#489 Student Success: Photographing Commonwealth Games Staff Orientation

We got a call this spring looking for a photographer to cover the Commonwealth Games Staff Orientation Weekend in Ottawa.

One of our ProProgram students (Sandra Finner) was given the opportunity to shoot the event. And by the sounds of it from both sides it was a roaring success! Read an interview below with Sandra about her experience covering the events.

The ProProgram

We started the ProProgram two years ago for people looking to start a photo business. There are many, many part time photo businesses out there trying to succeed. A student recently told me I have her “dream job.”

It’s a tough challenge trying to break through an overload of aspiring photographers. I speak from experience – it took me years to break through!

The ProProgram was developed to help people navigate through the challenges all aspiring photographers face.

Sandra agreed to the photograph the Commonwealth event and did well! Read about her adventure below:

Sandra Finner

Photo by Sandra Finner

Harry Nowell: What is your photo background?

Sandra Finner: I remember my dad giving me his camera when I was barely able to hold it, reviewing settings, letting me snap away and teaching me processing techniques. When I was a teenager I got my own camera. Actually I got three of them for Christmas one year so I’ve been doing this along time. Recently, I took a class at a nearby college but switched to the Pro Program with Harry Nowell. It’s a more flexible and individualized program and I gained more confidence with my shooting.

HN: What were your thoughts when this opportunity presented itself?

SF: I immediately thought this was something I wanted to do. I have such a huge interest in events, whether locally or globally. This assignment was to document a planning weekend for the Commonwealth Games Mission Staff so naturally I was thrilled. It’s definitely a prestigious group and I was honoured to be able to photograph the event.

HN: How did you prepare for the Commonwealth event?

SF: When I spoke to my contact I realized there were going to be many different scenarios that had to be covered both indoors and out so I had to make sure I had all the right equipment and that I understood what the group expected in terms of photographs.

HN: What were the highlights?

SF: It was really very gratifying getting such great shots given the difficult shooting conditions. I had to switch lenses constantly so I was so pleased that I was able to manage that without too much trouble.  Also, getting to see how well the pictures were received. There were lots of laughs from some candid shots I managed to catch.

HN: What was the most challenging aspect?

SF: The biggest challenge was managing all the different lighting situations – Low light vs. strong florescent light in classrooms and then strong sunlight vs. overcast skies outdoors.  One team building event in Gatineau Park was zip lining. I needed my telephoto lens and an external flash. It was very sunny out but darker in amongst the trees. Also, it was challenging trying to get pictures of about 100 people in action while contending with a heavy camera bag and a forest full of bugs.

HN: How will it help you down the road?

SF: Every time you have an experience like that, the knowledge you come away with is invaluable. I will definitely be confident in my ability to be successful with an assignment of that calibre.

HN: Did you make some good connections?

SF: I think so!  I’m a talker as you know and so many people came up to me and wanted to chat about the my background, the shots I was getting and specific shots they wanted and photography in general. Everyone seemed really excited about the pictures and the feedback was very positive.

HN: How has the ProProgram experience helped you on this assignment?

SF: The techniques I learned in Creative Fundamentals and the Natural Light Portraits course were extremely beneficial because we worked with various types of motion and lighting situations. Also, the networking you do in the ProProgram aligns you with many photographers [who are trying to do photography as a business so there is a lot of sharing of tips and pointers.] Because of those things I was able to have a great experience with this assignment.

Photo by Sandra Finner

Photo by Sandra Finner


Her contact at the Commonwealth Games Staff Orientation Weekend had glowing words:

She did an excellent job documenting the seminar… She got along well with her primary contacts, quickly put everybody at ease and was absolutely unobtrusive despite documenting in detail all the activities.

Thank you again for recommending her.

Nice work Sandra!

This is our last post before the weekend – we will be celebrating Canada Day away from the office!

#488 Exposed! Photo Newsletter: Buying lenses for your Camera

At Exposed! this month we explore the challenges of buying a new lens for the summer shooting season:

Exposed! :: Top tips for buying lenses ::

Someone recently asked if I had taken the photo on the wall. “Yes!”
She replied “You must have a really nice camera!” My jaw dropped!

