COMM0015 – Blog #1 – Maybe I should

Let’s be real honest here, I have not yet taken the habit of listening/monitoring social medias very seriously. Two reasons motivates this; 1 – At work there is a team dedicated to this and 2 – For my side business as a photographer, I am not currently looking for more work and can afford the luxury of choosing the assignments I want to take on, and, thanks to a permanent job within government, I am also fine with not having any.

Luckily for me, the photography industry is out there in almost every platforms and it remains fairly easy to stay on top of things by following my favorite photographers and gear manufacturer on Facebook and Instagram and still remain aware of what is going on in the industry, locally or internationally.

At work, my colleagues use the pro version of Hootsuite. I like how customizable, clean and precise it can be. It also allows them to work as a team to respond to comments and create engagement as well as schedule posts into the various platforms we use. Should I decide to become more serious I would probably use this system combined with various Google alerts

On Facebook, I get to see in a rawer version how other photographer use their creativity to market their services while I use Instagram to get inspired and monitor the trends in the techniques used by the photographers I follow.

While I prefer a more laid back approach, do not mistake this as a lack of interest or pure laziness on my end. I am very active on these two Social Medias and interact daily with my colleagues and friend in the industry.

COMM0014 – Blog #7 – There is always 2 sides to a medal.

As a photojournalist, telling stories is what my job is. There are always 2 sides to a medal and, as a staff photographer I get to show our side of it. The medias can take care of the other side.

VICTORIA CROSS MEDAL

Photo of the medals awarded to Lt.-Col. David Currie during the Second World War including the Victoria Cross. Photo by Serge Gouin

With a minimum of information, a time, place and a contact name, I need to be able to show up at any location with the appropriate gear, and document any event in a way that will go along the lines of what my client is hoping.

There is rarely only one client since, many department can benefit from these images. If I do it right, I can supply images for the event manager (most likely to promote the event the next year), the social media team, the recruiting team, our image bank and even the participants themselves.

Understanding your audience, the impact you are hoping to get is crucial. Learning to please most of it is something I need to deal with on a daily basis. Experience is the key and feedback is the most precious thing you can ever get.

Telling a story is not hard for me. That being said, the challenge is always there. What if the light is not as nice as you expected? What if only 10 people showed up to this rally? What do you do if it rains? …

You just need to find the right angle. Our angle. Our side of the medal.

 

 


 

If you wish to read about the medal’s story, click here

COMM0014 – Blog #6 – Photography was my plan B.

Sego Basic Training

Basic Training portrait taken by the base photographer, 2002.

For as long as I can remember, I have always wanted to wear a uniform. As a teenager I wanted to become an Infantry soldier. But I wanted a plan B in case that did not work or I change my mind. I made sure to complete my High School and went to CEGEP (College in Quebec) in order to get a diploma in something else. This is where I started photography in a Photo club and I loved it so much that I chose to study it at La cite Collegiale in Ottawa.

Perfect timing: about a month before I graduated, a Military recruiter came to our class with openings in the dream job I did not even know existed: Imagery technician in the Canadian Armed Forces. “Where do I sign?” was my question when I raised my hand at the end of the presentation.

Sgt Serge Gouin

Portrait of me before I retired from the military in 2012. Photo by MCpl Pierre Thériault, DND.

Fast forward 11 years in my career as an Image-tech, it was time for us to make some tough choices and decided that we did not want our family to move anymore. I had to be realistic: photography is not a trade that offers a lot of permanent openings. As a plan B, I registered my business and started getting equipment and taking small jobs on the side. This way, even if I did not find work in my field, I could continue to work my art (and pay the bills).

Once again, I was lucky and I managed to score a position, as a photographer, within our federal government where I have been working for 6 more years now.

sego silhouette

Silhouette of me working in 2017. Photo by Rick Millette.

As the saying goes: “Timing is everything”, and if you have a Plan B, you increase your chances to be happy in life. At least it worked for me.

Do you have a plan B?

COMM0014 – Blog #5 – Experience is what sets me apart.

I am an artist that likes to wear a tie, the quiet gentlemen that listen to metal music. I am the pacific guy that trains to fight every week and a couch-potato that runs ultra marathons. I am patient and easily gets excited with new projects. When you hire me, you are not only getting a photographer, you get a partner that will help you realize your project and document it in a way that will write history, your story.

