2020, a review in photography from the B-Guy.

The preparation for the daily press conferences for what became the day in day out of the job for a serious chunk of the year. Ottawa, 2020.03.13

So, as the other photographer working in the Prime Minister’s Office, how do you follow up after this? What’s the point, really?

I did want to go through the exercise, if only for my own personal benefit of reviewing my work and seeing how to improve for 2021, but I debated even publishing it, nevermind the fact that I’m also more than a month late on this, for various reasons…

The nature of my work does differ from Scotti’s a bit. While his job is to tell the story of the Prime Minister, mine is to back him up when needed, but when not, I try to tell the story of the government as a whole. There’s a lot of work to be done there, but well, 2020 happened.

As the year moved from crisis to crisis, Scotti had to take time off early in the year for a new mini-Scotti, giving me a few weeks following the Prime Minister around, soon after which the pandemic quickly took over our lives. Let’s just say that it became a lot harder to move from minister to minister and tell stories beyond outdoors announcements.

Thus, below is also a collection of 150+ images of my year. The selection is a mixture of storytelling and images I liked. A month late. Because COVID life… (Files are big, and it appears Medium doesn’t compress, so the load time might be long… Highly recommended on a computer, but lesson learned for next time).

Former PM Joe Clark hitching a ride on the way to St. John’s, Newfoundland, for the funeral of late politician John Crosbie. 2020.01.16.
One Prime Minister, two former Prime Ministers, a Premier and a former Premier. St. John’s, Newfoundland. 2020.01.16.
Probably my most infamous picture to date, during the last in-person cabinet retreat. Remember #DonutGate, anyone? Winnipeg, 2020.01.20.
Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland fixes the Prime Minister’s hair while getting ready for a bilat with Brian Pallister. Winnipeg, 2020.01.20.
Anatomy of a family photo of Canada’s cabinet, also known as advance staff wrangling ministers. Winnipeg, 2020.01.21.
When travelling was still a thing. Montreal, 2020.01.31.
And crowds were still a thing. Montreal, 2020.01.31.
And hugs were still a thing. Montreal, 2020.01.31.
Lunar New Year. Toronto, 2020.02.01.
Former CPC Interim Leader, Rona Ambrose, with Ministers Lametti and Monsef during a press conference, about the re-introduction of a bill for judges training in sexual assault cases. Important work across party lines. Ottawa, 2020.02.04.
Scrum before caucus. Ottawa, 2020.02.05.
That time I tried to get the Government House Leader to do my job for me. Ottawa, 2020.02.05.
Meeting opposition leaders to discuss the Wet’suwet’en situation. Ottawa, 2020.02.18.
The Cabinet’s hallway, in the before times. Ottawa, 2020.02.20.
IRG meetings were a constant early in the year. Ottawa, 2020.02.21.
Storytime! The Prime Minister likes to tell stories. Ottawa, 2020.02.21–26.
The Prime Minister, often looking out his 80 Wellington office window, deep in thought, between meeting First Nation leaders. Ottawa, 2020.02.28.
People always want to pose for photos with the Prime Minister, but the reactions are where the moments are at. Vaughan, 2020.03.05.
A big day for Bardish Chagger, where a bill banning conversion therapy was tabled as part of her inclusivity mandate. Ottawa, 2020.03.09.
Prime Minister Trudeau lost in thought during a phone call with airline CEOs on the degrading situation with international travel and cancellations as COVID-19 quickly spread. Ottawa, 2020.03.10

As Scotti came back from parental leave, the new COVID reality was setting in. Though I tried to get back to the Ministers’ beat, things were already changing.

