Toronto news photographer

"Wire" Service Photography

Much of what I shoot doesn't lend itself to being in a photo gallery. Business headshots, conference photography, public relations pictures and product photography are rarely interesting in a slideshow. But some editorial assignments can produce images that work well in a slideshow.

On July 6, 2012, sixty-eight-year-old Canadian funambulist Jay Cochrane made his first in a series of daily walks between the two highest buildings in Niagara Falls, Ontario. Cochrane intended to repeat this high-wire performance on each of the following 80 days, weather permitting.

You can see this walk on this video. Near the end of that video, I'm the photographer in the white shirt, second from the right, on the rooftop. I was covering this event for a wire service (no pun intended) and several of these pictures were published around the world.

Cochrane's high-wire walk was quite amazing to watch, especially from my vantage point on the roof of the Hilton Hotel. There were also three surprising details.

The first was how steeply the cable dropped from the 521-foot-high roof of the Skylon Tower and then quickly rose up to the topmost point of the 53-storey Hilton Hotel. The second was how fast Cochrane made the crossing. The third was how calm and nonchalant he seemed.

After completing his walk, I rode down the hotel elevator with Cochrane. He was asked if it was "a good day at the office" for him.

"It was a great day at the office for me," Cochrane replied. "In my line of work, I can't afford to have a bad day."

Three weeks earlier, US high-wire artist Nik Wallenda walked across the nearby Horseshoe Falls, a stunt that Canadian authorities once promised to Cochrane. Wallenda received worldwide attention. Yet each of Cochrane's daily walks was higher, longer and more dangerous than Wallenda's crossing.

When asked for his thoughts about his dream Niagara Falls crossing being given to Wallenda, Cochrane was very gracious and had nothing but praise for Wallenda.

Sadly, in October 2013, just months shy of his retirement, Jay Cochrane passed away after a battle with cancer.