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There will always be slow news days.

There will be days when no buildings catch fire, and there are no car crashes.

There will be days when journalists will be eternally grateful that they don’t have to go to the home of the mother who just lost her son, and ask for a quote.

And this is not a bad thing. It is incredibly difficult for a lot of journalists to shoot this kind of thing, or write this kind of story. Sure, some of them thrive on it, but it can be draining for those involved in the process.

Which is why when there are no disasters to cover, we turn to features.

You guys have seen the feature I’m most proud of so far. It’s the train picture from a couple posts ago.

But now I’ve finished my internship at a French weekly back on PEI, and they asked me to shoot images for their new website. Essentially, I had a little under two weeks to shoot a minimum of 50 features.

Here are a couple previews of the shots that will be up on La Voix Acadienne’s site.


They wanted shots of the windmills in Tignish, so I spent a day up in that area, driving around back roads, getting lost, and finding different ways to get the shot. When I showed them this shot, both the main photographer/writer and my boss were delighted, and kept showing it off to the rest of the people in the office.

On one of my last days, I had to drive to the opposite end of the Island. I stayed until sunset, at a lighthouse, then kept stopping on my way home to get shots while the light dwindled. When the light was gone, I didn’t put my camera away, and I’m glad I didn’t, because low and behold, I spotted through a gap in the trees, this shot. I’m really glad there was a post I could sit my camera on, because I had left my tripod in the car.

There were a lot of other places I went in PEI, in those two weeks. Hopefully, the little slices of life I found for them will help draw new readers to some of the wonderful content they bring to life every week.

There will be a post soon about some of the stage work I’ve been shooting. Also, graduation weekend is coming up at my old high school, so there will be portrait work, along with a couple other contracts I’m working on (some for companies, and others for one of the Island’s newspapers).

Also, we have a new calf now. She’s pretty cool.

Oh, and I graduated from Loyalist College recently. There’s that too.

Photo credit to my best friend’s mom who was in charge of cameras that day.

At school, one teacher, Luke Hendry, always stressed the importance of keeping your gear at the ready. He told us that every night, we should be cleaning off our cards, making backups, charging batteries.

He told us that in the mornings, we should be leaving the house with our cameras out, lens caps off, and exposures set. Well, I would like to thank Luke, because this advice has served me well.

How so you ask? The other morning, my brother ran up the stairs, pounded on my door, and stated very clearly: Marina! Wake up! There’s a flippin’ beaver in the yard!

And of course, I stumbled down the ladder from my bed, threw on some clothes and shoes, grabbed my camera and went to meet the beaver.

Thank you Luke.

Also, remember folks: animals don’t like it when you get too close. Use a long lens. And when they start to growl (as this beaver did) back off.

I don’t know how many of you have moved before, but it’s tough. Sticking everything you own into little cardboard boxes, then packing it into a tiny car, and traveling across the country, or the province, or the city can take a toll on you. Not to mention the people you’re leaving behind. I went to more good-bye parties then I think I’ve ever been to in my life, and I still didn’t get to say good-bye to everyone.

Oh, my apologies. That should be “see you later.” All of my teachers have been telling myself and the rest of the photojournalism students that we have to say see you later, because it’s “mandatory” that we all come back for visits.

But I have now officially moved back to PEI from Ontario, and am slowly working on getting everything unpacked. You’d be amazed at how much stuff you can collect over two years. I filled a box will all the assignments I shot over my time at Loyalist, and I’ve filled another box with souvenirs, tokens, and flyers from events and activities I’ve gone to, shot and participated in.

All this while trying to set up things to shoot over the next couple weeks, and juggling internship concerns. Oh yeah, did I forget to mention that? I’ll be interning here, at La Voix Acadienne for three weeks. It will be nice to be able to write in French again. After 12 years of it in school, and more grammar rules than you can shake two sticks at, you’d think I’d be tired of it. But two years of speaking only English will make you miss French in a hurry when you used to speak it all the time.

There’s also the issue of trying to set up a job. That’s one of the big ones too. So much to do, and it seems like there is so little time to do it. But before you know it, I’ll be shooting graduations, proms, plays, and who knows what else!

