Monday, August 15, 2016

The Tragically Hip Photographic Journey

The Digital Photography program at Lambton College prides itself in the working professional photographers who make up the talented faculty.  We strive to bring our real-world experiences back to the classroom.  In the next few weeks we will be posting more on what our faculty has been doing over the summer months.  
Richard Beland

Lambton College Digital Photography program coordinator Richard Beland is creating a photographic record of the historic tour by the Canadian Icons - The Tragically Hip.

The news in late May that front man Gord Downie, 52, has been diagnosed with terminal brain cancer was a shocking revelation for fans across the country.   For Beland (who has covered the band for decades) this tour is more than work--it is a personal journey to capture this courageous event

We asked Beland to reflect on his connection on the Hip, in the past and during the last few dates of this epic tour.

Richard Beland creates images of The Tragically Hip. Photo by Troy Shantz

Q:  For whom are you photographing The Tragically Hip's - Man Machine Poem tour?
A: The images I am capturing on this tour, which is likely The Tragically Hip's final run of Canadian concerts, are for its career spanning photo archive. So, in the end, I am shooting for The Tragically Hip, for its management team, and for myself!

Q: What is your history with the band?
A: I'm really humbled to say that my personal and professional
history with the band goes back a long way. I first saw the band perform-- as a young(ish) fan of its music-- in support of its Road Apples album in August/December of 1991. However, my first bonafide opportunity to photograph the band came about in Europe at the Torhout-Werchter Music Festival in Belgium, during the Summer of 1993, when the band was touring behind the Fully Completely album. I was primarily at the festival to work for Faith No More, but I had been given access to shoot all of the bands on the bill, including Metallica, the Black Crowes, Lenny Kravitz, Sonic Youth, Neil Young, and The Tragically Hip. The rest is history.

Once I returned home to Canada from my European assignments, I met with The Tragically Hip's management and, at that point, a strong and rewarding relationship was launched that has continued throughout the years. I have now photographed the band in concert over 150 times, including its performance at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, and each time the band was a revelation to me.

Some other high points I have enjoyed working with the band include photographing the album art work for their In Violet Light album, earning a Juno nomination for my photographic contribution to Gord Downie's solo album Battle of the Nudes, and hosting a career retrospective exhibit of my images of The Tragically Hip entitled "Colour of the Night".

Photo by Richard Beland
Q: What does it mean to you to be so connected to the Man Machine Poem tour, especially since it is such an historic event? 
A: It's both a privilege and an honor that I will always cherish.

Q: Is this more than just another photographic assignment or job?
A: To be honest, I try to never look at any occasion for photography as "just another job" and, certainly, the chance to shoot the Man Machine Poem tour is no different. But it is a complicated matter. After all, The Tragically Hip is one of Canada's most beloved bands and, by the greatest of coincidences, their music is part of my personal and professional life as well as our nation's cultural history! When I think about this opportunity, I cannot help but think of the lyrics from one of the band's most popular tunes, Ahead By A Century: "No dress rehearsal, this is our life"! But, to answer your question more directly, I prepare myself for this assignment or job as I would for other shoots even though I remain acutely aware of the importance of this tour and my role as a photographer blessed to chronicle it. I'm just doing my best to not let the enormity of the moment freak me out!
Photo by Richard Beland
Q: Are you covering the entire tour?
A: ​The band and management were generous enough to offer me the chance to shoot the entire tour. However, as I now have two young children, the logistics of touring for me are much different than they were a few years ago, and I don't want to be on the road for a month. So, I'm photographing the two Vancouver shows, the London show, two Toronto shows​, and single shows slated for Hamilton, Ottawa, and the final stop in Kingston.
Photo by Richard Beland
Q: Has the project been difficult, emotionally? 
A:​ Yes, in such a huge way. On a personal level, it's extremely emotional and, at times, overwhelming. In fact, I've had at least one introspective moment every night thus far. My mind drifts, I get choked up, then I smile and then my eyes fill with tears. Kingston is going to be a very uniquely bittersweet concert for me. On a professional level, though, I want to create the best and most memorable images I can, so I'm looking through the camera lens and viewfinder with a watchful eye that is always guided, I hope, by my training, my experience, and my determination under difficult circumstances.

Q: You are recording history, does this affect how you are approaching the tour?
A:I am doing my best to relax and breathe, which is something that I typically find challenging to do, while at the same time I embrace my job of capturing history. I'm concentrating on the lighting, the music, and the expressions of the band I want to capture. I'm approaching all of this very seriously, so I can do the very best job that I can do. But I'm listening and watching the show as a diehard fan as well. I want to ensure that I have memories that go beyond digital images; I want lasting memories that will live forever in my mind and my heart.
Photo by Richard Beland

Photo by Richard Beland
Photo by Richard Beland

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

And the award goes to...

The Lambton College Digital Photography program's annual competition, The Image Challenge winners were announced last night, April 19th at Paddy Flaherty's Irish Pub in Sarnia, Ontario.

The Image Challenge puts our students to the test at they enter their best work before a panel of distinguished judges - Brandon VandeCaveye, Leonard Segall and Glenn Ogilvie.  See the previous blog post for more on the judging process.

