I have to say that pre-pandemic, things were good. Concerts were going great, I had a few gigs with some potential long term clients, existing clients kept calling. I could say business was running itself, word of mouth is always such a powerful tool. And then .. covid. I won’t rehash yet another story in the many we read about, but towards the end, I was a few months from closing my business.
And then one of those potential clients from pre-pandemic started calling back once things reopened. The Montreal Canadiens. Fast forward a little over 12 months later, I have finished my first season as one of the Montreal Canadiens staff photographers. Being someone who has based his business around working events, there aren’t many things higher than having a full access to a legendary NHL hockey franchise and the huge amount of infrastructure and visual needs around it. At least, not that I have thought of yet.
How did it all happen? Hard work? Being true to myself, my ethics and my style? Having a great network of people? Dumb luck? The answer is, all of the above. The one thing these last 12 months have taught me is that I missed working as a team. I’m still a freelancer working on my own. But sometimes, being part of a bigger whole, working for a common goal, is something that is stimulating. Learning how and what clients need and adapting how I work to be as efficient as possible. And being challenged to go out of my comfort zone in the things and the ways that I shoot, all the while knowing someone else has your back. It has been a fun year for sure.
And what a team. I had no idea of all that goes on behind the scenes for the Groupe CH. The talented photographers, the non-stop work of the coordinators making sense of all the chaos to ensure that I can do what I do, the ever present content and video teams, marketing, events.
And those calls kept coming. From being sent off to a summer camp with Youppi!, behind the scenes during media days and team photos, early morning practices, game day events, back stage for WWE, VIP events, work for the Montreal Canadiens Children’s Foundation and seeing their impact on kids. New player’s first visit to the dressing room, golf tournaments and some ultra VIPs like Mike Weir and Fernando Alonso. And to think, what I post about is a portion of what I do.
Just as working festivals means direct access to musicians, working for the Habs means direct access to the players and hockey ops. It is about forging professional relationships with hard to access people, to ensure that they can do their job with the least intrusion possible. And those relationships of trust mean that I can do my job the best I can.
I could go on and on about this last year, but figured I’d just post a small series of some pretty cool moments I got to document, and some pretty legendary people (and up and coming legends) I got to spend time with.
Oh, and fingers crossed for a second year! As with anything in the freelance world, you learn that things can be volatile and change on a whim, and by no fault of your own. So make the best with what you are given. Keep putting that smile on people’s faces, and remember that when working events, this may be your 1000th concert or 75th hockey game… but for that fan in front of you, it might be their first. Make it memorable.