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As a result of Pope Benedict XVI’s surprise resignation as leader of the Catholic Church the process to select a new Pope began on Tuesday, March 12, 2013.
From within the Sistine Chapel, 115 Cardinals from around the world would conduct a centuries-old voting process called a conclave to choose the next Pope.
For the first time in nearly 600 years the Catholic Church would elect a new leader after a resignation.
I arrived at the Vatican on the Friday before the conclave to document this historic event.
Over the next four days I turned my lens to the scene of the conclave, the cast of characters who would decide the direction of the church and the faithful who flocked St. Peter’s Square en masse to meet their new leader.
-Lucas Oleniuk - @LucasOleniuk
David Cooper - Chief Photographer - @Whatzname07
The first time that I remember actually crying on the job was in June of 1985. Air India flight 182 had disintegrated in mid-air off the coast of Ireland killing 329 people. A few days later I arrived in the Irish city of Cork with the family members of the victims. Many of of them were sobbing. The scale of their pain just overwhelmed me.
I remember being at the naval base in Cork where recovered items were being brought ashore. One that struck me at the time was a package of Huggies, driving home the fact that babies died in this tragedy.
My picture from the archive of the waterlogged bag of Huggies coming ashore. Each night I would make prints in my hotel room and write the caption on them before going to the local wire office to transmit photos back.
I had covered other air disasters before this, but this was a week of gut-wrenching sorrow for me as well as the families.
In 1970, Air Canada Flight 621 crashed in a field near Brampton after a hard landing attempt. It crashed north of the airport killing everyone on board (118 people) when it lost part of a wing and went straight into the ground and exploded into a pile of rubble.
As a young freelancer for the Toronto Telegram at the time, I was one of the first photographers at the scene that Sunday morning. Forced to leave my car about a mile from the scene in a ditch, a volunteer fire fighter coming to the crash in his own car saw me climbing out of the ditch on foot. He stopped and gave me a lift.
Minutes later, we arrived to find several fire trucks and maybe a dozen ambulances sitting on the side of the road. There was nothing they could do to save anyone. The fire fighter and I headed several hundred yards towards the centre of the crash, where the fire was. At one point he pushed me sideways as we walked through the grass. I looked at him and then down near my feet. All we could see were grapefruit-sized chunks of what I then realized were people's remains. It wasn't only the plane that had exploded.
In retrospect, I think I was in shock.
Both those events changed me in ways I didn't understand back then — I still think about it today. To this day I cannot not watch violent movies involving death and gore.
I believe sharing still images of people's loss and pain can help others and change the way people see tragic events. (Think of the 1970 Kent State Massacre — the young woman crying beside the young man shot by guardsmen.)
Twice this year, I've had the privilege of spending time and documenting families going through unimaginable pain: the loss of a child to senseless gun violence.
Merle Henry, Tyson Bailey's grandmother, is comforted beside his casket after she fell to the floor, overcome with grief at his funeral at the Toronto Central Seventh Day Adventist Church. Tyson Bailey was 15 when he was fatally shot in a Regent Park stairwell.
People need to see and understand that anguish. That is what we try to do as photojournalists. Part of the power of a still image is that because it captures the moment, it allows the viewer to study the emotion and impact in that still frame.
I would like to thank the families and friends of Kesean Williams and Tyson Bailey for allowing me to see and photograph their grief.
I always try to be sensitive to the feelings of those attending an event, and try to keep a respectful distance from the participants. Sometimes people need to be alone in their grief and I would respect that. Many times though, I think they would be disappointed if no photojournalist were there to convey their story and we ignored their loved one's tragic death.
I was humbled, as many friends and families of the two young victims came over to thank us for being their to tell their loved one's story and document the true impact of senseless gun violence.
“We would rather have been at his graduation, at his wedding,” said Pastor Andrew King, his cutting voice rising from the pulpit. “How many more exceptional men must we lay to rest before we change these things?"
Odete Piccolino and her daughter Briana, 5, place flowers at the Memorial for Kesean Williams. Briana is in kindergarten at the same school. A week before he was shot nine-year-old Kesean came to read to her class.
More from Air India:
In a story with the magnitude of the Air India disaster, being a journalist first is important.
Irish authorities organized an escorted bus trip for family members to a beach near Bantry, the nearest accessible point of land to the crash site.
Even though I had talked to many of the people on the bus, the police escorting the bus refused to let me go to the beach with them. We were kept well back over a hill, out of site of the actual beach. So at the last second I took one of my cameras, put in a roll of slide film, set the exposure, put on a wide angle lens and passed it onto Ajit N Nair, one of the family members, who volunteered to shoot pictures for me. I knew that we needed pictures on that beach to help tell the story.
Ajit N Nair, one of the family members, made some a beautiful touching images. To my surprise, in this frame, the boy in the picture was wearing a Toronto Star hat. I found out later that he was a Star Carrier back in Toronto.
The Star also felt the pain on a personal level.
Thank you again to the families.
- David Cooper
Jim Rankin, Reporter-Photographer - @jleerankin
As a photojournalist, this is one of my favourite times of the year. It's when I get a chance to slow down just long enough to look back and marvel at the great photography and multimedia my peers here at the Star and elsewhere have produced over the past 12 months. It's also a chance to reflect and be thankful for another year in a job that I continue to love.
Here are some highlights from my 2012.
As a reporter-photographer, it's not often that I get to concentrate solely on visuals. It's also not often that I get to work with my better half, Michelle Shephard, the Star's national security reporter. The last time the two of us worked together on the road was during the big ice storm in 1998. Michelle pitched a trip to Yemen, where she has reported from in the past. This time, she had a group of young skateboarders in mind. The Arabian Skaters are something of an oddity in old Sanaa, Yemen's capital city. Locals believe the boards stick to feet through some sort of magic. The boys and their stories served as a perfect means to revisit the state of the country, post-revolution, and take a look into the future.
We had six days on the ground to produce a number of other stories and a multimedia package.
Skaters of Sanaa (video)
Driving in Sanaa (video)
My colleague Paul Hunter, a great hockey writer who now works on the features team, and I teamed up to pull together a collection of war stories from vets and others who have worked in conflict zones. The result was a 20,000-word e-read, which is available for free at www.stardispatches.com (scroll down to "Free trial offer").
I decided black and white worked best for the portraits that accompanied the stories. I shot all of them using a backdrop that I hand made back in my days at Ryerson University, where I studied still photography for a couple years. Here are a few from the series.
This and that
Being on the feature writing team means I'm not shooting as often as our straight photo/video shooters. Some days, just for a break, I take a walk with the cameras and go feature hunting.
Doing both photography and writing has its problems. Sometimes, you don't do either any justice. One of the benefits, however, is that your photographer and writer are always on the same page.
Ella Hung for a Canada Day feature on ethnic enclaves and integration.
Audette Shephard lost her son Justin to gun violence.
All that remains of the Kodak plant in Toronto's Weston neighbourhood. This was for a series on police documenting of citizens in non-criminal encounters.
I'll close out with a few of my favourite images form this past year. They come from that trip to Yemen.
I was out in Sanaa with the skateboarders on one of the only mornings that the sun managed to appear. Seriously, we're talking biblical rains. Every day. Along came these kids, splashing through runoff.
Happy New Year!
Which picture was your favourite?
Leave a comment below and be entered into the end of year contest, details here.
Rene Johnston - Staff Photographer - @ReneJohnston1
Montage of Chris Mazza as he testifies at Queens Park. The long-waited, and much-delayed, testimony before a legislative committee, Mazza said Wednesday he "always acted with the best interests of Ontario residents in mind."
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