy Vancouver on Saturday, October 15, I made my rounds snapping photos and documenting the  unfolding demonstrations.

(To see the full gallery of 55 photos with captions click on any one of the photos OR scroll through the Flickr slideshow below for quick viewing)

Considering the ever-expanding global Occupy movement was instigated by an article published by the anti-consumerist magazine Adbusters based in Vancouver,  I had a feeling the turnout on the first day for Occupy Vancouver was going to be pretty good.

By the time I arrived around 1 p.m. the lawns of the Vancouver Art Gallery were already filled with thousands of protesters, tents, info booths and an impromptu stage equipped with a speaker system. I had to scramble to get my camera out and start shooting as hundreds of the protesters just began marching down Howe Street protesting a variety of topics from corporate greed to genetically modified foods.

Occupy Vancouver captured in photos

Three men dress up in suits and sport pig masks to protest corporate greed on the steps at the north end of the Vancouver Art Gallery during the Occupy Vancouver protests on Oct. 15. (Photo by Jared Gnam)

Action was unfolding all around, which makes it difficult to figure out what you should be focusing on. The experience I gained shooting the Vancouver hockey riots and several other marches helped in this situation as I remained calm and found my way to the front of the march where I could pick off the most interesting protesters with their signs and costumes.

I tried to capture the emotion of the protesters by looking for unusual facial expressions or dramatic gestures. Another photographer, Mark Feenstra took this concept up a notch with his series of portraits of those who took part in Occupy Vancouver.

Here is a list of other great photo galleries of Occupy Vancouver and other Occupy movements around the world:

A protester wearing a Guy Fawkes mask holds a sign claiming it's a "nice day for a revolution" during the first of two marches held as a part of the Occupy Vancouver protest on Oct. 15. (Photo by Jared Gnam)

A family of protesters hold up signs protesting the military industrial complex in a sea of bubbles on Georgia Street as they partake in Occupy Vancouver on Oct. 15.

A protester attending Occupy Vancouver holds up the Adbusters version of the American Flag at the Vancouver Art Gallery on Oct. 15.

A protester taking part in Occupy Vancouver holds two placards stating her desire to ban genetically modified foods while marching down Granville Street on Oct. 15.

A group of protesters attending Occupy Vancouver hold up various signs that display their dissatisfaction with the current banking and corporate system while marching through downtown Vancouver on Oct. 15.

Thousands of protesters with various messages, from anti-genetically modified food to anti-Wall Street, march down Granville Street to take part in Occupy Vancouver, a peaceful protest that is affiliated with the Occupy Wall Street movement on Saturday, October 15.

Vancouver Police officers move in to order an Occupy Vancouver protester to move as he blocks traffic during a march held on Oct. 15.

A protester attending Occupy Vancouver holds a sign that blends an internet meme (the Nyan cat) with the popular Occupy Wall Street slogan "we are the 99 per cent" while marching on Oct. 15.

A protester taking part in Occupy Vancouver stands in a camping tent at the Vancouver Art Gallery on Oct. 15. The tent is one of dozens set up for protesters to stay out overnight.

Vancouver, B.C. -- Thousands of protesters gathered at the Vancouver Art Gallery to take part in Occupy Vancouver, a peaceful protest that is a take on the Occupy Wall Street protests, on Saturday, October 15, 2011.