Wednesday evening, I drove 200km to get to Jonquière, now known as Saguenay, to cover the Bouchard-Taylor commission (not from Quebec? Explanation here).
So for 3 hours, you have a president of commission listening to a bunch of people taking the mic to speak their mind.
What do you do?
First, you go for the obvious. You get the president as he speaks; you take people in the crowd who are not just reading a paper to explain their point.
And after a while, you try to go for the less obvious. You see shadows, and you go really artsy fartsy. You go for the detail. Anything to get something different.
Val Bélair, July 29, 2007 – Citizens salute the first contingent of about 85 Valcartier soldiers from Afghanistan in a bus on Pie XI Blvd in Val Bélair, north of Quebec City Sunday July 29 2007. To underline the homecoming, a convoy of police and light armored vehicles escorted busses on their way back between Jean Lesage International Airport and Valcartier. Photo Francis Vachon for The Montreal Gazette
Technical: Canon EOS 1d Mark II, 1/250 at f13 with a 16-35 at 21mm – ISO 200 + fill flash
First, there where kisses. Then there where hugs. But as the clock was ticking, tears started to appear.
Covering the first Van Doos leaving for Afghanistan was absolutely heartbreaking: one of the most difficult assignment I had to cover yet. Many time I had to restrain my emotion, many time I had to restrain the tear that was coming to my eyes.
Seeing so many mothers hugging their kids, so many kids hugging their father, so many fathers hugging their son, so many loving spouse and girlfriends hugging their beloved one…
First, we had to “steal” those very intimate moments. And then, we had to step in to ask names. One time, it was so heartbreaking that I could not. I had to ask a friend of the guy, because his girlfriend was so in pain that I was just not able to ask myself (third photo).
I did not know it would be so emotional. Even after the event, when I was editing my photos, many times a “ball of emotions” came right down from my gut, up to my eyes.
It is a good thing after all that my friend Hubert, who was getting married the day before (pictures on this blog soon!), will leave only next week, when medias will not be invited. I am not sure I would have been able to do my job properly with him being one of the guys leaving yesterday.
I already talked about photographing grievance and other painful moments. Again, I had the proof that what we do is important. Late yesterday evening, Nathalie Dupont, the lady in the second photo, sent me this email after discovering it on the Gazette web site (reproduced with her authorization):
Un petit mot pour souligner votre remarquable talent pour saisir l’émotion du moment! Si vous saviez tous les reproches essuyés par nos nombreux neveux et nièces avant le départ, n’ayant pas de photos convenable de nous deux… Une seule comme celle-là leur suffit amplement! Moi qui a longtemps cru que je n’étais pas photogénique… preuve à l’appui que le problème est souvent derrière la caméra, pas vrai? Merci pour ce baume au coeur!
(…) Pour les moments touchants, dommage que vous manquiez tous les ohhhhhh! et ahhhhh! des gens qui n’étaient pas sur place et qui s’ébahissent ici devant la photo
My free translation:
Some words to underline your remarkable talent to photograph all the emotion of a moment! If only you would know all the everyone in the family was sad to not have a decent picture of us before his leave. Just one like this is more than enough for them! And me who was thinking all those year that I was not photogenic… Now I have the proof that the problem was behind the camera, right? Thank you for healing our heart!
(…) For the touching moment, it is sad that you miss all the “owww!” and “awwww” of the people gathered here when they look at the photo.
I sent her a high-resolution version of the photo. That is the least I can do to repay my invasion of their privacy.
With my work with La Presse, and now with this one for The Gazette, I feel very connected with those guys. I have photos. I have names. I will check the headlines with another eye now.
FLQ founding member Raymond Villeneuve takes part into the annual MLNQ (Mouvement de liberation National du Québec) Canada Day protest in front of the Quebec City hall July 1, 2007. Each year, the MLNQ gather a couple of dozens of hard line separatists to protest the « Canadian colonialism demonstration of Canada Day ».
Technical: Canon EOS 1d Mark II, 1/250 at f8.0 with a 70-200 at 155mm – ISO 200, fill flash
Protesters take part into the annual MLNQ (Mouvement de liberation National du Québec) Canada Day protest in front of the Quebec City hall July 1, 2007. Each year, the MLNQ gather a couple of dozens of hard line separatists to protest the « Canadian colonialism demonstration of Canada Day »
Technical: Canon EOS 1d Mark II, 1/400 at f5.0 with a 70-200 at 130mm – ISO 200, fill flash
A member of the Force Interarmée Afghanistan stands guard during a parade and ceremony for the family and friends of the military leaving for Afghanistan at the Congress Center in Quebec City June, 22, 2007
Technical: Canon EOS 20d, 1/50 at f5.6 with a 16-35 at 35mm – ISO 1600, on camera flash
A member of the Force Interarmée Afghanistan salutes during a parade and ceremony for the family and friends of the military leaving for Afghanistan at the Congress Center in Quebec City June, 22, 2007
Technical: Canon EOS 1d Mark II, 1/250 at f2.8 with a 70-200 at 90mm – ISO 1000, on camera flash
Members of the Force Interarmée Afghanistan waits for the beginning of ceremony for the family and friends of the military leaving for Afghanistan at the Congress Center in Quebec City June, 22, 2007.
Technical: Canon EOS 1d Mark II, 1/125 at f2.8 with a 70-200 at 85mm – ISO 1250
Director or La Boîte à science Manon Théberge, Lévis Mayor Danielle Roy Marinelli, Federal MP of Lévis-Bellechasse Steven Blaneyet and CEO of la Boîte à science Réjean Blais lunch small rockets during a press conference at the Lévis City Hall Monday April 30, 2007 to announce a new building near the bridges. La boîte à science as the mission to sparks interest, especialy from young mind, with science and technologies.
Technical: Canon EOS 1d Mark II, 1/125 at f3.2 with a 16-35 at 16mm – ISO 1250 and fill flash