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From one extreme to the other

Rick Madonik, Staff Photographer

One of the things I most like about working in media, as a photographer, is the vastly different shoots which are generated by various assignments. This week was a good example of just how different assignments can be.

Earlier in the week I received an assignment to shoot a young couple expecting twin boys. It's part of a story package which goes with Father's Day, and this one centred on the fact the dad, who is a baseball fan, hopes to pass along his love of the game to his sons. At first glance, its not an easy picture to illustrate. There are a number of factors which need to be front a centre, and they need to be connected visually. As I drove to the assignment I ran through my head various ways of shooting it. The thing which kept coming back to me was how to "sandwich" the impending birth with the hopes of the dad.

Before arriving I had come up with an idea in my head which would use either a multiple exposure, or utilizing the in-camera software (Nikon D3s) which can "overlay" two frames and mesh them into a single photo. The one thing I would need for this to happen, is a room I could easily make go black, so I could control where the images would lay in the frame.

The finished product ended up slightly different - but in my opinion BETTER - then I had seen it in my head. There were minor tweaks that occurred during the shoot, but the only reason it really came together was because the two subject's were enthusiastic, and agreeable, to the idea I presented to them. 

When it came to the final imaging (setting white points and some dodging and burning) process I decided to convert the image to black and white. I've always been a great fan of B&W as I find colour often has a distracting affect to the viewer. Black and white leads the viewer to see elements in the picture rather then be visually stimulated by strong colour.

Below is the final product.

 Jesse Mutiger is looking forward to the arrival of his twin sons. One of the things he hopes to pass on to them is his love of baseball.

At the other end of the spectrum of the above shoot, was Thursday's assignment with the Ontario Minister of Revenue, John Wilkinson. With the HST about to become a reality, Wilkinson held a media availability event in the home of a local family who will receive (actually, they already have the first installment) a cheque from the provincial government to help offset the increase in some goods and services once HST kicks in. Such assignments often produce very stale, or scripted, photos since its been orchestrated by the minister's office to advance the needs of the day.

But, throw into the mix a 2-year-old and 4-year-old, and the optics can change quickly.

The couple's younger son, Shaine, wasn't too much interested, or intimidated, by the host of strangers and TV cameras in the house. In fact, he paid little attention to us, or the minister, and was very interested in getting to both his toy box, and the few donuts that were on the table. It didn't take him too long before he had secured a bag of toys from his mom and was under the table emptying the bag and playing with a small army of figures. Older brother Markus would go on to join Shaine, and the adults were left above the table to continue talking to the media. The great thing about this, is the glass table, so it was easy to show the disinterested child(ren) and the minister with his serious message.

This assignment, thankfully, morphed into reality with the kids doing what the kids wanted to do, while a politician tried to get his message out.

 Ontario Minister of Revenue John Wilkinson held a presser at the home of Paula and Jermaine Kirksey to further sell the HST. Son Shaine, 2, (under table) decided it was time to empty out some toys under the glass table while the Minister (right) continued to speak.


Shaine fully empties his toy bag to get to various figurines. Minister Wilkinson can be seen, still talking to the media, thru the glass table top.


   Shaine, 2, (left) was fidgety the entire time while brother Markus, 4, (right) eventually joined his little brother under the table to play with toys while the Minister continued to speak to the media.


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thanks for the story & descriptions. very interesting. great photos too !

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