Either side of the camera: portrait photography

“Your aim as a photographer is to get a picture of that person that means something. Portraits aren’t fantasies; they need to tell a truth.” -Tim Walker

Lately at work I’ve been trying to find different ways to take portraits: different angles, poses, locations, etc. Typically most of my photos are landscapes or architecture, but I’m enjoying the challenge and creativity that comes with portrait photography.

Taking a portrait gives you confidential access; you are duplicating the subject’s essence and identity. It’s like a visual interview, but instead of writing down their responses to questions, you cinematize their reactions and expressions. I can’t wait to grab the camera and capture some more.

“A portrait is not made in the camera but on either side of it.”
-Edward Steichen

Inside Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview 2015

Photo by Ahmad G. Will miss these folks who were working day in and out. <3

Photo by Ahmad G. Will miss these folks who were working hard day in and out. <3

Michael Jordan said “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.” No truer words have been said about basketball or political campaigns.

Working on a campaign is a lot like a basketball– you have a set position, you play intervals, your team needs to function as a flawless unit, and it ain’t over until it’s truly over. There’s a coach with a winning strategy (campaign manager), some assistant coaches (voter contact organizers, E-Day organizers), maybe an equipment manager or two (office managers), a committed, hardworking team (data entry, experienced door knockers and phoners) and hopefully a lot of fans actually showing up to your games to cheer for you.

This was my second time around on Deron Bilous’ team, focusing on communications both times. The two campaigns were very different due to local circumstance and provincial-wide political climate, but one thing that remains the same is the awesome people you meet– volunteers, the general public, seasoned workers and even some cute office pets. I’m glad that I had the opportunity to be a part of Deron’s superstar team again, and witness history firsthand. To the fans, thanks for showing up to our championship game!

International Women’s Day 2015 Playlist

Buffy Sainte-Marie performing at the 2011 Calgary Folk Music Festival. photo by k.barnes

Buffy Sainte-Marie performing at the 2011 Calgary Folk Music Festival. photo by k.barnes

I like to have playlists on hand filled with fantastic women whose strength, determination, talent and creativity motivate me to be and do my best. In honour of International Women’s Day 2015, I thought I’d share a few of my favourites.

“Pirate Jenny” by Nina Simone

Nina’s cover of the classic Threepenny Opera song is easily the best version. Hearing Nina’s strength come through as the tough pirate captain Jenny masquerading as girl working at inn, then getting her revenge, is pretty empowering.  

“Transgender Dysphoria Blues” by Against Me!

Frontwoman Laura Jane Grace is such an incredible songwriter: so raw and honest. The band’s most recent album Transgender Dysphoria Blues is inspired by Laura’s experience coming out as transgender, and it’s one of the best things I’ve heard out of the punk scene in years.

“Yellow Flicker Beat” by Lorde

I love how Lorde’s songwriting seems so wise beyond her years. This song is from the most recent Hunger Games film; while I was less than impressed with the film, I love this song and how it capture’s Katniss’ determination and strength.

“Now That The Buffalo’s Gone” by Buffy Sainte-Marie

It was so hard to only pick one Buffy song, so I chose one of the songs from her first album It’s My Way!. Buffy’s protest of the mistreatment of First Nations still rings true today, and she hasn’t stopped speaking out against this injustice.

“***Flawless” by Beyoncé featuring Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie 

There has been a lot of text dedicated to Queen Bey’s ascension as a leading feminist force in music and Western culture, so I’ll keep it simple: #BowDown.

“Can See Can Do” by M.I.A.

The boldness of M.I.A.’s personality rings through every song. I cannot wait until her new album drops hopefully sooner than later.

“Jeudi 17, mai” by Ariane Moffatt

Ariane reworked her song “Jeudi 17, mai” during the Bill 78 protests led by students in Québec. The original version of the song was written to reflect the headlines in 2008, but Ariane’s updated version gave the Printemps érable an anthem for their protest.

“Rebel Girl” by Bikini Kill

Women in the early 90s were blazing the trail for DIY feminism and the riot grrl movement, and Bikini Kill were there, adding to the soundtrack. I love how unapologetic they are about their abrasiveness and toughness paired with femininity.