My experience is what sets me apart. I had the honour of working as the official photographer to the Governor General for 4 years (2007 to 2010) and, now, I continue to work as a photographer, documenting our Mounties.

I have photographed countless of historical events, including a number of state visits, the Olympics in Vancouver, the aftermath of the Earthquake in Haiti and our troops in Afghanistan. I got to bring my camera to over 26 countries and most of our own country and to photograph many known and unknown personalities.

One thing that I am the most proud of is the exhibit that I had the pleasure of putting together for Michaëlle Jean, Governor General of Canada. Click here to see it. 

Photo_expo_text_panel03

This panel explains what the exhibit is about and a little more about me.

Considering that I continue to be staff photographer for our federal police, I am fortunate that I do not need to promote myself very aggressively. It fits well with my brand, to be discreet and make noise with my megapixels.

COMM0014 – Blog #4 – Problem solved.

Earlier this year, Amanda Lindhout was invited as a guest speaker at work. After going through her her biography in the event invitation, I felt the urge to read her book before she would come. Since I read at an extra slow speed, I decided to look for the audio book version on Audible . In only 2 days I managed to “read” the book, just in time before her visit. My reading speed was not an issue anymore; problem solved.

Screen Shot 2019-10-01 at 20.41.45 PM

My picture of Amanda Lindhout used in a Social Media post from work on Facebook.

I was hooked. Suddenly my commute was more enjoyable, and I could go through a book in less than 6 months! While I was not very keen on another monthly subscription, Audible’s initial offer was very generous; 3 audiobooks for free over 3 months.

They followed up with an email strategy that worked where other had failed; they were sending me personalized suggestions of book to read with the possibility of sampling them. With over 5 millions followers on the Audible’s Canadian Facebook page, they are truly engaging with their audience effectively. In this article from Mediakix , they explain how Audible is using Influencer in marketing campaigns on Instagram and Youtube to encourage new clients to try Audible and feed the discussion. Audiobooks are like movies in a sense that they are easy to share and comment on and the company can easily afford to have influencers do that for them.

Screen Shot 2019-10-01 at 21.35.47 PM

Personalized suggestion from Audible received via email

When my offer came to an end, I decided quit to save money. Once again, they had an offer that was hard to resist and to this day I am still with them and have gone through many books since. I believe their marketing is very effective and not aggressive but yet generous. At least it works for me…

Here are a few of the books I have been listening to. Which one was your favorite?

Can’t hurt me – David Goggins 

A house in the sky – Amanda Lindhout

Here I am – Alan Huffman

The Operator – Robert O’Neil

 

COMM0014 – BLOG #3 -Variable audience

As you may know by now, I’m a photographer . I have two kind of clients: 1- The strategists from my full time Job and, 2- my sideline photography business.

Serge photographe

Taking pictures of Garance

I quickly realized that I always have more than one client for my products of the same event. For example, if I take photos at a parade, I might take some close ups that can be used by the recruiting department and artistic photos for the social media teams. If I am lucky, the boss might use some for her twitter account and so on. The audience varies depending on the strategists and their specific projects and I try and bring home a variety of images that tells the story and will suit everyone.

Screen Shot 2019-09-30 at 20.51.04 PM

Screenshot @CommrRCMPGRC ‘s Twitter account using my pictures of a parade.

For my business, it is a totally different picture. My audience consists of my friends, my family, local families and businesses in my community. They usually come from my network, meaning people I work/train with, friends or mouth-to-ear referrals. They are mid-class to wealthy people (meaning they can afford professional photography services). I find it interesting when I look at my client’s sessions page. It gives me a visual of who they and who is reaching out for my services. My blog, website and Instagram are used to share my work with them, including what I do at work.

At this time, my strategy is not aimed towards getting a lot of clients. Since I work full time, I keep my online presence to maintain a reputation and, from time to time, find opportunities for assignments.

While we are here…

We are currently taking part in an international photo contest with one of my image! Head to this @Policenationale Instagram post and please like my picture to help us win! – and become part of my audience!

Screen Shot 2019-09-30 at 20.43.22 PM

Please vote for my picture on @policenationale ‘s Instagram account!

 

 

COM0014 – Blog #2: I shoot people for a living, and I brag about it.

 

Following a VIP in Ma’Sum Ghar, Afghanistan, in 2010. Photo by a friend.

I bet the picture with me and a camera de-fused that violent image you initially had in your head. That is the power of images.

