Photos are the soul of a newspaper, our windows into the communities we cover and the stories we tell.
What might take a writer several sentences or paragraphs to tell, a photo has to capture in a mere glance. And getting to that storytelling moment isn’t just a matter of holding up the camera and saying, “OK, now it’s time to take a photo.”
A good photo isn’t “taken.” It’s made.
Good photography can seem effortless. But into each photo goes a multitude of decisions, all of which must inform how the push of the shutter button will serve the story, whether it’s on our website or in our weekly print edition.
At a time when pretty much everyone can take a photo by reaching into their pocket and pulling out their smart phone, news photos have to be something more than just a record that somebody showed up and did just that.
Here, then, is our retrospective of some of the photos we made in 2019, along with a bit of information about the thought processes and technical considerations that went into them.
MARIO BARTEL/THE TRI-CITY NEWS A worker prepares the entrance to Port Coquitlam’s new $132 million recreation complex for the installation of front doors. These preview tours of big new construction projects usually follow a similar script: The reporter and I start off together with our tour guides, then I inevitably fall behind as I look for interesting angles, light and features.
MARIO BARTEL/THE TRI-CITY NEWS Heritage Woods’ Karosh Rafizadeh keeps a close eye on his opponent, Aiden Winterlik, from Terry Fox, in their 66kg match at the Lower Fraser Valley district wrestling championships, last Friday at Port Moody secondary school. I won’t sugarcoat it: wrestling is a tough sport to shoot, made even more difficult by the often dismal lighting in high school gyms. That means you usually have to use a slower shutter speed and higher ISO than you’d like, or wait for a quiet moment of intensity like this.
MARIO BARTEL/THE TRI-CITY NEWS Chris Lancaster heads back to the barns at Fraser Downs after working out one of his horses. It’s been more than 30 years since I had the opportunity to photograph a horse racing story, so I relished the chance to soak in the atmosphere and characters at Fraser Downs while spending a morning with local trainer and racer, Chris Lancaster.
MARIO BARTEL/THE TRI-CITY NEWS Centennial’s Felipe Ruiz tries to knock a pass from a Carson Graham receiver during a recent controlled scrimmage at the Centaurs’ home field in Coquitlam. A controlled pre-season football scrimmage doesn’t usually produce dramatic pass receptions.
MARIO BARTEL/THE TRI-CITY NEWS Zach Hamed, a 17-year-old student at Heritage Woods secondary school, begins his descent from the training tower. While I’m not afraid of heights, there are other places I’d rather be. So when I get to cover people doing things in high places, I’m always facinated by that moment they release themselves to gravity, such as this student descending from the tower at Coquitlam’s main fire hall during a junior firefighter camp.
MARIO BARTEL/THE TRI-CITY NEWS A worker is dwarfed by giant wooden beams at the new PoCo Recreation Complex that is underconstruction on Wilson Avenue. Back in the day when newspapers actually employed staff photographers who spent their whole shift doing just that, we’d often use downtime between assignments to check out things we’d spot in our travels that might make a good photo. Sometimes those photos — we called them “wild art” or “tour shots” would end up on the front page, and sometimes they’d help an editor plug a quarter-page hole deep in the paper. I made note of these magnificent beams being lifted into place at the new Port Coquitlam Community Centre, then did something about it when we did a construction update story.
MARIO BARTEL/THE TRI-CITY NEWS Port Moody’s Julia Budd is about to be joined on the Bellator MMA circuit by her stepson, Lance Gibson Jr. Budd will be defending her featherweight world championship in July. MMA fighters do their thing in a caged arena, so of course that chainlink cage has to feature prominently in telling their story.
