Authors and Photo Shoots

My pal, Mark Bourrie, is a contributing editor to Ottawa Magazine. He’s lived through my publishing journey (as have so many of my friends) and was kind enough to write a story about it. Here it is: http://www.penguin.ca/static/misc/hppscan33.pdf 

But the reason I’m posting it up is not so much for the story (although as always, Mark is brilliant) — it’s because of the photograph they put with it.

It’s from a series of of shots that photographer Colin Rowe snapped just before he left: he asked me to lean on the back of a chair, because he thought it made me look more relaxed. 

Now I saw the other photographs he took and they were lovely. But this is the one they chose. More relaxed? I think I look older and tired, a bit jaded. And that’s not at all what the mood was when we bantered and chatted during the shoot.

I can remember years ago, when I was a candidate in a federal election back in 1988, and made the mistake of allowing a newspaper to do a photo shoot. 

“Give me a serious look,” the photographer said after taking several pictures where I was smiling. That should have been a red flag. 

The Edmonton Journal ended up with a shot in which I looked tight-lipped and ticked off. This was dutifully trotted out at various stages in the campaign whenever I said something that might be considered controversial.

Now sometimes, a photo shoot can go the other way and make you look amazing.

For example, here are a couple of  shots that Ottawa photographer Ryan Parent took for REM (Real Estate Magazine) and REM On-line. I look at these and find it hard to believe they were taken only two weeks before the one that appears in Ottawa Magazine. I look younger, thin, even a little tall, which isn’t at all representative of my real life appearance.

A few days after the Ottawa Magazine story appeared, I did a photo shoot with the local community newspaper. Nathan Kwok was the photographer. He was great to work with, too (they all were), but unlike the others, he insisted I go through the photographs with him and vet which ones I liked and which I didn’t.

The story in the Kitchissippi Times is in black-and-white, but when I look in the mirror, this is what I see. I’m not as young and glowing as in Ryan’s lovely photographs; perhaps not as road-weary as in Colin’s. A bit more mischievous, I think, but showing my years. 

Most of all, I appreciated the fact that I was able to pick and choose.

So should you let the media take your photograph, or not?

I’m thinking that a fair trade-off might be that they get to take the pictures but you get to decide which ones they can and can’t use — after all, it is your image. What do you think?

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