On the phone with G7 health ministers. At this time, I refocused my daily coverage to spend days with Health Minister Patty Hajdu. 2020.03.13.
Briefings and preparation for press conferences would quickly become a daily occurrence. Ottawa, 2020.03.13.
Ottawa, 2020.03.16.
Ottawa, 2020.03.17–25.
Tuesday, 16:30, downtown Ottawa, of what was supposed to be rush hour. It was surreal then but has now become normal. Also my wife’s favourite photo of the year. 2020.03.17.
Minister of Finance, Bill Morneau, listens to the Prime Minister’s press conference, held at Rideau Cottage, right before his own held in West Block. Ottawa. 2020.03.18.
Dr. Theresa Tam and Minister Navdeep Bains. Adjusting to the new reality and training our minds to change our social habits. Ottawa, 2020.03.20.
Presser prep. Ottawa, 2020.03.20.
The daily press conference would become my main work, day in day out, for the next couple of months. Ottawa, 2020.03.20.
Photographing the same room, the same press conference, with almost the same people, day in, day out, you try and find creative ways to do it. Some of them work, some of them don’t. Ottawa, 2020.
Everyone had to adapt. Frontyard live broadcasting became a thing for journalists. Ottawa, 2020.03.23.
Started bringing a strobe to the press conference room, again, trying different things. Ottawa, 2020.03.23.
With the lockdown, the House of Commons had to adapt with a minimum number of Members of Parliament attending. The lobby got a lot quieter. Minister Ahmed Hussen, Ottawa, 2020.03.24.
In empty Finance offices, Minister of Finance Bill Morneau prepares for a press conference about a financial assistance package. Ottawa, 2020.03.27.
The Rideau Cottage presser became a staple in news visuals in Canada. I’d only cover it occasionally, trying to keep things different, like all photographers attending it regularly. Ottawa, 2020.03.31.
Hallway lineup prep for the daily press conference. Ottawa, 2020.04.02.
Heat maps. Ottawa, 2020.04.07.
Ottawa. 2020.04.07.
Ottawa, 2020.04.14.
Some days are straight-up miserable. Thank your advance staff. Ottawa, 2020.04.14.
After tabling a revised bill for how the House of Commons would sit during COVID-19, Pablo Rodriguez strums Hotel California and sings along with staff during a waiting period to relieve some stress. Ottawa, 2020.04.20.
Ministers Bill Blair and Mona Fortier and RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki, addressing a tragic shooting spree in Nova Scotia. Ottawa, 2020.04.20.
Minister Hajdu and Minister Jordan in the virtual lobby getting ready for the first virtual House of Common sitting session. Ottawa, 2020.04.28.
This one is a bit personal. I served in the same regiment as Minister Miller, the Canadian Grenadier Guards, albeit in different ‘eras’. It’s special to see the regimental cap badge on a minister. Up the Guards, Minister Miller. 2020.04.30.
Bank of Canada Governor changes over. Ottawa, 2020.05.01.
Usually in the House of Commons, you can only take photos of whoever is recognized by the speaker. This summer, however, we had Special Committee sessions held in the House of Commons, which allowed us to take photos until it began. Ottawa, 2020.05.06.
Troops were deployed in Quebec last summer to help out with long term care homes. Chief Defence Staff Vance was at the daily presser a few times. Weirdly enough, I can’t shake the old military conditioning, and always ended up a bit on heightened alert and deference when he was around. Ottawa, 2020.05.07.
Virtual Parliament. Ottawa, 2020.05.19.
Ottawa, 2020.05.19.
As Ontario was still in lockdown, haircuts were a non-essential service. Ottawa, 2020.05.19.
Presser hallway lineups were getting smaller and smaller as our understanding of COVID-19 evolved. Ottawa, 2020.06.11.
The PM’s nerd side came out as he discussed the technology behind Canada’s COVID-19 tracing app with the development team. Ottawa, 2020.06.26.

Things became a lot quieter for me once the parliamentary session was over. The summer became a mixture of outdoor announcements and whatever we could figure out to cover, safely. I could no longer do the close-up behind the scenes with ministers anymore.

