Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for Maclean's

Happy Canada Day! For Canada's 150th birthday, Maclean's asked me to photograph our Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. 

Our time would be tight as he was scheduled to do a video interview in the same short time block. Having looked at tons of photos of his office before the shoot, I decided I wanted to photograph him leaning on his desk, with part of the office blurred out behind him. If we had time, I would do a slightly different close-up setup. 

On the day of the shoot, we picked up our passes, went through security, and waited around a while before someone was able to let us up. He was having quite a busy day, already having done a number of events like announcing federal LRT funding, a press conference with the Belgian Prime Minister, and even bringing him out for poutine (where he was photographed by Matt Barnes with the Trans-Canada Fryway guys)! 

Once we got up there, the TV crew set up on one side of his office while we set up on the other. As we were moving things off of the desk (with permission of course), I asked someone if there was a pen I could place on the pad in the background. To my surprise (and delight), that pen turned out to be his R2D2 Star Wars pen. My inner sci-fi geek was pretty thrilled that I could include that in the shot, even if it's tiny and blurred out. A personal easter egg I smile at every time I look at the shot. 

We set up a Profoto Deep Medium Umbrella with no diffusion coming from the same direction as the window to give it proper motivation. I wanted a punchy but flattering quality of light, which this modifier is perfect for. We played around with the windows as well, specifically to achieve a subtle natural rim light in the close up, and for a nice background in the first shot.

After getting everything in place, everyone was asked to wait outside while he conducted some scheduled meetings. About an hour later, we were all welcomed back in. I had asked to shoot before the video (since we were already tight for time, and interviews can run long), so after we introduced ourselves, we got right to it.

As usual, we were tethered to Capture One Pro using Tether Tools cables. Josh was on focus check duty since were were shooting so shallow on my beloved Sigma 50mm 1.4 Art lens. On the large sensor of a Nikon D800 focus is even trickier, so when I locked sharpness I wouldn't move too much until I changed framing or posing.

To be honest, that 4-5 minutes is a bit of a blur. I know we talked about his awesome pen, and the upcoming celebrations on the hill, but specifics now elude me. One thing I do know is that he was a pleasure to shoot.

A HUGE thanks to Liz Sullivan and Maclean's for this opportunity. Also major shoutouts to the PM's official photographer Adam Scotti for taking these awesome BTS photos, and Josh Hotz for being a rockstar assistant as usual.

You can read (or watch) the interview online here.

Oh yeah, and I obviously got a close up of the pen!

Happy Canada Day everyone!


  1. Very well written I must say, and the photographs are splendid as well.

  2. Good work in site and good Blog. and very useful for people so keep sharing and posting.


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