Well, our last week at the Pioneer was wrapped up on Thursday, but there was an interesting twist to this last week: I got to be the photo editor.

Now, being the photo editor is a big responsibility; one that I was definitely wasn’t expecting. But with our crack team, made up of our editor, and the teachers of both the photojournalism program, and the journalism/online/print/broadcast program, we pulled through, and got two editions of the Pioneer together!

And here they are: Tuesday‘s paper, and Thursday‘s.

Hope you enjoy!

As you saw earlier dear readers, the Pioneer’s first edition (by the photojournalism second year class) went swimmingly. As did the second edition, that can be found here.

I must say, it was more challenging than I thought it would be. I mean, sure, writing a story for class is easy; you have weeks to work on it, and plenty of time if things fall through.

The Pioneer affords you no such luxury. Things need to be written yesterday. And shot yesterday. And edited yesterday.

But somehow, I managed to pull together two stories and two photos for the paper. Neither of the photos were used because of the layout, but I figured I should post them here, along with the links to the papers they would have been.

And the subsequent section B editions went off swimmingly as well (find it here). There is also an In Focus section on the QNet News site, with each page linked as an individual. They are definitely worth checking out.

So, before I get into the really deep and heavy stuff,

For the first story I wrote about the leaky residence buildings:

And the second about the Sleep Out So Others Can Sleep In:

And then things got bad. Section A had just got back into classes. I had been confirmed for an internship, and for a while there, everything was going great. Then I got a phone call. Now, I don’t often get phone calls. They tend to be bad news if they aren’t interview related, and this was much later in the day, so I had my doubts that it was a source calling me back.

It was my dad was calling to tell me that my Gramp had passed away in the hospital from a stroke, and that I should focus on school, and not take the 24 hour train it would require to get home for the funeral on Friday. I know it must have been one of the hardest phone calls he would ever have to make.

Arthur Organ Sanford

And I tried to focus. I really did. After hanging up, Tiffany,  my good friend, roommate, and classmate, came down stairs to find me collapsed on the bathroom floor, making some very worrying sounds. She immediately did what all good friends do, which was to pump me full of junk food, and movies, and as many hugs and tissues as I needed.

The next day, I tried to go to school. We had Staff Class at eight am where we get an assignment that has to be handed in that day.

As I walked up the hallway, it hit me that I would have to explain why my eyes and nose were so red, and why I had a bundle of tissues in my pockets. I tried to practice saying “My grandfather died yesterday. He had a stroke,” in my head, but every time I did, more and more tears would leak out. But I walked into that classroom, and Tiffany translated for me because all I could manage to get out was a squeak.

I sat in the back of the class, and started to take notes.

We were asked to shoot lifelong friends.

Then our teacher told us a story about an older couple who were shot last year, while the woman was pushing the man in a wheel chair across some railroad tracks.

That’s when I really broke down.

Class was dismissed. I went out in the hallway, and started trying to find a subject despite my tears. I didn’t know if I could shoot it, but I was going to try. Tiffany went to talk to my teacher, and explained what had happened.

And being one of the amazing staff members of Loyalist College, he told me to go home, and not bother with the assignment. He also started looking into the school’s policy on financial aid for bereavement trips.

Thanks to him, that very day, I got a petty cash loan from the school to pay for my ticket.

The only thing left to do, was to try to convince my father that I needed to get on that train. And I did, with a little help from my Grandmother, who said she would like to have me there.

So on Wednesday afternoon, I got on the train, knowing full well that I would only get to see my family for a maximum of two days before heading back to Belleville to face the rest of the year alone.

But let me tell you something: it was worth it.

If you’ve ever lost someone, you know that the funeral can be a blessing, and a curse.

I lost my aunt during my first semester at Loyalist, and I didn’t go to the funeral. Until this Christmas, I didn’t really believe she was dead. Then I visited her gravesite.

Seeing your loved ones laid to rest may be hard, but being with the ones you love makes it that little bit easier, because you know without a doubt, and to the very depths of your soul that there are other people going through the same thing as you.

That, and having an adorable little cousin running around helps too.

