The Queen’s representative

Governor General Michaelle Jean

Governor General Michaelle Jean at Canada Day.

A couple years ago I was given the opportunity to take part in an interview with Governor General Michaëlle Jean. There would be two of us and the rules were quite clear from the GG’s people: My editor was to conduct the interview, I was to take photos.

We went to Ottawa’s Rideau Hall and were seated in a fancy room. A few words of decorum were discussed (i.e. do not shake her hand unless she initiates the handshake) and after a bit of a wait, the Governor General arrived.

As a broadcaster, Ms. Jean always seemed to radiate with a charisma and warmth on television. And, I must say, that instantly came across in person. She approached us, outstretched her hand, and we were introduced.

I would be the photographer, her aide said. Yes, of course, she replied, but I understand you are a journalist as well. She then continued on to compliment my work.

To be honest, I can’t remember exactly what  she said, I just remember being quite smitten.

Over her five-year term as Governor General, Michaëlle Jean endeared herself to the country. At events such as Canada Day (above in 2008) I distinctly recall Canadians seeming genuinely happy to see her and she happy to see them.

She will be missed.

Sell your photos in five easy steps!!!!

How? Well just scroll Twitter and much advice exists. Unfortunately, if you wish to make a profit off your photo hobby, it will take a little effort, a little elbow grease as the saying goes.

From time to time I think about taking that next step and pursuing a little bread with my photos (and please, if you want to buy any of my shots, send me a shout!). But, I’ve got to say, that is not my motivation.  For now, I’m really more interested in the picture than the profit.

At the same time, this does not mean I’ve never sold a photo in my life. And I guess that’s where the above pic comes in from deep down in my vault.

It was 2004 when I began taking photos. I had purchased my first digital camera that summer – a Canon ISOS – and I spent many a day filling up my memory card. One evening I met a friend at D’arcy McGee’s pub in Ottawa after work for a pint and I showed him a series of photos I just printed off. As he was going through them, a waitress stopped behind him and stared.

“I would like to buy that from you,” she said pointing at the shot above of a fountain on Sparks St. about a block and a half away from the pub. “I want to make it big and put it above my fireplace.”

I was a little dumbfounded and I had no idea what to say having never considered selling. I asked for her number and a week later a transaction was made.

Sometimes I wonder if she still has that photo and I wish I could have seen my first sale hung and, hopefully, enjoyed. As I said earlier, there are many experts out there who can offer some great advice. In the end, what I learned from this random encounter seems simple, but oh so difficult. Want to sell your photos? Put them out there and hope the right person comes along.

I am not a foodie

Sausage Dog

Sausage Dog

Their canvas bags are full upon leaving exotic food stores, Asian markets or boutiques specializing in spices, cheese or specialty tea. They can be spotted in restaurants featuring the word “fusion” dining on meals starring avocado or aubergine. Their recipes use cumin and an egg from an eagle who lives on Mt. Acotango in Bolivia. Without being prompted, they will name off several varieties of mushroom, tout the benefits of organic, and state with pride that they cannot remember the last time they ate at McDonalds (if ever). They are the North American foodie and they walk among us.

Je kid.

In truth, foodies are great people. I lived with one just after university and I loved the way our kitchen would smell when she experimented with different spices. Furthermore, I do enjoy reading my friend Jess’s blog Sift, Dust & Toss . Although I do not know a thing about “Essiac teas”, she really does love food and it translates into a great read.

I have never really considered myself to be a foodie. However, I must admit, as I expand my horizons, I do find myself growing more and more interested in the foods I eat, trying different things, and gasp! having conversations about my culinary experiences. Another trend of late, if I’m eating something unique, and I have a camera around, I will take a picture of it.

I didn’t used to understood the fascination with food photography. It’s just a meal, right? Yet, on some level, the food you eat, contributes to your surroundings and becomes a part of the narrative. Even this picture above: A sausage dog I bought for $3 in Ottawa. Looking at this photo, it was a gorgeous sunny day in mid-March and I remember being thankful that after several months of winter, I could sit outside and enjoy a sausage dog.

The food we eat can encompass much more. It can symbolize a season, friendship, or love. But rest assured loyal readers. I am not a foodie. At least, I don’t think so…

[Insert clever Arcade Fire pun]

Arcade Fire

Arcade Fire at Bluesfest in Ottawa, 2010.

Today, the Arcade Fire released their latest album “The Suburbs” and the critics appear to be pleased. The indie elites at Pitchfork gave it an 8.6, Rolling Stone 4/5, the Globe a 3.5/5 and the Toronto Star 3/4.

I have been a fan of this band for a long time. They were one of those groups I stumbled upon in university and their songs garnered tremendous airplay on my own playlists since then. Unfortunately, I had never seen them in concert and they earned a privileged spot in my list of groups I have always wanted to see live (Radiohead still stands on the top).

Although beautiful, Arcade Fire’s music is somewhat dark, intense and complicated. Despite hearing good things about their concerts, I was always worried that they would come across as aloof and pretentious on stage. I could not have been more wrong.

About three weeks ago, the band came and played at Ottawa’s Bluesfest music festival. It was one of the best shows I’ve seen in a long time. They seemed so confident and genuinely happy. Full of life and eager to please the crowd. Aloof and pretentious? After the show, members of the band came and jammed with a couple kids who they later invited to the Osheaga festival in Montreal.

The above photo is of the band at Ottawa’s Bluesfest. Oh, and for what it’s worth, as I listen to their new album for the second time, this humble scribe would like to give The Suburbs a 4/5.

Beginning something new

Chives

Chives

I took this photo in the spring and it seems an appropriate place to start. The chives in our garden always amazed me. They would grow and grow and grow, regardless of whatever negligence was applied to the garden.

Insert analogy here:

This is what I am hoping for with this blog. I will try my best to post at least biweekly (yes, this can mean either twice a week or every second week) and with luck, this thing will start to grow.