Many thanks go to Lambton Digital Photography grad Angelyn Smolders and the amazing staff at Paddy Flaherty's for hosting our event.

A huge debt of gratitude to our generous sponsors of category awards:
-Camera Canada / Forest City Image
-Luxe Photography Co. of London
-Photo Tour Trekkers                
-Nikon Canada

Thanks to everyone who lent a hand, or contributed in some way to the Image Challenge.  It certainly is a team effort, but we must single out the program's coordinator Richard Beland who takes on the largest share of the work load!  Thanks Richard!

The competition was amazingly close, many awards were decided by the smallest of margins.

There are Four Categories for our first year students, and they can enter four images in the categories of their choice.  There is an award for the top score in each category, and overall awards for the combined scores on their four images.

Second year students have three categories, but enter five images.  Again the total score of all their images decides the overall winner.

Without a doubt the level of work our students are producing keeps rising each year.  Everyone involved with the program should be extremely proud of the collective work.

So on to the winners...

We will start with the First Year Category Winners

Winner of the Portrait Category (1st year) Nikoo Shahabi Sirjani
Winner of the Portrait Category (first year) "Just Love" by Nikoo Shahabi Sirjani

Winner of the Places Commercial Category (1st year) Seth Myers
Winner of the Commercial Category "Xmas Decor" by Seth Myers

Winner of the Nature Category (1st year) Gina Robertson
Winner of the Nature Category (1st year) "The Last Alpha" by Gina Robertson

Winner of the Unclassified Category (1st year) Christina Watts
Winner of the Unclassified Category (1st year) "Oil on Glass" by Christina Watts

Second year Category Winners.

Winner of the People Category (2nd year) Devon Groomgbridge
Winner of People Category "Dadagast" by Devon Groombridge

Winner of the Commercial Category (2nd year) Alexa Manser
Winner of the Commercial Category (2nd year) "Falling Apart" by Alexa Manser
Winner of the Places Category (2nd year) Rebekah Harding
Winner of the Places Category (2nd year) "Solitaire" by Rebekah Harding

First year Overall Winners

Third-Place (tie) Overall (1st year) Emily Nutson
"Mondrian" by Emily Nutson
"Minimalist" by Emily Nutson
"Silent Melody" by Emily Nutson
"Yorba" by Emily Nutson

Third-Place (tie) Overall (1st year) Christina Watts
"A Single Drop" by Christina Watts
"Blue Fun" by Christina Watts

"Hands" by Christina Watts

"Oil on Glass" by Christina Watts

Second-Place Overall (1st year) Gina Robertson
"Let's Get Lit!" by Gina Robertson

"First Position" by Gina Robertson
"The Last Alpha" by Gina Robertson
"A Sleeting Moment" by Gina Robertson

First Place Overall (1st year) 
The Geri Freeborn Memorial Award - Athena Abdolrazagh 
"The Bridge" by Athena Abdolrazagh
"Persian Legacey" by Athena Abdolrazagh
"Eclipsed" by Athena Abdolrazagh
"Poised" by Athena Abdolrazagh

Overall Runner Up (2nd year) Jodi-Lyn Tamminga
"Coney Island" by Jodi-Lyn Tamminga
"Contour" by Jodi-Lyn Tamminga
"Forest Trunk" by Jodi-Lyn Tamminga
"Hidden Smile" by Jodi-Lyn Tamminga
"Madison Avenue" by Jodi-Lyn Tamminga

Overall Winner (2nd year) Maygin Codling
"Bite the Bullet" by Maygin Codling
"Cracked" by Maygin Codling

"Decorum" by Maygin Codling
"Haunted Dreams" by Maygin Codling
"Sleeping Death" by Maygin Codling

Decisions, Decisions

One of the most stressful times for our students is the annual year-end Image Challenge judging.   Our first year students submit four of their best images, while the second year students select five for judging.

Students sit quietly as the Image Challenge judging takes place in our studio.

The panel of judges brought diverse backgrounds and many decades of experience as image experts

Our veteran photojournalist Glenn Ogilvie has worked at several papers and is a fixture in Sarnia, having worked here for many, many years!

Leonard Segall is another Sarnia giant in the photo world.  Seagall is the chairman of the Lawrence House Centre for the Arts and on the executive of the Sarnia Photographic Club.

Faculty member Dave Chidley places an image for the judging panel.
The newest member of the panel is Brandon VandeCaveye, of Brandon David Photography in London.  His experience as a commercial, sports, wedding and editorial photographer brought a diverse skill set to the panel.

For over six hours the trio evaluated, scored and gave constructive critiques of our students' work.  The comments and their reaction were very often extremely positive and the feedback was appreciated by the many students, graduates and prospective students who sat quietly listening for hours.

The competition would not take place without dedicated and knowledgeable individuals who gave graciously of their time for our student's benefit.  In a word, THANKS!