“Uja” and “Umingmak” by Tanya Tagaq

Tanya’s album Animism is powerful, but this live performance is awesome (as in it evokes awe). She performs a ten minute set with the names of the over 1186 missing and murdered indigenous women, girls and two-spirit people running on the screen behind her. In interviews, Tanya is blunt and honest, speaking to the horrific discrimination indigenous women, children and the Inuit face on a daily basis. Much respect for this trailblazer and fighter.

Ten-year plan?


year-old me with my dad and three cousins. photo by w.barnes

one-year-old me with my dad and three cousins. ten-year plans included dressing myself and not getting food all-over my face.  photo by w.barnes

**This post is intended to hold my own feet to the fire, and keep certain promises to myself.**

“Where do you see yourself in ten years?” is a question I’ve been asking myself a fair bit lately. It’s not a foreign question to me– I’m the type of person who likes to think before I speak and plan before I do. I often like to ruminate on where I am, where I’d like to be, and how to connect those two points. There is a certain amount of comfort in planning a head and finding out the plan works.

On the other hand, when the plan doesn’t work, it’s time for the post-mortem: why didn’t the plan work; what went wrong; how could I have avoided it; what next, etc. For me, knowing where I am and how I got there informs how I should proceed.

Nine years ago when I finished high school, I had a pretty straightforward plan: go to university, live on my own, travel a bit and work. Pretty vague, but I did meet all those goals. Maybe I would have liked more long-term work and less contracts, more travel and less hanging around home, but I did okay meeting goals I set as a teenager. I didn’t decide where I wanted to travel to, what field I wanted to work in or where I’d live, but I gave each goal a shot.

Now here I am, almost ten years later, realizing I need to figure out goals for the next ten years– some personal and some professional. I’ve got a year to finalize the details, but here are some preliminary goals:

a) Steady work and less contracts–  I’d love to continue working on my skills and building work experience, particularly in communications, marketing, project management, business, but I won’t say no to any good opportunities that come my way;

b) Pay off student loans– it might take a while, but it is super important to me;

c) Work out at least three times a week consistently— I’d like to get stronger and more fit, which means having a more structured attendence;

d) Learn to speak another language fluently– I’ve been working on German through Duolingo; and

e) Travel more– Top spots include New Orleans, Cuba, and the UK.

It’s a small start, but I hope this will help me solidify my trajectory think about where I want to be in the next ten years.


Adventures in Food: Motor City Cider


Checking out Motown Records during our Christmas trip to Detroit in 2013. photo by M.Boyd

In this cold weather, all I want to snuggle up in a blanket with a book and a warm beverage. This apple cider recipe was shared with me by a fine lady who sold tea at Detroit’s Eastern Market, and every time I make it, I’m taken back to one of my favourite trips ever (go visit Detroit!).


Warm cidery goodness in a mug that reminds me of my Ukrainian grandma’s cross-stitch pattern

Motor City Cider

• 4 cups of apple juice
• 4 tsp of chai tea leaves (I like the African rooibois from The Tea Girl on 124 Street)
• A dram of maple or whiskey (optional)

Put tea leaves into a tea strainer or bag. Add apple juice and tea (and optional additions) to a pot. Bring to a boil for 3 minutes. Let it cool off a wee bit so you don’t burn your tongue. Pour into four mugs and enjoy!

Music while you cook

One of Motown’s greatest, Marvin Gaye expressing a pain still happening today:

From Iqaluit to Igloolik


My friend Thomas’ account covering the suicide of Solomon Uyarasuk. Heart-breaking.

Originally posted on Sometimes I Think:

I find myself in Igloolik this week, an Inuit community of almost 1,500 people which sits on its own small island about 800 km northwest of Iqaluit, just off the northeast corner of Melville Peninsula.

Arriving Sunday night around 4:30pm it was already pitch dark and about -30C with the wind: an instant reminder that I’m further north than Iqaluit. I’m above the Arctic Circle now, where, eventually, the sun will disappear for weeks each winter.  The average temperature in Igloolik this week is around -27C, before the wind chill. And there are only about 3 hours of sunlight, including twilight.

My official capacity here—covering a five-day coroner’s inquest into the death of a young, popular artist and circus performer while in police custody for Nunatsiaq News

A plane waits on the tarmac of Iqaluit's airport Nov. 22. After flying all the way to Igloolik, my plane turned around headed back for Iqaluit because groundstaff woudln't have been able to de-ice the plane for its next trip, the pilot said. A plane waits on the tarmac of Iqaluit’s airport Nov. 22. After flying all the way to Igloolik, my plane turned around headed…

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