Typically, I cover sporting events for work. In addition, I’m constantly on the lookout for feature images in New York City.
I was given a camera in the summer of 1977 and that was when I started taking pictures. When I entered university in the fall of that year, I also began working at the student newspaper to learn more about photography.
Working at the college paper taught me a lot about the media. Within a year, I was doing some freelance work for a daily newspaper in Toronto, the Globe and Mail, and then in 1979 I began to work for United Press Canada (UPC), a newswire service whose pictures are published around the world.
My first real professional assignment was for UPC, covering the Canadian Open tennis tournament in August 1979. I was fortunate enough to photograph a final between John McEnroe and Bjorn Borg, two of the best tennis players ever. Things went very well, with lots of the pictures published in newspapers, so from that point on I became a regular freelance photographer for the agency in Toronto.
I would say that covering my first summer Olympics for Reuters in 1988 was the assignment that left the biggest mark on me. Our Olympic coverage showed me how global Reuters’ reach was, and that was the thing that interested me most about working for a news agency.
Having been to 15 Olympic Games as a photographer, with number 16 coming up in Sochi, the Olympics stand at the top of everything for me. I am fascinated by the number of stories that happen in just two weeks.
I am always thinking of a global audience when I cover events. I am fuelled by the idea that a single picture I take can be seen by people all over the world. Having covered over 20 Academy Awards, for example, it has always amazed me how an event like that can cross so many cultures and reach so many people.
The biggest lesson I’ve learnt is the need for calmness and patience when taking pictures. You need to be calm to ensure that you are prepared to take the photos you need, and patient to simply wait for the moment to happen. Along with that, it is important to always have really thorough knowledge of what you are photographing.
Without a doubt, the person I respect the most is my first editor and manager as a professional photographer, Bob Carroll. He was a mentor extraordinaire, never afraid of saying what had to be said to make photojournalists raise their game. He made the time to take young photographers aside and go through their rolls of film with them, explaining why something was good or bad. There is no way I would have achieved anything in photojournalism without him.