MARIO BARTEL/THE TRI-CITY NEWS Retired engineer Cosimo Geracitano has surrounded himself with paintings in his Coquitlam home by some of the world’s great masters, including Da Vinci, Renoir, Van Gogh and John Constable. But he’s not fabulously wealthy. He’s meticulously painted the reproductions himself. Every once in a while a story comes along that makes even the most grizzled journalist go “wow, that’s so cool.” Cosimo Geracitano dedication and talent to recreate paintings by master artists was one of those stories. Walking into his Coquitlam home was like entering a hall at the Louvre.
MARIO BARTEL/THE TRI-CITY NEWS Kelowna Owls defender Parker Johnstone goes high to try to block a shot by Terry Fox Raven Jaden De Leon, in the second half of their BC High School senior boys AAAA basketball championship semi-final game, Friday at the Langley Events Centre. I spent years covering the high school basketball provincials at the old Agrodome, and one year at GM Place. But last spring was my first opportunity to shoot it at the Langley Events Centre. The great lighting and beautiful fall-off at that light in the background, both in the main arena and the auxilliary gyms was a revelation and instantly trumped any nostalgic for the dim, funky-smelling Agrodome at the PNE.
MARIO BARTEL/THE TRI-CITY NEWS Andrea MacIntosh checks out one of the beers brewed by Tinhouse Brewing, which is located right off the Traboulay Trail in Port Coquitlam. The new Tinhouse Brewery in Port Coquitlam is located right on the Traboulay Trail near the PItt River. My challenge was to tell that story with a captivating image.
MARIO BARTEL/THE TRI-CITY NEWS Port Moody councillor Meghan Lahti gets emotional at Tuesday’s meeting of city countil as she speaks to a motion by fellow councillor Diana Dilworth asking Mayor Rob Vagramov to resume his leave of absence until his charge of sexual assault is dealt with. Lahti said “it’s our job to maintain the public’s trust.” Shows of emotion are rare at a city council meeting. At least as rare as bringing a camera to cover that meeting.
MARIO BARTEL/THE TRI-CITY NEWS Wendy Swalwell, the chair of Port Moody Legion’s property development committee, admires the new branch on Clarke Street from its stage. As a background for a photo, the interior of the new Port Moody Legion is rather uninspiring. Except for the giant mural of a poppy field.
MARIO BARTEL/THE TRI-CITY NEWS Daniela Hammond samples one of the 60 or so olive oils and balsamic vinegars she offers at her new olive oil dispensary in Port Moody’s Newport Village. Popping light through bottles is a fun way to bring a shot to life.
MARIO BARTEL/THE TRI-CITY NEWS Carola Alder, of CityState Consulting, that shares space in The Silk Gallery, removes one of the paintings left behind when two neighbouring buildings on Port Moody’s Clarke Street caught fire Sunday night. The gallery, which is run by Coun. Zoe Royer, sustained smoke and water damage but most of its contents were safely removed to a nearby storage container. It’s been years since many newspapers had the ability to monitor fire and police radios, but often the human storytelling shots of a disaster happen after the fact, as people try to understand and deal with their loss.
MARIO BARTEL/THE TRI-CITY NEWS A passerby seems to invoke a sneer from a painting for a camel that is part of a new public art installation at Ioco Road and Barnet Highway in Port Moody. The project features works by artists that belong to the Esplanade Artists Studio and camoflouges a temporary parking lot required by TransLink to accomodate parking displaced by its construction of a new storage facility for 30-40 SkyTrain cars just west if Falcon Drive in Coquitlam. I’d been trying to figure out what to do with the art banners affixed to fencing near the Moody Centre SkyTrain station for several days, then just decided to stake it out one afternoon for about 30 minutes. The similarity between the passerby and the painting behind him was just a serendipidous accident.
MARIO BARTEL/THE TRI-CITY NEWS Competitors in a boys 100m race leap for the finish line. Shots of the finish line at a sprint race are pretty standard. Less common is catching all three top finishers in mid-air.