It is my job as a photojournalist to tell stories. My story is simple. My assignments as a photographer take me anywhere and everywhere, therefore allowing to share what I experience along the way. I also have other passions like trail running, martial arts and traveling. On my blog, I want to portray myself as an accessible person who likes to share his adventures and challenges, that’s why I write in first person. I try my best to remain positive and prefer experience to opinions.

Covering the RCMP Sunset ceremonies in Ottawa, 2015. Photo by Rick Millette.

Luckily photography is a medium that is easy to share. They tell a story or show something in a way that is a lot easier than having to explain it; hence the cliché quote: “A picture is worth a thousand words”.

My intent is not to teach nor speak about the science behind photography, or at least not really in depth. There are plenty of people that do that very well in YouTube already. I try to keep it simple, and just give a bit more details about the photographs. I tell my story, very much like a journal, or a conversation I would have with my friends. It also serves the purpose of building credibility to the people who might be interested in hiring me down the road, allowing them to get to know me better before they make that first contact.

Would you allow me to shoot you now?

 

Documenting the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, France. Photo by my boss.

 

COM0014 – Blog #1: How I became a giant in 24h.

COM0014 – Blog #1: How I became a giant in 24h.

It all started over a beer on New year’s eve. My aunt told me about this race she had been running for the last two years. She said it was crazy enough that it would be “my kind of thing”: a trail race, in a cross country skiing club, with only 35 participants, and a poutine at the end. The trail is a 4.2km loop that you run/walk as many time as you possibly can, in 24hours. It’s called: “Le trail des géants », french for “The trail of the giants”. I was sold!

An ultramarathon, […], is any footrace longer than the traditional marathon length of 42.195 kilometres (Wikipedia)

I did not go crazy on the training but it quickly became obvious that I needed to add a few long distances training into my schedule if I wanted to survive this challenge. Away from my weekly runs, I decided to subscribe to the Ottawa Marathon (42.2km) on a 50 day’s notice. Later in July I walked a 56km training to test my legs and my kit. Many lessons learned during that day helped me on race day.

The race

I was the first participant to show up at the Skinoramik cross country ski club on Saturday Aug 3rd. There were only a few clouds and the weather was really nice. I setup my tent, cooler and laid out my gear (Clothes, headlamp, blister kit, spare shoes etc.) in preparation for the hours ahead.

This was my home during the race

It was 12h11 when I started my GPS watch  and began running in a trail I was going to get to know pretty well over the next day.

One of the easy stretch on the trail – Photo by Joannes Gouin

At supper time I had completed 9 laps and 38km before we sat together to eat an amazing pig roast. At midnight, most of us met to walk 1 lap together; my 15th lap. I went to bed around 2h30am after a couple of beers from my favourite brewery, Le Trefle noir. I slept for almost 3 hours before heading back on the trail, coffee in hand, for the last 5 laps I needed to reach my goal of 85km (2x marathon).

My aunt had managed to catch up with me to walk my last lap and since there was still time, I decided to join her for her last lap (She completed 12, reaching her goal of 50km). These last 2 laps, were definitely my favourite ones. My legs were hurting, my feet were ready to quit, but It felt good to have someone with me and share those special emotions together.

After a quick shower, they served us an AMAZING poutine with bacon and what was left of the pig roast. #fooddrunk.

THE poutine!

My final marks were 91.6km for 21 laps. This is how, on the eve of my 40th birthday, I became a giant.

Me and my aunt, looking proud after 24h and a combined mileage of 141km

 

Here is a couple links that inspired me during the training leading to that race:

Audio book: Can’t hurt me

Youtube: Where dreams go to die

 

What inspires you when you train?

Do you have what it takes to be a giant?

 

Using social media in school, yes or no?

If you have young kids that are going to school, there is no doubt that the answer you got when asking them about their day or what they have done in school was: “uh, I don’t know” or “nothing”… It’s not very helpful to engage in a discussion and show interest at what they have done.

There is a solution!

My wife is teaching grade one. Last year she decided to start using Seesaw, an app that allows to share the day-to-day life in the classroom with the parents in a similar way that Facebook would.

This video explains the teacher side of how the app works:

On the first day of school, each parents receives a QR Code inviting them to install the app on their mobile device and to connect to their kid’s classroom. Once subscribed, they will receive instant notification each time the teacher post something to the app, whether it be a picture, video, a general or private message etc. The teacher can post to the entire group or has the possibility to tag the kids in a specific picture and, this way, only the parents of these children will see these images, ensuring a little privacy and a cleaner feed.

