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.


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?

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.


True story: How I found my dream job using Facebook

Growing up I had always dreamt of wearing the uniform. Later I developed a passion for photography. Upon graduating college, I scored my ultimate dream job: I was a military photographer.

I had been working up the ranks in the military for about 10 years and my next promotion meant that I would need to move and become a manager. That also meant I would not do what I enjoyed the most in my job anymore; taking pictures. Our family was now well established in Gatineau/Ottawa and we had no desire to move. Conclusion: I had to transition to civilian life and find myself a job. Easier said than done in my field.

Sgt Serge Gouin

Portrait of myself before I retired. Photo credit: DND

I started my process by taking a course offered by the military called “career transition workshop”. They taught us how to build our resume, use our network and how to explore the hidden job market.

Our instructor was fantastic. The one thing he told us that struck me the most was about using our network:

“The biggest mistake people tend to do is hiding that they are looking for a job, by fear of having their current employer finding out or to have opportunities taken away from you by a friend or colleagues also looking out”.

I decided I would give Facebook a try and publish a post with my intentions. I wanted to do it in a manner that would open the discussion, be respectful and most of all would not break the relationship I had with my employer in case I would change my mind or the process would take a while.

Screen Shot Facebook

Screen capture from my Facebook post to activate my network

I was nervous and excited at the same time to reveal this news to the world. It really felt like a coming out.

At first, people were curious and asked questions, which is totally normal. Then about a day later, I received a private message from a friend I had gone to photography school with. I had not seen/talked to for almost 10 years! She was going on maternity leave and said she could get me in touch with her manager to see if I could take over her spot while she was away. Perfect timing! Awesome!

Two interviews and a security clearance process later, I finally retired from the stability of a 20 year contract for a 9 month adventure in a temporary position. I was committed to this transition and even if that was a huge risk on my end, this was the first step in the direction I wanted to be going. A few months later they posted my dream job internally and as a temporary employee, I was allowed to apply for it. I landed my second permanent photographer’s position of my career within the federal government, but this time as a civilian. This meant no more moves or promotion, unless I apply for them, and I would still be taking pictures in a federal government organization.

That was exactly what our teacher had told us. Not all job are posted and this one was definitely hidden. Obviously, there is a lot more than Facebook involved in this process, but to this day I still feel that it was the one thing that made it all work.

Taking a selfie during the North American Leaders' Summit (NALS)

Photo by Chris Roussakis

Since then Facebook now has a job search feature that might help, but the real power of Facebook comes from your network.

What would your dream job be? What kind of risk would you be ready to face to get it?



Facebook Logo    True story: How I found my dream job using Facebook


Twitter Symbol    True story: How I found my dream job using Facebook

COM0014 – Blog #3 – Social Media Audiences

I presently work as a contractor at the Department of National Defence producing videos for the department’s social media outlets, and other online platforms. When developing or editing a video I always need to keep the audience in mind.

Here is what of the videos I have worked on:

When developing a story line I always have to keep the audience in mind, even though it is quite broad. I need to target Canadian Armed Forces members, their families, potential recruits, CAF retirees and anyone with an interest in the military. What I do when thinking of my audience I think of which portion of my audience would most appreciate the story that I am molding.

Watch this video before continuing to read:

When editing this video, I had a specific audience in mind, I was thinking of parents, young adults or anyone who has helped someone that is ill. I wanted to pull at the audience’s heart strings and so started off with the challenge: Zak had cancer that had taken over 75% of his body.

For other videos such as the Cpl Reyda story above, the audience was more specifically people with a dream, in this case it was a dream to fly, however this could be for anyone with a dream career who has struggled on the way to their goal.

How do you target your audience?

What I did on my vacation. COM0014 – Blog #1

A vacation for most is trips to beach, visit to cottage country, generally just kicking back to relax and recharge. My recent vacation was a little different, although I am not sure you can call it a “vacation” in the true sense of the word. Due to a military posting, my husband and I live in different cities at the moment. This isn’t a forever thing, just normal par for the course for those who have a military family.

Last weekend I took our children to the base to visit dad and our three children got to experience a trip of a lifetime. All three kids were able to fly in the C130 Hercules aircraft. They were so excited to be able to fly in the plane that their Dad has spent so much time with. (I call her “the other woman”.) Even though my three children are “military brats” as the term is coined, having the experience to see first hand what their Dad does is a chance of a lifetime. It also helps them understand what he is doing when he is on a work trip or deployed. Click play to watch our fun vacation!


After some restless waiting in the terminal, we were able to go through security and board the plane. This is not a usual boarding process you would expect on a passenger plane as with this plane you get to walk on through the back where cargo is loaded.


426 Family Day

Time to walk on the plane

426 Family Day

Loading the passengers

After a safety check and everyone receiving a lovely fluorescent pair of earplugs, we were almost ready to leave. Please note: being on this plane is louder than being next to the speaker at an ACDC concert. Nervously everyone in the plane waited for the plane to take off… well, most were nervous, our son on the other hand was beaming with excitement waiting for this plane to head to the skies. Seeing his excitement, the loadmaster on the plane escorted our son to the cockpit to see the take-off from the seat behind the pilot. You would never see a more excited child in your life. Sitting in the cockpit of a plane, headset on and waiting for the plane to take off.

Owen in pilot seat

Owen takes the pilot seat

After reaching a safe altitude and ensuring safety mesh was secured; the back of the plane was lowered while we were in the air. A normal day for this air crew, but a jaw dropping experience for all that were on the plane. Flying in the sky with what seems like a small safety mesh between you and the oblivion is enough to make any mothers stomach a little jumpy.

It was an amazing experience and although it is something that I have done a number of times now, it always makes me appreciate what our military friends do each day.

The Tweet Resistance – COM0011 Blog #2

I have to admit it… I have been resisting using Twitter for the longest time. I am not really interested in reading about Kim and Kanyes latest wedding plan or friends “tweeting” that they just bought a coffee at Starbucks. Seriously, how many social applications can one girl handle, before you are at the stage that it starts taking over your life?

I have seen the light with Twitter! (It took a while) Used in the right way it has been an effective tool for my job and I have finally loaded the app onto my phone. In my position at the Military Family Resource Centre, communications and community integration are just some of the many hats I wear, so I’ve had to adapt to meet the needs of our community. The communications of the centre is developing as constant, on the go and live and our families relying on it. Now, I hear you asking yourself, how does one rely on a twitter feed?

Image      Image

In March I was luck enough to be at the homecoming of the last flight home from Afghanistan. Any military families know that a homecoming is a lot of waiting, anticipation and anxiety, and some homecomings only certain family members can be in attendance. This is where our Twitter became the perfect tool with the ability to live tweet during events like the Afghanistan homecoming. Through Twitter we were able to keep family members and the public not able to attend involved in what was a great part of many Canadian families lives.

Constant communication through social media is so important for our organization and is a big part of our communication plan. I can’t help but wonder what the future holds for social media, what tools will be in use in the coming years and how will small organizations handle so many social media tools with a small staff?