Budi, a 6-year-old Orangutan at Toronto Zoo. Budi is one of two sumatran orangutans at the Toronto Zoo who are being trained to use an iPad. Currently, they love to watch videos of other orangutans but the hope is to use the devices for training and learning. (Rick Madonik)
Rick Madonik, Staff Photographer
As usual, August fell somewhere between the feast or famine when it came to photography at the Toronto Star. Steve Russell continued his endless effort of supplying great pics from LONDON 2012. The Olympics dominated the sports story for the month of August, whereas the discovery of various body parts in Mississauga and Scarborough, dominated the news angle.
Russell recently posted a blog of his favorite images from the summer Olympics, and they can be found by following this link: http://thestar.blogs.com/photoblog/2012/08/the-end-is-here-steve-russells-favourite-pictures-from-the-games.html
The monthly roundup of pictures can be found below. As usual, it runs the gambit from funny/cute animal pics, to strong portraiture and everything in between.
Canadian distance runner Cameron Levins, fifth from left, runs the 5,000 at the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in London. (STEVE RUSSELL)
When it came to finding this month's collection of work, I couldn't resist offering up Richard Lauten's portrait taken on the last day of the month - today! At first, I thought it was an illustration (a picture designed, or conceived, or art directed, and a paid model) and pleasantly surprised to find a portrait (a picture which depicts something about the person). I'll let Lauten's caption speak for itself" Trish is one of more than 186,000 women in the US and Canada have logged on to find their own version of Christian Grey, the character from the book Fifty Shades of Grey. By mid-July 4,931 women from Toronto had altered their profiles on the site seakingarrangements.com indicating they were looking for a Mr. Grey, in other words, a dominant/submissive relationship with BDSM.
What follows is a more day-to-day representation of the types of assignments the staff find themselves up against. Steve Russell is only 4 days in the London 2012 Games, but already working around the clock getting to numerous events, so this is just a tease to the Best of August, when he will be featured prominently.
Rick Madonik, Staff Photographer
They are both men who heal, who treat the sick and comfort the ill. Normally! On Saturday night, they were just two guys with a grudge, and a good cause. And although neither was liqoured up, the two middle aged, moderatly overweight and aerobically challenged, climbed inside a boxing ring and went toe-to-toe.
TARA WALTON - Ottawa's Helene Campbell poses for photos in her Toronto apartment Monday May 28, 2012 where she is recovering from a double lung transplant. In April Campbell underwent a double lung transplant at Toronto General Hospital. During her time on the waiting list Helene became Canada's greatest advocate for organ donation, sparking hundreds to sign up through the power of twitter.
Steve Russell - Staff Photographer - @RussellPhotos
I guess it was fitting that when colleague Randy Starkman passed away today, I was shooting a story about an Olympic athlete that he would have loved.
I came back from that inspirational assignment to a quiet newsroom, mourning our friend. It is numbing, two weeks ago I was in Montreal with Randy covering the Olympic Swim Trials.
When I came to the Star Randy was one of the reporters I looked most forward to working with. I was lucky over the next decade and a half to work with him a lot.
I learned that Randy was not just a good reporter, but a great person. Athletes opened up to him and welcomed him into their homes. The cooked him dinner. He took us photographers along with him. Always making sure to introduce us with a little bio, mine went back to my days of swimming with Alex Baumann.
If an athlete was nervous Randy was quick to tell a personal story to help ease the athlete, he did this for good stories and the more difficult ones.
I was fortunate enough to travel with Randy quite a bit. He was fun to work with, liked a good laugh and told some great stories. Even if you had an argument with him on a trip, the next day we started with a clean slate.
The photographers at the Star respected him, Randy always had great story ideas, his ideas for pictures sometimes left a little to be desired, but, those ideas opened up other ideas. He was also quick to tip a photographer off to a fact that might make a picture.
Randy would do everything to help out, he didn't mind holding a light, flag, reflector or even sit in to help with a portrait.