MARIO BARTEL/THE TRI-CITY NEWS Media rogue, Nardwar the Human Serviette, negotiates with Conservative Party campaign officials for access to federal leader Andrew Scheer during a campaign stop at the Evergreen Cultural Centre in Coquitlam on Friday. Election campaign appearances by national leaders are usually tightly-controlled affairs designed to produce exactly the kind of moments and stories their handlers seek — until renowned rabble-rouser and celebrity interviewer, Nardwar, the Human Serviette shows up.
MARIO BARTEL/THE TRI-CITY NEWS The canoe is carried into the gymnasium at the Kwikwetlem First Nation’s Healing Spirit Centre. It’s not everyday you get to photography a giant, 30-foot canoe, so it was important to somehow capture the effort it takes to move such a behemoth into the new First Nation’s Healing Spirit Centre.
MARIO BARTEL/THE TRI-CITY NEWS Coquitlam’s Matthew Shanley, right, celebrates his seventh homerun wiith his teammates at the BC Little League Majors provincial championship tournament, Friday at Vancouver’s Hillcrest Park. Coquitlam defeated Layritz, 7-6, in eight innings. Heading into Vancouver to cover the local Little League team at the provincial championships, who knew this would be the start of a magnificent journey to the World Series for these kids.
MARIO BARTEL/THE TRI-CITY NEWS Llyn Lindo, a traffic controller on Kingsway Avenue at the site of the new Port Coquitlam recreation complex, said she loves the snow, but the sign she’s holding seems to sum up the thoughts of most people as a snow squall rolls through Thursday morning. It’s March and it’s snowing, just when everybody is thinking about spring. The key to capturing good snowfall photos is a dark background.
MARIO BARTEL/THE TRI-CIY NEWS Mandela Nsenga, the youth pastor at the new Riverside Church in Port Coquitlam, relaxes in the atrium with associate pastor Dave Jonsson. A story about a giant new church building in Port Coquitlam is really a story about the congregation staying relevant and contemporary.
MARIO BARTEL/THE TRI-CITY NEWS Wendy Yates, playing a suspected impaired driver, tells “officers” to give her more space during a simulated traffic stop at Coquitlam RCMP’s Junior Mounties camp, last Wednesday at the Poirier Sport and Leisure Complex. This year’s RCMP Junior Mounties camp changed the script from the usual obstacle course around the mezzanine at the Poirier Sport and Leisure Complex, but what’s not to love about the animated expression of a volunteer playing a suspected impaired driver.
MARIO BARTEL/THE TRI-CITY NEWS Workers move the Terry Fox Library’s collection of more than 260,000 items into its new home at the new Port Coquitlam Community Centre next door on Tuesday. The move took two days and, the librarian’s manager, Kimberly Constable, said, everything will be in place, along with several new items and features, in time for the community centre’s grand opening on Tuesday, Aug. 27, at 4 p.m. It’s not often a local library moves into a new facility. And when that move is just a short walk away, the toil of that move can make an interesting photo.
MARIO BARTEL/THE TRI-CITY NEWS Keira Cameron, from Ranch Park elementary school, is directed to victory in the Grade 4 girls race on the opening day of the 41st annual Como Lake Relays last Wednesday in Coquitlam. The Como Lake Relays is always a fun event to shoot as the kids are so determined and earnest in their efforts to do well for their school.
MARIO BARTEL/THE TRI-CITY NEWS Danika Michelsen hangs from a high bar at the Momentum Ninja Training Centre in Port Coquitlam. She’s one of 36 athletes from the gym who’ve qualified to compete at the Ultimate Ninja Athletic Association world championships in Minnesota in July. This local Ninja gym is chock-a-block with climbing walls and other apparatus that can quickly overwhelm a photographer, let alone create busy backgrounds. That’s when it’s best to keep things simple.