Getting back on that train wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. Now, don’t get me wrong; it was still hard. It just wasn’t as heart breaking as last time. And I think my dad explained it best. This time, we knew it wouldn’t be that long until I saw them again. It’s only until April.

So I got back on Sunday, and Monday I was back to the Pioneer again, and the Tuesday and Thursday editions came out as they always do. I managed to write another news story. It didn’t get a picture, but that’s okay. The pictures will come. And I did submit a feature, which is something that I’ve struggled with for a long time. I’ve always found them kind of tricky, but this one came easily. And I’d like to think it’s just the first step on the long road of making my family proud.

Just a little note to say that the first edition of the Pioneer by the Photojournalism students is up and running!


Look for it HERE!

Well, that was an interesting week. The Photo j’s of Loyalist were back in class, and figuring out the cycle this semester. Because of course, we are starting at the Pioneer.

Now, for those who aren’t in the know yet, the Pioneer is the digital paper at Loyalist. It used to be in print, but now we work on a PDF version, and make prints of the pages to put up on the bulletin board in the 1N hallway.

My section is first up on the Pioneer, which comes out on Tuesdays and Thursdays, so we had our first real day in the newsroom last Friday.

I have one story in each of the editions. I’ve written one, am waiting on a photo, and I also have to correct my story once I get it back from proof reading. And of course leave enough time for layout and proofing/rewrites before it goes online Tuesday.

Not nerve racking in the least.

I have another story to work on, but so many interviews are just waiting to be done, and a photo opportunity tomorrow morning.

This isn’t the first time I’ve worked on the Pioneer; when I jumped into a frozen river for charity last year, I took “immersion journalism” to the next level, and got my story published on the second page. I didn’t get the picture, but I think it’s pretty obvious why.

Seems to me it’s gotten harder since then.

If you want to check out all the other content the media students produce here at Loyalist, check out Q-Net News. 

Well, I think you can guess what my resolution is: REGULAR UPDATES!

I’ve been neglecting the blog a little bit (understatement). This is mostly because I was focusing on building a website and getting it hosted, but that takes a lot longer than I expected, especially if you’re doing it from scratch through Dreamweaver. But, living and learning (and getting good grades on it is always nice too).

I have been shooting quite a bit though. Especially this Christmas after making the trek home by train. But mostly, I want to share this picture.

Family portrait: nerf style

This, is my family. They are amazing. You saw them in one of my earlier posts, and they are what keeps me going. They put up with me blasting bright lights in their faces, help me tack backgrounds back up when they fall, and keep the smiles coming while I try to get a shot where no one has their eyes closed. That, and they all have Nerf guns, and know how to use them.

I have a few more projects that I’ve shot, but haven’t posted yet, so keep and eye out for those in the next couple days. Then it’s another 24 hour train ride back to Belleville to finish my very last semester, work at the Pioneer (Loyalist’s online paper), and then figure out an internship for three weeks before starting to pay off my debt. Yay planning!

Happy shooting everyone!

So, today is one of the big days in the Photojournalism program here at Loyalist. Today is the day industry leaders wander around the classroom and the studio, and actually sit across from us. Today, is Advisory Board. Now, this isn’t an obligatory thing: I mean, I think I only saw about one or two first years, but for second years, it is… frowned upon to not be here. And besides: despite being ridiculously terrifying at points, it is quite helpful to have people look at your work, and tell you what they think. Not to mention, you get to see Frank O’Connor wearing a tie: pretty classy if you ask me.

I’m writing this as I wait for the my second advisor. I’m glad to say that my first one went better than expected. Anyways, since today is all about sharing your work, I’ve decided to upload the portfolio I’m showing off today. It will be in one of the side tabs, and so will the photo story, since I’m showing that too.

Happy shooting everyone!

School is always busy. You run around like a headless chicken trying to get all your assignments done, all while trying to balance a social life (which is usually non-existent in my case), and getting enough sleep to not become dependent on caffeine.

Me on coffee is not something anyone wants to see. Ever.

