Toronto news and editorial photography

Toronto G8 and G20 Summits

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.

A few pictures from the G8 and G20 Summits held in Toronto in June 2010. I covered the summits as part of a larger team of photographers for a wire service. These pictures were used in newspapers, magazines and web sites around the world.

Covering a G-summit actually involves a few weeks of photography spread over several months. The public notices just the protest photos from the final one or two days of the summit since these are the most dramatic pictures. But the international meetings start a few months earlier.

Months before world leaders meet at a G-summit, their finance ministers meet, their foreign ministers meet and occasionally other groups of ministers also meet. These meetings help lay the groundwork for the official G-summit.

In 2010, the finance ministers met in Iqaluit and the foreign ministers met in Ottawa. These preliminary meetings each last two or three days or so.

The usual photo-ops are: the ministers arrive, they shake hands and they wave to photographers; the ministers sit around a large conference table and photographers get two minutes of photography before the meeting starts; ministers arrive for a dinner (and more handshaking); a closing press conference.

These preliminary meetings are low key and rarely have protests. The meeting in Ottawa, for example, had perhaps two very small protests, each quiet and peaceful.

But the G-Summit itself, with the world leaders present, is always violent and has been for decades.

When covering a G-Summit, there are two very different photo positions: inside and outside.

"Inside" means the photographer is inside a very secure building with the world leaders. This photographer takes pictures of the leaders arriving for meetings, attending lunch, going for a walk during a break in the meetings, attending the final press conference and posing for a group photo (called the "family photo"). All very calm, peaceful and scripted.

"Outside" means the photographer is covering the many protests and inevitable riot on city streets. This photographer tries to get good pictures while avoiding the tear gas, pepper spray, rubber bullets, rocks, bottles, wooden clubs, slingshots, spray paint and tossed plastic bags containing stuff you don't want to know. It also helps to not get arrested.

An inside photographer often wears a jacket and tie and is served lunch and refreshments during the breaks. An outside photographer wears disposable clothes, helmet and gas mask, and carries water to wash pepper spray from their eyes and mouth. Lunch might be an energy bar.