He was the master of staying out of the frame, I never worried about Randy being in my line of sight when photographing a practice or following an athlete in their home.
You don't see Randy in this picture of Canadian Olympians Sarah Renner and Thomas Grandi outside their Canmore, Alberta home. He is just to the left holding my flash. The couple welcomed Randy (us) into their home, Grandi cooked for Randy (us).
Randy's instincts were second to none, at the 2006 Olympics he asked me if I thought it would be worth the effort to get into Team Canada's wax house to photograph the famous ski pole Sara Renner broke in her silver medal run with Becky Scott. I jumped at the chance. Before I ran off Randy looking at the weather, wet and drizzly, told me to get pictures of the technicians waxing Becky Scott's skis. Becky would finish out of the medals, coaches, technician Laurent Roux, and Becky said it was because she missed her wax. Starkman had the story.
While Randy might have written stories that some might not have liked, nobody could say that it was wrong. Randy did not just write the fluff stories about amateur sport, athletes, coaches, parents, and officials respected him and often called him with tips. Randy's stories got action.
Randy Risling captured Randy Starkman taking a few snaps with his plastic camera while covering a story about Adam Van Koeverden in Algonquin Park. Adam's tribute to Randy
Randy Starkman counts his stack after taking the Canadian mens Freestyle Aerial team in a game of Texas Hold'em poker after a day of practice at the Club de ski acrobatique Le Relais in Lac Beauport north of Quebec City.
Randy Starkman with Hugh Finlay, the father of Scott Finlay who suffered a devastating brain injury in a downhill ski event in Lake Louise in 1978. Randy's work helped raise thousands of dollars towards having a home built in the Napanee area for people living with brain injuries. Read Randy's story on Scott Finlay here
The Canadian Olympic Committee and Own the Podium, they brought him into talk to the 2006 Olympic team in Lake Louise about developing a media strategy as the games approached. Randy was not allowed to interview any of the athletes during our stay but he made sure to negociate a picture for our Olympic Special Section.
Randy paid me a huge compliment after the 2006 Olympics, the Star team was to write about their favourite Olympic moment, I wrote about Chandra Crawford's surprise Gold in the Ladies Sprint skiing. Randy had written about the same thing. He killed his story after reading mine, he slapped my shoulder saying, "Crap Russell, you just wrote me out of the paper" At the next two Olympics we would cover he always checked what my Olympic moment was and joked that he did not want to go up against me again!
As the tributes to Randy roll in we see how highly regarded he is as a reporter and person.
Professionally Randy had a lot to be proud of, but he was most proud of his daughter Ella. Over the years I heard him tell athletes about her exploits, I waited in souvenir shops as he looked for the perfect gift for her, I smiled I listened into his phone calls to her while we were on the road.
Randy, a volunteer at the Dovercourt Boys and Girls club, was constantly doing things for kids. He brought a school's Flat Stanley to Turin in 2006 and had athletes pose with it for dispatches back to the school. Here Paul Boehm, Jeff Pain and Duff Gibson pose with Stanley after finishing fourth, silver and gold in the skeleton. Stanley would make the trip to Beijing as well.
Chris So captured this typical Randy Starkman moment, reading from a children's book (Bedtime for Frances) which be brought and gave to Aria Renner, then 2 years old. Aria is the first child of Olympic medalist Sara Renner and world Cup Champion Thomas Grandi. Starkman was a sucker for kids, in Montreal the object of his affection was Swimming Canada Martin Richard's newborn, holding the child any chance he got. When I left Randy in Montreal he was waiting for a cab to go visit a friend talking excitedly about playing hockey with his friend's kids.
He was an okay lightstand, good travel companion, great colleague, awesome father, and even more amazing person.
Other great tributes to Randy Starkman,
Clara Hughes, she is without a doubt Randy's favourite athlete, he fund so much inspiration in her.
Randy Starkman 1960-2012