There was no budget that summer, but there was a fiscal snapshot. Also, a much quieter affair in the media lockup than we’re used to. Ottawa, 2020.07.08.
Hybrid Parliament. Ottawa, 2020.07.22.
Even ministers had to get their temperature checked before their own announcements. Ottawa, 2020.08.05.
Outdoors announcements! Unfortunately, the hateful online rhetoric became so bad that Minister McKenna needed heightened security measures. Ottawa, 20 20.08.13.
Minister Hussen, Ottawa, 2020.08.17.
The first woman Finance Minister, Chrystia Freeland, hugs her husband right after getting sworn in, at Rideau Hall, after Bill Morneau stepped down. Ottawa, 2020–08–18.
Going on tours, safely, became a logistical headache, so it didn’t happen much. This was one of the very few ones talking with recipients of the Canada Economic Development loan. Quebec, 2020.09.10.
Outgoing Finance Minister Bill Morneau revealing his portrait for the halls of the Finance offices. There’s an actual portrait sans mask, but I liked this one. 2020.09.17.
Minister of Infrastructure and Communities Catherine McKenna shares some ice cream over a discussion with Ontario Minister of Infrastructure Laurie Scott. Lindsay, 2020.09.18.
This guy didn’t like the way I looked at him as I was walking through his protest from the office to the Senate building for the Throne Speech. I was stuck at the red light waiting to cross the street under his barrage of verbal abuse. The rise of the alt-right very real, also in Canada. Ottawa, 2020.09.23.
Speech from the Throne. Ottawa, 2020.09.23.
The government lobby of the House of Commons has been upgraded with plexiglass barriers and is much emptier than it used to be. Ottawa, 2020.10.08.
Portrait day. Ottawa, 2020.10.30.
The cabinet’s hallway, in the COVID times. Ottawa, 2020.11.13.
Press conferences have become more of an outdoors affair, and the experimental farm was a natural fit for a carbon emissions plan announcement. Ottawa, 2020.11.19.
The PM return to press conferences outside of Rideau Cottage as COVID-19 numbers increased across Canada. Ottawa, 2020.11.20.
New Members of Parliament from the fall’s by-elections. Ottawa, 2020.11.25.
Finance Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Freeland prepares for her first Fall Economic Update. Ottawa, 2020.11.30.
I always look forward to days with Minister Lametti. The music selection is always great. Now I want a turntable. Ottawa, 2020.12.10.
On that day, Minister Lametti votes in favour of his own bill on medical assistance in dying, something he has worked on for a long time and was happy it was finally going through. Ottawa, 2020.12.10.
A day with the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Chrystia Freeland. Ottawa, 2020.12.11.

My biggest challenge for 2020 has definitely been my kid’s return to virtual school in the fall. I owe infinite thanks to a flexible work organization that allowed me to find a new balance.

In terms of the details, gear, process stuff, Scotti covered most of it, and I work more or less the same way. I just like to use some different primes, like the 50mm 1.2, and I’m more of a fan of the 85mm 1.4 than the 135mm 2.0. I do like my battery grips on my 5D MKIVs though!

To Scotti’s endless amusement and mockery, I do like gear, and use various trinkets as well, like straps and attachments. I won’t go into details here, but chat me up if you want to talk gear.

One thing I somewhat miss in this COVID world is environmental portraiture. I did keep a few strobes from my previous job as a photojournalist, and early in the year, I tried to do a series of daily one light portraits to reintegrate that aspect into my work. It was, of course, too much, and it stopped quickly, but it is something I do intend to keep doing when the situation allows it again.

I have only been in this job for two years now. As I was finally finding the groove and confidence in it, things went sideways. But it was surreal when I started it, and it’s still surreal it’s happening. I’m not sure how I got here, but thanks to Scotti for seeing something, even though he’s loath to admit it (he’s not, Grumpy Old Men is just our thing). Thanks to Cameron for agreeing to giving me a chance and making me feel welcome. Thanks to Johanna and Riley for the proper moral support. Thanks to the Ministers for welcoming me into their teams to help tell their stories.

Photographer for the Prime Minister’s Office. A soldier, once upon a time.

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