No more “I don’t know”

All of a sudden, you have a direct view in the classroom of your kid and you can know right away what is happening and what they are working on. No more “I don’t know” or “I don’t remember”. Instead of asking what they did during the day, you can ask them about the pictures you saw, what was that activity and how did it work.

Teachers also has access to metrics that help them know how parents are interacting. The app provides the amount of posts, like, messages, visits etc. Here’s a screen shot of the weekly stats they get:

Screenshot from seesaw app's weekly stats

Screenshot from Seesaw app’s weekly stats

Here are a few interesting info my wife gave me about how she uses the app:

  1. 100% of the kids in her classroom have at least 1 parent connected to the app.
  2. 100% of the connected parents visit the app at least once a week.
  3. Parents interact and have the ability to like and comment posts, which they do often within minutes of posting.
  4. Read receipt on the messages she sends – something she would not get when sending emails.
  5. A more personalized approach on messaging, more like texting. (Quick, to the point, and less formal)
  6. Seen notification on each pictures/posts.
  7. She uses the app to encourage the kids to put more effort in their work since they will show it to their parents. Often the students themselves are asking for her to post, as they are proud of their work.

While my wife is not selling anything with this app, she is getting a direct access to the parents as well (it works both ways!), and this connection has proven very beneficial. She is getting regular feedback, comments and questions from the parents. While she shares how their kids are doing both academically and behaviourally, the parents feels directly involved and can now challenge their kids on what they did during the day. They have access to what they are studying, but more specifically HOW they do it in class. For example: Parents can work on a specific notion while doing homework with their child and can use the information shared to make sure they do it the same way the teacher do. Some parents have started doing their vocabulary words at home using dry erase pencils in the patio door since they saw on the app that they were doing this in the classroom’s window.

If the school provides devices like tablets, the app allows kids to contribute by posting content themselves, which in turn is curated by the teacher before going live.

On a parent and on a teacher’s side the value added to be using this tool to communicate is incredible. The only negative feedback came from parents who, the following year, had their child is now in a classroom with a teacher who does not use the app!

What do you think? Do you feel this would be a great way to introduce kids to social media in a health way?

facebook Did your kid really do nothing in school today? http://bit.ly/2J8x6dk

twitter What if you had a window in your kid’s classroom? http://bit.ly/2J8x6dk

#Cottoncandygrapes

It all started with Cotton candy grapes. Yes: Cotton. Candy. Grapes. They even have their own hashtag! From Wikipedia: Cotton Candy grapes are a variety of grapes produced in California by Grapery, which became available for consumers to buy in 2011.

These Cotton Candy grapes are from Spain. Photo by me

I didn’t know about them until my wife told me about them a few months ago, but at that time we hadn’t had the chance to get some. They were all gone.

And that’s probably why Costco has them from time to time. They must have done their homework and found that there was hype around them. Or at the very least you figure it out pretty quickly when they fly off the shelf quickly. It’s simply supply and demand.

They are available!!

My wife is on a closed local Facebook Fan group and this morning someone posted that the grapes were available. What followed is an impressive trail of comments and interaction. I found that interesting to witness the power of loyalty and marketing through social media. And that is without Costco having to do anything! Because the post was inside a closed group, Costco probably doesn’t even get stats/metrics on this! Genius.

Screenshot of the post in the closed local Costco facebook group

After a quick research I found out that the grapes had their own hashtag in twitter, many article in Facebook and are easy to find on Google.

Through their team of buyers that does market research, social media team listening and the supply and demand numbers, they must have an incredible amount of data to rely on and determine if they want to bring them back the next year or so. And that, for each individual product!

Obviously not every product has a hype over them, but my question for them would be: “Would Costco pay someone from the public, that brings them tips about a hype in a specific local group, online or offline, allowing them to strategize accordingly?” Like a freelance headhunters would go on to find individuals to fit in specific position in a company for a small commission, maybe? You would become a “Freelance social media listener”. I doubt they would, but maybe we should develop an app for that!

All that to say that after my wife jumped in the wagon, we managed to taste some tonight! They do smell and taste like cotton candy and, both my kids asked to get some in their lunch the next day! Have you tasted them yet?

 

facebook Did you know that Cotton Candy Grapes existed? http://bit.ly/2OYUXBx

twitter How I found out about #Cottoncandygrapes http://bit.ly/2OYUXBx