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09/01/2009

Death of photojournalism - Not!

Ken Faught, AME, Photography

The Big Picture month is over and what a month it has been.

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The Big Picture calendar decorates the wall in the Photo work area in the Toronto Star Newsroom.

Some background on how the Big Picture Month came to be. 

Two words - Michael Cooke. 

As August is a slow month, Cooke thought it would be great to turn over page 3 to oversized images we could truly call Big Pictures. 

The first problem we had to overcome was the traditional advertising space which took up one third of the page along the bottom. 

We couldn’t really run a vertical bigger than four columns on our five column space. A five column horizontal looked, well, pretty ordinary and didn’t achieve the Big Picture look we were striving for. 

After consulting with Spencer Wynn, designer extraordinaire, we came up with a square format, a classical picture format popularized by medium format cameras. It allowed us to make up a template for page editors where we could just plop in the day’s image, cutline, and camera info. 

The photographers had a meeting before it all started and bought into the concept and we went to work. Knowing we would also be competing with wire images from all over the world, we set a benchmark of 20 staff photos out of 31 as a huge success. 

And a success it was. 22 staff, 9 wire.

For me, it was wonderful to watch the staff buzzing all month with ideas, successful shots, and failures too. But even with the so-called failures were wonderful. They just didn’t fit the square format or they were too similar in topic or lighting to one we had already run. 

The public, although not invited to do so, also submitted dozens of images with the hopes that a cousin hit by a wave might also be chosen as our next Big Picture.

I’m very proud of our talented staff here at the Star. 

Here are a few ‘Almost Big Pictures’ that didn’t make the cut:

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Day into Night. Adrien Veczan’s effort may look like other skydiving images but when you realize it’s night time on the ground and still daylight at the start of the jump, it gives you pause.


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Jim Rankin’s lovely shot of Gorilla’s in Northwest Rwanda didn’t make it due to other animal images that had already run.


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Rick Eglinton’s eerie image of Randall Reid amongst his great great great grandparents graves in Richview Memorial Cemetery. 30 second exposure.

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Beautiful image from Rene Johnston of Cirque tent rising.

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ETF officers in tactical training by Adrien Veczan


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And last but not least, Rick Madonik’s ‘End Piece’ taken at Bare Oaks


To see all the photos that ran over the course of the month, take a look at Big Picture Month Photo Gallery

kfaught@thestar.ca

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