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Finding the lighter side of Rob Ford!

Steve Russell - Staff Photographer

"You don't need me in the picture do you?"

"Can you get rid of my second chin?"

"Try to get my good side"

"Try not to make me look too goofy" 

"Can you make me look smaller"

These are a few of the requests I get all the time on assignment. Some of them from people in the public eye all the time.

Like civilians, politicians have the same concerns when a lens is pointed at them.

Unfortunate for them, being in front of cameras is part of the job.

Some politicians are naturals, Jack Layton was one of those that shone in front of the camera.

However, not every politician is that comfortable in front of the camera.

Each politician has his own nuance, Stephen Harper gives the worst thumbs up ever and Michael Ignatieff had some pretty goofy facial expressions before he toned it down.

This brings us to Mayor Rob Ford, it seems that every time we do a story on him or something at City Hall some of the comments readers have made are why do we have to run an unflattering picture of the Mayor.

It's tough, cameras are rumoured to add ten pounds to the subject. Being a guy with a high BMI, I can relate. I'm on the operational end of the camera for a reason! I think my love of taking pictures spawned from how much I dislike being in pictures.

Mayor Ford also doesn't talk to the Toronto Star, which is fine, but it does also mean that us photographers never really have opportunity to photograph him in settings where we can work around the issue and take a more flattering picture. 

I never got the impression that Mayor Ford really cared too much about his weight, but, his recent "Cut the Waist" campaign shows he does. I wish him luck in the endevour. Hopefully he can shed some of the weight while in office like David Miller did.

Some tips on photographing people that are a little heavier than average?

•Try to photograph from a higher angle. Usually you just have to be slightly higher that eye height.

•If you have to shoot from a low angle, at least have the light source coming in from a higher angle. Shadows from the light will hide or minimize any double chin. Try to keep your flash off camera.

•Try to not shoot the subject sitting down and if they have to be sitting down make sure that they sit up straight.

•Selective framing, you do not have to include their entire body.

•Try a shallow depth of field, a selective focus point on the eyes and a sharp drop off in sharpness will bring the reader to the feature that is sharpest. 

Here is a quick look through the Toronto Star photo archive and some of our more flattering Rob Ford pictures.

STEVE RUSSELL - March 25, 2010 - Rob Ford, with his brother Doug on his right registers as a candidate at the Election Services office at City Hall.

LUCAS OLENIUK - March 26, 2010 - Toronto City Councillor Rob Ford kicked of his mayoral bid at the Toronto Congress Centre.

This may be the last time Rob Ford posed for a picture with the Toronto Star, LUCAS OLENIUK used a shallow depth of field ( large aperature f/1.4) and a high angle to take this picture of the Mayoral candidate Rob Ford on April 23, 2010 at the Ford family owned Deco-Labels printing factory in Etobicoke for a Linda Diebel weekend feature.

Something to smile about,

No doubt about it people always photograph better when they are happy. These next pictures are of Mayor Ford in his first months in office.

VINCE TALOTTA - December 3, 2010 - The Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada pays an official visit to Toronto Mayor Rob Ford.

TANNIS TOOHEY - December 7, 2010 - Mayor Rob Ford reacts as councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker surprises him with a kiss on the cheek as he receives his decoration of office during the swearing in ceremony in City Hall Council Chambers.

DAVID COOPER - December 16, 2010 - Mayor Rob Ford shows of the chain of office to other members  before the Official Toronto City Council Portrait 2010.

At council, 

Shooting in and around council is a challenge, cameras are tested by low light levels blended with mixed lighting sources that do not flatter anyone.

Using TV lights to his advantage LUCAS OLENIUK captured Mayor Rob Ford after a public deputation on the proposed city budget at the East York Civic Centre Jan. 19, 2011.

RENE JOHNSTON - September 26, 2011 - Mayor Rob Ford laughs and leans way back in a chair in chambers as the debate rages in City Hall over the Core Service Review.

STEVE RUSSELL - May 17, 2011 - As Council debates Mayor Rob Ford takes a playful punch from Councillor Josh Matlow. Council voted and got one step closer to expanding private garbage and recycling collection to 165,000 homes between Yonge St. and Etobicoke's eastern border.

CARLOS OSORIO took selective framing to the extreme and captured this fun picture that works because of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford's well known public figure on July 28, 2011 at city hall.

Out and about

VINCE TALOTTA - March 31, 2011 - Premier Dalton McGuinty and Mayor Rob Ford unveil a new TTC transportation system at the Wilson Subway Complex.

STEVE RUSSELL - February 5, 2011 - Toronto Mayor Rob Ford was one of the fashionable guests at the 'Shine' themed gala to raise money for the National Ballet of Canada at the Royal York Hotel in Toronto. 

TARA WALTON - April 7, 2011- Toronto Mayor Rob Ford removes graffiti with a power washer in the St. Clair and Dufferin area as part of the City's Clean Toronto initiative.

BERNARD WEIL shows that having fun makes everyone look better and the Mayor shows us how to take eyes off him in a picture. Just dance with Mikala Moss of the Bahamas in the same frame. Moss coaxed Mayor Rob Ford to dance at the Caribbean Carnival launch at Nathan Philips Square on July 12, 2011. 

KEITH BEATY - December 10, 2011.  Rob Ford in his cameo as a Cannon Doll at the debut of the National Ballet's The Nutcracker.

RENE JOHNSTON - September 14 2010 - Rob Ford coached his Don Bosco football team to a win in the rain.

This picture by TARA WALTON went viral. It was the target of photoshop trickery all over the internet. But Toronto Mayor Rob Ford shows skill kicking off the Metro Bowl at the Rogers Centre on November 29, 2011.

My favourite picture of Mayor Ford. RICK MADONIK captured the Mayor paying his respects to NDP Leader Jack Layton in the rotunda of City Hall, where Layton began his political career.


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I am no Rob Ford fan by any means, but he seems like a good guy at heart....just a little goofy with some of the stances he has chosen to take in the past (eg. Gay Pride)

Those were some great pics - too bad your editors always choose the horrible unflattering ones to run with!

Hi Steve! Thank you for this excellent lesson in photography and for what is a very nice gesture, and tribute, to Mayor Ford. The quality of your work, and the craftsmanship of your colleagues, speaks volumes.

Nicely done!

Mike Sale

He derseves every unflattering picture of himself. Worst mayor ever.

Carlos Osorio's picture, July 28th, 2011, looks a little menacing, reminding me of my favourite James bond villain, Goldfinger.

thank you

Yes these are good pics of Mayor Ford. But during the Star's 'hate on' phase with Ford, I saw nothing but the most unflattering pictures possible.

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