MARIO BARTEL/THE TRI-CITY NEWS Port Moody firefighters like Jeff Scallion will be serving up steaming mugs of coffee and hot chocolate at their annual tree chipping event on Sat., Jan. 4, and Sun., Jan. 5, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., at the Inlet Centre fire hall (150 Newport Dr.). For this photo, I wanted to play on the firefighters serving hot chocolate at their tree chipping event, so I blasted a flash set at full power from behind the firefighter to create a silhouette and highlight the steam from his mug.
MARIO BARTEL/THE TRI-CITY NEWS Callan Morrison juggles oranges while his fiancé and business partner, Jessica Clark, loads the commercial juice presser that is installed in a custom shower enclosure at the back of their new Port Coquitlam juicery, Squish Juicery. The enclosure allows for quick and thorough cleaning of the juicer between pressings. Making juice from a large, industrial squeezer is not the most photogenic activity. But when that juicer is positioned in a huge shower stall and the subject is willing to play along with your suggestion to juggle, the result is a fun photo.
MARIO BARTEL/THE TRI-CITY NEWS Jade Lee cried when she first started competing in Tae Kwon Do. Now she’s a Canadian junior champion. Suburban living rooms usually don’t make for the best photo studios. So that’s when you simplify by setting up a single light and zooming in.
MARIO BARTEL/THE TRI-CITY NEWS The Liberal MP for Coquitlam-Port Coquitlam, Ron McKinnon, watches election night results come in with one of his campaign volunteers, Haley Hodgson. For all the buildup to covering election nights, they’re usually a visual let-down. The celebration parties are usually in dark, crowded halls, restaurants or pubs with lots of hugging and handshaking. So when Liberal MP Ron McKinnon decided to spend a little more time at his nearby campaign office to monitor the incoming results, I asked if I could tag along.
MARIO BARTEL/THE TRI-CITY NEWS A young female red-tailed hawk that was rescued by Coquitlam city workers is released along the hydro right-of-way on Mariner Way by Carol Norris, of Outdoor Wildlife Rescue (OWL), last Wednesday. Bird releases are always a bit of a photographic gamble as to when the bird will actually take off, which direction it will take, and can my finger react on the shutter button quickly enough.
MARIO BARTEL/THE TRI-CITY NEWS Reid Demelo accepts the high-fives of other students at Heritage Woods secondary school in Port Moody after his three-point shot at the buzzer of last Thursday’s Kodiak Klassic senior boys basketball tournament game between the Kodiaks and Kitsilano secondary went viral on the Internet. Principal Tood Clerkson said everyone in the school knows Demelo, who has Down’s Syndrome, and his moment of glory is testimony to the student’s sense of acceptance and inclusion. AS soon as I walked into Heritage Woods secondary to meet Reid Demelo for an interview about his sudden social media celebrity, I spotted the parting wave of well-wishers and high-fiving friends ahead of me and the enthusiasm never let up as we headed for the main office to extend our chat to the school’s principal.
MARIO BARTEL/THE TRI-CITY NEWS Port Moody professional hockey player Wade MacLeod, and his wife, Karly, are keeping a positive outlook he’ll be able to return to his career after he recovers from the third and fourth surgeries last summer to deal with a Grade 3 Glioblastoma tumour that has recurred in his brain. Wade MacLeod’s story of dealing with brain cancer that truncated his professional hockey career wasn’t easy to tell. But his resilience and determination are an inspiration.
MARIO BARTEL/THE TRI-CITY NEWS Heather Wallace-Barnes and her husband, Johnny Barnes, check out the “ladies room,” one of the themed rooms in their Pinball Alley Vintage shop in Port Moody that sells clothes and all manner of curios from the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s, as well as old vinyl records. They’re selling the shop to move their family to Spain. Generally, I’m dismayed by mirrors. But I love the challenge of integrating them into my photos. You just have to be careful with your positioning so you don’t end up in the photo, and then think about everything else — like lighting and composition — backwards.
Hang out at the “beach” at the annual Donkey Cross cyclocross race in Port Coquitlam long enough, and somebody is bound to go down.