But this year, I didn’t get much of a break before coming back. After working all summer and shooting various events in my area…

Like prom portraits for the 8 grads at my old high school

The three amigos

Posing for a goofy prom picture

A play by my high school art department

50 ans ca fait un elan

The students are all in trouble now

A recital by a local theatre company

The musical acting class

She's in Love from the Little Mermaid

And a qualifier for the PEI Youth Talent Search

Time to land this thing

Josh Niyon and Samuel Niyon during their act

I got a visit from a fellow Photo J who stayed for a week, then we hopped a train back to Ontario where we prepared ourselves for FanExpo.

For those who don’t know, FanExpo is pretty much the Comicon of the North. For those who still don’t get it, picture a convention that covers pretty much every type of pop culture there is.

From horror

See, zombies do have brains

See, zombies do have brains!

To anime

Yes, those are the character names

Panty and Stocking... Yes, the character's names are Panty and Stocking

To gaming

Just look at those Keyblades

Characters from Kingdom Hearts

To sci-fi

The ultimate Starwars Family

The ultimate Starwars Family

To comic books

Look at that hammer

Ramona Flowers from Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

And everything in between.

Needless to say, it was a blast. An exhausting blast. Where I know I didn’t take nearly enough photos. That will not be the case when I go back next year.

Once back in Belleville, the real shooting began. I ran across a late night soccer game and became ever grateful to my 5D’s high ISO capabilities.

Preparing to take a hit

Preparing to take a hit

I also covered a Show and Shine for the College. (Which later developed into my Sense of Belonging project. You can see the whole thing and read more about it under the “Cars and Their Drivers” tab once it appears)

Just try to open the cruiser with those goggles on

They had an officer there with drunk goggles and the key to a cruiser: hilarity ensued

Then there was the Belleville Bulls Annual Ticket Holder’s Appreciation BBQ.

Ringo about to enjoy a pulled pork sandwich

Ringo about to enjoy a pulled pork sandwich from the Bull and Boar

Followed of course by the Skate with the Bulls event that I was lucky enough to participate in for a bit. Let’s hear it for always being prepared, and never taking your skates out of your trunk!

Skating with the Bulls

Skating with the Bulls

I got to shoot my first baseball game.

Action on first base

Action on first base

I made a comment that the dirt that made up the pitcher’s mound was actually the right colour for once. My friend’s father, who I had only briefly met that day, deduced that I must be from PEI, because that’s the only place in Canada where red dirt is normal.

Next up, cue the all candidates debate! The most covered debate of the whole Provincial Election!

All candidate debate

All candidate debate

And then it was Thanksgiving. Being a student from the Maritimes, I don’t get to go home for the long weekend, so the fellow Photo J who visited during the summer brought me home with her to Kingston where I took baby pictures of her little cousins, nearly fell off a four wheeler, then collapsed into a “Turkey Coma” after having figured out the video settings on the 5D.

This was especially helpful, because I had a news video to shoot. Which I did. And it  worked, but I’m going to keep working on it until it is edited to my satisfaction.

Then there was the Flexitarian cooking class. Think vegetarian, but allowed the occasional bit of meat without feeling bad. Or at least that’s how it was explained to me.

Flexitarian cooking

Flexitarian cooking

And then it was reading week. And I spent most of it touring haunted forts, and haunted boats, and eating too much candy and getting too much sleep.

But I’m back now, and playing with Halloween makeup because for those of us who celebrate it, it was Halloween yesterday!

I love scar makeup. Hi Two Face!

I love scar makeup. Hi Two Face!

And then I played with my lighting gear.

My fist zombie attempt, and Sally from the Nightmare Before Christmas. Yes, my hair is always that red.

My fist zombie attempt, and Sally from the Nightmare Before Christmas. Yes, my hair is always that red.

And I know I haven’t been shooting enough. But I’m getting a job shooting with the College now, so that will help. And hopefully once the scary number of projects are all wrapped up, there will be another post about them.

Well, there will have to be. I have my Social Issue project coming up, and my Sense of Place to do too. And an archive assignment, EVPs, and OH NO ADVISORY BOARD IS COMING UP AND I HAVE TO PUT A PORTFOLIO TOGETHER!

But I’m not panicking about that las one at all, what are you talking about?

Happy shooting everyone!