Saturday, 20 December 2008

Old photo pros

Leave it to the reliable old pros at shrinking Sun photo desks to continue providing provocative front page photos worthy of the original tabloid formula.

Pete Fisher out Cobourg way showed us his skills with Thursday's front page shot of a Port Hope firefighter carrying an injured baby away from an accident that killed the mother.

And Michael Peake, one of the stalwarts of the Toronto Sun since 1975, did it again today with his haunting front page photo of a homeless man sitting in the snow in downtown Toronto.

Human drama captured by professional photographers.

The professional skills of more than a dozen photographers at Sun Media newspapers have been lost in this week's layoffs, including award winners with decades of experience.

(TSF learned today the North Bay Nugget's two remaining photographers were among six employees cut at the paper this week.)

Perhaps PKP thinks he can trim photo desks to a bare minimum and rely on citizen journalists to fill his papers with donated photos and his online e-editions with donated videos. Free is free.

But when it comes to photojournalism, citizen journalists are no match for experienced, knowledgeable pros who instinctively know when they have "the" shot framed in their lenses.

Toronto Sun front pages from Day One in 1971 have played a huge role in the success of the tabloid. Mess with the quality of the photography and you are shooting yourself in the foot.

Guys like Mike and Pete do the job in all kinds of weather for the love of competitive news photography. Front pages make their day. It's a job-well-done feeling and rightly so.

PKP doesn't get that sense of pride news pros have in their work and not being a newspaperman at heart, he probably never will.

A dozen or so photographers cut from Sun Media's payroll represent gains for his bottom line, not the loss of unique skills, years of experience and competitive spirit.

We'd also say the loss of loyalty, but that is a rare commodity at the tabloids after 10 years of Quebecor slicing and dicing.

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