I was crestfallen. The camera didn’t take the photo. I did! The photo was taken on simple equipment with advanced skills!

A camera is just a box that holds recording media – film or a sensor. Lenses are more important. With this in mind we look at tips this month for buying lenses for your summer shooting season…

Read the full article before buying your next lens.

#487 Good news!

We are very pleased to say we will be again be offering a fall photo workshop with David Trattles in Ottawa.

Photographer David Trattles

Photographer David Trattles

Dave is a leading social documentary photography – published widely and well traveled. His work is defined by people and their stories:”All photography that involves people. Documentary, Travel, Portrait and Weddings.”

David Trattles photo

David Trattles photo

David’s workshops have sold out every time he comes to Ottawa. He wows participants with a mix of experiential stories, new ideas and critique:

“My biggest photo self discovery on this course was that I needed to be a little “messy”. My work was too “square” and “nice” as David put it.” Jessie

“I really appreciated the challenge Dave gave me to see outside my photographic box. I feel a lot freer from my viewfinder, squaring images up and having everything in focus!” Ross

“Harry – thank you for introducing me to David.  This course has changed the way I take photographs.  More importantly it has changed the way I see myself and the world around me.”  Prasad

Interested? Please contact us to sign up.

#483 Fast car photos

Remember the Luskville Dragway shoot for Ottawa Magazine?

It hit the news stands recently featuring fun summer options around Ottawa. There was a full page from the shoot of the race cars. I was pretty pleased.

And, speaking of fast cars, tomorrow I will be shooting part of the Ferrari Festival as part of Italian week on Preston Street in Ottawa. My shoot will be at Calabogie Motorsports Club. Very fun!

Stay tuned for updates.

Luskville Dragway Photo

Luskville Dragway Photo

#482 Kids photography

On Tuesday night Christine Denis finished the Photographing Children Workshop in Ottawa.

It was the first time we have offered this course but it went very well! Christine commented on her blog:

I’m so happy to report that the workshop participants went from knowing nothing about how their camera worked… to shooting in full Manual Mode for the practical session.

It went so well that we are hosting the workshop again in September – people are already on the list . The dates are September 14, 18, 21. Contact us to register!

Some photos from the session on Saturday:

Photographing Children Workshop - Ottawa - Christine Denis

Photographing Children Workshop - Ottawa - Christine Denis

Photographing Children Workshop - Ottawa - Christine Denis

Photographing Children Workshop - Ottawa - Christine Denis

Photographing Children Workshop - Ottawa - Christine Denis

Photographing Children Workshop - Ottawa - Christine Denis

#481 Student Success!

If you are a regular reader you will know about our ProProgram – a long term course in photography to help people get their photo aspirations into a real business.

Hagen Hohn joined the program last fall and has made great progress – photo classes, networking, work experience and now, after significant work he has launched his new website:


Please visit and cheer him on!

Hagen in action on our studio photo workshop in January

Hagen in action on our studio photo workshop in January, 2010. (He's on the right - photographing a father and son.)

#480 Oh no!


We had a bit of a fright. Wednesday night I went to check our blog to upload a new post and I got a dire warning (see below) about nasty things ON OUR site that could harm computers. I gasped!

We are a small-ish business with good intentions. Over almost 20 years we have worked hard to develop lots of goodwill in the community. Much of our new business comes from searches via Google and other search engines. This nasty hacked in code was not good for business. I was aghast!

After a late night of interventions, finding the hijacked-in code and resubmitting to Google we waited and, ta-daa, our site is live and safe to surf.

We apologize profusely for the nasty, scary messages. Our research discovered these tidbits from Google reports:

• “Over the past 90 days, harrynowell.com did not appear to function as an intermediary for the infection of any sites.

• “How did this happen?
In some cases, third parties can add malicious code to legitimate sites, which would cause us to show the warning message.

Thanks for your patience!

We now resume normal programming.