After a long morning, the coffee delivery was a welcome sight.  All photos by Mack Feltz
Faculty Richard Beland presents a preview of a category as our judges l-r Brandon VandeCaveye, Leonard Segall and Glenn Ogilvie get their first look at the images, Faculty Petro Tiahur tabulates results in the background.  Photo by Mack Feltz
Faculty Richard Beland makes a point during a long day of judging. Photo by Mack Feltz
It was a long day for of panel of judges, Brandon VandeCaveye, Leonard Segall and Glenn Ogilvie but their efforts are certainly appreciated!  Thanks. Photo by Mack Feltz

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Showing Success

It has been an extremely busy and rewarding week for the students and Faculty in our program!!

-Our program put on three separate photography studio lighting demonstrations for the High School Dual-Credit programs (more to come on this!) on May 31st and April 1st.
-Students and Faculty took part in a very successful Lambton College Open House on April, 2nd with many prospective students visiting our Studio / Classroom
-The Faculty presented an Exhibition of their work in the school Learn Resource Centre, that continues until the end of April
-All of our second year student are Exhibiting their work in public spaces across Sarnia and the region.
-On Sarnia's night of the Arts, "First Friday"April 1st, hundreds of guests and the public attended a dozen of our student Exhibitions!  It was a tremendously successful showing for everyone involved.  There was a constant crowd through the photographic displays for the entire evening!  Most galleries were once again on this past weekend with more members of the public being exposed to the fantastic work by our students.

Here are just a few photos from the student Exhibition Opening nights:

Jodi Tamminga poses with her work in the Bayside Mall.
Rebekah Harding sold over $1,000 worth of prints at her opening night gala with 100% of the proceeds going to charity - Team Hoyt Canada.
People pause and view the work of Alexa Manser in her Evolutionary Development Exhibition.
A happy Larryl Ybanez poses with her work.
Sarah Scheible smiles in the crowd during opening night.
Our students work was on display for the constant crowds, and Maygin Codling had her studio Growing Wings Photography branding on display.
David Beaton stands in the sun, as he greats people and speaks with them about his "Talking Bodies" exhibit.
People pause at the creative work of Emily Hussey, her show is entitled Evansece.
Devon Groombridge speaks with first year student Erin Percival in her gallery of macro photography entitled Spyglass.
David Beaton's "Talking Bodies" work created traffic jams as people lingered to view and read the work.
l-r Taryn Lutz, Alexa Manser, David Beaton, Emily Hussey and Devon Groombridge pose for a shot together, in the Bayside Mall gallery where they joined forces to exhibit their work in adjoining spaces.
Tayyn Lutz created an illuminating mood with the installation of her work.

First year Student Izzy Malik-Lidstone records the opening night.
Music, food and drink were a great addition to the visual displays.
Mack Feltz and Teresa Perry filled the top floor of The Lawrence House Centre for the Arts.
The Marquee for The Lawrence House featuring the Lambton Students
-Student Kendal Turner and her Exhibition was featured in the Amherstburg River Town Times newspaper and on their website:

NEWS Release and Posting from the Lambton College Website

SARNIA, April 8, 2016 – Lambton College’s Digital Photography students are ready to put their work on public display. For the next week, second year students in the program will be presenting gallery exhibitions of their work across the city. The year-end showcase is part of a final project that students need to complete in order to graduate.

This year, the community will have the opportunity to take in a total of 12 student gallery shows across the city highlighting over 250 unique photographic creations. As part of their final project, students had to create new art pieces for the exhibition, print and frame their photos, and arrange a public place to display their work. Each exhibition was also required to host an opening night event.

While the majority of the student shows open this week, a handful of students have already opened their exhibitions, including student Rebekah Harding who sold over $1,000 worth of prints at her opening night gala. Harding will be donating 100 per cent of her gallery profits to charity. Her show "Excursion - Photographic Exhibition” is currently on display at Junior Baker (165 Lochiel St.).

Photography student David Beaton is also receiving wide-spread attention for his show, titled 
“Talking Bodies: A Photographic Investigation of Body Image” which takes a closer look at a serious social issue. Beaton’s exhibition is currently on display at Bayside Mall alongside nine other student exhibits.

Two other gallery exhibits are also being showcased at the Lawrence House Centre for the Arts.
A faculty photography showcase is also currently on display in the College’s Library Resource Centre.

Most exhibitions will run until April 15 and program faculty hope the public will take this opportunity to witness some of the incredible talent produced at Lambton College.

Most of the student photographers will be present during their gallery shows this Saturday from 10 a.m. - 3 p.m.

For a full list of student exhibitions, times and locations, visit the Lambton College Digital Photography Blog at

Select spots are still available in this sought-after program for fall 2016. For more information on Lambton College’s Digital Photography program, go to

If you would like to book a one-on-one program consultation with a Lambton College Enrolment Advisor or a personalized campus tour, please call 519-541-2403 or email us at

THANKS to the many, many people who came to visit and chat with our students at their successful exhibitions!! It is a monumental achievement for them to complete this challenge.  From the many, many comments and feedback we have received, it is obvious that the work was well received.

One visitor using just one word to describe the work and creativity summed up the evening when she simply said "Wow!"